This painting is believed to be the only detailed image of BORROWDALE, the storeship of the First Fleet to Australia in 1788. It shows the vessel from three different perspectives - side, bow and stern. Paintings often depicted vessels from multiple sides to allow an accurate representation of the ship, during a time when technical drawings were rare. This painting has great detail showing figures standing on the deck, a naval pennant flying from the main mast and a red ensign from the stern.
Between 1788 and 1868 over 168,000 men, women and children were transported from Britain to Australia as convicts on board more than 1,000 modified merchant ships which had been converted into convict transports.
The first fleet of convict transports bound for the east coast of Australia set sail from Spithead on 13 May 1787 and was comprised of two warships HMS SIRIUS and HMS SUPPLY, three store ships BORROWDALE, FISHBURN and GOLDEN GROVE and six convict transports, ALEXANDER, FRIENDSHIP, LADY PENRHYN, SCARBOROUGH, PRINCE OF WALES and CHARLOTTE.
The British Government did not build specialised convict transports but instead chartered suitable ships from private ship owners. The BORROWDALE was a 270-ton three masted square-rigged merchant ship built at Sunderland, England in 1785. It initially operated as a trading vessel for the British East India Company, however in 1787 the British Admiralty acquired the BORROWDALE and used it as a storeship for the First Fleet. BORROWDALE was one of three ships owned by Leighton and taken up by the Admiralty for storeships. It was moored on the River Thames before being sent to Australia.
ANMM Collection Reproduced courtesy of the Australian National Maritime Museum
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