Vice Admiral Sir William Rooke CreswellPrint Page Print this page

Vice-Admiral Sir William Creswell : 12-March-2012
Vice-Admiral Sir William Creswell : 12-March-2012

Photographs supplied by Graeme Saunders

The portrait bust commemorates Vice Admiral Sir William Rooke Creswell who is considered as the founder of the Royal Australian Navy.

The original bust was unveiled on the 1st May 1938 and was situated on the edge of the footpath in Pier Road. It was moved to its present position in front of the Squadron when the road near the pier was widened.

The bust, which sat atop the red granite monument, was stolen in the 1970’s and a move was made to find or replace the bust for the 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy. The Navy League raised funds to have two new castings made, one to replace that missing at St Kilda and the other to be presented to HMAS Creswell Naval base at Jervis Bay, NSW. The replacement bust was unveiled on the 5th September 2011 along with a new plaque which details Sir William's achievements.  

Vice Admiral Sir W R Creswell (1852 – 1933) was a very important leader in the establishment of Australia’s own Navy, as a separate entity to the Royal Navy.  After a distinguished career with the Royal Navy, Creswell retired in 1875 and came to live in Australia. In 1885 he was encouraged to join the Colonial Navy in South Australia as second in command of the Cruiser HMCS Protector before later moving to the Queensland Naval forces and then to Melbourne.

Prior to 1909 Victoria had the largest Colonial navy, acquired to defend the imagined threat from Russia, HMVS Cerberus being its flagship.  Creswell retired in 1919 and engaged in farming in Silvan. Upon his death in 1933 he was buried in the Brighton Cemetery.

"Vice-Admiral Sir William Creswell K.C.M.G. K.B.E., Father of the Australian Navy, born July 20 1852 died April 22, 1933." This is part of the inscription on a Tasmanian red granite pedestal of a portrait bust of Sir William Creswell which has been placed on the St. Kilda foreshore, near the Royal St Kilda Yacht Club. The memorial was unveiled yesterday by the Mayor of St Kilda (Councillor F. L. Dawkins).  Councillor Dawkins said that the Victorian branch of the Navy League was greatly to be commended for having taken the actions which had resulted in the preparation of the memorial. The excellent piece of work, a life-like portrait was by Mr Wallace Anderson, of Hawthorn.  In arranging for the memorial the Navy League had been assisted by the St. Kilda shore committee, the Royal St. Kilda Yacht Club, and others. Sir William Creswell was honoured and revered by all who had known him, Councillor Dawkins continued. He entered the Royal Navy in 1865, and he was associated with the naval defence of South Australia as early as 1885. To him the Australian Navy was really due. The memorial was an incentive to members of the younger generation to take their part and to appreciate what had been done in the past. St. Kilda welcomed all such memorials. The president of the Victorian branch of the Navy League (Captain S. A. Pidgeon) handed over the memorial to the care of the St. Kilda shore committee which was represented by Councillor Burnett Gray. On behalf of Lady Creswell, who was present and members of the family, Mr E. L. G. Creswell thanked all who had made the memorial possible. Commodore J. White of the Royal St. Kilda Yacht Club, also spoke.
Argus (Melbourne), 2 May 1938.




Address:Pier Road, near Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron , St Kilda, 3182
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.863233
Long: 144.971703
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:People
Monument Designer:Wallace Anderson (Hawthorn, original bust)
Link: http://adb.anu.edu.au/


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 1st May, 1938
Front Inscription

Plaque :


Born July 20, 1852  
Died April 22, 1933
Erected As A Token Of
Appreciation Of His
Services To Australia
        By The
Victorian Branch Of The Navy League 
Assisted By
The St. Kilda Shore Committee
The Royal St. Kilda Yacht Club
And Many Other Australian Admirers



Source: MA, ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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