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RICHARDSON, Horace Frank (1854-1935)

RICHARDSON, Horace Frank (1854-1935)

Horace Frank Richardson

Horace Frank Richardson

Geelong businessman, and politician, Horace Richardson was a civic leader of Geelong for fifty years. The family business he founded, H F Richardson and Co was to continue to operate into the current era as one of Geelong's leading auctioneers and real estate firms.

Horace Richardson was born on 8 November 1854 at Geelong, the son of John Richardson (1819-1876), a Geelong druggist, and his wife Annie Maria, née Matthews (1834-1921).

He entered Geelong College in about 1866 and probably continued until about 1870. He won a second prize for bookkeeping, and a first prize in writing in the Third Class in 1870. He also appears in two of the Annual Reports: coming 2nd in 100yds under 14 handicap race in 1869; and as the scratch winner of an under 14 150 yard race in 1869.

In 1873, he commenced employment with the Geelong Branch of the Liverpool, London and Globe Insurance Co. In 1876 he joined the Shire of South Barwon as secretary and treasurer in a civic career that was eventually to see him elected a councillor with the City of Geelong for thirteen years and subsequently as a councillor with the Shire of South Barwon for thirty-three years. After election to the Legislative Council seat of South Barwon in 1912 he eventually became Minister of Forests from 1924 to 1927. He died at his home ‘Kardinia’ on 28 October 1935.

Horace started his business as a stock and station agency in 1881 before trading as H F Richardson from 1886. His first location was in a section of the Exhibition Building in Malop St, Geelong before moving in 1889 to premises extending from Little Malop St to Ryrie St in a building that became known as Richardson's Exchange. This was located opposite what is now the Market Square Shopping Centre. In 1924, the business began trading as H F Richardson & Co when his brothers, A G Richardson and H S Richardson, and sons, S J and F E Richardson were admitted to the company. In 1946 Syd Grenfell entered the partnership and Frank and Syd then ran the business until 1955 when John Richardson, a grandson of Horace was admitted. John's brother Frank entered in 1959.

Horace first married Edith Harriett Sommers (1860-1937), daughter of William Sommers, a former mayor of Geelong. At the time of his death he was survived by three sons and a daughter. Two sons, Stanley John Richardson (1882-1961), and Frank Evan Richardson (1895-1963) were auctioneers in the business of H F Richardson & Co in Geelong. One son, Allan Williamson Richardson (1886-1970) was farming in the Mallee. His only surviving daughter, Edith Annie Lynette Richardson (1893-1983) married Gerald Rankin Lemon of Sydney.

In August 1921 Pegasus reported:
'We have to acknowledge from Hon H F Richardson, MLC, copies of Annual Report and Sports Programme for 1870. We are especially indebted to Mr Richardson for parting with these programmes which must have been highly prized, from the fact that we note he carried off prizes for Book-keeping, Writing, and in the Sports, 150 yards under 14 from scratch.'

His obituary, in Pegasus, described him as follows: ‘Horace F. Richardson (1866), late member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, and one of Geelong's most distinguished citizens, died on 28th October, at his home, "Kardinia," Belmont, aged eighty years. He attended his office within a month of his death, but had not enjoyed good health during the past year. He was always proud of his association with Dr George Morrison at the College, and never failed to support his old school in all its activities, filling the chair as President of the Old Boys' Association in 1917-18. After gaining valuable business knowledge under his father, he established himself in 1886 in portion of the Exhibition Building and Produce Exchange, and carried on a successful business throughout his life.

From boyhood he took an interest in sports, playing cricket with the Mercantile Club, rowing with the Barwon Rowing Club, and playing bowls and croquet in later life. In 1884 he was elected a member of the Geelong City Council, and was for two years Mayor of the City. He was elected a trustee of the Geelong Branch of the Australian Natives' Association in 1897, and was a member of the South Barwon Shire Council for 33 years, being President on two occasions. He was known by many friends as the 'father' of the Country Roads Board, owing to his persistent agitation for the nationalisation of main roads. In 1912, he contested and won the seat for the South-western Province in the Legislative Council. He was a member of two Governments, a member of the Railways Standing Committee, and Unofficial Leader of the Legislative Council. As a citizen of progress he had few equals, and he was largely interested in the first sewerage of Geelong, the establishment of band concerts, the progress of the Artillery Band, the founding of the Gordon College and the Hitchcock Art Gallery.’

His brother, Arthur Ernest Richardson (1852-1920); one of his sons, Frank Evan Richardson (1895-1963), and grandsons, John Meldrum Richardson (1930-2018) and Peter 'Frank' Richardson (1931-1993) were also educated at Geelong College.

In recognition of his achievement, Horace Frank Richardson was inducted into the Old Geelong Collegians' Association (OGCA) Notables Gallery at Geelong College on 27 October 2018.

Sources: Annual Report 1869 p10; Annual Report 1870 p12; Pegasus August 1921 p31; Obituary-Pegasus December 1935 p81; Ian Wynd - 'Richardson, Horace Frank (1854-1935)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, Melbourne University Press, 1988, pp 384-385. ; Geelong Business News August 2007 p24; Geelong Advertiser 30 July 2011 p37; Geelong Advertiser 22 Aug 2017.
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