Wallah Wallah boats

Sun, 09/27/2015 - 16:44

The Connaught Road elevated walkway is in the background

Date picture taken
4 Aug 1981


Having travelled on these work-boats for about 6 years to and from work in the 1960s-70s it never occured to me to ask from where they evolved. They were licensed to carry around 30 passengers.

From being extremely common, they all seem to have disappeared from the harbour.

As the hull shapes are very similar between each of them, were they originally lifeboats discarded from the ship-breaking industries?


I believe the Wallah Wallahs were classified as 'type 1'  and were only licenced to operate within the harbour itself.  They provided the only means of getting across the harbour when the Star ferries  closed down between about 0100hrs and 0600hrs and were reputedly so called because of the rather loud 'puttering' noise that their engines made.  They were also used as the means to get to and from the huge number of merchant ships that moored out in the harbour and I believe that some firms contracted them to provide a regular means of shipping small cargoes across the harbour.  They basically went out of business when the first cross harbour road tunnel was opened, although I have a feeling that some of the operators might have switched to larger launches capable of going outside the harbour.  Perhaps the design of these smaller Wallah  Wallahs was based on redundant lifeboats but I think that they were mainly purpose built. Andrew