Page 17 - Fruit, Merchants and Machinery

The loss to our friends, the growers was severe, but after considerable correspondence, and one or two interviews which I had with the manager the Orient Company generously promised me that they would recompense our clients for their loss, and this was accordingly done.

"Shortly after this, circumstances led to my retirement from my uncle's service, and by a coincidence Messrs. Fryer and Co. also relinquished the London fruit trade. I then came to the conclusion, after receiving widespread promises of support, that it would be my best course to devote my energies towards the steady development of this branch of Tasmanian commerce and commencing business on my own account, I have been enabled to study its various phases, and have endeavored, though perhaps somewhat imperfectly, to further its best interests. To show how this London trade has grown, I may mention that during the last three years an aggregate of no less than 230,000 cases have been shipped through my office, besides an inter-colonial business of fair proportions.

"Respecting the results of our apple trade with London for the season just passed, although some of the fruit suffered severely in transit, it has, as a whole, been the most successful year we have had, the total amount of net cash divisible among the fruit growers from purchases made on account of London and London account sales will unitedly probably reach between £19,000 and £20,000, and l am sanguine enough to believe that, " barring disaster," it will next year approximate to £30,000. The brokers are particularly pleased with the fruit supplied them this season, and which they say has done much to win back again the good name of Tasmanian apples. Past experiences have been bitter, but they taught us many useful lessons, such as the kinds of apples best adapted to stand the voyage, the time to cease shipping, how to pack, and many other details which go to make a successful whole. In some other articles of export we cannot successfully compete with the neighboring colonies, but our cool climate at the seaboard gives us the advantage over them in the cultivation of apples ; crops are heavier than in the mainland and the fruit appears to be hardier." Messrs. H. Jones and Co. are amongst the other large fruit exporters to London, their representative, Mr. Hunter, informs me that last year they sent 60,000 cases of apples to London.

A prominent building on the Old Wharf is the establishment of Messrs. H. Jones and Co. This factory was established in 1853 by Mr. Geo. Peacock. In time it became a limited liability company. Three years ago the original business, in Hobart, came into the hands of the present firm. H. Jones and Co. Mr. H. Jones, the senior partner and manager now in the business, started as a boy in the Hobart factory 20 years ago, and passed through every branch of the practical part of the business of manufacturing jams and sauce and canning
fruits. H. Jones and Co. are now the largest jam manufacturers, fruit preservers and fruit and jam exporters in Tasmania. The IXL brand is claimed to be the best production of preserves manufactured in the colonies. This firm, with Mr. H. Joneses 20 years' practical experience, has, ever since its establishment, made a point of only making its preserves from fruit of the choicest quality, the best refined sugar only being used. The firm's factory is situated alongside the Hobart docks, within 100 yards of the pier where the P. and O. and Orient companies' liners berth to load fruit for England. Tasmania is acknowledged to be the garden of Australia as to quality of fruit, producing about 1,000,000 bushels of apples and nearly 2000 tons of small fruit, a great bulk of which passes through the hands of H. Jones and Co. to be made into jam, or exported to all the Australian colonies, New Zealand or London, in the seasons 1892 and 1893 this firm went in heavily for canning rabbits, but decided to discontinue this branch of their industry this year. The export of jam last year was 10,000 cases and 160 tons of pulp fruit.

The establishment of Messrs. Burgess Bros, is close to the wharves. This is one of the busiest places in Hobart. When I see Mr. Burgess, a typical British merchant, he seems in the condition of President Lincoln when he snubbed the then Marquis of Harrington. The Messrs. Burgess are agents for everything and wholesale importers of everything, especially things good to eat and drink. Wine and oil, and milk and honey, so to speak, can be obtained here by the cask, the case and the hundredweight. The name of Burgess is known and honored in Tasmania for other qualities besides those which make up successful merchants. Close to the Burgess hong is the office of the Union Steamship Company, where Mr. Holdsworth sits in his den and manipulates the sailing time of steamers, does conjuring tricks with fares and freights and cargoes, and so builds up dividends for the company. As before hinted, Mr. Holdsworth, a native of New Zealand, is a most courteous gentleman. If you have only the ordinary business of travel to be attended to you will get every attention from the clerks in the outer office. The Union Company's officials are always renowned for politeness.

The business of Messrs. J. Murdoch and Sons was started by the father of the present proprietors in the year 1845 as a corn and flour merchants, and during the stirring gold digging times of the fifties carried on with good results. After his death the business was continued by two of his sons satisfactorily to themselves and a large body of clients. In the year 1892 they thought it advisable to add to their business of flour and grain merchants that of millers, and in conjunction with Mr. Fred. Turner, of the Hobart Flour Mills, entered into a contract with the well known milling engineers, Messrs. Thos. Robinson, of Rochdale, for the erection of a roller milling plant of the latest and most improved pattern. This work was performed satisfactorily in the short space of seven months from the date of receiving the order in Tasmania. Work was then commenced, and the mill has continued to turn out satisfactorily their well known brand of " Acme " roller flour. The Messrs. Murdoch and Mr. Turner as millers and men adorn the commercial life of Hobart.

The business now carried on under the name of A. G. Webster and Son was established in 1831 by C. T. Smith, an uncle of Mr. A. G. Webster, as a wool and grain agency. Mr. Smith died in 1856, when the present senior partner took up the business, gradually extending its scope to embrace all the usual items connected with pastoral and agricultural interests.
In the seventies the machinery business was introduced, and has been steadily developed until now it embraces every class of machinery for agriculture, horticulture, dairying and mining purposes. In 1882, Mr. C. E. Webster was taken into partner ship, and in 1886 another son, Mr. E. H. Webster, joined the firm, both having had several years experience in the business. Messrs. A. G. Webster and Son occupy capacious stone stores on the old wharf, facing the Victoria Dock, and adjacent to the wharves and railway. One floor is utilised for a show room for machinery, and is well lighted, with samples of machinery of nearly the whole of their stock displayed. Adjacent to the buildings are large sheds for storing hay and
chaff, and the stables, where several teams of horses are kept. There is also a Fairbank's 10 ton weighbridge on the premises. The business itself now comprises the following : — Auctioneers ; wool, grain, hay, bark, hops, dairy and other colonial produce brokers ; agents for shipments of wool and fruit ; machinery, general merchants, artificial fertilisers and fire and marine insurance. Speaking generally, the main objects of the business are to supply the farmers with all their requirements and to dispose of all their produce. During the
summer months weekly auction sales of wool are held, which have been conducted by Mr. C. E. Webster personally during the last few years. Since undertaking the auctioneer's business the firm's wool business has steadily increased. There is an excellent local market, particularly for the smaller clips. Increased attention is given to the supply of good reliable seeds, grain and grasses, whilst the wants of pastoralists in the direction of rabbit proof netting, phosphorus, and other rabbit poisons are not neglected. Of sheep dips the firm holds the agency of Cooper's dipping powders, the oldest, best and largest business in the world. This dip is used by nearly all the stud sheep breeders and sheep owners in Tasmania. For the last five years the firm has held the agency of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, whose magnificent vessels have visited this port for the last four years to load apples. Fire and marine insurance has been a branch of the business for about 30 years, and the firm now represents the Sun Insurance Office of London, and the senior partner the South British Insurance Company of New Zealand, for which company he is the local director.