image by Ivan Sache, 11 December 2015
Peter Callen & Sons Ltd. Shipbuilders and shipowners etc at Stockton around the beginning of the 20th Century flying a vertical biband of white and red with the letters "PC&S" counterchanged from.
The Callen brothers were major players in the growth of Stockton. They owned one of the biggest shipyards, which built a wide range of vessels like tugs, lighters and ferries, as well as constructing sea walls, wharves and bridges. They provided lighterage services for the harbour, and also disposed of Mayﬁeld’s nightsoil by towing it out to sea on barges, and they had their own big timber yard, steam sawmill, joinery and slipway. In 1895 the partnership between the Callen brothers split up and Peter Callen went out on his own with his son. (Jean Purtell gives this date as 1890). After he had built the wharf for the newly-opened colliery he set up a new slipway near the present-day 16-footer club while the other brothers set up another shipyard and slip at North Stockton, opposite the Seamens’ Mission near what is now The Boatrowers Hotel. Peter Callen & Sons Ltd retained the
ownership of the cargo punt.
Things chugged along pretty uneventfully for another ten years, but come the turn of the new century Peter Callen found that the demands of the cargo punt service were making things difficult for him in his major enterprise, which was shipbuilding, and in 1901 he took steps to convert the cargo punt service into a limited liability company. Around the same time the Newcastle Council came to the conclusion that the punt should be run by the State Government, and soon Peter Callen was assailed by a series of complaints about his service. Chief among these dissatisfactions was the fare being charged to use the punt.
The Council couldn’t seem to get its act together to build a new bit of infrastructure (surprise, surprise!) and Peter Callen felt
increasingly unappreciated and truculent. Things continued on this mutually sour and surly note for the best part of another decade, and it took until 1916 before the powers that be had finally managed to get their arse into gear. In March of that year
Callen Bros were relieved of the thankless task of carrying the public and its goods across the harbour, and a brand spanking new, purpose-built, steam-powered vehicular ferry built by the Public Works Department at Walsh Island took over the
service. It was called the Mildred.