Jonathan Piper, born to convict parents in 1813, completed his shipwright apprenticeship and owned a shipyard near Kincumber, NSW.1 In his lifetime he is thought to have constructed 28 ships.2
Jonathan’s fifth child William Brisbane Piper, born in 1844 at Brisbane Waters, trained as a shipwright with his father.3 The last ship constructed by William’s father called ‘Jonathan’ was not completed before Jonathan passed away in 1879. By this time William Brisbane had moved to Cape Hawke with his wife Rachel Bramble, so William travelled back to Kincumber to complete the wooden vessel and it was launched on 4 October that same year.4
William leased land south of Cape Hawke and settled where Pipers Bay is today. His shipyard was located on the water’s edge while the house was on a rise looking across to Green Point.5 William went on to become one of the most prolific ship builders in the Great Lakes area building 15 vessels.6 Among these were the ‘Rachel’, ‘Radical’, ‘Lucy Ravel’ and ‘Wampoo’ a dual side paddle wheel cutter that was well known along the Wallamba River.7 William was also a master mariner operating his ships between Cape Hawke and Sydney.8
William died at Bulahdelah in 1898, an unfortunate victim of the typhoid epidemic. Rachel lived until 1936 and their headstone is in Forster cemetery. Pipers Bay where the Pipers lived and worked was marked as a public garden and recreation space in 1961.9
Author: Marilyn Boyd
Note: Jonathan Piper’s contribution to shipbuilding on the NSW Central Coast is commemorated by the Shipbuilders’ Heritage Walk at Kincumber.
1 Ancestry.com.au, Gosford Pioneer Register, 1788-1900 for Jonathan Piper.
2 Boat Register of Australian and New Zealand Vessels, http://www.boatregister.net/NSW_Builders.htm
3 Ancestry.com.au, Gosford Pioneer Register, 1788-1900 for William Brisbane Piper.
4 glmrsnsw, Shipbuilders Memorial – Broadwater at Kincumber, NSW, https://www.flickr.com/photos/glmrsnsw/24968557913
5 NSW Land Registry Services, Vol-Fol: 510-13; map from Piper family history, Ancestry.com.au.
6 Boat Register of Australian and New Zealand Vessels, http://www.boatregister.net/NSW_Builders.htm
7 SMH, 2 February 1875, 4; SMH, 4 December 1873, 2; Evening News, 30 January 1875, 2; glmrsnsw (2014). Paddle Steamer ‘Forster’ (1876 – 1906) late 1800s – Failford.
8 Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 11 December 1873, 2.
9 NSW Land Registry Services, Vol-Fol: 510-13.