Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Clements Frederick Jackson (1873–1955)

by I. W. Morley

This article was published:

Clements Frederick Vivian Jackson (1873-1955), public servant and mining engineer, was born on 24 April 1873 at Double Bay, Sydney, son of London-born Frederick Jackson, insurance underwriter, and his Australian wife Mary Josephine Teresa, née Macnab. Educated at Royston College, he performed brilliantly at the University of Sydney where he graduated B.E. with first-class honours in civil engineering in 1895, then entered the engineering shops of Mort's Dock. Appointed field assistant to the chief engineer of the Queensland Government Railways, he designed and constructed steel bridges over the Bremer River near Ipswich and the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton. As an assistant engineer from May 1897 his major achievement, the work of two years, was the bridge across the Burdekin River near Charters Towers. A thesis based on this work won him membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London, and their Telford prize.

Inspired by the Charters Towers area, he returned to Sydney University and graduated as a mining engineer in 1900, then went back to Queensland as an assistant government geologist. His major tasks in the next three years were an investigation of the Queensland opal-mining industry and a geological reconnaissance of the west coast of Cape York: he was the first to record the presence at Weipa of bauxite.

Jackson worked for the Geological Survey of Western Australia in 1903-04, then returned to Queensland as its first chief inspector of mines. On 11 May 1904 in Brisbane he had married Effie Doris, daughter of F. H. S. Hart, a member of the Legislative Council. Promoted in 1911 to State mining engineer, he retired in 1940. He played a significant part in major changes in Queensland's mineral history and was one of the government's most respected advisers. His most important task was the drafting of the Mines Regulation Act, 1910, and its associated regulations which were for some time a model for other States and countries. During the early years of Labor government he was heavily involved in supervising the design and construction of state-owned projects such as mines, batteries, smelters and treatment works. Some of them, such as the iron and steel works proposed in the early 1920s, proved abortive. When the government decided to leave petroleum exploration to private enterprise, he drafted the Petroleum Act, 1923, and its regulations, which were once again widely copied. In the 1920s Jackson was deeply involved in the establishment of Mount Isa as a world-class mine and in the closure of the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Co. Ltd. In 1929-30 he was a member of the important royal commission on the mining industry; he conducted several other inquiries.

Clements Jackson was tall, slight, taciturn and self-effacing; his face would light up with kindness when interested or amused. His father had been a member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and Jackson had been a constant sailor on the harbour when young. He did not race in Brisbane but the yacht in which he cruised on Moreton Bay was moored on the river beneath his home at Kangaroo Point. His house and furniture bespoke his enthusiasms for carpentry. A practising Anglican, he was a close friend of the architect Robin Dods and was his adviser and collaborator in designing the foundations for the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist in Brisbane.

Jackson died on 27 February 1955 in Brisbane and was cremated. His wife, daughter and son survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Geological Survey of Queensland, pub 177, The Opal Mining Industry and Distribution of Opal Deposits in Queensland, and pub 180, Report on a Visit to the West Coast of Cape York Peninsula … (Brisb, 1902)
  • Institute of Civil Engineers (Lond), Minutes of Proceedings, 142 (1900), p 253
  • Australasian Institute of Mining Engineers, Transactions, 15 (1910), pt 2, p 471
  • Queensland Government Mining Journal, 20 Mar 1955
  • C. F. V. Jackson papers (privately held).

Citation details

I. W. Morley, 'Jackson, Clements Frederick (1873–1955)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 19 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


24 April, 1873
Double Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


27 February, 1955 (aged 81)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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