Skip to main content
Menu

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

H.B.G Larkin, 1928

L E. Reynolds

pen and ink on paper

Herbert Benjamin George Larkin CBE (c. 1871- 1944), shipping administrator, came to Australia from England and joined the office of the Australian Steam Navigation Company. In 1887 the ASN Co merged with the Queensland Steam Shipping Co to become the Australasian United Steam Navigation Co (AUSN Co). Larkin worked as a clerk for the AUSN Co, became its accountant in Cooktown, its chief clerk in Adelaide and then its chief clerk in Melbourne. In the years before the First World War he was vitally involved in the horse shipping business of the British India and Steam Navigation Co Ltd. With a reputation for knowing the shipping business inside out, in 1914 he was headhunted by the Minister for Defence and was granted repeated leave from the AUSN to go to London for the Commonwealth Naval Department in connection with the securing, loading and dispatch of transports for the troops of the Expeditionary forces, negotiating rates for charter at a special Admiralty Arbitration Court. Again in Melbourne, in 1916 he was appointed manager of the new Commonwealth Shipping Line – a fleet of fifteen steamships purchased by the Government to help move Australian wool, wheat and other goods stranded here on account of the war. During the war he worked closely with Prime Minister Billy Hughes on matters to deal with shipping, particularly the contentious issue of whether the government should own a shipping company (indeed the Commonwealth Shipping Line was known as the Billy Hughes Line). Between 1923 and 1926 Larkin was chairman of the board of the Commonwealth Shipping Line; in the ensuing years Hughes strongly opposed government initiatives to dispose of the business, but it was sold off by the anti-socialist Prime Minister Stanley Bruce in 1928. Having held a senior position with P and O, Larkin retired in the late 1930s to become a grazier in the Crookwell district, living on a property named Wharekarori. Larkin’s son, flying ace Herbert Joseph Larkin, won the Distinguished Flying Cross for bringing down eleven enemy aircraft in the First World War.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012

Accession number: 2012.190

Currently not on display

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

L E. Reynolds

Herbert Benjamin George Larkin CBE (age 57 in 1928)

Subject professions

Business, trades and industry

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia


Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.