Henry Jones

IXL jam factory; 'IXL JAMS' can just be made out on the building right of centre (AOT, PH30/1/567)

Henry Jones (18621926), jam manufacturer, entrepreneur and financier, was born on 19 July 1862 in Hobart, the son of John and Emma Jones. In 1874, he commenced work in George Peacock's jam factory on Hobart's Old Wharf. On 21 April 1883 he married Alice Glover, who eventually bore him twelve children.

In 1889, Jones bought out the Old Wharf factory in partnership with Achalen Palfreyman and Ernest Peacock (George's son). He was the driving force behind the expansion of the business both horizontally and vertically into areas that could successfully be integrated with the factory's activities, or which met its supply needs. His first move was into the fruit export market in the late 1890s, and then he expanded into the hop growing and timber industries. The need to ensure a reliable supply of fruit led him to purchase and invest in large orchards and finance many other fruit growers. His need for guaranteed cargo space during the hectic fruit export season also led him to establish a small fleet of local and interstate sailing vessels, known as the Jam Fleet, and establish long term relationships with the major British shipping lines. These relationships also saw the partnership of Jones & Co appointed as Tasmanian agent for many British shipping agencies and insurance companies.

In 1899 Jones won a major contract supplying imperial troops during the South African War, and he expanded his jam interests to the mainland, buying up a number of factories in Sydney and Melbourne. This was followed by acquisitions in other states as well as in New Zealand and South Africa and, much later, in the United States. In 1902, the partnership of Jones & Co was replaced with a large public company named Henry Jones Co-operative Limited, with Jones as its chairman.

A desire to secure a reliable supply of tin cans for their factories led Jones and his fellow directors to invest in a tin dredging project in Thailand that returned enormous profits. Jones was not always so successful, though. Far less profitable was his involvement in projects to establish a hydro-electric industry and electrolytic zinc treatment and carbide production plants in Tasmania. All three projects eventually prospered with government support. Nor was Jones ever successful in breaking his factories' reliance on supplies of sugar from the monopolisitic CSR Sugar Company. At various times his company attempted to purchase sugar overseas, buy a sugar refinery in Queensland and even establish a Tasmanian beet sugar industry as means of breaking its dependence on the CSR Sugar Company, but all these strategies failed.

After the First World War, Jones was knighted for services to the British war effort and he became increasingly embroiled in shipping matters. He successfully campaigned for the establishment of an export pool of Tasmanian fruit growers to collectively bargain with the European shipping interests, and attempted to improve shipping services to the mainland. He also campaigned actively against the restrictive Navigation Act. On the international scene, he was also an active member of the Australian Meat Council and encouraged the establishment of a Tasmanian beef export industry direct to Europe. Jones died shortly after a stormy company directors' meeting in Melbourne.

Further reading: B Brown, I excel!, Hobart, 1991.

Bruce Brown