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Lars Halvorsen

Norwegian/Australian, 1887 - 1936

Lars Halvorsen founded a family boat building business in Sydney in 1924. He learned the basics of boat building from his father Halvor Anderson (1829-1906), a farmer who built small wooden rowboats and fishing boats in Norway. From 1906 Lars worked in shipyards in New York, Connecticut and Long Island before returning to Norway in 1909 to marry and establish the Helle Baatbyggeri, at Helle on the Nid River in the south of the country.

While the boat yard thrived through World War I, the following years brought hardship as boat orders declined. A failed business venture involving the loss of an uninsured vessel at sea forced Lars to close business. With little chance of reopening a boatyard in Norway Lars chose to relocate his business and family to Cape Town in 1922-3 and then to Australia in 1924-5.

While in South Africa Lars Halvorsen gained a reputation for designing and building elegant yachts and sound fishing boats, initially as an independent operator and then in partnership as Louw and Halvorsen. His ambition was to establish a boatbuilding business with his sons. Each of his five sons became apprenticed to their father when they turned 14.

In 1924 Lars sailed to Sydney followed by his eldest son Harold and by the rest of his family the following year. By 1925 Lars and Harold were working out of a shed in Drummoyne, Sydney, on the yacht SIRIUS, their first Australian commission. Lars moved his fledgling business to a rented yard in Careening Cove in 1925 and then to a permanent site with its own slipways and moorings at Neutral Bay in 1927. By 1935 all five of his sons were working at the boatyard.

Lars was principal designer, working on designs at night after putting in a full day in the boatyard. Lars Halvorsen died in 1936 leaving a business which produced deluxe motor cruisers as well as a diverse range of working boats. The business continued trading from 1937 as Lars Halvorsen Sons Pty Ltd with Harold as chief designer and managing director and other family members appointed as directors.