The ghosts of Navy food supply haunt exclusive waterside residences


Or concerning the job of the “onion inspector”, the military of bakers and, whereas we’re at it, the ghost?

With the march of improvement throughout Sydney, just like the advance of the martian preventing machines of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds, it’s value testing the historical past whereas the chance exists.

The REVY building at Darling Island, with, possibly, a resident ghost.

The REVY constructing at Darling Island, with, probably, a resident ghost.

Photo: Supplied.

The Royal Edward Victualling Yard (REVY) inbuilt 1912 has state significance as the primary royal yard within the southern hemisphere, in response to the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage.

It states the constructing is a reminder of the significance given to the presence of the Commonwealth Naval Forces within the southern hemisphere. “The stores operated during both world wars and played an instrumental role in the provision of supplies during World War II.”

In 1913 the British-built constructing was handed over to the fledgling Australian Navy because the Royal Navy departed successfully telling them to “get on with it”.

REVY bakers baking bread at the Royal Edward Victualling Yard in 1939.

REVY bakers baking bread on the Royal Edward Victualling Yard in 1939.

Photo: Fairfax

One reporter given wartime entry to the constructing, wrote in 1941 that the yard was supplying food and gear to sailors from “Alexandria to the Western Pacific, from Hobart to Hong Kong.

“Nobody will get higher food than the lads of the navy, so you’re informed. In one nice store I noticed big numbers of bins of canned food of all varieties – corned beef, corned mutton, pineapples…chutney…macaroni and casks of lime juice and vinegar.”

The Navy’s obvious maxim that solely the best will do, brought on outrage if the entrance web page story of Smith’s Weekly of December 21, 1941, is to be believed.

Under the headline “Navy needs silver spoon in its mouth”, it states “SOMEONE within the Navy Department has apparently gone stark, staring mad. Tenders have been referred to as to supply the Royal Edward Victualling Yard, Pyrmont, Sydney, with desk silver so uncommon and costly that Australian retailers are unable to supply it out of inventory. They need silver labels for the decanters, silver trays on which to serve the drinks, and most extravagantly-priced spoons and forks. Taxpayers may have a invoice totalling many hundreds of kilos by the point the silverware is shimmering brightly and expensively in naval officers’ messes.”

Happily the present senior naval historic officer, Greg Swinden, labored at REVY for a quick time  so is aware of the historical past. He stated food would arrive on the Victorian yard by barge or truck and can be met by a big quantity of inspectors whose enterprise was to verify that the correct amount was delivered and that it was as much as navy commonplace.

Busy scenes at the Royal Edward Victualling Yard in Sydney on September 30, 1939.

Busy scenes on the Royal Edward Victualling Yard in Sydney on September 30, 1939.

Photo: Fairfax

The small mountain of flour luggage can be checked to see that they didn’t include weevils and that the gluten content material was right.

He stated the navy stored a really shut eye on issues. As the ships put of their orders for food they might be provided by the REVY. Nowadays a bread van would drive on to a wharf and supply a Naval vessel immediately.

“There have been inspectors for every of the totally different commodities, somebody I labored with within the 60s was the onion inspector,” he said. “He was very proud of the title.

“The younger employees were told by the old hands that a storeman had fallen at the building and that he still haunted the yard.”

Buyers at the launch of luxury apartments in Darling Island named The Revy.

Buyers on the launch of luxurious flats in Darling Island named The Revy.

Photo: Fairfax

It isn’t clear whether or not he fell in a single of the interior hoist shafts used to raise produce to the higher storage bays  – you possibly can nonetheless see the 4 crane housing huts on the roof – or over the aspect of the eight storey block.

In newer years the constructing was utilized by “the spies” of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation for analysis functions.

Mr Swinden stated: “The navy then was very big on the new underwater sonar technology. The work was everything to do with hunting submarines or making their equipment quieter so they couldn’t be found.”

The lab turned half of the navy’s weapons system analysis lab and was the location for anti-terrorism evacuation and emergency workouts utilizing Black Hawk helicopters within the preparation for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, till lastly closing its doorways in 2008.

The constructing is presently coated in scaffolding present process  its newest reincarnation. Ghost or no ghost.

Tim Barlass is a Senior Writer for The Sydney Morning Herald

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