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Davies, Maurice Coleman (1835–1913)

from Register (Adelaide)

The death is announced of Mr. Maurice Coleman Davies, whose name was familiar to South Australians 20 years ago as the contractor for many big public works in the province. The deceased passed away at St. George's terrace, Perth, on Saturday evening in his seventy-eighth year. Born in London on September 24, 1835, he journeyed to Tasmania with his parents at the age of four years. The family engaged in farming, and the boy was educated in the island State. In the early fifties the great gold discoveries in Victoria attracted Mr. Davies and, in partnership with others, he took up a claim, and worked it. In 1858 he visited South Australia, and married a sister of the late Maurice Salom. A few years later he opened business in Melbourne as a merchant. Coming to Adelaide to reside in 1866 he carried on a mercantile business, and 10 years later started in partnership with the late Mr. John Wishart. The firm successfully tendered for several Government and municipal public works, the first of which was the construction of the King William Road Bridge over Torrens Lake. Subsequently the late Mr. C. S. Baillie joined the partnership, and the firm continued under the name of Baillie, Davies, and Wishart. A long list of important public undertakings were entrusted personally to Mr. Davies, and to the firm as a whole. They included the second section of the railway line to Melbourne (Mount Lofty to Nairne), the Morphett Street Railway Bridge, Largs Railway and Pier, the Grange Railway, the Port Adelaide swinging bridge, and the Hindmarsh and Albert Bridges over the Torrens. In Victoria the firm built the Watts River aqueduct, in New South Wales the noted Stephens Creek Reservoir at the Barrier, and in Western Australia the Albany and Fremantle Piers and the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. In the western State the late Mr. Davies was well known as one of the founders of the great timber industry there. In 1878 he acquired a large area of forest country on the Collie River, near to Bunbury, and there he erected jarrah sawmills. The timber was exported to the eastern States of Australia, India, South Africa, England, and elsewhere. Four years afterwards he took up other extensive forest lands at Karridale, Western Australia, and introduced the karri as a commercial timber for the markets of the world. The timber business was conducted in conjunction with his sons, under the name of the M. C. Davies Company Limited. The firm was turned into an English company in 1897, under the name of the M. C. Davies Karri and Jarrah Company, and the deceased became the managing director. In 1902 the company, together with the other timber businesses of Western Australia, amalgamated under the name of Millar's Karri and Jarrah Company. Mr. M. C. Davies retired from the active management in that year, but retained a considerable interest in the company. He took up his residence in Perth, where he lived until his death. He devoted himself to the management of the Kimberley Pastoral Company, and the Kimberley Downs and Napier Downs stations, the foundation of which, in the early eighties, he took a prominent part. He was one of the founders of the Pastoralists' Association of Western Australia, and in 1887 visited the Indo-Colonial Exhibition in London as Commissioner for Western Australia. On that occasion he introduced Western Australian timbers to the Admiralty, and to a number of railway companies of Great Britain. The deceased gentleman has left two daughters and his sons— Messrs. L. R. Davies of London, Herbert Davies of Wellington, Western Australia, W. K. Davies of South Africa ('Karri' Davies, prominently associated with the famous Jamieson raid, and who afterwards distinguished himself in the Boer war), Arthur Davies of Bombay, India, and Frank Davies of Marrinup, Western Australia.

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'Davies, Maurice Coleman (1835–1913)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/davies-maurice-coleman-295/text24236, accessed 20 June 2019.

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