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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Lysaght, Herbert Royse (1862–1940)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Herbert Royse Lysaght (1862-1940), manufacturer, was born on 15 December 1862 at Clifton, near Bristol, England, son of Thomas Royse Lysaght, architect, and his wife Emily Sophia, née Moss. He was educated at Bristol Public Grammar School. Migrating to Sydney, he joined the Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney in September 1883. After working mainly at head office and at Bathurst in 1885-89, he went as manager to Berrigan in October 1891 and to Maclean in September 1896. At All Saints' Cathedral, Bathurst, on 26 October 1892 he married Ellen Zoe Lydiard. Lysaght resigned from the bank on 15 April 1899.

His uncle John Lysaght (1832-1895), manufacturer of Bristol, had in 1880 set up the Victoria Galvanized Iron & Wire Co. in Melbourne, with branches in the other colonies, to take advantage of the demands of the building and pastoral industries. In 1899 this importing firm was replaced by Lysaght's Galvanized Iron Pty. Ltd, with Herbert as a director, Sydney manager and Queensland supervisor of the new firm, which was the largest customer of the English organization. By 1913 Lysaght's was supplying 70 per cent of the entire Australian demand for galvanized products. In 1918 Herbert became chairman and managing director of John Lysaght (Australia) Ltd, a new company formed to deal with the business of the parent company. Australia had been almost entirely cut off from supplies of galvanized and black iron sheets during World War I and Lysaght devoted his entire energies to the setting up of sheet mills and galvanizing works and transforming Lysaght's from an importing into a manufacturing company. This was effected on 4 April 1921 when Lysaght's Newcastle Works Ltd, of which he was chairman, opened. In 1937 another plant began operating at Port Kembla.

His great administrative ability contributed much to the success of other business enterprises with which Lysaght was associated. He was chairman of the Australian Bank of Commerce and a director of the Perpetual Trustee Co., Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd, Australian Iron and Steel Ltd, Commonwealth Rolling Mills Pty Ltd, Nettlefolds Pty Ltd, the Royal Insurance Co. Ltd, Anthony Hordern & Sons Ltd and J. Meloy Ltd. Politically conservative, Lysaght saw the Employers' Liability Act, the 44-hour week and like measures as detrimental to the national interest, and in the early 1920s tried to get increased protection for Australian galvanized products. He had a kindly personality outside business affairs, and a wide circle of friends; golf and gardening were his main leisure interests. In 1920 he had been appointed O.B.E. for his work on the executive of the Australian Comforts Fund during the war and in 1930-40 he was a director of Sydney Hospital. He was a member of the Australian and Union clubs in Sydney.

One of the chief pioneers of the Australian iron and steel industry, Lysaght died suddenly at his Darling Point home on 28 June 1940. Survived by his son Douglas Royse, he was cremated after a service at St Mark's Anglican Church, Darling Point. His personal estate was sworn for probate at almost £150,000.

Select Bibliography

  • Lysaght's Silver Jubilee 1921-1946 (Syd, 1946)
  • Lysaght Venture (Syd, 1955)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1894-95, 4, 164
  • B.H.P. Review, 17 (Aug 1940), no 5
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Oct 1920, 25 Feb 1922, 24 Feb 1927, 28 Mar 1930, 22 Nov 1933, 5 Nov 1935, 30 May, 29 June 1940
  • private information.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Lysaght, Herbert Royse (1862–1940)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 16 August 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

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