Fletcher's Slip

The [South Australian] Company provided basic infrastructure for the new colony and sold or leased land to immigrants who came to settle. This is relevant as one of ships brought and offloaded a Patent Slip, it was never used and left abandoned on the island. [K.I.]

(A patent slip was one which used a cradle on rails to pull ships out of the water and it was patented . . .)

Fletcher was born Henry Cruickshank Flett in Strathness, Orkney, Scotland in 1820. Flett was a common Orkney name and both Henry and his brother changed their surname to Fletcher. Fletcher served his apprenticeship as a shipwright in Scotland and arrived here in June 1849 aboard the brigantine Camilla from Leith with his wife and 2 children.

Henry Fletcher, being a shipwright saw his opportunity and on 20/9/1849, he and a Mr Isbister his partner, leased from the South Australian Company 2 acres of land in section 916 for 21 years at £10 per year, to build a shipyard and apparently also bought the abandoned slip on Kangaroo Island from the South Australian Company. As the SA Co had their own ships, it was for their benefit too and every assistance was provided.

The laying of the slip and its construction was a heavy task in 1849 and 1850. The Register (24/1/50) recorded the progress of the work, but it was not completed till 1851 and the partnership with Mr Isbister didn’t last long.

Fletcher's business boomed and within ten years he needed to build a bigger slip. He was not prepared, however, to make such an investment on land for which he held a lease, for only about ten more years. 

As an owner of large ships, the South Australian Company was keen to see a larger slip built and so were persuaded to sell Fletcher the freehold of his land. 

Fletcher ordered a much larger patent slip from the Dunnikier Foundry in Scotland. It was shipped to Port Adelaide in two lots, the first arriving in 1862. The slip was completed in 1867. Fletcher's shipyard was by far the largest in the colony

The new slip was very large and designed to take 2000 tons. It extended along the river bottom, 360 feet into the river, approximately to the middle of Gawler Reach. The installation of the Dunnikier slip was completed by 23rd January 1867.

The two slips continued to work simultaneously. The Marine Board in their usual ineptness objected to the slip as the slip rails travelled 360 feet underwater into the River which came under their jurisdiction. They couldn’t identify the benefit to the colony a slip of this size was. The Board, consisting of about 6 people, determined that a lease should be taken out or the rails removed from the river within 12 months. . . .

Port Adelaide Historical Society, Facebook


See also FLETCHER'S SLIP. (1917, May 3). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 8. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59145559 

Fletcher's Slip is now the name of a large residential and commercial development in Port Adelaide. See https://www.facebook.com/fletchersslip/