The Bill Allen Collection

The Bill Allen Collection comprises a comprehensive collection of photographs of Sydney’s Ferries from the mid 1800’s to the present.

Bill was born in Chatswood, NSW and his interest in Sydney’s ferries began at the age of 4, when his parents moved to Hunters Hill. A local neighbour, Mr David Ireland, who later became the Works Manager for Sydney Ferries Limited, introduced Bill to  the historical significance of Sydney’s earliest form of transport.

Bill’s career was in the banking and finance industry. However, he did have a period as Commercial Manager of Sydney Ferries from 1989.

In 1974, Bill’s seven year old daughter Joanne was given the honour of launching the Lady Northcott at Carrington Slipways in Newcastle. In 1975, Bill introduced the showboat Wangi Queen to Lake Macquarie.

He created the vision for The Great Ferry Boat Race on Sydney Harbour, and was the organiser of the first two races in 1980 and 1981. The Festival of Sydney has continued Bill’s legacy with the Sydney Harbour Ferrython, a key feature of Australia Day festivities on the Harbour..

He retired in 2006, and continues to collate and preserve the history of Sydney ferries, and it’s acquisitions, for the benefit of future generations.

The SHF Maritime Records and Research Centre has a series of folders containing prints of ferries which have been digitised and categorised with the headings below.

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Anyone interested in investigating the images is invited to contact the Curator of the SHF Maritime Records and Research Centre, either by phoning 02 9298 3888 or emailing mrrc@shf.org.au.

For costs and availability of obtaining any of these photos without watermark, as an electronic file, as a print from the original negative (where available) or as some other format, contact the Maritime Records and Research Centre’s Curator, quoting the full file name and giving details of format wanted.

Copyright for the majority of these images from the collection is vested in the Sydney Heritage Fleet. For the remaining images every attempt has been made to ensure correct attribution. If any originator of an image notes an error, the Sydney Heritage Fleet would welcome any notification and will remove that image or modify its attribution.

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Lady Class Ferries

Lady class ferries first operated in 1892 and continue in service today. 

K Class Ferries

K class ferries first operated from 1891 and continued in service until 1985. 

First Fleet and Rivercat Ferries

The collection includes photos of ferries which have catamaran hulls.

Manly Ferries

Ferries which operated on the run to Manly from Circular Quay.

Balmain and Watsons Bay Ferries

Photos of ferries which operated to Balmain and Watsons Bay.

Parramatta and Lane Cove River Ferries

Ferries which serviced passengers on the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers.

Ferry Wharves

The collection includes photos of ferry wharves around Sydney Harbour.

Private Ferry Operators

Ferry services were provided on Sydney Harbour by private operators.

North Shore Steam Ferry Company

North Shore Steam Ferry Company was one of the first companies to operate ferries on Sydney Harbour..