Highly detailed working sea chart of Port Stephens, New South Wales, published by the British Admiralty.
Includes two large profile views, sailing directions, (including several lighthouses) and other details. Formerly the property of Coode Matthews, Fitzmaurice & Wilson of 9 Victoria Street in London. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, Coode Matthews was the engineering firm which had charge of the harbor at Dover, along with the harbors at Colombo and Singapore and were consulting engineers to the Colonial Crown Agents for a number of other British Colonial harbors.
Port Stephens was named by Captain James Cook when he passed it on May 11, 1770. The port is named for Sir Philip Stephens, who was then Secretary to the British Admiralty. Stephens was a personal friend of Cook and had recommended him for command of the voyage. It seems Cook's initial choice had actually been Point Keppel and Keppel Bay but instead he used Keppel Bay later.
The first ship to enter the port was the Salamander, a ship of the Third Fleet that later gave the suburb of Salamander Bay its name, in 1791. In that same year escaped convicts, then known as 'bolters', discovered coal in the area. In 1795 the crew of the HMS Providence discovered a group of escaped convicts, living with the Worimi people. Port Stephens became a popular haven for escaped convicts and so in 1820 a garrison of soldiers was established at what is now known as Soldiers Point.
In 1920 there was a push for Port Stephens to be the capital city of a new state in a proposal originating from the country newspaper, The Daily Observer. The proposal was the Observer's editor Victor Charles Thompson's idea, in response to continuing rural Australian antipathy at the Sydney-centralized funding and governance, that many rural newspapers claimed had neglected to aid rural Australian towns.
The British Admiralty has produced nautical charts since 1795 under the auspices of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (HO). Its main task was to provide the Royal Navy with navigational products and service, but since 1821 it has also sold charts to the public.
In 1795, King George III appointed Alexander Dalrymple, a pedantic geographer, to consolidate, catalogue, and improve the Royal Navy’s charts. He produced the first chart as the Hydrographer to the Admiralty in 1802. Dalrymple, known for his sticky personality, served until his death in 1808, when he was succeeded by Captain Thomas Hurd. The HO has been run by naval officers ever since.
Hurd professionalized the office and increased its efficiency. He was succeeded by the Arctic explorer Captain William Parry in 1823. By 1825, the HO was offering over seven hundred charts and views for sale. Under Parry, the HO also began to participate in exploratory expeditions. The first was a joint French-Spanish-British trip to the South Atlantic, a voyage organized in part by the Royal Society of London.
In 1829, Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort was appointed Hydrographer Royal. Under his management, the HO introduced the wind force scale named for him, as well as began issuing official tide tables (1833). It was under Beaufort that HMS Beagle completed several surveying missions, including its most famous voyage commanded by Captain FitzRoy with Charles Darwin onboard. When Beaufort retired in 1855, the HO had nearly two thousand charts in its catalog.
Later in the nineteenth century, the HO supported the Challenger expedition, which is credited with helping to found the discipline of oceanography. The HO participated in the International Meridian Conference which decided on the Greenwich Meridian as the Prime Meridian. Regulation and standardization of oceanic and navigational measures continued into the twentieth century, with the HO participating at the first International Hydrographic Organization meeting in 1921.
During World War II, the HO chart making facility moved to Taunton, the first purpose-built building it ever inhabited. In 1953, the first purpose-built survey ship went to sea, the HMS Vidal. Today, there is an entire class of survey vessels that make up the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic Squadron. The HO began to computerize their charts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1968, the compilation staff also came to Taunton, and the HO continues to work from there today.