The Port Phillip Herald Saturday, 5 March 1881

The Cerberus Trip.

By Electric Telegraph - From our Special Reporter QUEENSCLIFF, This Day.

The firing from the turrets of the Cerberus necessitated the removal of everything from above and below. The railings all round were unshipped, and the davits passed down deck. Everthing was made * comfortable. This appeared to work admirably, as the average speed through out the channel was between six andd seven knots. The depth of water drawn averaged 15 feet fore and aft.
On arrival at Quenscliff, anchorage was made on the east side, abreast of the Quarantine ground, H.M.S. Victoria being anchored close ahead.
ELECTRIC LIGHT  Preparations were then made for the electric light, and shortly after seven o'clock last night the Cliff was brilliantly illuminated. The light was shifted into different positions, and had a very pleasing effect. Persons could be distinctly seen from the Cerberus as they walked on the shore and principal streets of Queenscliff. Throwing the light to the Victoria and the vessels anchored, hearty cheers were given by those on board for the display.

Cerberus Flashing Electric Light on Childers and Victoria

Illustrated Australian News April 15, 1885.

The dynamo machine used was one belonging to the Railway department; and although the effect was very good, it only gave those who were in charge of the lamp, an idea of what the light would be like if the Wilde machine belonging to the Cerberus could be used.

After showing the light Lieutenant Murray endeavored to light both lamps, but this was found to be impossible on acccount of the smallness of the machine, and regret loud and strong were expressed that the boilers which would have allowed the Wilde machine to be used had not been purchased, and put on board.

Wilde Generator.
image courtesy of
Tommy's History of Western Technology

This morning shortly before six o'clock the men were piped up, and within the space of a few minutes all were busily engaged in what is termed saying their prayers- that is, holystoning the docks. The steaming against head winds yesterday gave the look out and side of the Cerberus a very different appearance to when she left the Bay, being covered with smoke, but by seven o'clock she was in good and clean order.
The whole of the men worked admirably, and seemed to take a great interest in the operations to be carried out. The boats were then got in readiness to convey the necessary communicating wires and torpedoes into position for the operation to be carried out during the day.
This was commenced by a cable being taken from the Cerberus towards shore, and at intervals of about three hundred feet four hand cables were taken from junction boxes through disconnecters, though a small model torpedo containing a few ounces of gun cotton to circuit closer buoys which, when struck by a boat completed the circuit of a firing battery and exploded the torpedo.
Previous to the torpedo being laid every part of the apparatus was carefully tested, so as to prevent the possibility of failure.

The following appeared in a portion of yesterday's Issue of the Herald.

Friday, 4th March.

TARGET PRACTISE Shortly after nine o'clock this morning H.M.C.S. Cerberus was got under weigh, and proceeded down the Bay, by the West Channel, for turret practice.
The officers on board comprise Captain Manderville, Senior-Lieutenant Collins, Gunners Richards, Groves and Tubb, of the active service.
The civil officers were J.A. Thomyson, Hayman, Breeds and Dr. Llewellyn.
For the electric light to be displayed this evening, Lieut. Murray Sub-Lieutenants Houston and Schroder were present to carry out the operations.
When off the Red Bluff operations were commenced, and a triangle target was set adrift wthout the slightest appearance of movement in the Cerberus. She was bought round to a distance of between twelve and fourteen hundred yards. The first shot from the turret on the fore side completely shattered the target into pieces. A smaller targets(sic) was laid out and the practice carried on was most successful, each shot going within a few yards of its mark.
It is surmised that the electric light will be a great success to-night. The Cerberus steamed admirably, considering the steam power had been reduced greatly. The steam throughout was over seven knots. Only sufficent hands were on board to work one of the turrets successfully, the vessel only having a skeleton crew on board.

The Argus Saturday, November 11, 1897

Captain Neville's Speech.

Captain Neville's little speech at the Mayor's dinner had more meat in it than almost any of the addresses. It is welcome intelligence, commandant, that our old and trusty friend the Cerberus is still a valuable fighting factor. She came to us in the early seventies-- a quarter of a century back-- but, says Captain Neville, she is good for any two sea-going hostile cruisers that could be sent against her, and if she were re-armed she would be good as against three.
The Cerberus has been jeered at because of her lack of speed, but running is not her role; she is essentially a harbour defence, a floating fort, and it is pleasant to have this testimony to her efficiency after her long career. She was a good investment truly. Captain Neville's other words are liable to be misunderstood, and were misunderstood by the Premier. In expressing his regret that he was not to be succeeded by an Imperial officer, Captain Neville, we presume, would intend no slur upon qualified local officers. But the curse of local appointments is that they come to be permanent appointments, and the imperative rule of the Imperial service is that appointments

Illustrated Australian News. March 1, 1895.

should be held for stated periods only. Captain Neville does not remain with us. He passes on to some other sphere. It must be well for us to do two things here-- to keep in touch with the Imperial army and navy, and to give commands for limited periods only. The period rule applies to Lord Wolsley, to Lord Roberts, to the Duke of Connaught; and it cannot safely be ignored as regards colonial officers. The Imperial system was not adopted without reason, and, though we may disregard it if we choose, we should do so entirely at our own peril. It is an old experience, however, dating from the gods, that one-half of the prayer is granted, and the other whistled down the winds. The seconding system will come on for consideration for a while. In the meantime, that re-arming of the gallant old Cerberus should not be lost sight of.

The Herald Monday, February 27, 1893



The Victorian warship Cerberus was recently taken alongside the Naval Pier, Williamstown, to be re-decked and to have other improvements affected.

The improvements which constitute a re-laying of the main deck and construction of a new flying deck together with a number of additions, and a general overhaul are nearly completed.

Geelong Advertiser 19 June 1878   p.4


The sensational announcement made by the Argus on Monday, with reference to the Cerberus running the gauntlet of the batteries at the Heads was materially modified yesterday by our contemporary, as follows :-

The proposal that the Cerberus shall run the gauntlet of the works at the Heads has attracted general attention. We were not aware until Monday of the events which led up to Capt. Manderville's application, aud in justice to that officer they require to be stated. It seems that a report on the defences from Lieuteuaut.Colonel Scratchley, R.E., was forwarded to Capt. Mandeville for his perusal, aud in this report Lieuteuant.Colonel Scratch1ey refers to the superiority of guns on shore to guns on floating batteries, and intimated that as the Cerberus was here, she would have to be utilised, a reference which seems to have becn taken by Captain Mandeville to mean that if the ironclad was not here it would not be worth while,to send for her. From any dictum of this sort Captain Mandeville absolutely dissents, as in his opinion the Cerberus is essential to the defence of the port, and the batteries could better be dispensed with than she could be. In thie frame of mi11d, Captain Mandeville wrote the following letter:-

"Naval Office, June fifth, 1878.

-In connection with your correspondence No.4122, I have the honor to recommend that I may be permitted to take the Cerberus to the Heads for the purpose of allowing the artillerymen to practice at her with smooth-bore guns of small callibre while under way. Life will not be imperilled in the least by this practice, and little or no damage can be done, as the boats, davits, &c., will he removed. I propose that the Cerberus should go out two miles from Queeuscliffe, and should steam in at a moderate rate of speed, say, 7½ knots, within a mile past the batteries. This experiment will. prove the value or otherwise of elaborate forts, and give practical experience to the permanent artillery corps.

I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,

(Signed) C. .T. Mandeville, Capt. Commanding Naval Forces. The Hon. The Treasurer."

It will be noted that Captain Mandeville proposes that the test should be made with smooth-bore guns of small calibre, and not with any of the rifled ordinance in position. There is a misapprehension on this point, and it has to be explained that Captain Mandeville bars the 80 pounders as well as the 300 pounders now in position at the Heads. But Captain Mandeville says that at a distance of a mile the small-bores can be depended upon as much as the rifled guns, while the vessel would be subject to no risk. He adds that the practice which he suggests is not unknown. Sister ships to the Cerberus, named the Magdala and the Abyssinia, are stationed at Bombay, and Captain Mandeville reports that it is a common practice there to take the vessels out, and for the local artillery to fire at them with smooth-bore guns, with the result that the monitors always succeed in dodging their adversaries. The matter was informally before the Cabinet on Monday afternoon, but was not dealt with, and the Treasurer will have a further interview with Captain Mandeville bcfore giving final orders for the cxperiment.

[The Age positively asserts that there is no foundaticn for the statement of its contemporary, and ridicules the idea as absurd and senseless.]

The Herald 27 March 1882


A strange but stupid scare occurred on board H.M.S.(sic) Cerberus yesterday afternoon. The vessel is at presently lying alongside the railway pier Williamstown, pending alterations to her boilers, and going into Alfred Dock. When the Nelson was bought out during the afternoon the men (who were below) rushed to the upper deck, and informed the officer in charge that the water was coming in rapidly, and that the vessel would shortly sink. Lieutenant Collins was not on board at the time. Gunner Tubbs who was in command, at once called for the engineers, but not one of the three was to be found. Seperate messengers were despatched to their residences, and in a little time, two arrived. During the interval the greatest alarm was experienced on board, as it was thought that some visitors during the day had opened some valves, and left them so, and no one appeared inclined to go below and ascertain the state of affairs. Upon arrival of the engineers, and when the pumping gear had been got in readiness, one man went down to ascertain where the water was making, but to his surprise could not hear or see anything to denote sinking. It was then found that the R.M.S. Shannon, which had arrived on the opposite side of the pier during the afternoon after getting moored let off steam at intervals, and the noise was so great with the vibration in the lower deck of the Cerberus, and the sound so much like water rushing in, that it caused the men to report the circumstance. When matters were fully known a hearty laugh from all on board was indulged in.

The Herald 27 May 1883


The ironclad turret ship Cerberus still lies alongside south wharf, where she has been since the beginning of February last, and where she is likely to remain for at least two months longer. The new boilers are finished, and in position on board, and the fittings and connections are now being made. The work is being done by day labor, supplied from the Public Works department, under the direction of the chief engineer of the ship. It is probable that the Cerberus will have to go into dock when her repairs are completed, as there is a large growth of barnacles upon her bottom. The number of men on board the Cerberus when on active duty is about 70, with exception of about a dozen or fifteen, these have been in the meantime transfered to H.M.S Victorian warship, Nelson, where they undergo their regular routine of drill, which could not be the case were they kept on board the turret ship.
It may not be known to our readers that the Cerberus has two bottoms, and, in order to keep the second and inner one from corroding, about half a dozen men are continually employed from day to day, all the year round, scraping and repainting the iron. As they have to be on their hands and knees all the time, and have to creep through very low compartments of the vessel the air, from the fumes of the paint and other causes often becomes very foul, and fresh air has to be pumped in, and the men at this kind of work have to be frequently changed.
The officers private quarters on board the Cerberus seem to be particularly dark and ill-ventilated, and while the repairs are being executed we think the Government might arrange for the better lighting and ventilation of these. We understand that the electrician of the Cerberus and Lieutenant Collins are formulating a scheme for lighting between decks with electric light. This would save labor, keep the air purer, and give greater illumination. It would necessitate the providing a smaller engine that the one that now works the two electric arc lights on the deck of the ship, but it is believed that the expense would be considerablely less than the present system.

Williamstown Chronicle, 5th. February, 1870. page 4.


An additional number of iron shipwrights have been entered at Chatham Dockyard for employment on board this armour-clad double-turret ship, 4,250 horse-power, which is being rapidly brought forward for sea, in order that she may be completed with the utmost despatch, as she is required to be finished by an early date, and sent to Australia. She has had an additional iron deck placed on her, in order to enable her to be navigated to Melbourne; and she is also to be masted. On her arrival at Melbourne she will have her temporary iron deck and bulwarks removed, one of the officials from the dockyard proceeding out in her to superintend the operation. There is a good deal to do in making her iron bulwarks and upper deck - intended merely for the purpose of the long voyage - and she will probably not be floated out of the dock till May next. This ship is an instalment of that fleet of the future when colonies shall pay entirely for their own defence. - European Mail.

Williamstown Chronicle, 27 September 1884


Two full sized models of the Cerberus turrets and guns have been ordered by the Council of Defence to be constructed for drill purposes. One will be placed at Williamstown and the other at Port Melbourne, in order that the divisions of the Naval Reserve at those towns may become efficient in turret exercises.

Argus, 14 March 1885


Argus, 9 November 1882

Turret Crown Wheels

It is intended when new boilers are placed in Cerberus, to remove the cast-iron crown wheels on which the turrets move, and introduce instead wheels composed of material less liable to fracture. The cost of the alteration is estimated by Captain Mandeville at £4,000. There are spare segments of wheels in the ship, so that if those now in use get out of order they can be replaced.


Scientific American, March 4, 1876

Some time since, the Government of Great Britain withdrew the troops which were usually kept doing a kind of garrison duty in the colonies, and left the colonial administration to defend themselves from any sudden attack, of course holding in itself in readiness to despatch ships and regiments to any place as soon as the news of intended or actual hostilities reached a military or naval station. The Australasian colonies have, therefore, contructed floating batteries and men-of-war for harbor and coast defence, which are, for the most part, manned by volunteers.

We publish herewith an engraving of a powerful ironclad, the Cerberus, belonging to the colony of Victoria. She cruises around the mouth of Port Phillip Bay, and is powerfully armed, carrying four heavy guns throwing shot weighing 400 lbs. each. The guns are erected in two bomb proof revolving turrets; and the deck of the ship, when she is ready for action, is only about 26 inches above the water line, the vessel then drawing about 16 feet 6 inches of water. An additional revolving turret, carrying 1 gun, is placed in her bow, and a similar one in her stern.(webmaster's note: these extra turrets did not exist) She is propelled by twin screws with four blades each, driven by powerful engines.

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