Australian Sea Heritage online

ASHonline – published by the Sydney Maritime Museum; home of Sydney Heritage Fleet

Fleet People – Barry Jones

Barry Jones, an Honorary Life Member of Sydney Heritage Fleet, has spent an entire lifetime working in, on and around Sydney Harbour.

After gaining his Leaving Certificate he started as an apprentice fitter and turner at Cockatoo Island in 1940 and worked his way up to senior managerial positions at both Cockatoo and Garden Islands.

While training as a 4-year apprentice he gained his Diploma of Engineering at Ultimo Technical College. After 2 years as a fitter and turner’s apprentice at CI Barry was posted to the Drawing Office, specifically in the Boiler Squad. Towards the end of WWII he was sent to the UK to study British shipbuilding methods and whilst there worked at Polar Engineering in Glasgow, Vickers Armstrong and Harland and Wolff in Belfast.


Barry Jones (r) wearing his silver hardhat alongside Dennis Conner, US America’s Cup skipper, during a visit to the SHF’s Rozelle Bay workshop. In this photo Dennis is 63 years of age, Barry is 82. Seems that working on ship restoration keeps one fitter than sailing a yacht!!

On his return to Australia he went to the Machine Shop at Cockatoo Island as its Assistant Foreman. He then returned to the Drawing Office and, after 10 years was the Senior Design Draftsman (boiler design and manufacture). When the Australian Navy placed orders for Type 12 Frigates total interchangeability of parts was deemed essential and, in 1956, Barry applied for and was appointed to the position of Chief Inspector. He was subsequently accepted as a Professional Engineer by the Institute of Engineers Australia and became a NATA Signatory in metrology (jigs and gauges).

In the early 1960s the Navy programme finished and the CI yard began commercial ship production starting with the Spirit of Tasmania and Barry was promoted to Assistant Superintendent (Foundry & Boiler Shop). In 1964 the company was struggling and Barry went to Garden Island where he was responsible for Quality Assurance and Inspection in the Boiler Shop when GI began the American FFGs.

He retired from Garden Island at the age of 60 from the position of Superintendent, Engineering and Mechanical. He had, by then, spent a total of 23 years at Cockatoo Island and 19 years at Garden Island and been accepted into the Institute of Marine Engineers in 1946 and the Institute of Engineers Australia in 1956.

Barry’s 42 years of experience as a Marine Engineer has made him a leader of men (and women) and, when he joined the Sydney Heritage Fleet (SHF) in 1986, and became a volunteer the year after, he was a gift beyond imagination.

SHF has some 500 volunteers working in its workshop and docks at Rozelle Bay, in its offices in Pyrmont and crewing its ships. Barry was universally accepted and respected as leader of the Workshop and, in recognition of this fact, was presented with a “silver” hard hat by his fellow (volunteer) workmates. His knowledge and experience was essential in the restoration of James Craig and continued with the Fleet’s current restoration project of John Oxley.

Without his expertise and leadership skills neither project would have been possible. His intimate knowledge of shipyard techniques is acknowledged, not only by our shipyard workers but also by the marine professionals (Marine Architects, Surveyors and technical experts) with whom we deal. Interestingly, although Barry has worked his entire life in the maritime industry he is not a sailor. Early on he discovered that he was particularly subject to the dreaded “mal de mer” and that discovery decided a life on the sea was not for him.

Barry is a consummate believer in “Social Capital” which, by his definition, involves putting back into society what you have gained from it. During his volunteering years with the SHF he was the ultimate role model for this belief, working as he did, virtually every day the workshop was open since he became a volunteer with SHF. He nurtured, encouraged and shared his skills with virtually hundreds of volunteers who have gone through our workshop. He believed that by giving retirees something to do after they have retired from work, keeps them fitter, stronger, more mentally alert, more productive and, above all happier, than if they were to simply retire.

Barry lives in Gladesville and for many years ran to and from work, then walked to and from, then caught the bus one way. Just before he hung up his Silver hard hat and retired from the SHF workshop, Barry was happy to ride the bus in both directions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on 02/01/2016 by in SHF.


Follow Australian Sea Heritage online on
%d bloggers like this: