Sea Scouts Ship Shackleton

Founded:October 1952 from the Senior Scout Troop of 5th Essendon Scouts and officially registered on the 1st June, 1956.
Located:Sea Scout Hall is on the Maribyrnong River at Fairbairn Park at the Northern end at 22 Woods Street, Ascot Vale.
Group Scarf:Black scarf with a light blue cord on the edge and the Group wheel emblem on the peak of the scarf.
Theme:The theme of the group has been taken from the explorer Shackleton.  The Hall is named “Sea Scouts Ship Shackleton” and the original two rowing boats were named after the boats that Shackleton used in his exploration to the Antarctic.

Short History

By Eric Fynmore, January 2002

15th Essendon Sea Scouts was fostered jointly by the 5th Essendon Scout Group and members of the 1st Victorian Sea Scout Group located at Albert Park Lake.

Initially, about 1948, the group began as the Senior Section (now called Venturer Scouts) of the 5th Essendon Scout Group.  The Scout section of 5th Essendon initially met in the Gladstone Street Church Hall in Moonee Ponds.  When the senior section of the 5th Essendon Group was formed it was decided for them to become a Sea Scout Senior Section.

The Sea Scout Senior Section (about 7 senior scouts) began meeting in a small football change room by the Maribyrnong river under the Leadership of Sandy McLean a rover from 1st Victorian Sea Scouts and later under Eric Fynmore also from the 1st Victorian Sea Scouts.

In the late 1940’s the 5th Essendon Scout Hall was built on the banks of the Maribyrnong River in Fairbairn park and the group moved into its own premises, including the Sea Scouts Senior Section.  This hall is now called the Norm Anderson Activity Centre after 5th Essendon closed in the late 1970’s.

By late 1951 it became apparent interest was growing in Sea Scouting in Essendon and it was time to begin a separate Sea Scout group in its own right.

Thus in October 1952 the Sea Scout Senior Section became known as 15th Essendon Sea Scouts.  A parents committee was formed under the leadership of Mr. Alan Sly, Mr. Colin Ross, Mr. John Coward and others.  The first Group Leader was Eric Fynmore (known as Group Scout Master in those days); the Scout Master was Keith Draper with Assistant Scout Masters being Tom Evans, Keith Sly, Billy Dunk, Jimmy Davis and Barry Klemke.

The present site of the 15th Essendon Sea Scout Hall was leased to the group by the Local Council and a “Nissen Hut” now known as the Boat Deck was obtained from a Mordialloc Sea Scout Group.  During 1954 the Nissan Hut was erected under the leadership of Richard Draper and Keith Sly with the help of parents, scout leaders and scouts.  The bricks to build the end walls were obtained from the demolition of the original Festival Hall Boxing Stadium and were cleaned by parents and scouts.  Two curved wrought iron gate signs on the new “Nissen Hut” hall were constructed and donated by Mr. Bill Draper.  The parents committee was very strong and arranged lots of Gala Nights and Concerts etc. to raise money to pay for the Group’s boat deck and other expenses that had been incurred.

Two wooden rowing boats were obtained from 1st Victorian Sea Scouts and 4th Williamstown Sea Scouts and named Quest and Nimrod after Shackleton’s ships.

The parents committee purchased a new sailing (patrol) boat known as “Challenger” from Savage Boat Builders of Williamstown in 1961.  This sailing boat was based on the design of the very popular Coutta boats which were also built by Savage. The boat design was popular for a lot of Sea Scout Groups around the bay.

Sea Scouting became very successful at 15th Essendon Sea Scouts with the result that after some years the Sea Scout section had a strength of 50 scouts; the cub section was formed after the senior sea scouts.

The 1st Queen’s Scout holder was Peter Flint (awarded in 1957).

As the Boat deck (Nissen Hut) was used for not only boat storage but also section meetings it became apparent an additional hall was required or an extension to the Nissan Hut.  Therefore the parents committee raised funds to buy a second hand weatherboard steel framed hall from the Commonwealth Department of Interior from the Fisherman’s Bend Migrant hostel  This was erected in 1972 under the guidance of Group Leader Joe Godkin.

The Group continued to grow becoming one of the largest Groups in the Essendon District and helping to run most of the district water activities from their hall and private slip way.

By the late 1970’s the original river-end brick wall of the Boat Deck had a significant lean, and so a new wall was designed by a parent Rudolf Arends, and built 1.2m toward the river with larger roller door and the Nissen Hut roof extended.

In 1991, under the guidance of Group Leader Rudolf Arends, the new hall was extended toward the river (matching the length of the Boat Deck), providing the physical space to build internal toilets and relocate the galley from the Boat Deck.  The two halls were joined by a walkway allowing direct access to the Boat Deck and office areas from the main hall. 

Essendon District has since become Moonee Valley District aligning with local council amalgamations in the 1990’s.

Subsequent Events of Note

1972 Parents Committee obtained a weatherboard hall from the Fishermen’s Bend Migrant Hostel and erected it along side the Nissen Hut Boat deck. The name SSS Shackleton moved from the Nissen Hut to the the new hall.
1974 Flooding of both Shackleton Hall and Boat deck from the Maribyrnong River.
1979 The badly rusted curved roof to the “Nissan” Boat deck was replaced.
1981 Fitzgerald Cup [district competition camp] was won for the 1st time by the 15th Essendon Scouts under the leadership of Declon O’Farrell.
1982 Co-holders of the Cohen Shield for camping.
1986 Chris Berkery (Cub Leader) was awarded the Medal of Merit by the Scout Association after 12 years with the movement.
1988 Louis Buchanan (ex 15th Cub Leader) received Bar to her Medal of Merit.
1989 15th Essendon Sea Scouts were the first in the district to register girls into the group after Scouts Australia extended female membership into the lower age sections.
1991 Shackleton Hall was extended towards the river and renovated to include toilets and kitchen [at a cost of $36,000] and was opened by Victorian Chief Commission of Scouts W.G. Wells. $28,000 for this work was raised from a number of trust funds and the rest borrowed from the Scout Building Fund.
1991 Chief Commissioner’s Award for good house keeping.
1991 Area Commissioners’ Good Housekeeping Award
1993 Flooding of the lower Boat deck from the Maribyrnong River.
1994 Re-starting of 15th Essendon Sea Scout Venturers.
1999 Grant Sutton awarded the Silver Arrowhead Award (services to scouting).
2000 Rudolf Arends awarded Silver Wattle award for services to scouting.
2003 Purchase of a new canoe trailer with 5 canoes from a $12,500 grant from the Myer Foundation.
2006 Closure of the Sea Scout Venturers.
2008 Water tanks installed and connected to the toilets for water saving as part of the Australia wide Government grant to Scouting.
2008 Shackleton Hall concrete floor was repaired and recovered in vinyl.
2009 Rudolf Arends awarded the Koala Distinguished Service Award.
2009 Moonee Valley City Council rebuilt the amphitheater into the adjoining hill and increased the height of the Crib wall.
2010 The renovation of the leaders’ Wardroom and increasing the adjoining chair storage was carried out [$5000] with the help of a $4000 grant from the Bendigo Bank.
2010 Additional storage cupboards were built at the south end of the Boat deck from the same Bendigo Bank grant.
2012 Replacement of the badly leaking northern skillion roof to the Nissen Hut Boat Deck and the raising of the leaders room roof to incorporate windows and air-conditioning [$9000] were carried out with the help of a $7000 grant from the Bendigo Bank.
2016 Replacement of the Galley built in 1991 using second hand kitchen cabinets, with new cabinets built for purpose [$9250].  The Galley now sports lots of cupboards, a ceramic cook top and 2x 750mm wide in bench ovens, double sink, fridge freezer, dishwasher and a cupboard for the brooms and mops [$3720]. Total cost $14000 funded in part by a grant from Moonee Valley City Council for $7000.