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Jenkin Collier (1829–1921)

by J. Ann Hone

This article was published:

Jenkin Collier (1829-1921), by unknown engraver, 1864 (after Frederick Frith)

Jenkin Collier (1829-1921), by unknown engraver, 1864 (after Frederick Frith)

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, IAN25/10/64/8

Jenkin Collier (1829-1921), grazier and contractor, was born at Bridgend, Glamorganshire, Wales, son of Stephenson Collier and his wife Gwendoline, née Powell. In 1852 he arrived in Victoria and became a building contractor, first in Melbourne and then in country districts. In 1863 he operated a mill to cut sleepers at the Goulburn junction and with partners contracted to build the last fifty-three miles (85 km) of the Melbourne-Echuca line for £300,000; the first passenger train went through in September 1864, months ahead of schedule. Collier was also the contractor for the Deniliquin-Moama railway. He gave evidence to select committees on railway extension in 1865 and 1869, and was later associated with (Sir) Simon Fraser in several building contracts. In 1874 Collier & Co. proposed to build a transcontinental railway from Dalby via Roma to the Gulf of Carpentaria on the land grant system. (Sir) Thomas McIlwraith approved the scheme but, like a similar land grant proposal in 1881 by Collier, Gresley Lukin and others to build a line from Charleville to the New South Wales border, it was rejected by the Queensland parliament.

Collier was a director of several Melbourne companies including the Melbourne Hydraulic Power Co. and the City of Melbourne Bank. Through his railway proposals he became increasingly interested in the pastoral expansion of Queensland, was a shareholder in the Rocklands and Malvern Hills Pastoral Cos, and for many years was connected with their management. In 1888 he leased Leichhardt Farms, north of Barcaldine, and in 1898 bought from John Currie's executors Telemon station on the Flinders River, near Hughenden, 222 sq. miles (575 km²) under pastoral lease, with 34,000 sheep, 2400 cattle and 149 horses.

Collier visited Europe in 1899, returning in 1901 to spend his last years in semi-retirement. He died at his home, Werndew, Toorak, on 8 August 1921, predeceased by his wife Alice Elizabeth, née Brown. He was survived by his son Herbert who was educated at Melbourne Grammar School and became a Queensland pastoralist, and by three daughters, none of whom married, and at whose death a perpetual charitable fund was established from Collier's £1,300,000 estate.

Select Bibliography

  • S. Priestley, Echuca: A Centenary History (Brisb, 1965)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1875, 2, 939
  • Argus (Melbourne), 6 Aug 1898, 11 Aug 1921
  • Pastoral Review, 16 Aug 1921
  • Collier papers (State Library of Victoria).

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

J. Ann Hone, 'Collier, Jenkin (1829–1921)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne University Press), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

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