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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Butt, Charles Sinclair (1900–1973)

by D. H. Kemp

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Charles Sinclair Butt (1900-1973), businessman, was born on 28 July 1900 at Warrnambool, Victoria, son of Charles Herbert Stewart Butt, bank teller, and his wife Kathleen Mary, née Finlay, both Victorian born. Educated at Inglewood High School and Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, young Charles subsequently qualified as an accountant. On 21 June 1927 at St John's Anglican Church, Toorak, he married Cicely Ethel Mary Lloyd. Having been initially employed by the Alma Woolscouring Co. at Kensington, he worked for the Rapson Tyre Co. in Tasmania in 1928-32. When it failed, he transferred to the Dunlop-Perdriau Rubber Co. Ltd in Melbourne. By 1934 Butt was chief accountant at Dunlop. On the advice of (Sir) Ivan Holyman, he joined (Sir) Frank Beaurepaire and in August became general manager of the new Olympic Tyre & Rubber Co. Pty Ltd.

Quiet and methodical, Butt applied his financial and business knowledge to building a sound firm. His professional and managerial skills, with Beaurepaire's organizational qualities, were significant in forming the basis of Olympic's success. Both men fostered a familial relationship with their staff at Footscray and strengthened these bonds by their involvement in local affairs. During World War II, with sources of natural rubber from Asia and New Guinea under Japanese control, the Commonwealth government appointed Butt honorary controller of tyres and rubber. He went abroad with (Sir) Robert Blackwood, Dunlop's technical manager, to study synthetic replacements for natural rubber, and was also sent to New Zealand to advise on control of tyres.

Butt returned to Olympic in 1946 with an enhanced understanding of the problems of supply and an industry-wide reputation for fairness. In 1949 he became vice-chairman of Olympic General Products Pty Ltd, a subsidiary formed to market ancillary manufactures of the tyre and cable companies. Called upon to advise the Commonwealth government in 1950-51 about the production of rubber from Malayan plantations in view of potential terrorist actions in the region, he visited that country, Indonesia and Ceylon. In 1954 he was made managing director of the Olympic Tyre & Rubber Co. When Beaurepaire died in 1956, Butt became chairman of the holding company, Olympic Consolidated Industries Ltd; Ian Beaurepaire, Sir Frank's son, was vice-chairman and succeeded Butt in 1959.

In 1961-67 Butt was chairman of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. He remained a director of the various Olympic companies and served on the boards of other firms, including James Chocolates Pty Ltd, Guthrie & Co. (Aust.) Pty Ltd and R. W. Crabtree & Sons (A'sia) Pty Ltd. A member of the Royal Melbourne and the Peninsula Country golf clubs, he also belonged to the Athenaeum Club, Melbourne, and the Commonwealth Club, Canberra. He was appointed C.M.G. in 1962. Survived by his two daughters, Butt died at Shenton Park, Perth, on 21 February 1973 and was cremated with Presbyterian forms. His portrait by (Sir) William Dargie hangs in the foyer of the Olympic Tyre & Rubber Co. offices at Footscray.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Lomas, The Will to Win (Melb, 1960)
  • Age (Melbourne), 21 Feb 1973
  • Herald (Melbourne), 21 Feb 1973
  • Sun News-Pictorial(Melbourne), 21 Feb 1973
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

D. H. Kemp, 'Butt, Charles Sinclair (1900–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 30 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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