History of West Australia/Charles Ernest Deeley

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COLONIALS can well boast of theirs being the home of freedom and liberty. A divine beatitude has enabled lights formerly shining under bushels to blaze forth into brilliancy. It is here that a man's true worth can be readily reckoned. On an equal footing with his neighbour politically, and on an unequal footing mentally, there must be an extended field for such a tender sapling as talent to find nurture and development. England can boast of no better arena for her sons than Australia, where worth and merit find their true place.

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Mr. Charles Ernest Deeley was born in Warwickshire, England, in July, 1849. He was sent to college when comparatively young, and then, showing an aptitude for commerce, his father took him into his business, which carried on an extensive hardware trade in Birmingham, under the name of Deeley, Wignall, and Wilson. In 1869 he resolved to sail for the colonies. It was no idle self-sophistication when he impressed on himself and his people that beyond the seas there was a country where extensive fields and spheres contained indefinite possibilities and rich probabilities of gain and profit. He reached Melbourne in 1869, and joined the firm of McLean Brothers and Rigg, one of the largest hardware houses in the colony, and became their travelling representative over almost the whole area of Australia. He remained a successful servant in that employ for ten years—a period of great value to him in many respects. In that decade he had gained an insight into mining operations and all its appurtenances. He took a trip to England and returned again to Melbourne, this time joining his former firm as partner. He opened a branch business in Adelaide in 1882, and supervised it for several years. His enthusiasm for mining increased, and he invested considerable capital in South Australian mines, and became chairman of directors of the old Balhannah mine. He dissolved partnership with the firm of McLean Brothers and Rigg in 1887, and from that time his sole concern has been mining. He became a keen investor and a member of the Adelaide Stock Exchange, and shared the universal excitement of the Broken Hill boom. In January, 1894, he came to Western Australia, and gave an exhaustive report from Hannan's on the Coolgardie blocks, which are now universally known as the Great Boulder, Lake View, Royal Mint, and Ivanhoe. This report was elaborately and carefully compiled for the benefit of Adelaide shareholders, whose interests he was commissioned to represent. After this careful survey he went to London on mining business, and with the ready assistance of a few friends successfully launched a new corporation called the Gold Estates of Australia, Limited, which was floated in 1894 for £100,000. He returned to Western Australia, and underwent trying experiences at Hannan's. By his capable representations many excellent properties were floated by his company. First came the Menzies Proprietary Reefs, with a capital of £175,000; then in succession followed Menzies Crusoe (£200,000) and Menzies Consolidated (£225,000). Mr. Deeley early foresaw that the scarcity of water would hamper mining development, and he wrote to the company at home suggesting, among other proposals, the formation of a small water company for the express purpose of conducting water to the several batteries. His proposal was unanimously accepted, and a water company was there and then formed, with a capital of £60,000. The prime object of this scheme was to conduct water from Lake Prinsep by several mechanical contrivances to the various batteries on the fields. Operations were speedily commenced, and a short time afterwards saw the water raised to a level of 200 feet in height. Through 6-inch galvanised pipes the water was pumped up to Crusoe Hill, and reticulated from there through various mains supplying batteries all along the route of conduction. Many companies in and around Menzies pay handsome prices for such an advantageous supply, with the result that this water experiment has been highly useful and remunerative.

The Octagon Explorers, Limited, was subsequently floated by his company, with a capital of £200,000. All these flotations owe their success to the confidential and able advice of Mr. Deeley. Speculation with him was a pliable and versatile gift. From the attractions of mining, as binding as exciting, he could pass cool and calm to unenriched land speculations. For his company he made several purchases of real estate. In 1895 he bought "Maylands," with an area of 716 acres, which is now being subdivided and sold in lots. At the first Government sale in Menzies he purchased for a small sum several blocks on the main street which are now (1896) being sold at £40 per foot. There is one feature about this company which is highly praiseworthy, and that is an honest aversion to deception by fraud, cheatery, and "wildcats." Everything must undergo some little process of development before being put on the market. The first company to return a dividend was the Menzies Proprietary Reefs, which paid two shillings per share on £175,000 capital. Mr. Deeley says that whenever his company float a mine they have nothing more to do with it. They are merely a financial corporation. They employ about 400 men in Western Australia—numbers sufficiently large to convey an approximate idea of the extent of their resources. The directors in Western Australia are Sir George Shenton and Mr. C. G. Millar. One great success of the company is in the water scheme, which can at the present time pump 30,000 gallons per hour. Sir John Forrest rendered every assistance towards the completion of the scheme, and the company and Mr. Deeley speak of his disinterested services in terms of the greatest praise.

Several of Mr. Deeley's latest flotations are turning out well, such as Block 45, the Union Jack, and Southern Boulder. Perhaps the most important flotation executed in the whole of his representative career is the Menzies Alpha Leases, with a capital of £125,000, and now admitted to be one of the most valuable properties in Menzies. In these leases, which adjoin the Lady Shenton mine, 1,160 feet of cross-cutting have been completed. During all this time Mr. Deeley taxed his energies to their breaking point. He combined the offices of manager, representative, and overseer, hurrying from one point to the other in his endeavour to cover all. The strain was too much for brain and body, and the company obtained the expert services and experienced skill of Mr. George Armstrong, a well-known Bendigo mining engineer, and Mr. Eckburg, of Ballarat. These efficient and scientific men relieve Mr. Deeley of many of his former onerous duties. The company has good reason to be thankful to him, for its last dividend was 60 per cent. As a great traveller and experienced mineralogist in this colony his mature and well-balanced opinion of the colony will be authoritative and valuable. "In 1894," he says, "when I was in London, I had several interviews with Lord Rothschild, who asked me more than once for my opinion on the goldfields of Western Australia. I told him as my sincere and impartial conviction that these goldfields would eventually turn out the largest and richest goldfields in the world." These bold words were not without weight. Though the fields had many obstructions and obstacles at first, Sir John Forrest, Mr. Deeley admits in flattering terms, did everything in his power to remove them. The progressive policy of the Government has aided to an incalculable degree the development of the fields by the speedy removal of encumbrances and the granting of transit facilities. Mr. Deeley has not shrunk from perils and hardships. He is cool and logical; reasoning is solely responsible for his speculative success. He justified the step he took in leaving home, where, perhaps, had he remained, the lux famae would have been but a flickering flame, instead of attaining a full brilliancy.