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Hudson, Henry (1836–1907)

from Sydney Morning Herald

Mr Henry Hudson, general manager of the Clyde Engineering Company, died at his residence, Glenhurst, Darling Point, yesterday morning, at the age of 71 years. Born in London in 1836, Mr Hudson came out to New Zealand with his father and mother in 1839. After remaining there for three or four years the family arrived in Sydney, and from that date the Hudson family have been connected with some of the largest building and engineering works of the State. As an apprentice to the Joinery trade, Mr Henry Hudson’s first employment was to assist his father in the erection of the first portion of the Sydney University buildings, and in the erection also of St Andrew’s Cathedral. His father was in charge of those works under the late Mr Blackett, who was then Colonial Architect. They started a small Joinery works in Redfern in 1860, and from this humble beginning the great engineering works at Clyde with which Mr Hudson was closely connected up to the time of his death take their origin. In 1879 the firm obtained their first contract with the Railway Commissioners for the manufacture of rolling stock. In 1881 Mr Henry Hudson went to America, and arranged for the fittings for the building of the first train of American suburban cars used on the New South Wales railways, and these cars were turned out the same year at the Redfern Joinery works. Other railway rolling stock was also built that year, and the firm had a busy time. The same year they built the Coast Hospital, and carried out many large contracts for the supply of timber Joinery, etc. After 20 years this enterprise assumed such proportions that it was found necessary to obtain new quarters and land was purchased at Clyde. Plans were drawn and the firm intended to erect larger premises, fitted with every class of machinery. Indeed, Mr Henry Hudson had the work of extensions in hand. In 1884, when a drought occurred in New South Wales, the residents of Sydney who were then dependent upon the Botany swamps for their water supply became alarmed at the prospect of a water famine. The Cataract works had just been started and the Government of the day determined to get some of this water brought into Sydney. Mr Henry Hudson and his brothers undertook to deposit in the Botany dams within four months a million and a quarter gallons daily, for the sum of £75,000. Their offer was accepted. At this time cement canals had been constructed in parts of the catchment area only. But by means of wooden framing on which rested open, half-round iron pipes, 3ft in diameter, gullies were bridged by Mr Hudson, and the cement canals were thus connected, and before long there was an uninterrupted supply of water running into Potts Hill reservoir. From thence by a line of 20in wrought iron pipes, nearly 4,000,000 gallons flowed daily into Botany watershed, and Sydney was once more at rest in regard to its water supply. Over 1,100 men were employed in the work and it was from this undertaking that Mr Hudson and his brothers date their connection with the iron trade industry. The firm’s business had now reached such proportions that it was decided to float the concern into a company, and to start on a larger scale at Clyde. A company with a capital of £300,000 was soon formed, the erection of buildings, introduction of up-to-date machinery and other works were proceeded with, and in 1881, the Redfern works were transferred to Clyde. Mr Henry Hudson was appointed general manager of the company, and he remained as the head of this the largest manufacturing works in Australia, up to the time of his death.

A prominent feature of Mr Hudson’s enterprising career was the fact that he often expressed a desire to see Clyde works the centre of locomotive building. Last year his wish was gratified when the Government let a contract to the company to build a number of railway engines. Mr Hudson superintended the work, and on Tuesday last he was present at Clyde and saw the first engine placed on the line. He arranged to be present next morning to witness this locomotive being put under steam. Mr Hudson was, however, unable to be present. He was taken ill the previous night, and he gradually sank, until 3 a.m. yesterday when, in the presence of his family, he peacefully passed away, the cause of death being heart failure. As a large employer of labour, Mr Hudson was held in high esteem. On an average, his firm for years past, employed about 800 men, daily. During the maritime strike in 1890, the Government appointed him a member of a commission to inquire into the question of wages, and other matters connected with the trouble. Mr Hudson for several years was a member of the Redfern Municipal Council and was for three years Mayor of the district. He was a Justice of the Peace, and an ex-president of the Employers’ Federation. He leaves three sons and three daughters. The oldest son, Mr Charles Hudson, is manager of the Westralia Iron Works, now engaged in building railway rolling stock for Western Australia, and of which company his late father was one of the directors. The second son, Mr Herbert Hudson, is a member of the firm of Loveridge and Hudson, well-known builders of this city, while the third son, Mr W. H. Hudson, is manager of the Chippendale Estate.

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'Hudson, Henry (1836–1907)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/hudson-henry-3810/text34955, accessed 20 August 2017.

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