History of West Australia/George Alfred Davies

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THE name of Davies has been prominently associated with Western Australia almost from the foundation of the colony. Davies père arrived here very shortly after Captain Stirling, and embarked in mercantile pursuits. He was lucky in his investments, and as he participated in the advantages that the early settlers enjoyed of obtaining property at low prices he amassed, if not a fortune, a competence which enabled him to pass the eve of his life free from the worries of business. The family name is being handed down to posterity by the sons, one having occupied a seat in the Legislative Council of his country, and the other, with whom we are now dealing, having for many years been a leading light in the local municipal world and also in commerce.

George Alfred Davies HOFWA.jpg
Photo by
Nixon & Merrilees.

George Alfred Davies was born in Fremantle in 1846. After his school days, which were ended when he was seventeen years of age, he entered his father's office, and remained with him for ten years, securing a thorough business training. He then struck out for himself, opening in business at the Grosvenor Cellars, in High and Bannister Streets, Fremantle, as a wine and spirit merchant. His Grosvenor wines are famous all over the colony, and the demand for them is so great that Mr. Davies is compelled to buy the grape crops of other vignerons in order to supply the demand for his wines. The cellars are large and extensive, and replete with every convenience for the bottling of the precious liquid.

Mr Davies is among the well-known men of Western Australia, and has been associated with the Fremantle Council either as a councillor or auditor for the last twenty-eight years. His knowledge of municipal affairs has obtained for him the dignified office of mayor. The duties pertaining to the position during his term of office were exceptionally onerous, but so well did he discharge them that when his term expired he was asked to allow himself to be nominated again. This, however, Mr. Davies would not sanction, for, in addition to the duties being a great call upon his time, he is a firm believer in the policy of distributing the honours attached to so important an office.

Long before the majority of people dreamt that Fremantle would ever assume the dignity of being a leading seaport in Australia, Mr. Davies realised that it had a great future. From his seat in the council he strenuously advocated the improvement of the town, and to him is due much of the credit of the systematic manner in which it is laid out. Had it not been for the foresight of Mr. Davies and his colleagues, many of the reserves and beauty spots around Fremantle would have fallen into the hands of private owners, and been lost to the ratepayers. Now, however, these reserves, which have been dedicated to the public for recreation purposes, are rapidly undergoing transformation, and will ere long be laid out in beautiful gardens and lawns, and remain a lasting monument to the memory of Mr. Davies and the civic fathers who worked with him. Mr. Davies has done much to encourage the formation of progressive institutions. Those products of democracy—building societies—have ever received his support, and in accepting the position of director of the Fremantle Building Society, he inspired confidence in the institution among the working classes, and induced many to take advantage of the opportunities offered to become the owners of their own homes. He also conceived the idea of erecting baths on the Esplanade, within an easy distance of the town.

Although so loyal to his native town, and anxious for its prosperity, Mr. Davies is very liberal in his ideas, and a warm supporter of any public work likely to be of advantage to the community at large. His interests are bound up in the land of his birth. In 1895 Mr. Davies was gazetted a Justice of the Peace.