Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Eady, Marshall Thomas Wilton (1882–1947)

by Barbara Hamer

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Marshall Thomas Wilton Eady (1882-1947), engineer, was born on 18 November 1882 at Summer Hill, Sydney, eldest child of William Wilton Eady, a native-born ironmonger, and his wife Barbara Rose, née McPherson, from Scotland. When William died in 1892, the family moved to Melbourne where Marshall's uncle (Sir) William McPherson took responsibility for them. Educated at Scotch College, Eady was apprenticed to the Austral Otis Engineering Co. Ltd before joining his uncle's firm. In 1903 he was sent to Ruston & Hornsby Ltd in Lincolnshire, England, to gain experience as an engineer.

Returning in 1907 to McPherson's (McPherson's Pty Ltd from 1913), Eady was given responsibility for establishing a department to import agricultural machinery and machine tools. He was made a director of the firm in 1913. Having visited England to investigate supply, in 1914 he recommended that local production should immediately commence: under his supervision, McPherson's Machine Tool Works was established at Kensington. On 30 November 1915 at the Methodist Church, Auburn, Eady married Sheila Lydia Whitehead.

After World War I Eady gradually became involved in the wider aspects of industry. In 1931 he represented employers at an International Labour Office conference in Geneva. A member (1928-44) of the Victorian Apprenticeship Commission, he was especially interested in training for industry. In 1938, while sitting on Melbourne Technical College's advisory committee, he helped E. P. Eltham to introduce classes in foremanship which, in turn, led to the formation of the Institute of Industrial Management, of which Eady was foundation vice-president and later president. Because of his expertise, he was appointed to the Federal government's advisory panels on industrial organization (1938) and technical training (1939). His work with the Associated Chamber of Manufactures of Australia was perhaps his greatest interest. He was president of the Victorian chamber in 1935-43 and of the national body in 1937-38. At Imperial trade negotiations held in London in 1938 to review the Ottawa Agreement, he served as an official consultant to the Australian ministerial delegation.

In that year Eady had accompanied W. E. McPherson to Britain, Germany and the United States of America, seeking ways to develop defence production. During World War II Eady continued his activity in industrial relations. His work on labour recruitment, and the dilution scheme in particular, was acknowledged by (Sir) John Jensen, secretary to the Department of Munitions.

Described in 1939 as 'rather bald, bespectacled and mild-mannered', with 'cherubic' features, Eady was a council-member (1942-47) of the University of Melbourne and a co-opted member of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. He served as trustee for the Burke Road Methodist Church, Glen Iris, and on the employment committee of the Victorian Society for Crippled Children. In 1947 he was appointed managing director of McPherson's Ltd (a public company from 1944) and was elected chairman of the Institution of Production Engineers. He died of a coronary occlusion on 8 December 1947 at the wheel of his car in Collins Street, Melbourne. Survived by his wife, daughter and two sons, he was cremated; his estate was sworn for probate at £50,685.

Select Bibliography

  • C. R. Hill, The Manufacturers (Syd, 1971)
  • B. Carroll, Australian Made (Melb, 1987)
  • S. Murray-Smith and A. J. Dare, The Tech (Melb, 1987)
  • Australasian Manufacturer, 27 Dec 1947, p 10
  • University of Melbourne Gazette, Dec 1947, p 102
  • AIM Management Review, 6, no 4, 1981, p 3
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Apr 1931, 25 Feb 1932, 3, 10 Mar, 25 Oct 1938, 28 Sept 1939, 27 Dec 1947
  • Smith's Weekly (Sydney), 16 Dec 1939
  • Age (Melbourne), 9 Dec 1947
  • Argus (Melbourne), 9 Dec 1947
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 9 Dec 1947
  • private information.

Citation details

Barbara Hamer, 'Eady, Marshall Thomas Wilton (1882–1947)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/eady-marshall-thomas-wilton-10086/text17797, published in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 1 November 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

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