Date posted: August 11, 2016

There aren’t too many family owned defence businesses in Australia, especially one that can trace its lineage back to a Scottish sailor Will Taylor, transported to Van Diemens Land in 1834 for breaking into a pub and making off with a keg containing seven gallons of the strongest whiskey. This business is Taylor Bros Marine, located on the Derwent River foreshores and on 7th August this year celebrating its 80th birthday.

Taylor Bros is a third generation family business that has grown from building timber yachts and small coastal and river craft to a widely diversified engineering company with a highly skilled workforce now employing 80 full time employees with operation centres in Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia.

With a range of contracts, including the manufacture and installation of accommodation into the three new air warfare destroyers, Taylor Bros is currently the state’s leading defence contractor.

Other work includes supplying and installing accommodation and equipment on the two Landing Helicopter Dock ships (LHDs), upgrading accommodation on HMAS Success, fitting out the interior of New Zealand’s two Offshore Patrol Vessels and upgrading accommodation on the now retired HMAS Kanimbla and HMAS Manoora.

Twice, the company has been contracted to scrub down and repaint US Nimitz-class aircraft carriers while moored in the Derwent following their return from the Middle East. Each needed 2500 litres of grey paint.
During WWII the company built Fairmile patrol boats and carried out repairs to visiting Liberty ships. The company had its first defence contract in 1985, supporting Attack-class patrol boats until Hobart’s own navy base HMAS Huon was decommissioned in 1994.

The company also outfits rigs and production platforms for the oil and gas industry and has even constructed modular accommodation for Davis Station in Antarctica.

With the Australian Defence Force set to acquire 12 new submarines, nine new frigates and a dozen new offshore patrol vessels, Taylor Bros directors Greg, Phillip and Jan Taylor see plenty more defence opportunities in their future.

“We are well-positioned to do outfitting for the OPVs and frigates. We have a good history in doing turn-key outfitting of ships. We do the whole turn-key arrangement from design detail to completion,” he said.

That includes crew accommodation cabins, including bunks and storage, wet areas, including ablutions, toilets and laundries, galleys, including benches and equipment, and crew messes.

Right now the company does around $16 million of defence business a year, with a permanent workforce of 60, rising to around 100 at contract peaks.

And Will Taylor the convict? He arrived in Hobart in 1834 and in the nine years before attaining freedom, accumulated a spectacular record of offences for drunkenness, disobedience, theft, being absent without leave, insolence and even one for being in a public house with a woman. Hence he had several unpleasant lashings with a cat of nine tails.  He married Anne Perry in 1841 and became a sailmaker, the first of an enduring line of six generations of shipbuilders.

 Taylor Bros as it’s now known was founded in 1936, building timber-hulled yachts and small coastal and river craft.