Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Edkins, Edward Rowland (1871–1939)

by A. I. McMurchy

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

This is a shared entry with Boyd Robertson Edkins

Edward Rowland Huey Edkins (1871-1939), pastoralist, and Boyd Robertson Huey Edkins (1882-1930), racing driver, were sons of Edward Rowland Edkins, pastoralist, and his wife Edwina Marion, née Huey, daughter of a pioneer Tasmanian doctor. The family had settled in the Gulf country managing Beamsbrook station on the Albert River, Queensland, in the early 1860s. Edward Rowland Huey was born on 30 January 1871 at Maryborough. Educated at Launceston Grammar School, Tasmania, and at Wesley College, Melbourne, he learned the pastoral business chiefly as a jackeroo on Kensington Downs, Queensland, under John Cameron.

In August 1890 Edward selected his own property, Bimbah, near Longreach, and lived there for the rest of his life. He soon became president of the Mitchell Selectors' Association and was president of the succeeding Graziers' Association of Central and North Queensland in 1918-22. He represented the latter in the United Graziers' Association of which he was vice-president in 1920-21 and an executive officer from 1921. Frequently president of the Longreach Pastoral and Agricultural Society, he helped to found the Longreach Shire Council, became its first chairman and occupied the position many times thereafter. As his business interests expanded, he became chairman of Edkins, Marsh & Co. Ltd, which owned a stock and station agency and a chain of wool-scours, and Edkins, Campbell & Co. which controlled seven large stations including Bimbah.

An enthusiastic sportsman, Edkins played tennis and cricket and chaired football, tennis and cricket clubs. His main love was the turf and besides being president of the Longreach Jockey Club for nearly forty years, he founded the Longreach Amateur Racing Club in 1912 and was its president for many years. His Snapshot won the Queensland Cup in 1908 and his Piastoon won the Sydney Cup in 1927. He is credited with having initiated the practice of positioning judges well back from the edge of race tracks. On 30 April 1894 at Rockhampton he married Lucy Elizabeth Rule; they had three children. Edkins died of cerebro-vascular disease at Longreach on 23 June 1939 leaving an estate valued for probate at £21,457. He was buried in the Anglican section of Longreach cemetery.

His brother Boyd was born on 12 December 1882 at Mount Cornish Station, Muttaburra, Queensland. Educated at The King's School, Parramatta, New South Wales, he managed the family's Malboona briefly, but country life had little appeal for him and he returned to Sydney about 1905. In August 1906, in the chapel of The King's School, he married Katherine Muriel Edwards: they had two children. Edkins was employed initially by Kinglec Ltd, selling farm machinery, but about 1908 he joined the motor dealer George Innes, agent for Vauxhall and Humber cars. Just before World War I he established an independent business called Motor House in Milford Street. After the war he floated this as a company, Boyd Edkins Ltd. To prove the worth of their cars, retailers often took a leading part in races and rallies. Edkins twice broke the speed record from Melbourne to Sydney, in 1914 and in March 1916. He held hill-climb records in both New South Wales and Queensland and in December 1922 broke the record from Sydney to Brisbane.

For four years Edkins was president of the Motor Traders' Association of New South Wales. He chaired the inaugural meeting in 1920 of the National Roads Association, was chairman of its provisional committee, and became one of its first vice-presidents. He negotiated for amalgamation with the equivalent Victorian association, was a leader of the 1923 reorganization as the National Roads and Motorists' Association, and was a councillor of the association until 1929. The police consulted him frequently on traffic policy.

Edkins was frequently under stress because of the need to pay for imported cars before they were unloaded from ships, a practice which often necessitated a scramble for funds when a cargo arrived. He died in Sydney of chronic nephritis on 23 January 1930 leaving an estate valued for probate at £14,644. He was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • M. J. Fox (ed), The History of Queensland, vol 2 (Brisb, 1921)
  • Pastoral Review, 15 Apr 1916, p 336, 16 May 1918, p 501, 14 Sept 1921, p 456, 15 July 1939, p 755
  • Sea, Land and Air, 1 Sept 1922, p 444
  • Motor Trade Journal, May 1927, p 33, 15 Dec 1929, p 28, 15 Feb 1930, p 52
  • A. Wilkinson, The NRMA Story … (unfinished manuscript, held by NRMA, Sydney).

Citation details

A. I. McMurchy, 'Edkins, Edward Rowland (1871–1939)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/edkins-edward-rowland-6088/text10429, published in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 1 November 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

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