Taylor Bros 75th Anniversary

Date: 
Thursday, August 11, 2011

When two young sailors had a night ashore in Dumbarton, Scotland, in 1833 they could never have anticipated that 178 years and six generations later William Taylor’s family would be celebrating their misfortune with a party, thousands of miles away in Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land.

William and his mate shared some whisky they had taken from the local publican, described in his records to be Mr Lang’s strongest. William failed to escape the pursuing police and spent the night in the cells before appearing in court and receiving a sentence of seven years transportation.

On receiving freedom in Hobart Town William became a sailmaker, and his son Robert was apprenticed to John MacGregor at the Doman Slipyard as a Shipwright and later built boats for the coastal trade.

Robert’s son William became a steam engineer working on trading ships and later came ashore to a job as engineer at the Tramways.

William’s two sons Norman and Athol formed a partnership and purchased the boat building business of “Blue Gum” from Charlie Lucas at the Battery Point Slipyards on the 7th August 1936.

Soon after, Athol was lost at sea. Norman continued to build many yachts and pleasure craft at the Napoleon Street site. Norman’s son Geoffrey joined him in 1958, and gradually the business turned to many other activities as it grew and expanded.

Geoff’s sons Gregory and Phillip served their apprenticeships with the business, and their skills added to the versatility and development of the company.

When Tasman Bridge collapsed a team of divers spent over 2 years removing debris from the deep waters of the Derwent. On the arrival of Amoco Exploration in Hobart Taylor Bros were engaged to provide shore support to the drilling operation off Tasmania’s rugged west coast.

The construction of the Wrest Point convention centre required Taylor Bros divers during the formation of an island foundation for the building. The winter layups and summer programme of the Australian Antarctic Division required engine rebuilds and accommodation refits, and installation of specialist scientific equipment. And when Incat’s ferry landed high and dry on Black Jack Reef, Taylor Bros joined in the salvage efforts to rescue the ship from its rocky landing.

In 1996 Taylor Bros moved to a new site at Derwent Park providing greater opportunities for the company to move forward, and since then the diversity of the skilled staff has brought about some challenging and daunting projects.

The visit of the US Navy aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk required a team of men to wash and paint the ship from waterline to deck level in preparation for its arrival in its home port of Hawaii.

The survey requirements of the Diamond drilling rig “Ocean Epoch” meant that Taylor Bros entire staff moved to Portland, Victoria, for a six week period to undertake a $35m refit. Taylor Bros undertook the construction of modular accommodation units for use at the new Antarctic air bases as transit accommodation.

A contract for the fitout of two patrol vessels for the Royal New Zealand Navy was prefabricated in the Hobart workshop but fitted onboard the vessels in a Melbourne shipyard.

Taylor Bros has won a contract for the outfit accommodation of three Air Warfare Destroyers for the Royal Australian Navy. This work involves assembly and prefabrication of the ships interior in Hobart prior to shipment to the Australian Shipbuilding Corporation in Adelaide.

Contracts for refits of accommodation spaces onboard drilling and exploration platforms off the north-west coast of Western Australia call for staff to travel long distances to remote sites to install equipment prefabricated in the Hobart workshop. Taylor Bros is currently involved in offshore services anywhere from New Zealand, Northwest Shelf and to the Timor Sea.

Taylor Bros reputation has taken them further afield, and now the majority of their operations are for clients based outside Tasmania.

As Taylor Bros celebrate their 75th anniversary they feel confident that they have established a market which will provide increased activity and employment for many years into the future.

Taylor Bros would like to thank all those who have played a part in the last 75 years.