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Octavius Charles Beale (1850–1930)

Mr. Octavius C. Beale, managing director of Beale and Co., Ltd., piano manufacturers, one of the best-known business men in the State, was killed instantly in a motor collision at North Stroud early yesterday afternoon.

His big car, after crashing into another machine, turned a complete somersault. Mr. Beale's head was dreadfully crushed, and death must have been instantaneous.

William Cyril Holderness, of Liverpool-road, Croydon, Mr. Beale's chauffeur, was injured, and taken to a private hospital, and Mr. Walter Wilmen, a butcher, of Stroud, the driver of the other car, was slightly injured.

Mr. Beale was travelling to the North Coast for a camping holiday, and was proceeding through North Stroud. His car was over-taking the one driven by Mr. Wilmen, and crashed into it when Mr. Wilmen turned to drive into his home. The impact was terrific, it is said, and Mr. Beale's big machine was thrown over. It turned a complete somersault, and then came to rest on its wheels again. Mr. Beale was terribly crushed as the car rolled over. Holderness, the chauffeur, was still seated at the wheel, but, having suffered head injuries, abrasions, and concussion was only semi-conscious.

An urgent summons was sent to Dr. Rodgers, of Stroud, who hurried to the scene. He found that Mr. Beale was beyond all aid, and he had Holderness removed to hospital.

Mr. Beale, who would have celebrated his 81st birthday in February, was a man of many parts and of many activities. He was an Irishman, a native of Mount Mellick, in Queen's County. His parents were Quakers. The family was descended from Robert Beale who was for 30 years private secretary and Clerk of the Council to Queen Elizabeth. Mr. O. C. Beale's parents came to Australia and settled at Richmond, Victoria, where Mr. Beale spent five years before returning to Ireland for his education, which extended over six years. Returning to Australia when 16 years of age he embarked on a commercial career, and at the early age of 23 became a partner in the firm of Messrs. Brookes, Robinson, and Company, oil and colour merchants, of Melbourne. Later on he became interested in the importation of sewing machines. He then established a factory for the manufacture of the woodwork and iron-frames of the machines, and afterwards became interested in the importation of pianos. A strong Protectionist, Mr. Beale felt that pianos should be manufactured in Australia, and 40 years ago established the nucleus of a factory in Annandale. The business prospered, but the bursting of the "boom" of the early 'Nineties cost Mr. Beale many anxious moments. The piano-manufacturing business he had safe-guarded, but he had invested heavily in real estate. He often used to relate how, when the tension was at its highest, he would take up a position on the steps of the Post-office and watch to see if the Bank of New South Wales would open its doors at 10 o'clock. If they had remained closed he would have been ruined. They opened, and he carried on.

Politically, Mr Beale was a strong Nationalist, and only recently, in the course of an address at the Nationalist Club, referred to his close association with Edmund Barton, whom he accompanied to Maitland, when Australia's first Prime Minister delivered his policy speech there.

Mr. Beale was a much travelled man, and a linguist of no mean order. He was a freeman of the City of London, a fellow of the Royal Historical Society (England), and a member of the Authors' Club. His hobby was botany in general, and orchid-growing in particular, and he was recognised as an authority on Australian timber. He was a trustee of the Australian Museum, and of the old Barrack-street Savings Bank. He was the first president of the Federated Chamber of Manufacturers, and had been president of the New South Wales Chamber. He took an active part in Masonic affairs, and was a Past Master of Prince Alfred Lodge (Petersham), and Lodge Research (Sydney).

Mr Beale's capabilities were recognised by his appointment to the Royal Commission created by the Federal Government, to report on deleterious drugs. That report caused a sensation at the time, particularly in its bearing on the composition of certain patent medicines. He was also a member of the State Royal Commission on Birth Control, and in 1901 sat as a member of the committee which dealt with distress consequent on the drought.

Mr. Beale is survived by Mrs. Beale, six sons, and four daughters. Four of the sons are associated with the firm. The sons are Messrs. Lionel, Ronald (who has been general manager and a director of Beale and Co., Ltd., for many years), Rupert, and Harold (directors), Cyril (also in the business), and Dr. Hector Beale, of London. The daughters are Mrs. Campbell, wife of the Rev. A. P. Campbell, of Killara; Mrs. R. T. Lamble, of Strathfield, and the Misses Ruth and Mary Beale.

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Citation details

'Beale, Octavius Charles (1850–1930)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


23 February, 1850
Mountmellick, Laois, Ireland


16 December, 1930 (aged 80)
Stroud, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

motor vehicle accident

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