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VALDEMAR, a ferry  or charter vessel on the Swan

Sutton and Olsen

Sutton and Olsen began as a partnership in 1898 between Swedish born John Olsen and Harry ( Claes Herman) Sutton who also had comnnections to Scandanvia as a pilot. Olsen had settled in the Gippsland area around 1887 and worked in the timber industry. Sutton had emigrated Australia in the late 1890s and finally settled in Perth with his Swedish wife in 1908 where he joined with Olsen who was already building craft. Their boatbuilding yard was on the Swan River in Perth adjacent to the Barrack St Ferry wharf , and the pair developed a well-known boat-building, ferry and boat hire service.

They were owners of the VAL- boats which ran services on the Swan over many years. They also built some of the VAL- craft, and the first one, VALKYRIE, was launched in 1904. The next one VALHALLA was launched in 1905, and described in the 5 August Western Mail as “an attractive looking craft with a plumb stem and counter stern... She will run the Coode St Ferry service in conjunction with VALKYRIE, and when not so engaged will be open for hire. In a preliminary trial run on Monday afternoon she developed a very fair speed”.

In March 1907 John Olsen drowned after falling from a dinghy on the Swan River, and the death was treated as mysterious as he had been concerned about the hire business and the recent purchase of the ferry WESTRALIA, handled in conjunction with his brother Oscar Olsen who had recently arrived from Sweden. John Olsen's son Oscar Mouritz Olsen became a partner, and eventually also managed the business after Harry Sutton died in 1922. However tragedy struck again in 1935 when Oscar Mouritz also drowned, accidently falling from a launch unobserved, and being unable to get back aboard.

In 1922 their yard and that of C Hawkins was destroyed by fire, and amongst the vessels lost was the champion 18-foot skiff MELE BILO.