Royal Reels: Gambling


The red 1d NSW ‘Shield’ postcard was postmarked WEDDERBURN/ JA 11/ 1904/ N.S.W and addressed to a Bicycle Deater in Gympie, Queensland (Figure 1).

The reverse is printed as Frank Grimley Ltd, 263 Clarence Street, near the Town Hall Sydney, 11th January 1904, Tanners & Curriers, Wholesale Saddlers, Coach Ironmongers, and Bicycle Importers (Figure 2).

Frank Grimley, hardware merchant and coachbuilder, was born in 1853 at Birmingham, England, son of Edwin Grimley, saddler and coachbuilder, and his wife Mary, née Benton. Educated at King Edward’s School, Grimley joined the Birmingham firm of Insole & Grimley in 1867, receiving a training in the coach and saddler’s ironmongery business. In 1880 he came to Australia as a manufacturer’s agent, and he bought the saddlery branch of E. Williams & Co., Sydney, and in 1883 began his own business. By the late 1880s he had built a five-storey warehouse in Clarence Street and in the early 1890s he took over two coachbuilding firms. By 1895 Frank Grimley, saddlers and coachbuilders, were one of the largest wholesalers in the trade, holding agencies for a number of related products. The firm was described as ‘one of the most aggressive and progressive coach-ironmongers in Australia’, by the Australasian Coachbuilder and Saddler.

Like many successful entrepreneurs, Grimley bitterly opposed government intervention in business. He railed against the 10 per cent tax which the New South Wales government placed upon coachbuilders’ materials in the early 1890s. In 1895 he urged cab-drivers in Sydney to reduce their charges to stimulate trade, which he claimed would benefit them, coachbuilders and the public alike. He advocated standardization of vehicle parts and served for a time as the treasurer of the Freetrade and Land Reform League. He also devoted time to voluntary welfare, being a founder of the Queen Victoria Homes for Consumptives and of the Hospital Saturday Fund of New South Wales in 1894.

He retired from active control of his firm in 1907 but remained on the board. Grimley Ltd was registered in May 1920 with Grimley as the first chairman. The early 1920s were good years for the company but in 1925 the directors explained that falling profit was due to ‘the rapid displacement of horse carriages by motor transport’. By 1927 Grimley Ltd managed to get a toe-hold in the motor accessory trade and this proved profitable, but losses were still incurred in liquidating unsaleable old stock. Grimley persisted with his long-held abhorrence of taxation. I n 1928 he wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald attacking any form of levy on the rich on the grounds that it ‘diminishes enterprise and production by taking unduly from the funds of the employers of labour’. At St Peter’s Anglican Church, Sydney, on 19 September 1887 Grimley had married Amy Sparrow. He died, aged 77, in hospital at Stanmore on 1 June 1930 and he was survived by a son and three daughters.

This paper was abstracted from the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Categories: Business, Postcards