The story behind the sculpture
The sculpture by Nola Farman at Brays Bay Reserve commemorates Commonwealth Ship Building Yard no. 4 which operated there during the Second World War.
As the war intensified in the Pacific there was a need for small vessels to operate in the waters to the north of Australia. The government established the Small Craft Directorate of the Department of Munitions to construct small shallow-draft ships, known as ‘lighters’. Several companies around Australia were involved in their construction. At Rhodes the Tulloch plant established shipbuilding facilities at Brays Bay. Tulloch concentrated on fabricating the bow, first mid-ship section and steel superstructure, while the stern and rear mid-ship sections were constructed by Waddingtons at Granville.
The exact number that were built and launched at Brays Bay is unclear but there were at least 13 and possibly as many as 24 vessels built according to David Jehan in his recently published book on Tulloch.
In addition to the sculpture, the site of the slipway is still visible and some of the names of the ships are recorded along it. The Australian War Memorial holds a fascinating series of drawings of the Tulloch operations at Brays Bay by R. Emerson Curtis.