Perkins - 2


Bruce Perkins wanted to build another barge and he suggested I come in partnerships with him. He had an old barge before, but Nick Heenan sunk it through a bit of bad seamanship by unloading one side before the other so it had a bad list when a bit of a blow hit them. We registered the firm Northern Territory Landing Craft; you can still see the name up over the door on Bruce's business.

I visited Captain Kennedy again and bought a barge he had to sell. I spent six months in Stockton building the Hawk. It was named the Hawk before we bought it; it was the first initials of the four brothers that owned it: Harry, Albert, Willy and Keith. We bought it and then put motors in her and fixed her up fine. And we were going real good and I spent - oh, I don't know how much I spent on that one - about seventy thousand dollars. Bought Rolls Royce engines and all things like that. I got it nearly finished and I kept asking Bruce for money: 'When you're going to come good with money. My account's overdue at Rolls Royce. I owe 'em for parts.' And Rolls Royce - you're looking at fifteen or twenty thousand pounds a pop for their engines, you see. And I'd bought two. And then had day labourers - I'd get people working for me during the week but two fellows used to come and work for me during the weekend, moonlighters, ten pound for the whole weekend. And they were real happy about that. One bloke'd bring his own rods and weld perfect. Eventually I told Bruce. I said: 'No, its no good. If we're going to be like this now and we're not going, what's it going to be like when we're going?'

I had earlier talked to a man named David Grey in Sydney - he was chief of Nabalco. I see his name occasionally in big business now; must've got on quite well. He told me about the Nabalco contract and I had a little arrangement to see that we get it. But Bruce went in and he signed up so I was with a barge and Bruce had his name on the contract. So I said: 'You buy me out or I'll buy you out.' Bruce had only $740 in it, and some steel he had bought, no parts in it; all that he had in it was the name on the business. I quickly got to work about selling it; put an advertisement in the paper. His accountant in Wollongong, named Russ Gold - he was also my accountant and a very good one too - and he apparently saw that advertisement in the paper and rang Bruce and they panicked. Bruce said, “No, no, don’t do this” and he was a very nice guy in many ways, but very shrewd in business. Next thing Bruce was down in Stockton with Cronin, who used to be bank manager at the Bank of New South Wales, but he'd been transferred to the Commonwealth Development Bank. And he said he would look over the barge and all the dockets and all that and so; which I could hardly believe but I'd got my eye on getting out so that was it. They lent Bruce the money and he bought me out plus two hundred pounds a week, plus two thousand pounds, I think.


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