Lake Macquarie History

Harry Linsley

William Henry Linsley was born in Wallsend in 1886. He was the fourth of nine children to miner Joseph Dobinson Linsley and his wife [Mary] Amy. He served in the Great War, returning to live his long life out as an amputee.

Young Harry began his working life as an assistant baker under the charge of George Shoesmith. There was some dispute about wages, however, and in 1902 Harry left and opened up his own bakery in opposition to Mr Shoesmith. The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate reports on Harry's father Joseph suing Mr Shoesmith on his behalf for wages due to him (June 10, 1902). The case was heard before Mr Love S. M. and the verdict was in favour of the Linsleys.

Harry married May Thompson at Wallsend n 1909. Daughter Nellie was born in 1910, Henry followed in 1911 and Harold arrived in 1913. With the advent of war, twenty-eight year old Harry - like so many young men at the time - enlisted. His service records indicate he enlisted in July 1915 and in November of that year embarked aboard the Beltana for Suez, leaving behind his wife and three children. He listed his occupation as a colliery fireman.

photo: harry linsleyl

Harry served in the Middle East and France, where injuries from the latter battle field resulted in the amputation of his right leg in November 1917. The photo to the left shows Harry with some of his service mates in France (obtained via AWM website). He returned to Australia aboard the Karoola in August 1918, arriving before a large welcoming committee at Teralba Railway Station in September of the same year. The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate reported on 10 May 1919 that a committee had been formed to support Harry and his family and to assist them in "getting their own home".

In July of the same year, the newspaper notes that W. H. Linsley had asked for "permission to run a ferry between Speers Point and Teralba", and was appointed. This was the beginning of his renowned business venture, which included the constructon of a kiosk in 1920 on the largest of the Five Islands, opposite Speers Point Park, Cockle Creek It was from here that Harry operated his daily ferry service, offering a return service to the island, where passengers could access Teralba via a rough track. Miners from Warners Bay and Speers Point paid three shillings for Harry to row them to the island, where they would ride push bikes to their respective mines (Pacific and Northern Extended Collieries).

photo: linsley's boat shed

To supplement the ferry service income, Harry offered boats for hire and sold cordials, sweets and fruit from the kiosk. Men's and women's swimming costumes were also hired out. After use they were washed out and strung out along clotheslines decorating the island. Harry's family helped out by manning the kiosk. During weekends and on holidays the nearby park was a social hub, particularly for the mining commmunity and Linsley's Kiosk and boat hire flourished. From one rowboat, the business expanded to a fleet of sixteen craft for hire. The image above shows the Linsley family at the kiosk.

In an article published in the Newcatle Herald circa 1982, Harry's son, Harry junior recalls his younger days helping out at the kiosk and ferry run. "I remember days when my hands would be cramped into curves from pulling on the oars for hours at a time. We would carry up to 15 people in the boat, some of them standing."

photo: five islands bridge

The business closed in 1929 after the construction of a pedestrian bridge across Cockle Creek in 1928. Harry then took up a nightwatchman job in a Newcastle timber yard. Some time later he was employed by Stewarts and Lloyds as part of its cleaning staff. Retirement came sometime in the early 1950s, after Harry suffered from crutch paralysis in both hands, which required hospital treatment in Sydney. Electoral rolls indicate that by 1980 Harry resided at C. A. Brown Anglican Village, Booragul.

His beloved wife Amy died in 1966 and Wiliam Henry Linsley died 26 May 1983.