The large, three-storey historic stone building at 221-223 St. Vincent Street in Port Adelaide is one of the last vestiges of a business once integral to South Australia’s maritime commerce. Its founder, William Russell, was a prominent figure in the nineteenth century Port and one of the community’s best-known sail-makers and ships’ chandlers. Born in Great Britain, he immigrated to South Australia with his family while still a child and later learned sail-making from Captain Edward French. Russell subsequently worked in the sail-making industry and entered into a business partnership before starting his own sail-making shop and chandlery in 1870. The business continued to operate after his death and passed on sail-making traditions to subsequent generations through apprenticeship. One of these individuals, Don Lucas, Jr., was the last owner of William Russell’s business and is Australia’s only surviving traditional sail-maker. His work is internationally recognised, and he has manufactured sails for some of the world’s most significant historic watercraft.
Left: Don Lucas Sr and Jnr with staff at William Russell c.1960
South Australian Maritime Museum collection, HT861871
Right: William Russell Ship's Chandlers, 2015
Courtesy of/Photographer: Adam Paterson, South Australian Maritime Museum