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Thomas Sutcliffe Mort

(1816—1878) entrepreneur in Australia


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(1816–78) entrepreneur and refrigeration pioneer, was born at Bolton in Lancashire, England. He migrated to NSW in 1838 and established a system of regular wool auctions in Sydney in 1843, then moved into London consignments, the stock and station agency business, railway promotion, mining, and sugar-growing. Successful pastoral investments in the 1850s financed his development of an extensive model dairy farm at Bodalla, NSW, where he also experimented with cotton and silk cultivation. He converted a cottage into a neo-Gothic mansion, Greenoakes, at Darling Point, Sydney, and indulged passions for art, antiques, and horticulture. In 1855 he established Mort's dry dock at Balmain, and progressed from shipbuilding to locomotive manufacture and general engineering. The business became Mort's Dock and Engineering Company in 1872 and Goldsbrough, Mort & Co. in 1888. It experimented with profit-sharing in the early 1870s, but like Bodalla, Mort's Dock was overcapitalised and struggled to survive. Mort, the patriarch, interfered excessively. Between 1866 and 1878 he backed refrigeration experiments by Eugene Nicolle and incorporated his systems in the NSW Fresh Food & Ice Company. Mort spent over £100000 and died before a successful overseas shipment of refrigerated Australian meat, but he saw the process proved locally.

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From The Oxford Companion to Australian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Australasian and Pacific History.


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