James Hardie Jones
- Born: 30 Dec 1887, Harrietville, Victoria, Australia
- Marriage (1): Annie Herbert on 25 Sep 1915 in St Fiacre's Catholic Church, Leichhardt, , New South Wales, Australia
- Died: 27 Mar 1955, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia at age 67
- Buried: 30 Mar 1955, Rookwood Crematorium, Lidcombe, New South Wales, Australia
Cause of his death was Pyelo-nephritis / 3-4 days / Multiple myeloma / 15 mths.
James was born just two days after his mother's father's accidental death. He was named after his distinguished Uncle, his father's brother.
In his younger years James was a Mining Engineer in Harrietville, where he attended the Harrietville School and where he grew up. He moved to Sydney sometime in the early 1900's and commenced an Apprenticeship in a motor garage. Eventually he was in charge of the repair section at the Dalgety Company where his colleague, Frederick W. Hawxwell also worked as the Service Manager. At the time Dalgety's was a major Motor Car dealer with a Dodge Agency, amongst others.
On the 25th September 1915 James married Annie Herbert at St. Fiacre's Catholic Church in Leichardt. Annie's parents were Thomas Stanley Herbert and Kate or Catherine Whelan. She had been born on the 17th June 1887 at 4 Mile, near Tenterfield in New South Wales. Her birth record records her name as Annie Whalan, as she was born four months before her mother married Thomas Herbert. We dont know whether Thomas was her biological father or not.
Nine months after their wedding James and Annie welcomed their first child, Phyllis Mary Jones who was born on the 20th June 1916.
It was also in 1916 James and Frederick Hawxwell, along with a Mr Gee decided to start their own motor repair business in Rawson Street, Redfern which they called "Hawxwell, Jones & Gee". They started business in May of 1916 with a staff of ten. In about 1918 Mr. Gee, believed to have been the financier and financial advisor to the business, decided to leave the firm. He was bought out by his two partners and the business then became known simply as "Hawxwell & Jones". It was around this time that James and Annie had their second child, Douglas James Jones.
Hawxwell & Jones would become one of the largest car dealerships in Sydney, under the "Dodge" brand. They were foundation members of the Motor Trades Association in NSW.
In 1920 James and Annie welcomed their third child, Catherine Elizabeth Jones who was born on the 13th July of that year.
In 1922 the business moved to new premises at Foy Lane in Sydney, just off Goulburn Street, and they stayed there until about 1929 before relocating again to Berman House in Campbell Street where they took up the entire ground floor.
Just prior to the relocation the partners suffered a significant financial loss when their book-keeper absconded with a large amount of cash from the business. The book-keeper had not turned up for work on the Monday morning as usual. When he failed to turn up on Tuesday and Wednesday the concerned owners went to visit him at his house to check that he was OK. They found that he had left the address and a subsequent audit discovered that the sum of 8000 pounds was missing from the accounts. This was a huge sum of money in those days, but the business weathered the storm.
In 1923 James and Annie had their fourth and last child, a boy named Jack Herbert Jones. He was born on the 27th December at Croydon Park in Sydney. By this time James and Annie were living at 49 Seymour Street in Croydon Park, Sydney which would remain their home for the rest of their lives.
James and Annie were described as "not the stay at home types" by their daughter, Phyllis. She recalled that they attended every big event that took place in Sydney - the arrival of the British Fleet, Bert Hinkler's arrival from England, Kingsford Smith's arrival after crossing the Atlantic, and Amy Johnson's flight too. At that time Sydney airport was just a big paddock with one shed on it. They were also there at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Holiday times were spent in rented houses by the beach, often with other families that they were friendly with, especially the Small family. Cronulla beach was a favourite but a couple of Christmases spent at Whale Beach, near Palm Beach. In those days, Palm Beach was "where the upper class had their holiday homes", Whale Beach had "just one big home on the headland, a small store on the hill, and a couple of fishermen's shacks on the beach". The family camped in tents on the beach. The men would go off to work in the morning and return at night while the wives and children enjoyed the beach. Sometimes holidays were taken at Emmaville where Annie's family were. Weekends were often spent exploring Sydney and environs by car, a fairly novel activity for the times.
In early 1930 the business was Incorporated as a Company, Hawxwell and Jones Ltd, with capital of 10,000 pounds. The business struggled through the Depression years in the early 1930's and, according to James, it "put us back so much that we dont seem to be able to get ahead". But by the end of 1935 Hawxwell and Jones had got through the worst of it and expanded, opening a second branch in Chatswood in which they owned the freehold and all of the assets. James had invested over 1000 pounds into this expansion, a very large sum of money at the time. In March of 1936 he told Phyllis, or "Phil" as he called her, in a letter that "up to date it is making a very good return". In that same letter he expressed his anxiety that "Herr Hitler and Mussolini are doing their best to upset the peace of the world & will possibly succeed". How right he was.
In that same letter James expressed his concerns about the health of his wife Annie who was beginning to display the symptoms of Thyrotoxicosis, or an overactive thyroid gland, an illness that would eventually claim her life.
The following year, the Sydney branch relocated to larger premises on the corner of Goulburn and Brisbane Streets and branched out into body repairs as well as mechanical repairs. Hawxwell and Jones were now able to do every imaginable repair to a motor vehicle. It was about this time also that James was elected as a Councillor on the Burwood Council for the first time, emulating the Public Service ethos displayed by his Grandfather, George Jones, and at least two of his Uncles.
In 1939, at the outset of the Second World War, the business employed a total of 37 staff. Apart from Hawxwell and Jones themselves, there were 3 panel beaters, 2 spray painters, a fitter and turner, two office girls, an accountant, and many mechanics and apprentices. The business prided themselves on training great apprentices who were eagerly sought after by other employers.
James and Annie saw their eldest son, Doug, go to War in 1940. He was to serve in the Middle East and New Guinea, and fortunately returned safely home after the War ended. At the outset of the War Doug had suggested to his father that he should order in a large stock of fast moving spare parts as they would become scarce and there would be opportunities for Hawxwell and Jones to do well from it. James had refused to do so saying that he refused to take advantage of his country being at war to profit in such a way.
But the war dealt a devastating blow to the business. Most of the men who worked for them signed up for service, and there was very little work for the huge new workshops in Sydney and Chatswood. In 1940 Hawxwell and Jones decided to close the business, and divided the assets between them. Hawxwell took the Chatswood assets and a cash settlement and James kept the HQ and assets in Sydney. James' reasoning was that the War would be over soon and things would get back to normal with the men and business activity returning.
1940 was to be a difficult year for James in every possible way. Not only did he see his son go off to war, and the disintegration of the business he had built from scratch, but on the 4th October of that year his wife, Annie, died from her Thyrotoxicosis, at the age of just 53. According to his son Doug, James and Annie were devoted to each other and he really never got over her death. Whilst James was a brilliant engineer and a good man, Annie had the business acumen that had helped him build such a successful business. She frequently attended business meetings with her husband. It was, in many ways, an ideal combination. After her death, James' appetite for the business waned.
Of course the War was to drag on and James suffered large losses over the next three years before deciding to close the business altogether. He closed the large Sydney workshop and offices and the business was then taken over by a man named Allan Regan who ran it during the war years from a small workshop in Crown Street, Surry Hills.
After his beloved Annie died, and especially after he walked away from his business interests, James devoted more and more of his time to his duties as the Vice President of the Strathfield Golf Club and as a Councillor on the Burwood Council. He also worked for the Department of Defence Procurement office sourcing and acquiring parts for motor vehicles, something that he would have been supremely qualified to do.
It's not clear whether the business was sold, or if James retained the business name of Hawxwell & Jones, but after the War, in 1946, Mr. Regan decided to move the business to new premises he intended to build on land he had acquired at Waterloo in Sydney. He invited James to be a partner in Hawxwell and Jones again, an offer that he accepted. With a handshake deal they each agreed to pay half of the cost of the land and building each, around 2500 pounds each and be equal partners. By the time they came to settle in 1948 Mr. Regan argued that the land and building had appreciated in value and that James' share was now 4000 pounds. This led to something of a falling out between the two, James believing they had a binding agreement at 2500 pounds. They renegotiated the arrangement such that James' investment did not include any ownership of the building. It was to be an episode that forever changed the way that James, and his son Doug, viewed a man's honour in the context of handshake agreements. Doug would never entertain a handshake agreement in future years as a result of this incident.
The business however continued at the new premises, which now included fuel pumps as well as the workshop. Originally, as was common for the time, there were a range of different branded pumps supplied by different oil companies like Texaco, COR (now BP) and Shell on the forecourt. Later an exclusive deal was done with BP and the site was branded BP.
James remained intimately involved with the business until illness forced him to step back in early 1955, handing the reins over to his son Doug.
His last letter to his daughter Phyllis, dated 10 days before his death, was sent to her from the St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney where he was a patient. His letter contained the universal gripe of hospital patients around the world about the quality of the food: "I wont gain much weight here though as the food is too monotonous. If we could get a tender lamb chop occassionally, or a juicy tender steak one could be almost satisfied". James was disappointed that his stay in hospital had been longer than expected but expressed a hope that he might leave soon - he was concerned that the recent heavy rains meant that the weeds would be 6 foot tall in his back yard! In his letter he also revealed that the doctors had taken a sample of bone marrow from his hip bone and marvelled at the fact that they were able to do this with a needle without making any incisions, but explained that "the only painful part is where they have to hammer the needle through the bone..." Despite his hopes of going home soon he would not do so.
James Hardie Jones died on the 27th March 1955 at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney. He had been suffering from Multiple Myeloma, a form of cancer, for over a year.
His shareholding in Hawxwell and Jones was bequeathed to his four children, and Doug took over the Management role.
Noted events in his life were:
• He worked as an Engineer at the time of his Marriage on 25 Sep 1915.
• He worked as a Motor Engineer at the time of Jack's birth on 27 Dec 1923.
• He worked as an Engineer at the time of his daughter Phyllis' marriage on 7 May 1940.
• He worked as a Motor Engineer at the time of his Death on 27 Mar 1955.
• He resided at the time of his marriage on 25 Sep 1915 in Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia.
• He resided at the time of his father's death on 27 Oct 1917 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
• He resided at the time of Jack's birth on 27 Dec 1923 in 49 Seymour St, Croydon Park, Sydney, , New South Wales, Australia.
• He resided at at the time of Annies death on 4 Oct 1940 and his own death on 27 Mar 1955 in 49 Seymour St, Croydon Park, Sydney, , New South Wales, Australia.
James married Annie Herbert, daughter of Thomas Stanley Herbert and Kate Whelan **, on 25 Sep 1915 in St Fiacre's Catholic Church, Leichhardt, , New South Wales, Australia. (Annie Herbert was born on 17 Jun 1887 in 4 Mile near, Tenterfield, , New South Wales, Australia, died on 4 Oct 1940 in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and was buried on 5 Oct 1940 in Methodist Cemetery, Randwick, , New South Wales, Australia.). The cause of her death was Thyrotoxicosis.