Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Charles Rosman

Interviewed by Nancy Johnson on 26 June 1996
Subject: ,

Nancy Johnson. So your father bought a boatshed was it?

Charles Rosman. No, it was a fellow that had the land here. All the land in this area was a grant by the government to a chap named Harnett. This was part of it here. When he went to Harnett about buying land, and he told him this that the fellow that had the shed here was only paying ten shillings a week, it wasn’t dollars in those days – and he owed one hundred and sixty pounds. When my father bought the land he said: well what are we going to do? I’ve got to earn money with it, and this fellow said: he couldn’t pay much as a boatshed, because they didn’t get much for boats in those days. He said that if my father built him a new boatshed – a good sort of boatshed with slipways, he would pay him one pound a week. My father said ‘yes’, and he built the shed and when it was within a couple of weeks of being finished the fellow said ‘oh I can’t pay that, I’ll only give you the ten shillings’. My father said ‘no you won’t, I’ll take it on myself’, so that’s how he came to be in the boat business. He was an energetic chap and he started as a hobby building small boats, and that’s how he came to be in the business. He died on the 1st August 1914; the day Germany declared war, the First World War. It sticks in my mind a bit.

Anyway I stuck with him and worked with him building the boats, and I got to be a boat builder, the same as a lot of others. That’s how I started in boats. When he died he had two ferry boats, one carried 35, ‘The Regal’ and another one called ‘Regina’ carried 55. When he died I was of course, the man of the house. I was nearly 16 then, in 1914. So I’ve been my own boss, more or less, all my life. Mother took charge of the shed, storing boats in the shed and that, and I did the work.