Search the Register
Advanced Search
Gronfors at the tiller of ILMA JEAN which he built.

Ivar " Chips" Gronfors

Ivar Gronfors, known as 'Chips' was a Finnish shipwright who jumped ship in Newcastle in 1909. He was born August Ivar Gronfors on the 3rd of September 1885, at Finno Island, Finland and was the son of a master mariner and navigator, Matheus August Gronfors.

Chips was by all accounts a fine boat builder who constructed many craft including large ferries, launches, power boats and yachts. Gronfors skill with the adaze and use of hand tools and the large amount of wood chips he created led to his nickname "Chips".

He first worked in the Newcastle area of NSW, then moved to Tasmania where he was employed at Charles Lucas' shed on Battery Point, Hobart. Lucas was one of the well respected builders of the early 1900s period. He travelled to New Zealand and the Pacific in the 1930s, and finally settled on the Central Coast of NSW where he became one of the region's principal yacht and boat builders. Reports show that his yard was in Carrington, and that the business was named G and L Gronfors.

Amongst the craft he designed and built were the motor launches BROADBILL and MOANI, a number of speedboats including a craft capable of carrying 15 passengers to service the sealplane that flew between Sydney and Newcastle, and the yacht HINEMOA. He also built the HASTINGS, a pilot boat for Port Macquarie on the NSW coast, and TASSIE, the first Restricted 21 Foot Class yacht from Tasmania, during his time with the Lucas' yard.

An unusual report from 1929 shows that Gronfors was living in Tea Gardens near Port Stephens, and was intending to build a seaplane 'under the supervision of Flight Lieut. Curzon F. de Hamel, late A.F.C., but now and oyster lessee at Port Stephens" .