- EDMENTS, Alfred (1853-1909)
- public benefactorson of James Edments, a farmer who lost his farm and became a mason, was born in London in 1853. He had only a primary education and at an early age began to work for a firm of cork merchants. He left for Australia at the age of 19 and arrived at Sydney with two shillings and sixpence in his pocket. He obtained a position, saved a little money, began working as a peddler in a small way, and then opened a shop in Sydney where he sold goods by auction. He went to Melbourne in 1888 and started an auction room in Bourke-street. He also for a short period was a bookmaker, attending only the principal meetings, but found this did not suit his health and soon gave it up. He also gave up having auctions and opened a shop selling watches, clocks and fancy goods, which steadily prospered. He visited England in 1892 to arrange for direct buying, and after trying various locations, finally settled his place of business at 309 Bourke-street, Melbourne, in 1895. The business grew and Edments began to open branches in the suburbs and in Hobart, Tasmania. He kept a close watch on every detail, thoroughly trained his staff, and treated them with great consideration. Every employee had a fortnight's holiday on full pay, and when ill Edments continued to pay their salaries and often their medical fees. He himself worked very hard and his health began to cause anxiety when he was only in his early forties. He paid frequent visits to England and in 1898 opened a London office. For the last six months of his life he was compelled to manage his business from his home. He died at Melbourne on 13 July 1909. He married but had no children.Alfred Edments started with no advantages and no capital, but he had a remarkable memory, and a keen sense of business. He believed in being satisfied with small profits and in treating his customers fairly; holding that one satisfied customer was worth a page of advertisements. He had no hobby, and his only exercise was walking. A kind-hearted man, he was fond of children and animals, especially horses, did many good deeds in an unostentatious way, and at his death left a large proportion of his considerable fortune to charity. This in 1940 amounted to about £150,000 and about £6000 is distributed every year.Private information; information from The Trustees Executors and Agency Co. Ltd.
Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. Angus and Robertson. 1949.