Bateman Hardware, an essay by C. W. Henderson (1981)

Cover. Detail of the plastic binding. A research essay written by Charles W. Henderson in 1981 for History 340 at the University of Western Australia.

This document was donated to the Fremantle Society by Dianne Henderson (Charlie's daughter), in 2011. It was scanned and stored here by Sam Wilson.

All photographs and captions had come unstuck and their order in the document is only apparent from the photocopied pages Figures 2 3 & 4 (note that Figures 1 is a draft copy). These were situated on page 3, between pages 11 and 12, and between pages 20 and 21.

The Bateman hardware enterprise in Western Australia…

Charles W. Henderson, U.W.A., Student No. 771941/4

Research essay, History 340, U.W.A., 1981

The Bateman hardware enterprise in Western Australia…<br /> 1834 (?) to 1981

Essay length: 5,000 words.

Submitted: September 28, 1981.


The history of a merchant enterprise currently based on distribution of hardware goods may seem a strange choice as the subject of an essay dealing with “some area of twentieth century Western Australian history”. Picks and shovels and pots and pans certainly lack the drama and glamour of bushranging exploits, goldrushes and industrial and political experiences, but the hardware industry, of which those produces are part, has nevertheless made an important contribution to development in W.A…. it is an area of material culture which made development possible.

For where, but from some distributor of harware, would early settlers have obtained their farming implements, their rabbit traps, their cart and buggy axles; the farmers and pastoralists their wire netting; the miners their mattocks and dolly pans; the bushrangers their guns!; the builders their mortar, trowles, hammers, nails, ladders and roofing iron?

And the tiny communities which supported these activities… where would they have obtained the necessities of life and such “luxuries” as the Coolgardie safe, the hurricane lamp and the camp oven? The answer lies within the harware industry, the development of which mirrors the general development of the State.

The oldest hardware operation extant in Western Australia is that of J. & W. Bateman Ltd., of Fremantle. This essay seeks to trace the history of that operation from its inception to the present day. I have taken the liberty of beginning the history in the early 19th century (thus moving outside the bounds of the prescribed essay topic) partly to give a more complete picture of the Bateman enterprise and partly to clarify some misconceptions which research has revealed. THe passages dealing with 19th century activities have been compressed to serve as and explanatory background to the 20th century history.

Bateman building, in Henry St., Fremantle. Note “Est. 1860” on facade.

Registration plaque.

Corrosion has fused old hasp and padlock on aged doors.

Part of original (1860s) store.

Retail section at right, in Mouatt St. Like all other bateman buildings in area it is covered by a National Trust preservation order.

When Western Australia was celebrating its 150th anniversary in 1979, control of the State's second oldest commercial enterprise was slipping from the hands of the Bateman family dynasty. The end of that year saw the end of the family's effective control of J. & W. Bateman Ltd., a company whose roots went back to the arrival of John Bateman and family in Fremantle in 1830. In 1981, decisions no longer reflect the exclusive desires of the Batemans and their “friends and connections.”

Today, as for the past half century, the Bateman name is linked in Fremantle primarily with harware, although particularly in the north of the State harware is still complemented by groceries, wines and spirits and other goods far removed from the accepted harware area. This hardware component as a strong element of “J. & W. Bateman, Merchant” did not really emerge until the very late 1800s and was not prominent until the 1930s.

The word “harware” embraces a multitude of goods. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines it as a derivative of “Hard”: “hardware, ironmongery” (and “hardwarehan” as “dealer in this”). A 1974 Webster's school and office dictionary defines “Hardware” as: “1. Manufactured articles of metal, as tools, nails, etc.”, and adds other categories, such as military weapons, computer components and spacecraft control apparatus.

Neither of the above is a satisfactory explanation. “Ironmongery” is no longer an acceptable term for hardware, either to the public or the industry itself, as hardware is no longer confined to articles manufactured from metals. Today “hardware” has come to mean, in general, products, equipment and materials used by people in and around their homes, by builders in construction and fitting out of homes and by industrial and mining concerns in undertakings associated with their plant and machinery.

Bateman's position within the hardware distribution chain is another matter requiring some explaination. That position is not merely the central point in the manufacturer/middleman/shopkeeper triad.1) Links in the traditional hardware distribution chain are: manufacturer to manufacturer's agent, or representative; agent to distributor; distributor to factor, or wholesaler; wholesaler to retailer; retailer to public. Over the years these distinctions have become blurred — with Batemans as with distribution generally. At times Batemans has indented goods direct from the manufacturer for transmission to the end user; at times it has been a “legitimate” wholesaler; at times a wholesaler-retailer. In the current telephone directory the company is not listed under “Hardware — wholesale” or “Hardware — retail”, but simply as “BATEMAN J. & W. Ltd., Merchts”.

Foundation Years, 1830 to 1857

The J. & W. Bateman Fremantle enterprise is still concentrated today on and around one of the lots purchased in 1830 at Fremantle's second land sale by the original John Bateman. It was from this site, Lot 59 in Henry Street, that Bateman is said to have sold his first item of harware, a grindstone, in 1834.2) Where he would have obtained a grindstone for sale at that early period is a matter for conjecture. Probably it was among the “Implements valued at £55” which he and his large family brought from England in the sailing ship “Medina” and which helped establish his rights

to land purchase.3) However the year 1834 also has been noted as the date of John Bateman's establishment of “what is now W.A.'s oldest grovery warehouse, to meet son John's needs for gear and rovisions for his whaling business”.4) The warehouse would have been the major part of the small stone store “dealing in merchandise of many kinds” which John Bateman built on the acre block he bought at the land sale.5) And probably beneath this store was the cellar to accommodate spirits brought in under bond, for which Bateman had an official licence. From the store also, Bateman carried out the duties of unofficial postmaster, a position passed on to him by Lionel Samson, Merchant, in 1833.6) (Lionel Samson's business waas W.A.'s first).

A company document nominates 1840 as the “early start of trading, with the help of his young sons, John and Walter”,7) but what comprised the “merchandise of many kinds” in which Bateman was said to be dealing about that time is not recorded. Lourens nominates as “Desirable trading items” rum, cigars, boats, powder, shot, clothing, boots, oars, canvas, anchors, mustard, pepper, lamps, candles, crockery, glass, ironmongery and provisions of all kinds.8)

Most of those items would have come into the hardware or ironmongery category and been part of the bateman stock later in the century, but assumptions as to the extend of the Bateman trading activities in the early days, particularly in hardware items, must be treated with caution. It may be significant that Statham, in her biographies of early settlers, does not refer to Bateman as a storekeeper<ref>P. Statham, Early Settlers, 1829-1850, in Dictionary of Western Australians. Vol. 1, (Nedlands: U.W.A. Press, 1979)</ref> and that the same author, in a general history of W.A.'s first two decades, does not include Bateman among “the small number of local merchants.”9)

although a number of other sources, including Hitchcock10) nominate 1860. The confusion may have been created by an inscription, “Est. 1860”, which appears on the facade of the Bateman building in Henry Street (see accompanying photograph).

For the following 40 years the major activity of the company was in shipping, a declining whaling involvement being offset by a developing ship-building and ocean cargo business, supplemented by ship lighterage and river transport.11) It has been stated that many of the sailing vessels were built on the beach at the foot of Essex Street, Fremantle, and many of them were built of Western Australian jarrah.12) The Bateman brothers exported horses and sandalwood to south-east Asia, the latter also to China, and back-loaded with cargoes of sugar and other tropical produce.

In 1872 Walter Bateman left the partnership, though retaining his financial involvement. John continued the business, with the assistance of his son, John Wesley. The former concentrated on his shipping activities and in 1884, through membership of the W.A. Shipping Association, entered into a chartering arrangement for export-import trade between Fremantle and London, thus reducing “middleman” payments on that run.13)

It was during this period that John Wesley Bateman took over management of J. & W. Bateman from his father. Ship chandlery and “general ironmongery” had joined the groceries, wine and spirits.14) Hammond says J. & W. Bateman's attention

was directed towards the requirements of ship and boat builders and to shipping generally; that the firm supplied equipment to the pearling industry in the north-west, kept a large stock of provisions and builders' materials and built houses in Fremantle as well as their own stores and warehouses.15) In 1882/5, under Government contract, the firm constructed a telegraph line from Geraldton to Roeburne,16) which, apart from its contribution to the opening up of the north-west, also assisted the Bateman organisation in regard to communications with and orders from outlying areas. Sandlewood from the York, Toodyay, and Williams River areas continued to make an impressive contribution to the bateman operation, one year reaching a profit “in the five figured numbers.”17)

After referring to events in the 1860s, including the arrival of the last convict transport in 1868, Laurel Bateman says the firm “later” became universal providers to retail distributors in W.A., using 1,000 sq. feet of floor space.18) Bolton, mentioning the advent of steamships on the Australia run in 1888 (a blow to the Bateman sailing ship interests), says “….the firm…continued to supply many sheep and cattle stations [in the north-west and Kimberleys –C.W.H.] with stores and credit well into the 20th century.”19) These “stores” are not enumerated, but from 1886 we do have a source from which we can gain an impression of the type of hardware supplies available to Batemans for their local and north-west trade.

In that year, the Australasian Ironmonger, Engineer and Metal Worker was established in Melbourne by the U.K. Ironmonger, which was founded in 1859 as the world's first trade publication. Hardware products (then referred to as “ironmongery”) in the issue of January 1892 included the following: socket bolts, sash fasteners, butter dishes, egg stands, saws, “Colonial-made” bellows (F. Lowe & Co., Melbourne), beer pumps, galvanized corrugated iron, varnish and “Japan”, stocks and dies, cart and buggy axles and springs, cutlery, kettles, guns, wood-working saw benches, twine and cord, locks, latches, paint and incandescent lamps.20)

Towards the end of the century the prominence of shipping as a J. &W. Bateman activity was in decline, although sandalwood was still being exported to south-east Asia and snaller craft were still being used for trading activities with the north-west ports. In four decades J. & W. Bateman had developed and consolidated links with northern farming, pastoral, pearling and fishing concerns, many of which, with the later addition of mining, were to continue to the present day.

Expansion, then war, 1900 to 1919

John Wesley Bateman had guided the firm into the 20th century and it was under his management that the first branch store was opened, at Kalgoorlie in 1905.21) Gold production in the State had reached its peak, but by 1905 a stable population in the Goldfields and increasingly demainds by mining companies for safety gear, wire rope and other equipment ancillary to extractive machinery were sufficient to warrant establishment of a Bateman grocery and hardware operation.

Expansion continued also in Fremantle with the acquisition of land, on lease from the W.A. Government Railways, for “storage purposes”. This land was situated in Beach Street, east of Edward Street and adjacent tot he East Fremantle railway station.22)

John Wesley Bateman died in 1907, pre-deceasing his father, John Bateman jun., who died in 1909, aged 84. The firm continued to operate under the join management of John Wesley Bateman jun. and his brother, Lewis Lindsay Bateman. (The latter is a major source of information on the period to 1919, through a series of interviews by laurel Bateman, also a descendant.)23)

About 1910/1124) a branch of J. & W. Bateman was established in Perth. While this was obviously a recognition of the growing population and importance of W.A.'s capital city, the Bateman business was still strongly influenced by its north-west trade. An advertisement in “The Official Guide to Western Australia”25) described J. &W. Bateman as: “Established 1860…Wholesale merchants (Groceries, wine and spirits, etc., Hardware, Drapery, etc.)…Shipping Agents an Wool Dealers…Squatters' Supplies our Specialty…Full Stocks kept in all Departments.” An illustration of a windmill in the centre of the advertisement further emphasised the north-west influence.

By 1913 the Bateman premises (through extensions and additions carried out since the 1860s) had frontages on to Henry, Croke and Mouatt streets. A manufacturing department producing grocery lines, such as coffee essences, condiments and baking powders under the firm's “Blue Seal” brand, and warehousing for groceries, wines and spirits and hardware, together now occupied 60,000 sq. ft. of space.26)

Ship chandlery, of growing importance to the hardware department, was a flourishing business, but hardware in its varied forms was to remain secondary in importance to groceries until well after the 1914-18 Great War. The war years themselves are not mentioned in any Bateman papers extant, but it can be presumed that shortages of goods, resulting from shipping difficulties and the irritations of Government-imposed restrictions, would have led to many problems for the Bateman firm, as for other commercial undertakings.

Post-War and Pre-Recession, 1919-1929

J. & W. Bateman Ltd. was incorporated in 1919, taking over the business and assets of the original firm, J. & W. Bateman. Shareholders were John Wesley Bateman, Lewis Lindsay Bateman, Mabel Louisa Maley (nee Bateman), Guy Victor Walter Bateman, Vernon Bateman and Charles Gow Bateman. In that year also, a branch office was opened at Carnarvon, where, in the following year, warehousing facilities were erected. (However the Carnarvon branch was to be short-lived. It was hampered by difficult trading conditions and the intrusion into the company's traditional trading fields by the emergent pastoral companies and stock and station agents. These, because of their hold on credit advancement, were able to restrict station spending during bad seasons or low market periods. The Carnarvon branch closed in 1922.)27)

Meanwhile, J. W. Bateman, managing director, had visited England, accompanied by C. G. Bateman, travelling in the “Ormonde”. He advised fellow directors on this return that shortages experienced during the ware were continuing. Bar iron and fencing were still unprocurable in the United Kingdom and production of many other hardware items for which indents had been issued was slow. However the company's agents in London

believed that city would resume the situation occupied before the war as a “selling centre”. At the first ordinary general meeting of shareholders, November 26, 1919, John Wesley Bateman and Lewis Lindsay Bateman were appointed joint managing directors and the remaining four shareholders directors.28)

By 1923 the Perth branch premises had become too congested for efficient trading. A new site was purchased, with frontages to hay and Murray Streets and a two-storey building was erected. (The old Bateman building in Murray Street was sold to P. Faulk & Co. Ltd.) Mr C. G. Bateman was appointed manager of the harware department and, as an indication of the growing use of mator cars, Mr. V. Bateman was placed in control of cars used by the compnay's travellers in the metropolitan area and country districts. (But horse and buggy transporet was still being used by some country travellers, as mentioned later in this essay.)

The grocery section was moved to Murray Street frontage of the new building and the hardware department to the Hay Street frontage. Both were equipped with the new Lamson Rapid Wire Cash Transport System, which propelled a receptical for cash and docket on a wire between counter assistant and cachier, who in turn sent back the customer's receipt. It was an innovation which for many years was to attract appreciative attention from adults as well as children during their visits to Bateman's and other Perth shops.

In these years the copmany began a policy of assisting selected country general storekeepers with purchase or lease or premises, particularly in the remote areas. In return for such assistance the storekeeper would be bound to purchase his goods from Bateman's, who would hold bill-of-sale over the premises. At the same time country reporesentation was being

To the east, at the Goldfields, a decline in the gold mining industry was affecting Bateman's business, although the Kalgoorlie operation was still producing an otherwise satisfactory profit. Hardware sales at Fremantle, Perth and Kalgoorlie branches were beginning to take the lead over groceries in regard to profit percentages but as 1926 neared its end, competition in the wholesale trade was still keen and industrial unrest had been added to the 1925 list of matters hampering business activities.29)

Despite these difficulties, J. & W. bateman was still one of the biggest, and most influential, wholesale-retain distributors in W.A. A former employee recorded that the company's clientele extended throught[sic] the State – from Wyndham to Augusta, from Kalgoorlie to Esperance – and embraced an enormous variety: builders, station owners, country general storekeepers, fishermen, pearlers, hospitals, tradesmen, miners, carriers. Oders despatched to the north included windmills, steel, wire rope, wrought iron, piping, fence wire, fencing posts, grocery and liquor, dresses for Aboriginal girls, stick tobacco for boys, spurs, riding boots, Coolgardie safes, camp ovens, wheel felloes, axle boxes and plough shares for horse-drawn ploughs.30)

Customers in the metropolitan area were reminded in a 1937 advertisement that Bateman's supplied “….Boat fittings (we have been suppliers of ship fittings for 80 years), anchors, barometers, bells, blocks, canvas, chains, compasses, fire extinguishers, fenders, flags, lamps, Anderson's anti-fouling paint, torpedo paint, anti-fouling green ('Union Jack'), rope, tarpaulins and ventilators.”31) The advertisement gave bateman's Perth address as 848 Hay Street (“opposite His Majesty's Theatre”) and Fremantle address as 77 High Street. (The latter was the site of a store taken over by Batemans.)

In those pre-depression days, as even today, says a present employee, Led Holding, many clients sought to order their entire requirements for periods of up to six months from the one firm. Bateman's would (and still does) buy in from some other store any items not in its own stock, and add a commission. Such actions are put down to “service”…“goodwill”…“public relations”. They are part of the background to the strong identification Batemans has had with the north-west for more than a century.

Depression and War, 1929 to 1945

A wholesale compnay like J. & W. Bateman Ltd. is in a particularly vulnerable position in depressed economic conditions. Credit advances to storekeeper clients on the basis of payment in 90 days are made in the expectation of purchases at or above the existing level. The storekeeper delays his payments for as long as possible, to use his credit to the utmost. So do all other clients with credit facilities from the wholesaler. In depressed conditions the wholesaler's cash flow plummets, while at the same time he is under pressure from his creditors, who are in a similar position.

This was the position facing Bateman's in 1929, when Colin Dennedy Maley joined the company as an office boy. He was to retire fifty years later as managing director. His mother, a director of the company, was a daughter of the third John Wesley Bateman; his father, Henry Kennedy Maley, was a Minister in the Western Australian (Mitchell) Government. He began in the Perth office, sweeping floors, riding messages, purchasing goods from other Perth hardware suppliers when Bateman's was “out of stock”. Seconded to the office, he was moved into dept collection, a position he detested…“I'm afraid I was a little too direct in asking for money…antagonised some of the wealthy.”32)

For an indication of what type of hardware products Bateman's would have been “carrying” at the time for a comparison with the likely hardware stock of the late 19th century, let us again consult the national hardware publication. It was by now changed its name from “Australiasian Ironmonger…” to “Hardware and machinery”. In the January, 1930, issue we detect a change in the type and range of products advertised: steel wheelbarrows; Australian-made glassware; English 'Judge' teapots; lead dampcourse, traps and flushpipes; weighting machines; hacksaw blades; secateurs; sheep and cattle ear-marking plyers; guns and fishing tackle; wrenches; lawnmowers; drill presses; aluminiumware; chains; clocks; food mincers; 'Yankee' (hand) drill chucks; bolts and nuts; plough and harrow drill discs; cutlery; taps; chop bathheaters; rivets; roofing iron… and so on. (The editorial columsn have no references to the Depression – perhaps because Depression comment tends to retard advertising contracts! – but they do contain a reference to the registration of Western Australian stores, in Ballidu, Kulja, and Dongarra, and the news that McPherson's Pty. Ltd., is about to erect premises in Murray Street, West Perth.)33)

The depression led to large reductions in the Bateman staff; many were retrenched, some went on part-time. The company gave job preference to married men: they would be the last to be retrenched or put on part-time. Stock turnover was affected. The situation was worse in the country branches and many of the stores in which Bateman's had an interest were forced to close.34)

These were still horse-and-cart days. Bateman's themselves still had a horse and dray fleet and sold equipment such as harness, saddlery, bridles, bits, reins and buckles as well as sulky and card compnents – wheels, rims (locally made from York gum), wooden spokes, steel axles. Some of the Bateman

representatives still travelled by horse and buggy, including Bill Merrills, the north-west rep. He would drive his horse and buggy from Fremantle and go from station to station, often staying at a station for two or three days, relating latest news and gossip. He would be away about four months. His last trip was about 1930. After that, motor cars replaced the bugges.35)

Depression difficulties began to fade, but new problems rose to take their palce … the problems and hardships of World War II. One of the “problems” is given as an example: an area off Mouatt Street, at the site of the original Bateman home, had been used for storage of windmills and for patters which the company had made up over the years for the local casting of windmill spare parts. Early in the war the area was compulsorily acquired by the Navy for paravanes and other minesweeping gear. After the war the windmill part patterns had disappeared.36)

Continuing difficulties during the war were the shortages, government restrictions on imports and quotas associated with those – but no staff. The company had many employees outside war service age and they were sufficient to maintain the enforced restricted trading. Colin Maley was among the younger men who enlisted. He joined the R.A.A.F., became a pilot, was moved intot he equipment side when an eye defect was detected and spent five years away from Australia on overseas service. He returned in 1947.

Post-War and the Distribution 'Revolution', 1946 to 1979

J. & W. Bateman Ltd. entered the post-World War II era as one of three major hardware wholesalers in W.A. (The remaining two of the “Big Three”, were Harris Scarfe & Sandovers and

McLean Bros. & Rigg. Bateman's was to be the only survivor. “McLeans” was the first to succumb to the revolution in hardware distribution; “Sandovers” held on until 1980. Both companies suffered from the same problems as those which beset Bateman's, beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which will be discussed later.

Wartime shortages had continued after the war. The Australian hardware distribution industry was still heavily dependent on Britain for its basic hardware items, such as paint, builders' hardware, architectural hardware, and so on. However portents of Australian industrial competition in various fields were emerging. Sidney Cooke Ltd., of Victoria, manufacturers of screws and other fastening products, advertised to the trade using the theme, “From the crucible of war to the bounty of peace”. The text of the advertisement proclaimed: “In Australian-built planes, guns, tanks and other equipment Sidney Cooke products played their part for Victory. Now that Victory is won, Sidney Cooke products will also play their part for peace…”37)

Maintenance of Government controls accompanied the persistent shortages—import licencing, quotas, price control. Bateman's, like other commercial enterprises, found them irritating (“red tape” and harassment by officious inspectors), as well as a frustration to business activity. Yet Maley recalls that “most firms agreed that during price control their relative profits were better than under 'open slather'”38)

Hardware supplies improved in the early 1950s, partly because of a return to peacetime shipping levels and partly because Australian industry had taken advantage of import deficiencies and was supplying an increasing volume of locally produced hardware items. Bateman's and other wholesale hardware companies saw a bright future as building activities expanded and encreasingly affluent communities began purchasing more goods for home improvements and hobby and leisure pursuits. But a catastrophic change to wholesale/retail hardware distrubution was looming.

In the early 1960s some builders began to negotiate supplies direct from some of the major wholesale houses, instead of placing their orders with retail stores. The small storekeepers thus lost a considerable amount of business and blamed the wholesale hardware trade in general. Bateman's initially opposed such direct supplies, maintaining that only the legitimate storekeeper should buy at wholesale prices. However competitive forces prevailed and Bateman's had to modify its stand. Storekeepers reacted to the new situation by joining co-operatives which, on behalf of all members, negotiated bulk-buying “deals” with manufacturers. The era of the buying groups led to the era of the bulk-buying and co-operative advertising groups and sounded the death-knell of the “legitimate wholesaler”.

In the north-west, station business continued to suffer from inroads of the large pastoral companies and stock and station agents, a decline in Aboriginal work-forces following application of wage awards, and the ever-present problems of drought. Neither was business with outlying stores any longer the exclusive preserve of bateman's: sometimes three representatives would compete for a small order from a storekeeper they had driven up to 200 miles to visit. Regular representation in the north-west had to be suspended.

In the mid-1960s, following the industrial development in and around Kwinana, it was decided to close the Perth operation. The premises were sold to the Perth City Council—the site was to become a carpark—and the stock from this branch, and later two smaller branches in Victoria Park and Gosnells, was returned to the Fremantle operation. The sale of the Perth premises released finance for more development at Fremantle, including the construction of a new steel store. Concentration of business activities on the Fremantle site and the proximity to an ever-increasing potential from industrial and housing development at Kwinana combined to maintain Bateman's survival in a highly competitive metropolitan supply situation.

The mining boom of the 1950s and 1960s also had helped to compensate for depridations resulting from the wholesale/retail hardware convulsions of those corresponding times. Groceries are still part of the copmany's general trading stock (sugar purchases may have contributed to the Bateman Wittenoom Gorge trading operation in the much-earlier days when C.S.R. began the Australia Blue Asbestos venture) but hardware in its varied forms has been the major profit producer. Mining companies, like those at Hamersley, Newman and Mt. Tom Price, all need hand tools, engineering tools, safety equipment, wire ropes…all of which have been part of the Bateman stock-in-trade for many years.

Decline of the Family Dynasty, 1979...

In 1979, J. & W. Bateman Ltd. had branches in Albany, Bunbury, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie and Bateman's marine stores (selling boat fittings, accessories and equipment) in Perth and Fremantle.39) But a situation was developing around share transactions which was to change the effective control of the company.

In 1951, J. & W. Bateman Ltd. had been converted to a public company, and a public issue of 80,000 $2 ordinary shares was made. These were split into $1 shares in 1967. A 1-for-5 bonus issue in 1969 was followed by a 2-for-5 issue in 1972, after which the $1 shares were split into 50 cent shares were selling at $1.30.40)

The significance of this increase was underlined in a newspaper heading in October 1980: “Struggle looms for control of Bateman.” The article referred to substantial share interests of …“the Perth solicitor Mr. Stephen Chew” and “…Hollindo Australia Pty. Ltd., a member of a south-east Asian group…” It stated that “…the big Bateman family has been selling its holdings in a market that has risen steadily from $1.40 to $2.25.”41)

Today it appears that, while the Bateman descendants and other independent shareholders between them could exercise control over the company if tightly disciplined, effectively that control has slipped from their grasp.


The John Bateman wine and spirits trade, generated almost 150 years ago as a result of Bateman's bond store activities, and the grocery trade which developed over the mid- and late-19th century still contribute to the J. & W. Bateman Ltd. finances. The hardware section of the business has become predominant. Over the years the items which make up that hardware section have changed in quantity and character as the company has moved into different areas of development – from ship chandlery, pearling, whaling and general shipping requirements, to farming, pastoral, mining and industrial needs, as well as general housing and demestic hardware lines. Throughout the State, north, south and east, “bateman's hardware” has played and continues to play, an important part in development…

In 1981, 151 years after John Bateman arrived in the Swan River settlement, J. & W. Bateman Ltd., Merchanges, still occupies premises sprawling around the site of the original stone store John Bateman built in 1834. To the public, J. & W. Bateman Ltd. still donotes “Bateman's hardware” but the hardware goods which are loaded on to trucks, semi-trailers, railway wagons and shipping containers are no longer the Bateman family's hardware. Effectively only their name remains as part of “J. & W. Bateman Ltd”.


Primary Sources:

  • Bateman, J. & W. Ltd., company prospectus, dated April 2, 1951 in Bateman collection, Fremantle Library.
  • Bateman, J. & W. Ltd., minutes of directors' and shareholders' meetings, 1919-1926.
  • Maley, C. K., notes taken during interviews recorded on cassette tapes, at his home at 49 Vincent Street, Nedlands, August 13, 1981 and September 3, 1981.


  • “Australasian Ironmonger, Engineer and Metal Worker”, Vol. 7., 1892.
  • Jobson's Year Book, 1980/81
  • “Hardware and Machinery” (incorporating “Australasian Ironmonger, …), Vol. 45, 1930, and Vol. 60, 1945.


“Daily News”, “Sunday Times” and “West Australian” newspaper references, from bateman papers in Battye Library, Perth, and Fremantle Library.

Secondary Sources:

  • Bateman, Laurel, The Builders of J. & W. Bateman Ltd., unpublished thesis, Claremont Teachers' College, undated, but thought to be 1962.
  • Battye, J. S. The Cyclopedia of Western Australia, Vol. 1, (Adelaide: Hussey and Gillingham, 1912).
  • Bolton, G. C., in Shaw and Clark, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 1. (Melbourne Uni. Press, 1966).
  • Bott, B., John Bateman, Emigrant and Pioneer, unpublished note, Bateman collection, Fremantle Library.
  • Brooks, D. Notes of interview with Mrs R. Gillett (nee Bateman) and others—notes, Bateman collection F'tle Library.
  • Ewers, J. K., The Western Gateway, 2nd rev. ed., (Fremantle City Council, 1971 – first pub. 1948).
  • Hammond, J. E., Western Pioneers, ed. by Osland K. Battye, (Perth: Hesperian Press – facimile edition, 1980).
  • Hislog, D. J., in “I Remember” feature series, “West Australian” April 2, 1979.
  • 'J. K. H.', Fremantle Reminiscences, “Fremantle Advertiser”, August, 1921 – extract in Bateman collection, Fremantle Library.
  • Lee, B. Historical Families of Fremantle, “Daily News”, September 17, 1969.
  • Lourens, R., in P. Firkins, ed., A History of Commerce and Industry in Western Australia, (Nedlands: U.W.A. Press, 1979).
  • Statham, P., Early Settlers 1929-1950, in Dictionary of Western Australians, Vol. 1., (Nedlands: U.W.A. Press, 1981).
  • Western Australia, An outline of Human Endevour, produced for Education Committee, “Way '79”, by Education and Lands and Surveys Departments, W.A. Government (Perth, 1979).

Addendum to bibliography: Throughout my research for the above essay I received considerable assistance, with information and co-operation, from the staff of the Battye Library, Perth, and the Fremantle Library, and of course from Mr. Colin Maley.

Charles Henderson

1) The simplified chain as outlined in Western Australia, An Outline of Human Endevour, (produced for Education Committee, “Way '79”, by Education and Lands and Surveys Departments, W.A. Government, Perth, 1979), p.134.
2) One of a series of WA 150th Anniversary feature articles published by the Perth Weekly newspaper, “Sunday Times”, referes to “this first recorded item sold by the Bateman firm” but the source is not cited. C. K. Maley, a contemporary source drawn on later in the essay, told me: “Well that's the story…and I'm told the grindstone was returned as faulty. It was probably sold again!”
3) B. Bott, John Bateman, Emigrant and Pioneer, unpublished notes, quoting unspecified sources, Bateman collection, Fremantle Library. This is one of a number of sources which refer to the implements and their contribution to establishment of rights to land purchase. Other land purchased at the sale comprised Lots 274/5 and 294/5, on Cantonment Street. Bateman also was granted 4,600 acres at Beverley, which he later sold.
4) B. Lee, Historical Families of Fremantle, “Daily News,” Perth, 17/9/69. (But note: “son John” was then 10 years old!)
5) G. C. Bolton, in Shaw and Clarke, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 1., (Melbourne Uni. Press, 1966). pp 66-67.
6) J. K. Ewers, The Western Gateway, second revised ed., (Fremantle City Council, 1971 — first pub., 1948), p. 21.
7) Extract (photo copy) from J. & W. Bateman Ltd., prospectus, dated April 2, 1951, among Fremantle Library Bateman collection.
8) R. Lourens, in P. Firkins, ed., A History of Commerce and Industry in Western Australia, (Nedlands: U.W.A. Press, for the Education Committee of the 150th Anniversary Celebrations, 1979), p. 5.
9) P. Statham, Swan River Colony 1829-1850, in T. Stannage, ed., A New History of Western Australia, (Nedlands: U.W.A. Press, 1981). p. 192.</ref> Laurel Bateman, on the other hand, states that before John Bateman died, in 1855, the business was “becoming very well established as one of the most properous mercantile businesses of its day.”<ref>Laurel bateman, The Builders of J. & W. Bateman Ltd., Unpublished thesis, Claremont Teachers' College, undated, but thought to be 1962 (from notes of interview with Mrs. R. Gillett, nee Bateman, and others, by D. Brooks—notes held at Fremantle Library).</ref> In 1837 John Bateman had become involved in the Fremantle Whaling Company, as a shareholder and secretary. It was in this venture that his son, John, was to gain the experience which led to his later shipping activities. Indeed, Bolton describes the whaling activities of John sen. as his “cheif claim to prominence.”<ref>Bolton, op. cit.</ref> Bearing in mind an earlier reference in this essay linking store supplies with the whaling fleet, John bateman had left an important legacy to his sons in the join venture they were to begin. ==== Trade With North-West and Overseas, 1857-1900 ==== After the death of their father, John and his brother Walter went into partnership in a private company, J. & W. Bateman. A company document states this was in 1857,((J. & W. Bateman Ltd., prospectus, op. cit.
10) J. K. Hitchcock, Fremantle, 1829-49, in Early Days, (Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society (Inc.), repr lnted edition. Vol. 1, Part 1, p. 13.
11) The rocky bar at the mouth of the Swan River forced larger ships to anchor off-shore, encouraging ship-to-shore lighterage. (Lourens, op. cit. p. 7, is one of a number of writers who refer to this).
12) Laurel Bateman, op. cit., p. 5.
13) “J. K. H.”, Fremantle Reminiscences, in extract from “Fremantle Advertiser,” August, 1921—Bateman papers, Fremantle Library.
14) J. S. Battye, The Cyclopedia of Western Australia, Vol. 1, (Adelaide: Hussey and Gillingham, 1912) pp. 685/7. (Note: Battye is one of the sources which gives 1860 as the establishment date of J. & W. Bateman).
15) J. E. Hammond, Western Pioneers, edited by Osland K. Battye, (Perth: Herperian Press,–facsimile edition, 1980), pp 202/3.
16) Larel Bateman, op. cit., p. 11.
17) Ibid, p. 12
18) Ibid., p. 8
19) Boldton, op. cit.
20) The 1892 volume is currently in my possession.
21) Date from J. & W. Bateman prospectus, op. cit.
22) Bateman Papers, 1251A, Battye Library, Perth.
23) Daughter of Frank Samuel Bateman, whose father, William Agustus Bateman, was the 13th child of John Bateman jun. (source, D. Brooks, notes of interview with Mrs. R. Gillett, nee Bateman, and others—notes held at Fremantle Library).
24) Laurel bateman, op. cit., p. 14, nominates 1910 as the date of this move; Bateman prospectus, op. cit., nominates 1911.
25) A notation on a copy of this advertisement in the Fremantle Library Bateman collection, nominates the publisher as E. S. Wigg & Son and the date as 1909—thus compounding confusion about the date of the firm's establishment in Perth. note also that the advertisement dates the establishment of J. & W. Bateman as 1860.
26) Laurel Bateman, op. cit., p. 14.
27) The information on which this paragraph and the remainder of the period up to 1926 is based is drawn from a J. & W. Bateman ledger, containing company minutes, to which I was given access. Specific references are attributed later to “company documents” followed by the year.
28) Company documents, 1919.
29) Ibid.
30) D. J. Hislop, in “I Remember” feature series, “West Australian”, April 2, 1979.
31) Pulic Notices, “West Australian”, November 3, 1937.
32) This paragraph and much of the remainder of the essay, is based on two interviews with Mr. Colin Kennedy Maley, of 49 Vincent St., Nedlands. My own notes of the interviews may be verified from cassette tapes. A verbatim transcription of the tapes (and extremely long and tedious typing project) has begun but was not completed by the time of submission of the essay. However, notes and cassettes are available at any time and will be supplied to accompnay the esasy if required. Questions and answers are much more wide-ranging than would normally be required for the essay topic because I required extra information for a future project.
33) 1930 volume in my possession.
34) , 35) C. K. Maley, first interview.
36) The Navy acquisition was related to me in casual conversation with an employee. The windmill-parts story was then recalled by Colin Maley. It is not on the cassette tape.
37) “Hardware & Machinery”, December, 1945, p.4.
38) C. K. Maley, first interview (in answer to Question 11).
39) This year, I have been advised, another warehouse had been established at Karatha.
40) Bateman (J. & W.) Ltd., entry in Jobson's Year Book, for 1980/81
41) “Business and Investment” article, “West Australian”, October 30, 1980
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