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An advertisment for William Holmes' yard thought to date around 1896

W Holmes Boat Builder

North Sydney based boatbuilder William Holmes was born in Devonport, Auckland New Zealand in 1863. It is believed he worked with shipwrights there before coming to Australia, probably in the mid 1880s.

His first work was bridge building in Victoria, but around 1890 he moved to Sydney and formed a boat building partnership with another New Zealander called Warbrick in Lavender Bay North Sydney. The workshop later moved to the end of the bay at McMahons Point, where it remained. Warbrick soon moved to Queensland, and Holmes then named the business after himself and managed it up until his death in 1923. His sons Leslie and Reginald continued the business after their father's death.

Holmes built yachts, launches, ferries, pearling luggers, trading vessels and in particular was one of the first builders to construct high speed motor-boats.

Amongst the many yachts he built was the famous schooner BOOMERANG, formerly BONA, and three of the early 21 Foot Restricted Class yachts GUMLEAF, CHERRY-TOO and LAKATOI. He built skiffs including the 18-footer ARAWA and 14 footers EUCHA and WANDERER. Holmes built a number of small ferries, many for the Central Coast of NSW services including MT PLEASANT.

Motor boating was introduced to Sydney Harbour late in the 1890s and early in the 1900s Holmes began building craft of this type, including GEE-WHIZ, COOEE, STANDARD and then the pennant winning FAIRBANKS for AH Davies. He continued to be at the forefront, designing and building high speed motor launches into the 1920s, and his son Reginald became an accomplished driver.