Emigrating from Scotland in 1856 and settling in Bellerive, the O’May family came to dominate the trans-Derwent ferry service. Crossing the river was potentially dangerous and many lives had been lost through the negligence & drunkenness of the ferrymen.
In 1864, Thomas & Robert O’May started rowing passengers across the Derwent in an open boat and a few years later they were joined by their younger brother James. The O’May brothers were the first to run their service to a timetable and they developed a reputation for reliability. In 1870’s the O’Mays acquired a steam launch and as trade continued to increase they purchased progressively larger vessels.
Robert O’May lived at Fairview in Victoria Esplanade, Bellerive. Built in 1894, the grand residence commanded a fine view across the Derwent towards Hobart & Mount Wellington. The stone from which the building is constructed has a particularly rich golden color.
Robert was of strictly steady & industrial habits and took a great deal of interest in matters pertaining to the welfare of Bellerive. He was a member of the Bellerive Town Board and attended the meeting that actually named Victoria Esplanade.
Three generations of O’Mays worked in the family firm before the opening of the floating bridge in 1943 effectively superseded the work of the ferries. Fairview remains in wonderful condition and remains a private residence to this day. A truly beautiful residence.
Main Text & Information Source –
“The Story of Bellerive – Street by Street” – Donald Howatson 2015