School of Arts

Peter Taylor

CRCAH doctoral candidate

The Port Phillip Bay lime trade – its operations, craft and shipwrecks

Melbourne was built with bricks, stone and render; vital as a bonding agent Peter Taylorfor these materials was lime. Lime was produced very early on in the nascent southern New South Wales colony of Port Phillip, by burning limestone. Beginning in the late 1830s lime-burning was carried out at the southern end of the bay between Rye and Portsea, and later Geelong. Without a road system in place lime was transported across the waters of Port Phillip Bay by small sailing vessels to Melbourne for on-selling to merchants and builders. As an enclosed maritime trading system there were inevitable wrecks and strandings that occurred. This thesis will explore the trading links in the chain of distribution, as well as researching and tabulating the various vessels involved in the lime trade. It will look for wreck clusters and weather patterns as causes. A conservation survey will be conducted on a lime wreck to look at construction techniques and to propose a signature model for a lime wreck. On-water infrastructure such as piers and jetties were important elements used in the loading process of the small lime-trading vessels. To increase our knowledge base of on-water infrastructure and shipwrecks, a select number of pier/jetty sites and shipwrecks will be searched for and surveyed with side scan sonar. Finally, limestone samples will be taken from various locations (in the study areas) and analysed with X-ray diffraction to identify their specific constituents, with the objective of establishing a lime source database.

Peter Taylor worked as a TAFE teacher for thirty years. His speciality was the ancient craft of stone-masonry, teaching apprentice stonemasons traditional craft-skills. At age 15 he gained certification as an open water scuba diver whilst still at school. This new skill and a friend's brother with a car and boat provided the means to discover and find shipwrecks–an interest he developed at 12 years of age. He began his working life a stone-masonry apprenticeship at age 17. In the ten years that Peter was a practicing artisan he worked on a series of historic buildings, monuments and sculptures, before pursuing a teaching qualification.

With an abiding interest in shipwrecks, he commenced his research career in his early twenties and began to find old, long lost shipwrecks. Research was a key element in the majority of his finds. He would spend most of his spare time at the State and National archives as well as the State Library of Victoria. As a vehicle for disseminating a vast array of historical information he began Scuttlebutt Press with retired merchant seaman Bob Leek.

Peter has been recognised by the Heritage Council of Victoria for work in finding and reporting historic shipwrecks as well as receiving the Jack Loney award in recognition of work as a researcher, author and dedicated volunteer. He has been a volunteer diver with Heritage Victoria for 30 years and a member of the Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria for 30 years. Peter presents a monthly segment on Radio Three Triple R, during Radio Marinara on Sunday mornings; with news and information on maritime archaeology and maritime history.

Peter lives near the water at the top of Hobson's Bay and is happily married to a very supportive wife and has two adult children and one grandchild.