Royston Siddons (1899 – 1976) manufacturer
At his funeral at the Ivanhoe Methodist Church—where Royston Siddons had been a lay preacher, trustee and Sunday-School superintendent, the preacher reminded those assembled that, ‘Royston Siddons gave his country a tool with which to build . . . he gave his country the common spanner. Y canna hand a man a grander spanner’.
Royston Siddons, manufacturer, was born on 15 December 1899 at Williamstown, Melbourne.
At the Presbyterian Church, Wonthaggi, on 25 July 1923 Siddons married Agnes Emily Smith, a schoolteacher. That year he set up as an electrical contractor with his own shop, but sold out in 1927 and returned to Melbourne. He and his family lived with his parents while he worked in wireless manufacture. In 1931 he leased a metal-casting factory at Collingwood and, with a staff of four and an annual wages bill of £1014, began producing hardware for cabinet-makers. Bolstered by his Methodist principles, a supportive extended family and a talent for cost-saving innovation, he survived the worst years of the Depression and began to prosper. He moved to larger premises at Clifton Hill in 1934. Having perfected the die-casting of padlocks from zinc alloy, he manufactured them under the brand name, Sidco. In 1939 he formed R. Siddons Pty Ltd.
In 1949 the business became a public company, with Siddons as managing director in charge of 145 employees, including 35 tool-makers. He transferred parcels of shares to senior managers, and continued to enjoy congenial relations with shopfloor workers. His only son, John, trained on the job, starting as a forgehand in 1945 and passing through the major departments. The father’s methods of promoting a harmonious workplace were to be developed by the son as a creed of industrial democracy.
In 1949, while touring factories in the U.S.A., John Siddons encountered the revolutionary Ramset fastening system. He bought a machine and was offered the Australian franchise. Ramset Fasteners (Australia) Pty Ltd was incorporated as a division of Siddons Drop Forging in 1952, with John as general manager of Ramset, and Royston as chairman of Siddons.
During an overseas absence advertisers coined the famous jingle, ‘Y’ canna hand a man a grander spanner’. Promotion by the television entertainer Graham Kennedy pushed sales to new heights. The Sidchrome trade mark became a household name throughout Australia.
Returning reinvigorated from his travels, Royston outflanked John with a corporate restructure that installed himself as chairman of a holding company, Siddons Industries Ltd, and its subsidiaries, Siddons Drop Forgings and Siddons Rolled Steel, and as managing director of his son’s Ramset initiative.
Although Siddons had moved from Ivanhoe to Mornington, he still drove regularly to the West Heidelberg plant. From the 1960s he pursued other business interests, with limited success, in gold- and opal-mining, and in citrus- and olive-farming. He was a director of various companies connected with his business, and of others including Freighters Ltd, Ring-Grip Ltd and the Leviathan Ltd. For recreation he sailed and played bowls. He was a council-member of Wesley College.
Siddons died on 24 November 1976 at his Canterbury home and was cremated; his wife, and their son and two daughters survived him. A service was held at the Ivanhoe Methodist Church—where Siddons had been a lay preacher, trustee and Sunday-School superintendent. ‘And what has this man contributed?’ asked the preacher. ‘He gave his country a tool with which to build . . . he gave his country the common spanner’. That year Siddons Industries Ltd, with subsidiaries in six countries, 1500 employees and a wages bill of $12 million, made a pre-tax profit of $3 million and paid $600,000 in dividends. Siddons’ estate was sworn for probate at $696,899. One of his bequests helps students training for the ministry of the Uniting Church in Australia.
Complete article : http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A160286b.htm
Robinvale and Royston Siddons : http://www.robinvaleestate.com.au/history.php
and http://issuu.com/discovermurrayriver/docs/discover_murray_mallee_book_low_res (page 142)
Twinning of Villers-Bretonneux and Robinvale, Victoria
The connection linking Royston Siddons, Herbert E. Cuttle, Robin Cuttle and Villers-Bretonneux France.
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