TUNCURRY’S WORKING WATERFRONT – Wright’s mill and shipyard

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Pictured: Wright’s mill and shipyard on the Tuncurry foreshore circa 1921. At the rear in the photo can be seen Porter’s mill (where Boatland Marine is today), Tuncurry Memorial Hall and the “Saints” Church both of which are still standing today. Photo courtesy Joseph Ohma.

In 1875 John Wright took out a 99-year lease on the waterfront land now known as John Wright Park, and there built a timber mill, shipyard, slipway and associated buildings. A wharf ran about 50 feet along the length of the waterfront and there stood a receiving shed, with a skin shed at one end which housed cattle skins to be sent to Sydney

The main three storey building had been the wheat mill at Avalon (Krambach) and was moved to Tuncurry and re-erected. The building served both the timber mill and the shipyard, with forge and foundry on the second floor and on the top floor was the drafting room. Here all the plans of the ships were laid. A low building over the mill wharf was the old receiving shed which held all the freight bought back from Sydney when the ships unloaded.

In 1900 the original mill was destroyed by fire and a new mill was built which served until February, 1950 when it too was destroyed by fire. The Tuncurry Timber Trading Company was formed and a new electric mill was erected and operated until 1958. The shipyard closed in 1958 and gradually the mill became uneconomical.

The 99 year lease of the waterfront was close to expiring and could not be renewed. A condition of the lease was that the site had to be left in original condition and so in 1960 all buildings, including the log wharves, had to be demolished. The water front land where the mill and shipyard stood was gazetted as an area for public recreation and in 1962 was renamed John Wright Park.

Tuncurry’s Working Waterfront local history project is a heritage mosaic due to be installed in John Wright Park in June. The artwork has been designed as a visual representation of the early industries that utilized the waterfront site and the vital role they played in forming the foundations of the town and community.

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