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Cooke, John (1852–1917)

from Argus (Melbourne)

John Cooke, n.d.

John Cooke, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 January 1918

The pastoral industry of Australasia has lost a great friend and worker in the death of Mr. John Cooke, chairman of directors of the well-known meat exporting firm of John Cooke and Company Proprietary Limited. Mr. Cooke, who had been in ill health for about five years, and for the last twelve months had been an invalid, died two days ago at Eastbourne, England.

Mr. Cooke, who was born at Belfast, Ireland, was in his 66th year. He began life in the office of a large liner company in Belfast, but on account of ill-health emigrated to New Zealand in 1873. After being for a few months in a warehouse he joined the Otago Witness as a journalist, but in 1878 entered the service of The New Zealand Mercantile Agency Company at Christchurch, being appointed manager for the Canterbury district. From 1880 to 1889, attracted by the Australian efforts to send frozen meat to England, he was busy doing the pioneering work for the establishment of the frozen meat industry in New Zealand, and succeeded in organising various companies. The principal, the Christchurch Meat Company, now the New Zealand Refrigerating Company, is to-day the largest exporting company in New Zealand. In 1889 he came to Melbourne to act as general manager of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company during the absence of Mr. David Elder in England. When Mr Elder returned Mr. Cooke remained in Melbourne and was appointed general manager in Australia for the Australian Mercantile Land and Finance Company. Mr. Cooke managed that company for four years, and then left to open a business of meat exporting on his own account. Mr. J. A. M. Elder left with him, and eventually became his partner in the firm of John Cooke and Company. For the following 10 or 15 years Mr. Cooke's whole energy and enterprise were thrown into the business and he succeeded in placing the frozen meat trade on a sound basis in all the States. His work was of permanent benefit to all stock owners. He established the Deniliquin Freezing Works, which contributed in a very large measure to a great increase in the value of stock in Riverina. In 1905 he took in Mr. J. A. M. Elder as partner, and the firm bought the Newport Freezing Works from the late Mr. John Hotson, the business of the Graziers Meat Exporters' Company of New South Wales, with their large establishments at Sandown, on the Parramatta River, Carrathool, Nyngan, and Forbes, and the meat works at Redbank, near Brisbane. Mr. Cooke formed the La Plata Company, near Buenos Ayres, subsequently purchased by Swifts, and it is now one of the largest frozen meat institutions in the world. During all this time Mr. Cooke was continually passing between England and Australia, and was regarded in London and elsewhere as a representative Australian. In 1913, the business became a proprietary company, with Mr. Cooke as chairman of directors, and Mr. J. A. M. Elder as managing director. Until his health broke down about five years ago, Mr. Cooke was in the forefront of the trade, and he spared no effort to benefit the frozen meat industry. He was liberal and fair-minded, enterprising and enthusiastic, and the meat producers of Australia owe him a great debt.

Mr. Cooke was a director of the Norwich Union Insurance Company and a number of squatting companies. He was at one time a director of the A. M. P. Society, and was an elder of Scots Church. He had also been actively associated with the Y.M.C.A.

Mr. Cooke leaves a widow, a daughter, and two sons. Dr. Douglas Cooke is in charge of a hospital at Boulogne, and Captain Harold Cooke of the Royal Field Artillery, is now in hospital at Eastbourne, the result of a wound in recent action. Mr. Cooke and his family were at Eastbourne, so as to be near Captain Harold Cooke, and Mr. Cooke died there.

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Citation details

'Cooke, John (1852–1917)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/cooke-john-245/text1665, accessed 16 December 2019.

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