Memories of Burgmann: HMS WOBCO

Earlier this semester, Honorary Fellow Judy Middlebrook visited the College and loaned us this exquisite piece of College memorabilia: HMS WOBCO. According to the inscription, HMS WOBCO was presented to Captain Neil Bessell on 11 October 1983, “For dedication to the ship and keeping it afloat over the years”. Judy shares her memories: 

"WOBCO was shorthand for 'Workers of Burgmann College', the scheme established by the College to provide paid employment for students. The ship was created in the Burgmann workshop by the talented Wal Beckhouse and his crew of Burg workers, to celebrate the contribution to College life by my late husband Neil Bessell. It was presented to him at a special dinner to mark his departure after 12 years 'steering' the ship in various ways. He was one of the 1971 intake and became BRA President in 1974. Both Neil and I were foundation members of WOBCO—starting as toilet and shower cleaners and graduating to the much-valued role of bar tender. Later, Neil became Assistant Bursar, working part-time while finishing his arts and law degrees. He took over as Bursar once he graduated. I think the ship belongs back in the College."

Judy Middlebrook

The story of HMS WOBCO will form part of a photography and memorabilia exhibition at our 50th Anniversary Back to Burg Alumni Weekend in August 2021. If you have photographs or memorabilia to loan the College for this exhibition, please email

Photo Credit: Amelia Zaraftis 



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