Some of the most striking examples of residential Art Deco were built in Burnie by Mr Frederick Parsons. Parson’s had a reputation for being a “quality builder… on a par with Carter and Peace, although he generally took on smaller works”*.

In 1935, Frederick started to scale back his involvement in the family business after a joinery accident left him without three fingers. On April 12, 1936, just one day before their 30th wedding anniversary, Frederick and his wife Hilda boarded the ship Nairana, on what they told their family was to be a “second honeymoon”. They travelled with their daughter, Jean, a fully qualified nurse, to Melbourne where she would take up a midwifery training post. They planned to visit their son Keith, who had joined the RAAF in Sydney, before returning to Melbourne for a niece’s wedding.

After a particularly calm Bass Strait crossing, a freak wave hit the Nairana early Sunday morning, sweeping all three members of the Parson’s family overboard.

Frederick’s brother Ernest moved to Burnie from Launceston to continue on the family business. The couple’s eldest daughter Elsie was left to look after the younger members of their seven children.




*Aubury Keane (local builder) 2007



Frederick and Hilda Parsons with their children Keith, Aubrey, Elsie, Jean, Wilbur, Ralph, and Leonard.

One of the last Parsons commissions - house for K Button.

TSS Nairana

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