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Leeds, Joseph (1851–1897)

from Australian Town and Country Journal

Mr. Joseph Leeds, the well-known auctioneer and stock and station agent, met an awful death ahout half-past 6 p.m. on January 15 by falling down the lift well at Camden Buildings, near the Strand Arcade, George-street, Sydney. Mr. Leeds had been to the Homebush saleyards during the day, and on his way home decided to call at his office for some letters. Leaving a cab waiting at the door, he took the lift, which, as the man in charge ceased work at 6 p.m., was then unattended, and ascended to his office. Very shortly afterwards the inmates of the other portions of the building were startled by a cry of intense agony, followed instantly by a sound as of a body falling heavily into the lift well. Examination revealed the body of Mr. Leeds lying at the bottom, life being then extinct, and the body terribly mangled. Mr. Leeds, who was a very heavy man, had fallen about 60ft, evidently striking an iron girder some 15ft from the bottom, upon which the lift rests. The deceased gentleman's wife was immediately brought from Glebe Point by Mr. Ed. Walsh, who occupies premises in the same building, and came accompanied by Dr. P. Ashwell and Mr. Frederick Bull. Meantime the body had been removed to the Morgue, and afterwards from there to the residence of the family at Kerribree, Hereford-street, Glebe Point.

Mr. Leeds was a well-known man, as well in sporting as in commercial circles. He was 46 years of age, and a native of Bathurst, the earliest years of his life being spent in pastoral pursuits in the Western district. While in the Western district, and still a young man, he was in turn connected with the several firms of Moulder and Leeds, carriers, and Leeds, Wilkinson, and Company, forwarding agents, at Dubbo. In 1883 Mr Leeds came to Sydney, founding the now well-known business of Joseph Leeds and Company, whose operations in the stock and station agency extend to the farthest bounds of the colony. This business he has ever since carried on, until his sudden end on January 15. In the Glebe he was better known as sometime captain of the local rowing club, always one of its most enthusiastic members, and for years a successful senior oarsman. His love for horses made him a warm admirer of horse racing, and he was a prominent member and committeeman of Tattersall's Club. His generosity was proverbial among his personal friends, and he was esteemed as a very affectionate husband and father. He leaves a widow and a family of six.

The inquest on the body was held at the residence of the family, Kerribree, 25 Hereford-street, Glebe Point, before the city coroner. The medical evidence showed that the injuries to the deceased consisted of a fracture of the right upper and right forearm. The body was considerably bruised aud cut. There were wounds on the left leg and right thigh, and a bruise on the right side of the forehead. The injuries mentioned would cause death, which would probably be instantaneous.

Edward Burnham, residing at Redfern, stated that he was a clerk in the employ of deceased. About 6.20 p.m. on Thursday he was at the office awaiting the return of Mr. Leeds or his accountant from the Homebush saleyards. He heard a noise as of someone ascending in the lift, and heard the lift stop at the third floor. The door opened, and he heard a sound as of someone stepping out, which was immediately followed by a loud cry. Rushing out of the office he saw the lift gradually rising to a height of about four feet above the landing, and heard a body fall down the well. He immediately gave the alarm and rushed down stairs, being joined by the caretaker and another young man. Opening the door at the bottom of the lift-well, about 12 feet below the ground floor, he saw his employer apparently lifeless. The body was removed by the police. The office door was about three yards from the elevator. After 5.30 p.m. the lift was unattended. He had on a previous occasion seen deceased work the lift himself, but the caretaker usually brought him up after the usual hours. He did not hear the lift bell ring.

To the Coroner: I don't know whether the light on the landing was alight at the time, nor did I see anyone in the lift when it was rising.

To a Juror: Anyone knowing how to open the lift could use it after hours. The lift door was wide open.

Christopher Gregan, an apprentice in the employ of Mr. Ed. Walsh, in the same building, corroborated the evidence of the previous witness as to the finding of the body of deceased. He had seen deceased open the door of the lift by pushing back the spring with a knife.

Edward Chadwick, caretaker at Camden Build ings, deposed that he sometimes brought deceased up after 5.30 p.m. He had cautioned him about working the lift himself, but he sometimes did so. He lit the electric light on the third floor before 5.30 p.m.

To a Juryman: No one had a right to use the lift after hours except witness. Deceased is the only person he ever had to caution against doing so.

The jury returned a verdict that deceased met his death from injuries accidentally received through falling down a lift-well at Camden Buildings, 418 George-street.

The funeral took place on Saturday, and was very largely attended.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for Joseph Leeds

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 January 1897, p 4, column 4

Citation details

'Leeds, Joseph (1851–1897)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/leeds-joseph-16097/text28035, accessed 24 August 2019.

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