Charles Henry HOSKINS


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Emily Matilda Colley WALLIS

Charles Henry HOSKINS 1

  • Born: 26 Mar 1851, St Anne Soho, Middlesex, England
  • Marriage: Emily Matilda Colley WALLIS on 22 Dec 1881 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Died: 14 Feb 1926, Elizabeth Bay, New South Wales, Australia aged 74
  • Buried: Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia,

bullet  General Notes:

Found on

Hoskins, Charles Henry (1851 - 1926)
Related Entities Published Resources

Partner in G. & C Hoskins, director of Hoskins Iron and Steel Limited and Australian Iron and Steel Limited. Founder of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufacturers.

Related Entities for Hoskins, Charles Henry

Australian Iron & Steel Pty Limited (1928 - )
Founder of
New South Wales Chamber of Manufacturers

Births Jun 1851
Hoskins Charles Henry Strand 1 417


bullet  Noted events in his life were:

Residence: Illyria, The Boulevarde, Stathfield, New South Wales, Australia.


Charles married Emily Matilda Colley WALLIS on 22 Dec 1881 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. (Emily Matilda Colley WALLIS was born on 24 Mar 1861 in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, and died on 19 Nov 1928 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.)

bullet  Marriage Notes:

(from 'Hoskins History' compiled by Donald G. Hoskins, 1988)

Charles' early days have already been referred to in the passages dealing with his father John, and elder brother George. We know little of Emily's early days. I tend to think that the fact that she was born in Ballarat was co-incidental, as there is no suggestion that they had met before coming to Sydney. They did not marry until 1881, six years after Charles came to Sydney, Charles then being 30 years old, and Emily 20. They were married in Sydney.

Emily's grandfather, Marriage Wallis, was a Quaker, as was her father, and Emily's own upbringing was the same, although she later attended Congregational and Presbyterian churches. There had not been a daughter in the Wallis family for over 100 years, until the birth of Emily's elder sister Florence. (Florence married Charles Henry Polson; their son Leslie married Hilda, a sister of Ted Mackey. Leslie had a long and successful career with the steel company).

From all accounts, Emily continued the pattern of strong willed wives and mothers. My own mother, wrote this of her (in 1967): "Emily played an important part in the life of her husband. They were married for 45 years and were a most united and loyal couple. She was a wonderful character and supported her husband through all their vicissitudes, joys and sorrows. She had the deep and simple religious faith of the Quakers, and the family were brought up strictly, but with a wonderful comradeship and understanding. The influence of her character and disposition, also that of her husband Charles remained with their family all their fives, and in fact has a great influence on the next generations."

I have a vivid recollection of an occasion in the early 1920's, when my brother Ken and I motored to Sydney with our grand- parents. It was after dusk, and the murk was thick at Granville, where the driver failed to see that the level-crossing gates were closed. Cars in those days had only two-wheel brakes - so we crashed through the gates, and the car slewed round between the tracks. Charles ran to the nearby signal box, to ensure the signalman attempted to stop the approaching trains. We were in the back seat with Emily. I remember her calling out "Save the boys! It does not matter about me - I am an old woman! Save the boys!". Such unselfishness under stress has always amazed me. It was years later before I realised that it was a mother speaking who had already lost a daughter in a level-crossing accident.

Their first home was evidently at Croydon St., Petersham, where Florence, Wilmot and Cecil were born. In between, Guildford was born in make-shift quarters at Guildford, where they resided while Charles supervised building of the big water main. Emily felt very strongly that it was a wife's duty to be with her husband as far as possible, which explains their putting up with this abode. By 1893, 'Illyria' had been built, in The Boulevarde, Strathfield, and the remainder of the children were born there.

When the Goldfields Scheme got under way, Charles had to travel overseas to procure the materials, and needed to be in W.A. for long periods. Again Emily went to join him, taking two daughters with her. This was the period when the boys were sent to King's College at Goulburn.

Charles was an early President of the Chamber of Manufactures of N.S.W. (1895 - 1897). In their history it is said of him ".. he was for many years to make a deep impression as the impact of manufacture on the Australian economy expanded into a wider and more diversified pattern."

The story of the pipe-line has been well documented, particularly in 'The Hoskins Saga', and 'Building a State'. In the latter, the tragic end of C. Y. O'Connor is described. Charles appeared at the inquest. He was also at the funeral, and made known his views on the persecution of O'Connor by the press. In the section summarising the Hoskins interest in the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, I have recorded in full the tirade against Charles which appeared in the 'Sunday Times'. The exchange shows that Charles had the courage of his convictions. Later, a Royal Commission vindicated O'Connor, and history supports the stand taken by Charles.

After the successful conclusion of the Pipe Line contract, there must have been a period of relative quiet at 'Illyria'. Florence, their eldest daughter, was married to Arthur Crago in 1907. Then came the move to 'Eskroy Park' early in 1908. George and his sons remained in Sydney, taking charge of the works there. The history of the Lithgow works need not be repeated here; but for the family, they were marred by tragedy, with the deaths of Hilda in 1912, Nellie in 1914, and then Guildford in 1916.

Because of Nellie's ill health, Charles and Emily had moved to 'Cadia Park' at Lawson, Charles temporarily becoming a commuter. There he established a small zoo for the amusement of his grand-children. I can remember seeing wallabies (or kangaroos), emus, monkeys etc..., the purchase of many of these animals is recorded in his Private Cash Book, which he maintained almost until his death. 'Cadia Park' later became a Monastery; it was destroyed in the bushfires of 1957 (?).

In the early 1920's, they moved to 'Ashton', 102 Elizabeth Bay Road, Elizabeth Bay. There, Kath was married in 1923. About this time, Charles had sold a small city building, known as 'Hoskins Building', at the corner of Spring and Jamieson Streets, and then embarked on the building of 'Kembla Building' at 58 Margaret Street, setting up a family company for the benefit of his children. Kath's new husband, Ted Mackey, was to take charge of the construction. By that time, the die had been cast - the days of Lithgow were numbered. Land had been purchased at Port Kembla and the decision to re-locate the steelworks was regarded as inevitable.

Charles had virtually retired, leaving management of the works in the hands of his sons, Cecil and Sid. The family persuaded Charles and Emily to take a prolonged overseas tour, and they left Sydney early in 1925, returning in December. I have recently come across the copies of manuscript letters which Charles wrote during the trip. They are mostly addressed to 'Hoskins I. & S. Co.' but most are obviously written to or for Cecil. While it was supposed to be a holiday trip, Charles spent a lot of time negotiating for the rights to make centrifugally-cast iron pipes in Australia (that business was not concluded on this trip, but later the rights were obtained; the Spun Pipe plant was the first operational unit at Port Kembla, and a mainstay of the business through the depression). Apart from that, they did some motoring, and were presented at Court.

Because the letters were written more in the relaxed family style, I am including here a number of excerpts which I think are revealing about the character of this extraordinary man.

Langham Hotel, March 22nd 1925
"This hotel appears to he a meeting place for Australians... The charges are quite high enough. Bed Room 35/- per night Dinner 7/6 Lunch 4/6 Breakfast 4/6 Fire in room 3/-. Money is going like water... Mrs. Emily Hoskins cannot walk for sour (? sore) toots ".

Soon he went to see Mr. Fox, of Stanton, who owned the rights to the Spun Pipe process. He describes their meeting as follows:

"C.H.H. turned up punctual Mr. Fox was 40 minutes late while waiting I showed Mr. Taylor Commercial Manager the photos and during the talk Mr. Taylor said he considered we should take on the spun pipe and not the B.H.P. Then Mr. Fox arrived King of the Kids. The first thing he said was: Mr. Hoskins good morning "ah ah". I pray you will be seated a thousand apologies for keeping you waiting. I said it does not matter, I was having a nice talk to your manager. Mr. Fox said "ah ah" will you please excuse me. He came back and we started in. First he said his company had communicated with Hoskins before approaching the B.H.P. I said no, he said yes. Then he sung out for the papers which proved his company had got into touch with the B.H.P. about nine 9 months before Hoskins. Mr. Fox then said "Oh dear, Oh dear". He then said damn the pipes, we are making them without profit. I said surely you are making a fair profit. He said No, No."

Langham Hotel, April Ist 1925
"I am quite convinced that. if anyone goes around the world at the age of.74, they are mad...
Good by
Keep one eye on the O/D
the other eye on Wages Sheets
don't have any Wild Cats
good luck go steady"
After returning from the Continent, Charles writes again in these terms:

Langham Hotel, May 31st 1925
"To my mind Germany is miles in front of everywhere and they appear to be willing for another war at any time. The Iron and Steel business in Great Britain is in a dreadful condition ... London is wonderful, busy., some people go so far as to say England can do without Manufacturers as she has so much money on loan etc... etc ... so you see the manufacturer is having a dreadful time. The longer I live the more I am convinced that the money lender and property owner gets a bigger share than the manufacturer."

Langham Hotel, June 24th 1925
"I have decided if spared to reach Sydney to at once commence the building of the Church ... In my Will I have called on my two sons to build this church... I think it is unfair for me to place this extra work on them..."

Langham Hotel, July 5th 1925
"Your cables appear to come very irregular; when I left Sydney it was agreed to send them every week..."

Langham Hotel, July 5th 1925
"Dear Little Siddie,
Your news about the works appears good.. I am very sorry you have had breakdown on the 27" Mill but you will gradually over come these ... It is a pity that you have not buckets of money to spend. ... but a steady go is generally a long go. My mother used to say to me: Out of Debt is out of Danger..."

New York, Sunday, August 30th 1925
"It is about 16 years since my last visit; the City appears about 3 times what it was. We are in the finest business in the world in my opinion and Australia is a great nation. The steel business is so expensive for plant etc... I consider we should look forward for 100 years or more for our children and their children... Kembla is good for anything but for many years only one modern Blast Furnace would be all I would suggest. Leave something for the kiddies."

New York, Sept 2nd 1925
"The output of 27" Mill of 1837 tons in the week is good. What a pity the engines are not stronger or as you may say what a pity a number of our geese are not swans.. At present we are quite friendly with B.H.P. but it might not be so always. The way to maintain peace is to be prepared for war..."

Vancouver Hotel, Oct 17th 1925
"We are bringing a few things from Canada ... when you meet us at the boat will you bring 70 cash ... to pay Customs. After, we all go to Ashton with as many grand-children as you can muster. Tell Wilmot to have all the ornaments etc... on the dining room table... for certain have the Elephant Leg on the table ! ..." (Note: in fact they brought out a gift for every member of the family. The elephant leg was exactly that, made into an umbrella stand. Its ultimate fate is a mystery).

To me it is particularly sad that about two months later, Charles died. In his time, he and George had built up the business from nothing, Charles finally buying his elder brother out. At the time of his death he was virtually sole owner (except to the extent that he had made his family shareholders in the company) of a vast enterprise, employing up to three thousand people, and operating a collection of mines, quarries, foundries as well as the iron and steel works. It was generally reckoned to be the largest private operation in the country. B.H.P. at this time, with greater resources behind it, had already been in the steel business for 10 years, and was ultimately to absorb its older rival. After that happened, the wisdom and foresight shown by Charles in facing up to the task of leaving Lithgow for Port Kembla soon became apparent, as B.H.P. selected Port Kembla as the site of its major steel plant.

In retrospect, the Lithgow venture lasted a mere 20 years, with much of the hard-earned money poured into expanding the works going down the drain; but it had a lasting effect on the nation's industries, and an almost dominating influence on the family.

If Charles did not live to see the Port Kembla works, Emily did. In August 1928, she applied the torch which lit the fire in No. 1 Blast Furnace, at the time hailed as the most modern in the British Empire. In November of that year, she herself died, a few days before the opening of the Hoskins Memorial Church at Lithgow.



1 Sally Hoskins,

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