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Tindal, Charles Grant (1823–1914)

by G. T. Stilwell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Charles Grant Tindal (1823-1914), cattle-breeder and canned meat manufacturer, was born on 31 July 1823 at Littleton Cottage, Honiton, Devonshire, England, eldest son of Lieutenant Charles Tindal (1786-1859), R.N. and later governor of the West End branch of the Bank of England, and his wife Anne Sarah (1794-1879), née Grant. Educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, he spent two years farming in Norfolk which he considered a waste of time 'tho' it was useful in other ways'. In 1843 he brought out rams for his father's naval colleague William Ogilvie, arriving in Sydney on 17 December in the Hamlet. Unable to get work as a station superintendent he accepted Ogilvie's invitation to Merton on the Hunter River. In the next five years he accompanied the brothers W. K. and E. D. S. Ogilvie and others on various expeditions in northern New South Wales. Despite 'differences in temperament' he worked with E. D. S. Ogilvie at Yulgilbar until late 1849.

By September 1850 when his brother Frederick Colquhoun (1829-1855) joined him, Tindal had leased Koreelah station near the headwaters of the Clarence. They worked hard and prospered. In September 1852 he bought Ramornie at Copmanhurst which was to be the headquarters of his Australian enterprises. Early in 1855 he sailed for England and on 14 August 1856 at St Mary's Church, Turville, Buckinghamshire, he married Anne Amory Travers (1832-1901). After sight-seeing and business trips in Europe and England, they returned to New South Wales in January 1857 and work was started on a stone homestead at Ramornie that was occupied in December 1858.

Tindal had brought with him four thoroughbred stallions including Pitsford who sired Ramornie, winner of the 1863 Australian Jockey Club Derby and a great influence on Australian racing stock in the 1860s. In 1858-61 he owned Sir Hercules, who established a male line that survived until the twentieth century. In June 1858 Tindal claimed 'I have now the best English and the best Colonial bred horse in the country'. From the early 1850s Tindal was also a celebrated breeder of Suffolk Punch draughthorses; he found that they 'stood the heat much better than the Shires, [and] they did well to cross with their light horses, so as to get saleable “gunners” or artillery horses for India'. In the 1850s he ran mainly Shorthorn cattle but later set up Devon and Hereford studs.

In 1862 Tindal and his family returned to England, settling in the late 1860s at Fir Grove, Eversley, Hampshire. He made two long visits to his Australian properties in 1879-81 and 1886-89, and kept a very close scrutiny on his colonial ventures. In 1865 he launched the Australian Meat Co. in London with a capital of £100,000. Early in 1866 plant and tin-plate were shipped to Ramornie; meat extract production, which was based on Justus von Liebig's process, and canning began in September. Within a few years Ramornie brand canned meats had become well established on the English market. With some 35,000 beasts slaughtered annually, the cannery ensured a regular market to the local cattlemen and one of the largest suppliers was Tindal himself. Preserved meat, tallow, artificial manure, hides and pelts were also produced.

Tindal's income from the company ranged 'from £10 to 20,000 a year', and in 1879 he bought out the other shareholders. Next year the first consignment of frozen meat from Australia to London marked the beginning of the company's gradual decline. As the meatworks had prospered so Tindal had increased his holdings in land and stock. In 1885 he purchased the amalgamated stations of Bonshaw and Gooniam on both sides of the New South Wales-Queensland border near Texas. Later he bought the adjoining property, Trygamon, and, at the end of the century, Albany Downs in the Maranoa District, Queensland. In 1893 to evade being taxed as a non-resident he took his eldest son Charles Frederick (1857-1938) into partnership; in 1910 to avoid death duties he made over the properties to him.

Troubled by failing eyesight, Tindal died of senile decay at Fir Grove on 16 January 1914 and was buried in the Eversley church-yard. He was survived by two sons and five daughters; his English estate was sworn for probate at £224,965. Hard on himself, his family and his employees, he had great physical strength and a strong loyalty to the Crown and to old servants; above all, he remained devoted to the Australian Meat Co., even in its days of decline. It was sold to the Kensington Meat Preserving Co. in 1915.

Select Bibliography

  • E. J. Brady, Australia Unlimited (Melb, 1918)
  • D. M. Barrie, The Australian Bloodhorse (Syd, 1956)
  • L. T. Daley, Men and a River (Melb, 1966)
  • K. T. Farrer, The Beginning of the Australian Canning Industry (privately held)
  • J. F. Stevens, Histories of Pioneers in the Clarence, Hunter and Richmond Districts (State Library of New South Wales and Clarence River Historical Society)
  • Tindal letter-book (State Library of New South Wales)
  • Tindal papers (University of New England Archives).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

G. T. Stilwell, 'Tindal, Charles Grant (1823–1914)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/tindal-charles-grant-1238/text7837, published in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 18 April 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

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