Freotopia > Harbour Masters (See also: Port, Pilots.)

Fremantle Harbour Masters

Captain Mark John Currie, 1829-1832. Ewers writes (3) that Commander Currie was appointed by Lt-Governor Stirling during the voyage aboard the Parmelia, which arrived 2 June 1829. However, according to Statham-Drew (2004: 25), it was the Colonial Office that appointed Captain Currie as first harbour master, 31 December 1828. >

< Captain Daniel Scott, 1839-1851, was Deputy Harbour Master from 1829, and then Harbour Master from 1839-1851. He was also the first chairman of the Fremantle Town Trust 1848-1851, 1853-1854, and 1856-1858. He arrived 5 August 1829 on the Calista, the second ship to bring passengers to the colony. He invested in the Fremantle Whaling Company which paid for the construction of the Whalers Tunnel underneath Arthur Head.

Captain James Harding, 1851-1867. Captain James Harding was Harbour Master from 1851 until 23 June 1867, when he drowned while attempting to assist a ship in distress in Gage Roads. Four of his crew drowned with him, included Peter Dandie. John Tapper was among those attempting a rescue. Harding's body was not found until weeks later, identified by the clothing, on the beach at Garden Island, after which his remains were interred 12 August.

Captain George J. Butcher, 1867-1868 (acting)

Lieutenant James Croke, 1868-1874. Croke Street/Lane are named for him.

In January 1880 as a result of the formation of the Harbour and Light Department, the position of Chief Harbour Master of the Colony of Western Australia was created with responsibility for the ports – Vasse, Bunbury, Geraldton, Port Irwin, Cossack and Fremantle (the only exception being Albany). The Harbour Masters of the ports mentioned would have been responsible to the Chief Harbour Master. Capt Forsyth, the serving Fremantle Harbor Master in 1880 took on the position of Chief Harbour Master, until he was dismissed in 1886. Charles Russell was then appointed as Chief Harbour Master serving until 1902, Capt Irvine was appointed Chief Harbour Master in 1902 and served until 1916. It would appear that Russell and Irvine, like Forsyth, undertook dual roles of Chief Harbour Master and Fremantle Harbour Master. It appears the roles were separated from 1917 with Capt Winzar being Chief Harbour Master of Western Australia from 1917 until 1926. In that period Capt Morrison was acting Fremantle Harbour Master 1917-1921 followed by the appointment of Capt Nicholas as Fremantle Harbour Master 1921-1937. (Alan Pearce)

< Captain George Forsyth, 1874-1886 was the fifth Fremantle Harbour Master, from 1874, and then in 1879 was appointed by Governor Harry Ord as head of the new Harbour and Light Department. He was therefore first chief Harbour Master for the Colony of Western Australia (1879–1886).


Captain Charles R.T. Russell, 1886-1902. Captain Charles Robert Tilden Russell was Chief Harbour Master 1886-1902, and also a painter. The Maritime Museum Art Collection in Fremantle holds works painted on his journey from England to take up his post. >

< Captain Charles James Irvine, 1902-1916 was the commander of the Adelaide Steamship Co's SS Rob Roy. He joined Western Australian service in March, 1891, as pilot at Albany. He was appointed Chief Harbourmaster in November, 1902, and retired from that position in May, 1917.

Captain Frank Winzar (July 1860 - 17 September 1937) was the Master of the SS Bulimba before being appointed Harbour Master of Geraldton. He was later Harbour Master of Albany where he was highly commended by the Rear Admiral of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet in 1908. He was eventually appointed Chief Harbour Master and later the Western Australian Superintendent of Harbour and Lights. Captain Winzar was Chief Harbour Master of Western Australia from 1917 until 1926.

Captain John Francis Morrison, 1917-1921 (acting) >

Captain Harold Stevens Nicholas, 1921-1937

Captain William Raymond Clack, 1937-1940

Captain Willie Kenneth Saunders, 1940-1945

Captain Albert Ernest Trivett, 1945-1953. Captain's Lane

Captain Forrest H.B. Humble, 1953-1965, v. George Humble.

Captain Alexander B. Brackenridge, 1965-1968

Captain John Adams, 1968-1972, 100 years old 15 Mar 2016

Captain Robert S. Campbell, 1972-1976

Captain Michael Coleman, 1976-1986

Captain John Barron, 1986-1988

< Captain Eric J. Atkinson, 1988-2008, longest-serving

Captain Allan J. M. Gray, 2008-2020 >

Acting Harbour Master, Captain David Heppingstone, second half of 2020 to end January 2021

< Captain Savio Fernandez, 2021-

Peter Wright, Captain Jack Adams, Captain Robert Campbell, Robert Manford, 1974

Captain Michael Coleman, c. 1968

Captain A.B. Brackenridge, tug Yuna, 1962

Several harbour masters were painters, including George Forsyth, Charles Russell (and E.J. Miller? [Dowson 2011: 27])

References and Links

Many thanks to Fremantle Ports for the chronology of Harbour Masters above.

Many thanks to Alan Pearce and Fremantle Ports for the photos of five recent and present harbour masters. And thanks again to Alan Pearce for more information about Winzar - and more: cheers!

Thanks to Portfolio, Fremantle Ports Community Newsletter, March 2016, from which the photos at the bottom of the page were taken.

Dowson, John 2011, Fremantle Port, Chart and Map Shop Fremantle.

Ewers, John K. 1971, The Western Gateway: A History of Fremantle, Fremantle City Council, with UWAP, rev. ed. [1st ed. 1948].

Forsyth, Ron K. & Ian K. 2019, A Hazardous Life, Maritime Heritage Association, launched at Fremantle Ports, 26 March 2019.

Statham-Drew, Pamela 2004, James Stirling and the Birth of the Swan River Colony, Pandorus, Swanbourne.

Garry Gillard | New: 21 June, 2015 | Now: 26 July, 2023