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Alford, Charles George (1848–1926)

The death of Mr. C. G. [Charles George] Alford, formerly acting manager of the Bank of New South Wales, which took place yesterday, removes one of the most prominent of Australian bankers. Mr. Alford had been associated with the pioneer bank for 59 years, and his long and varied experience in the banking world has not often been rivalled. Rising steadily from the rank of a junior officer, he attained what he described at a function held on the occasion of his retirement, his ambitions–"£1000 a year and 50 years' service with the bank." Having reached these goals he set out to achieve, and eventually gained, the honour of recording the longest continued active service in the bank. He entered the service of the Institution as a youth a few months before the late Sir John Russell French, who, for many years, was the general manager.

A native of Drayton, Queensland, Mr. Alford was 77 years of age, and after receiving his education, entered the service of the bank in Toowoomba, Queensland. The manager of the branch at that time was the late Mr. Robert H. White. In the year 1873 he was locum tenens in Toowoomba for Mr. J. J. Walker during a period of about 12 months. During the following year Mr. Alford was appointed manager of the bank at Mount Perry, a copper-mining district near Bundaberg. Later he was assistant manager in Townsville, and also in Warwick. In succession to Mr. J. T. Walker, who was appointed general manager of the Royal Bank, Mr. Alford took up the duties of manager at the bank in Toowoomba in 1878. He remained in that position until 1885, when he was made assistant inspector, and took up his quarters in Brisbane. He came to Sydney in 1891 as inspector, and was afterwards appointed chief inspector. At the time when the late Sir John Russell French was stricken by illness, Mr. Alford acted in his capacity of general manager for about five months.

Mr Alford lodged a request for voluntary retirement, and the date was fixed for June 30, 1921. At the request of the board he remained in the service until permanent arrangements were made.

It private life Mr. Alford had many hobbies. He had a magnificent collection of minerals, of which he was very proud, and also a collection of 700 pieces of Australian wood, polished by himself and members of his family. Photography had also a strong attraction for him.

At the function, which took place when he retired, Mr. Alford referred to some interesting incidents in his career, and the striking changes that had taken place in Australian banking during his period of service.

He mentioned that the bank's assets had increased from £6,000,000 to approximately £75,000,000, while the staff, which numbered about 200 in 1862, had increased nearly ten-fold. During his long service he had experienced several crises, notably those of 1868 and 1893.

During the former, when the panic was at its height, he had seen the £1 notes of the Bank of Queensland–the old Bank of Queensland–sold at a shilling each. Possibly holders parting with so freely imagined the purchasers to be a new class of curio hunters, but they proved to be overdrawn customers of the bank, by whom, of course, the notes were subsequently tendered at face value in liquidation of their debts. In 1893 many of the banks were closing their doors, to which were affixed notices bearing the announcement. "Closed for reconstruction," but his bank weathered the storm without having to submit to any such humiliation. The times were, indeed, strenuous, but there were stout hearts for the steep brae. For a period of at least four months following that crash he–and it was the same with many other senior officers–never once left the office much before midnight.

Mr. Alford is survived by three sons, Messrs H. L. Alford, of Church Point; L. C. Alford, of Gosford; and A. C. Alford, of Artarmon; and one daughter, Miss Ethel Marina Alford. His wife pre-deceased him in 1923. A son, Lieutenant G. B. Alford, died in London in 1916, at the age of 31 years, from wounds received at Pozieres.

The funeral will take place this morning. A service will be held at St. Peter's Church. Waters-road, Neutral Hay, at 10 o'clock, and at its conclusion the funeral will leave for South Head Cemetery.

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Citation details

'Alford, Charles George (1848–1926)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/alford-charles-george-18470/text30128, accessed 18 November 2018.

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