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MIRIMAR was featured on the front cover of Australian Motor Boat and Yachting Monthly when it was launched early 1926

AC Barber

AC Barber was born in Queenscliffe Victoria on 3rd February 1882. His father John Henry Barber (born in the UK) was a pilot, and his mother Janet Liddell came from New Zealand. Little is known of his early life, and the first reference is in 1906 when he was listed as a student member of the Institution of Naval Architects. By 1908 he was an Associate-Member. An entry in the Adelaide Advertiser from 30 April 1909 notes that Arthur Barber was part of group sent to Scotland to work on the construction of two torpedo boat destroyers, and he was reported to be a drafstman. This then helps confirm the understanding that he had gone to England where he received training in naval architecture. It is thought this happened at Durham University, where it is likely he studied part time in the evening, apparently a common practice but it meant the students did not matriculate with a formal qualification.

When he returned to Australia he began designing boats in Melbourne before moving to Sydney in 1915 where he worked as a designer with Kidman Boats. In the early 1920s he had set up his own practice with offices in Pitt St Sydney. His plans were well drafted to the standards of the period, and included designs for dinghies, yachts, launches, ferries and possibly ships. Throughout his professional life he seems to have been known as AC Barber. The initials stand for Arthur Carlyle, but contemporary associates seem to have known him as Archie or Archibald and even Ali Barber.

Barber is best known for his many yacht designs. The typical Barber design is thought of as a raised-deck and often canoe sterned sloop, but his designs were actually quite varied. The Prince Class from 1925 and yachts such as STORMBIRD and AEOLUS seem to fit the typical pattern, but the metre boat style MISTRAL IV and COLEEN, which became the Derwent Class, show another side to his talents. LAURIANA, a 19 metre canoe-sterned motor sailer well known in Sydney is another design which shows the variety of types he produced. In the early 1920s he redrafted James Alderton's plans for the Australian 12 Foot Cadet Class so that a fully detailed set was available for amateur construction. In 1937 he designed a 6 metre for himself, but sold it to help pay off a debt.

Barber designed launches include the first MIRIMAR a luxury cruiser from 1925 for Stuart Doyle. When Doyle commissioned the 23 metre long MIRIMAR II from a US designer a few years later, Barber was also employed as the local design representative on the project.

RANI, the winner of the first Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 1945 is his most well-known design, and its simple looks and rugged construction are features common to Barber vessels. Barber also designed RIPPLE which won the Hobart race later in the 1950s.

He also designed a number of ferries, WANGI WANGI, built by W. Holmes Boat Builder in 1924 was used on the Central Coast.

He and his wife were owners of Heggarty Ferries during the 1950s and early 1960s. This small inner harbour service had a monopoly on the Luna Park amusement park service to North Sydney and was a popular company amongst the locals. It is believed Barber retired to the Blue Mountains after selling Heggarty Ferries. He and his wife settled in Hazelbrook and AC Barber died there on 13th November 1962.