What are watermen?
Watermen were boatmen licenced to ferry passengers. With watermen working on New South Wales waterways these could be an untapped source for family and maritime history.
We hold the following records:
- NRS 10824, Watermen’s Licences, Apr 1911-Feb 1935, [X2332]
- NRS 9847, Watermen’s Licences, Sep 1936-Sep 1953, [X2333]
These main series also include Botany Bay, Georges River and Brisbane Water (Central Coast) and North Coast.
Each licence records the name, address, and signature of the holder; the licence number; registration number of the boat (same as the licence number); the locality the licence applies to ( area but can be specific `not beyond the bar’); the maximum number of passengers allowed; and the date of issue of the licence. A schedule of fares and rates chargeable by the watermen is usually given on the back of the licence.
- NRS 10925, Port of Newcastle, Watermen’s Licences, 1912-24, [X2334-35] (only a few, appears to be incomplete)
- NRS 9822, Maritime Services Board Special Bundles;
- Licenced watermen on Sydney Harbour, 1902-08, [7/7500.2]. These lists record the name, licence/permit number and plying from (situation) and on some lists the name of the boat. Also included is a list ’those addicted to drink and those with convictions recorded against them, 1907’
- Applications for watermen's licenses and licenses for lighters (vessels) subject to seaworthiness, 1921-23, [8/2036.15] This appears to contain a sample of applications together with the inspector’s report. The sample includes Sydney, Central Coast and Newcastle.
Whilst the records have not been indexed they are on our waiting list to be indexed by our wonderful volunteers, the records are in rough chronological order so if you are sure of the period they may be worth a look.
Content on this page was first published in the December 2013 edition of Now&Then (Issue 65).