Footscray Wharves and Environs


The Mainstone family on, ‘J7’, a submarine moored at Footscray Wharf in the 1930s.

In 1930 there was a submarine sitting at the Footscray Wharves. It was one of six J Class submarines given to the Royal Australian Navy by the Royal Navy of Britain after the First World War. These submarines had seen considerable action in the final years of the war in Europe.

In the late 1920s four of the submarines were scuttled off Port Phillip Heads, where they have become a favourite destination for recreational divers. A fifth submarine was beached on the northeast end of Swan island at Queenscliff.

The remaining submarine, known as J7, was taken to Footscray to be dismantled at the wharves. Later, what remained of the body was taken to Sandringham Yacht Club where it was used as a breakwater and still sits underwater near the pier.

The family in these photos is the family of the caretaker of the submarine, a Mr Mainstone. The photo was provided by Andrew Mitchell, who is the son of the older girl on the right. This photo was originally given to heritage diver, Des Williams, a well-known authority on many aspects of underwater history in the diving community.

One story is that one of the girls had a sixth-year birthday party in the submarine while they were there.

The Mainstone Family on the hulk of the last Class J submarine being dismantled at Footscray Wharves in 1930.

The remains of the submarine, J7, at Sandringham Yacht Club decades later

Remains of the submarine at Sandringham Yacht Club

For more information on the submarine and its history see…