Peninsular and Oriental
Steam Navigation Co.

Macdonald, Hamilton and Co Pty Ltd.

Page 2

Click here to view Macdonald, Hamilton and Co Pty Ltd, Gray Dawes and
latterly P and O-Orient Lines of Australia (later changed to P and O Line) from 1953 to 1962 Staff List
in Excel format,
and Click HERE to view a new addition, the 1954 Staff Telephone List, courtesy of Don Bienvenu, August 2019.
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The following information was sent to me by two of my former colleagues and one time juniors, Peter Lucas and Bruce McBain, who variously, after I had transferred to
P and O Lines at 356 Collins Street, remained with MacHams the latter until it ceased
to exist.
©Michael Ian Byard

I am thrilled to be in touch with them again after about 40 years, (due to Bruce coming across this website). I am extremely grateful to them both and acknowledge them accordingly and will reproduce each one. I have slightly edited the account in places.
(see also P and O - Other Companies)


I joined MH&Co in January 1954 when it was a partnership formed in 1930s, ( Bruce states it dates from about 1915) Mr Charles Duncan senior partner retired in March and Neville Pixley, later Sir Neville (MBE, GC StJ, VDR) took over as senior partner. Alistair Mackinnon and Mervyn Karrasch were the other two partners, but I thought that ASM looked after freight and FMK the passenger side, as I had nothing to do with FMK but a lot to do with ASM. Neville Pixley transferred to Sydney office, probably in 1957, and was replaced as senior partner in Melbourne by Eric Browne from Perth.

I think it was in late 1957 MH & Co incorporated and became Macdonald Hamilton & Co Pty Ltd, then the split/amalgamation took place with Orient Line on 1 October 1958. The AUSN , travel and Gray Dawes insurance broking sections under Percy Friend remained as the continuing Inchcape Co, retained the name MH & Co Pty Ltd and the rest became P & O-Orient Lines. As space at 311 Collins St was limited, Gray Dawes moved to 533 Collins Street for 12 months, and AUSN rented space next door at 317. Then when the whole of P& O-Orient Lines were established at 356 Collins St, Gray Dawes and the MH travel were re-established on the ground floor of 311, with AUSN on first floor.

Arnold Chinnery retired as Manager of AUSN and Wally Anderson wound the company down. AUSN folded up in early 1960s, which left Bruce McBain and me as the accounts of MH and Gray Dawes. We let out the rest of the building space for a few years, then sold the building to MLC next door. In 1969 Gray Dawes moved from 311 to Bourke Street to share the office space of R S Bucknell & Co Pty Ltd., another firm of Lloyd's Brokers' Representatives. I moved over to Bourke Street in 1969 to join them as Accountant for both companies, leaving Bruce to carry on at MH.

In 1970 there was a three-way merger of Bucknells, Gray Dawes and Harvey Trinder, and I became the Victorian Accountant of what was Harvey Trinder (Southern) Pty Ltd. Following the merger in UK of the Gray Dawes and Harvey Trinder companies under the Inchcape wing, then the merger with the A W Bain Group we became Bain Dawes Southern Pty Ltd. Meantime MH Travel was running from a basement in Little Collins Street and eventually folded up in Melbourne, with Bruce moving across to Harvey Trinder/Bain Dawes as my assistant (again).

In 1976 the Co Secretary of the Bain Dawes Australia Ltd holding company resigned and at the request of the Managing Director, I moved to Sydney to take over that role, leaving Bruce in Melbourne to take over from me. He would know the history of the last years of MH better than I would, although I had quite a lot to do with the Head Office personnel in Sydney over the years. Ion Macarthur-Onslow who died last month was the M D of MH and also one of the directors of Bain Dawes.

I stayed with the BD Group, ending as Co Secretary and Chief Accountant for the Group (17 companies in all), and in 1986 Bruce was invited to Sydney for a two year term as Assistant Co Secretary and Assistant Chief Accountant. After a period of turmoil when we had to have many retrenchments, I took early retirement in October 1987, leaving Bruce to take over from me for the rest of his time in Sydney. Inchcape sold the Australian operations shortly thereafter, and now there is no Inchcape insurance arm in Australia. As Bruce has no doubt told you, he has now moved back to Melbourne.


I was just idly looking at the web and found your Macham site, you and I worked together 58-60 then I stayed with MH & Co until 1971, following the sale of AUSN, we were mainly travel agents and after agitation from me I convinced the diehards that we had to accept bookings for the non conference ships also.

Because we were part of Inchcape we also were local reps for items as diverse as hydrofoils and snap frozen tea, we also had interests in local car carriage, marine engineering and salvage and in other states marine engineering, towage and film production, film production was a bit of a disaster, the studio's were ahead of their time and over capitalised. I finished my MH days as regional accountant (having taken over from Peter Lucas, who you probably remember) and company secretary of a subsidary which made precision measuring instruments (rulers) which we exported to Asia, Africa and UK, this company later expanded into garden furniture.

In 1971 I accepted a position with Harvey Trinder a insurance broker at that time 25% owned by Inchcape, 25% P& O and 50% by Pearsons, Inchcape later went to 100% ownership and the name changed to Bain Dawes the Dawes part being the old Gray Dawes. I stayed with Bain Dawes until 1990, the last 3 years being Group Coy Secretary of Bain Dawes Pacific Ltd and Director of a joint venture with Lowndes Lambert and also our Reinsurance subsidary, once again I continued to progress by following in Peter Lucas's footsteps, however in 1990 Bains decided to exit Australia by sale to Lowndes Lambert so after negotiating the finer points of the sale our ways parted, ironically my last few weeks were spent working out of Macdonald Hamilton's Sydney office.

One of the more unusual jobs I did at Bains for a week in the mid 70's was to be asked by MH, who by this time had no office in Melbourne, to act as the Melbourne port agent for a small Inchcape tanker, it was ironic that the job I was groomed for at MH was a once only role and that when I was Finance Manager of an Insurance Broker. It was while at Bains that Inchape bid for P& O, it was a frantic time of preparing budgets and forecasts as our small part in the exercise and although the bid didn't succeed it did put the earl back into the drivers seat at P&O. At that time Inchcape was a congomerlate but as you would know solely a motor vehicle dealer of some force and Bain Dawes is now part of the Chicago based Aon .

Apparently MH had a reunion last year, unfortunately only heard after the event from Ron Dann who I occasionally hear from in his capacity as a fund raiser for the various charities. I confirm that MH was formed in about 1915, it was a partnership until 1959 when it became a Pty Ltd, effective 1st July 1960, and finally ceased to exist in about 1995 just prior to its 80th year.

After I left its major activity was catering, and mining supplies quite different to our days. You mention the Royal Interocean agency but that was I think the "Syndicate" which in Melbourne was John Sanderson Shipping Pty Ltd. Like you I have great memories of taking the mail out to the liners and fond recollections of Ernie Olsen. Like you I'm still a shipping buff but a traditionist, a bit out of touch with who's who so far as companies go with most names of our era long gone, even P&O has been transformed .

Macdonald, Hamilton and Co Pty Ltd. Melbourne
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