Collections

The SA Maritime Museum preserves the oldest nautical collection in Australia. In 1872 the Port Adelaide Institute began a museum collection to complement its library and its educational and social programs. That collection grew over the following century reflecting the seafarers and the ships that visited Port Adelaide. It is now held in trust at the SA Maritime Museum.

The Maritime Museum’s collection ranges from the Port Adelaide Lighthouse that was first lit in 1869 to a plaque that explorer Matthew Flinders left at Memory Cove in 1802 to mark the loss to eight seafarers. It includes figureheads, nautical instruments, bathing costumes, shipwreck artefacts, paintings, models and vessels.

Our scope is the maritime heritage of South Australia from the coast to inland waters. The collection of over almost 20,000 objects and over 20,000 images is at once a window to the heritage of the local community and to the ships of the world..

Chronometer, Grace Darling

A chronometer measures time precisely and is used by mariners to determine longitude at sea. This chronometer was used on the SS Grace Darling and was presented by John Darling & Sons to the Port Adelaide Nautical Museum

A chronometer was used to measure time precisely in order to ascertain longitude. In the eighteenth century Englishman John Harrison invented an accurate seagoing chronometer that was used by Captain James Cook on his voyages to circumvent the globe. It revolutionised navigation at sea.

SS Grace Darling, a schooner-rigged screw steamer was a workhorse of the South Australian coast. It was owned and operated by John Darling & Co, flour millers of Port Adelaide. The vessel transported passengers and general cargo along the South Australian coast during the first half of the twentieth century. Grace Darling now rests in the ships graveyard in the Port River.

Creator: Clerke, Royal Exchange London - maker to the Royal Navy

Material: Mahogany, brass, steel, glass

Associated locations: Port Adelaide

 

Caption: Chronometer (Ship's)

AccessionNo: HT871273(m)

Depth: 175 mm

Width: 175 mm

Height: 195 mm

Material: Mahogany, brass, steel, glass

Date Created: 1907

Physical Description:
A chronometer was used to measure time precisely in order to ascertain longitude at sea. This particular chronometer was used on the S.S. Grace Darling which traded the west coast ports. It is a 1907 brass and steel chronometer with a glass covered dial in a square mahogany case.

Significance:
The chronometer reflects early twentieth century navigational instruments and their use. There was a sense of awe and romance associated with the age of sail, when elegant vessels with fine navigational instruments frequented the ports of Australia. Chronometers remained expensive necessities aboard vessels until radio signals became universal and then a normal clock or watch could suffice. This chronometer is from the important collection of nautical instruments held by the South Australian Maritime Museum – the Museum is custodian to one of the oldest nautical collections in Australia, that of the Port Adelaide Nautical Museum, which was originally established in 1872 as the Port Adelaide Institute Museum and then later, in 1933, reshaped into the Port Adelaide Nautical Museum; this nautical collection thrived in the bustling Port of Adelaide during the 20th century, where seafarers from all corners of the world frequented the Port.

Provenance:
A chronometer was used to measure time precisely in order to ascertain longitude at sea. This particular chronometer was used on the S.S. Grace Darling which traded the west coast ports. The object was presented by John Darling & Sons to the Port Adelaide Nautical Museum. It was made by Clerke, Royal Exchange London - maker to the Royal Navy. The S.S. ‘Grace Darling’ was a workhorse of the South Australian coast, owned and operated by John Darling & Co of Port Adelaide; the S.S. ‘Grace Darling’ transported cargo along the South Australian coast during the first half of the 20th century and now rests peacefully in the Ships Graveyard in the Port River.