Fremantle Stuff > People > W.A. Chamberlain

W.A. Chamberlain

Another name associated prominently with shipbuilding was that of W. A. Chamberlain, who was born in Fremantle in 1851. His father was saved from a wreck in the Indian Ocean by Captain J. Thomas, of Fremantle, in the sailing vessel Empress. After serving an apprenticeship with W. Jackson, an old Fremantle shipwright, he commenced business on his own account at the age of 19 as a boatbuilder in a yard between Arundel Street and Russell Street.
The Sharks' Bay pearl fishing gave him his first large order, and he constructed several boats of from six to seven tons for that work. Later a demand for small dinghies for the use of natives diving for pearl shell at Broome kept him busy, and with the expansion of the pearling industry there came orders for luggers of about twelve tons, on which were carried the air pump and quarters for the crew. Chamberlain built 110 of that type of vessel at an average cost of from £350 to £400. It was a remarkable fact that not one of his boats was lost while being taken from Fremantle to the pearling grounds.
At a later date lighters for explosives being landed from ships were built by him, and the success of his business necessitated his employing a large staff of shipwrights for many years, He was an enthusiastic rifle volunteer and one of the best shots in Fremantle. His marksmanship gained for him, in competition with over 100 riflemen, the possession of a cup which had to be won three times before it could be permanently retained. He is still a hale and hearty citizen of the town. Hitchcock: 116-117.


Garry Gillard | New: 10 October, 2016 | Now: 10 October, 2016