Hector Haden was born in Liverpool, Sydney in 1894 and moved to Forster with his family when his father was appointed engineer of the Dredge Forster.1 Following in their father’s footsteps Hector and his brother George became engineers. During WWI Hector and 30 other young engineers were taken to England to work in the Vicker’s Gun Works.2
On Hector’s return to Australia the Haden Bros established The Hawke Foundry and Engineering Works at Forster-Tuncurry.3 Their work quickly gained a reputation for quality and ingenuity and in 1929 they expanded to Taree where Hector managed the business in Victoria Street and later in Stevenson Lane.4 The business initially focused on cars but soon expanded to marine craft. In 1933 Haden Bros built a large slipway on the Manning River between Macquarie and Florence Streets which catered for the fitting out and repairs of both small and large boats including the drogher ‘Manning’ and the ‘Yankee Jack’.5
Hector bought land on the corner of Victoria and Macquarie Streets in 1931 and set about building a house at the end of Macquarie Street overlooking the Manning River.6 He married Helen Saxby in 1936 and after they returned from their honeymoon they moved into their new residence.7
During WWII Haden Bros teamed up with boat builders Ryan & Sons to build and fully equip boats in Taree for use by the US Army. Their work was highly regarded by the authorities.8
Hector died in 1986 aged 92 and Helen died in 1998. Both are buried at Dawson Cemetery.9 Their now boarded up house and nearby remains of the slipway are small reminders of Taree’s once vibrant industrial past.
Author: Janine Roberts
1 NSW BDM, birth index for Hector Haden No. 19205/1894; Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 27 February 1946, 2.
2 Manning River Times, 21 May 1947, 2.
3 Manning River Times, 14 February 1925, 13.
4 Manning River Times, 2 February 1929, 8.
5 Manning River Times, 14 January 1933, 10; 12 August 1933, 7.
6 NSW Land Registry Services, Vol-Fol: 9-63, 4802-196, 4802-195.
7 NSW BDM marriage index No. 21573/1936; Manning River Times, 28 October 1936, 2.
8 Wingham Chronicle, 26 January 1945, 2.
9 NSW BDM, death index No. 108591/1986 and Dawson River Cemetery.