George Herbert Kinder (b 1888)



parents Enoch Kinder & Matalida Maud Crask


born 31 May 1888, , St Kilda, Victoria, Australia[1]
died 18 August 1965, Glenhuntly, Victoria, Australia[2]
buried 20 August 1965, Springvale Botanic Cemetery, Victoria, Australia[2,3]



George Herbert (Bert) Kinder

Bert was born at his parent's home at 31 Evelyn Street, St Kilda.  His birth was registered by his grandmother Ann Sussanah Crask (nee Emery)[1].  Bert's father died when Bert was only three years of age. His mother, Matilda Maud, did not have enough money to clothe him properly for school and so she kept him at home and educated him herself.  As a teenager he began working in an engineer’s garage and in his own time he designed a machine that made nuts (for fastening bolts).  Later, he formed a company – Kinder and Williams, initially located in Glenhuntly Road, Glenhuntly, Victoria, which ran very successfully for many years.


    from Bert's birth certificate

He called himself Herbert George and was always known as Bert.  The author remembers Uncle Bert and his wife Auntie Minnie from the late 1950s when they occasionally visited a favourite niece (and the author’s mother), Lilian Roosen (nee Punch).  Bert was a brilliant mechanical design engineer who could not read or write to the day he died, aged 77 years.  The author remembers a huge black car - it seemed like a limousine of some type - which he drove but Minnie navigated since she could read the street signs and the street maps.

Bert at leftBert at right


Bert and his limousine
The Hudson Commodore was an automobile produced by the Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan USA between 1941 and 1952.  During its time in production, the Commodore model represented the largest and most luxurious Hudson model.

Second generation 1947 Hudson Commodore 4-door sedan.  Hudson began its postwar automobile production on August 30, 1945.  Body styles were trimmed to Sedan, Club Coupe, and Convertible.  The designs were based on the 1942 models.  There were minor cosmetic changes from the pre-war versions with one exception, the car's grille now had a concave center section.

Hudson automobiles were more fully equipped than competitive makes, and all Hudson models received door arm rests, twin air-horns, ashtrays, windshield wipers, stop lights, locking glove box, sealed beam headlights, and deep pile carpeting.

Commodore added foam rubber seat cushions (Hudson was the first automaker to introduce foam seat cushions), door-step courtesy lights, rear arm rest (sedans) and gold etched lettering on the dash board panel[4].


Marriage

Bert married Maud Minnie Stevens on 14 August 1915 in Elsternwick, Victoria by Licence according to the rights of the Methodist Church of Australia.  He was living at 16 Horne Street, Victoria at the time and Minnie lived at 736 Lygon Street, Carlton, Victoria[7]


A young Minnie Stevens

Minnie was born 1 March 1886 in Portsmouth, England.  Her parents were Alexander Stevens and Sarah Ann Clark.  Minnie was a strict Methodist and did not take well to the Kinders or Punches because of, in her mind, their excessive drinking and also for these families propensity to regularly have children out-of-wedlock!  Bert never drank alcohol.  Minnie had a happy-go-lucky character, was charming and could "talk the leg off a chair" according to her daughter, Gwen[6].

It is not certain when Alexander Stevens arrived in Australia but in April 1890, in Sydney, he filed a deposit for his family to travel from England[10].  Sarah Ann, aged 42 years, and her four children – Sarah Ann aged 14, Caroline Frances aged 9, Alice Mary aged 6 and Maud Minnie aged 4 all arrived in Sydney on 11 November 1890 aboard the SS Ormuz.  Interestingly, the Ormuz sailed from Portsmouth via Colombo, Sri Lanka , Albany, Adelaide, Melbourne then to Sydney - their chosen destination[8,9].


from Ancestry.com

Minnie's mother, Sarah Ann was born in Weymouth, Dorset, England.  The Stevens family probably moved around quite a bit since Aleander was with the British Navy.  In 1881, they lived at 4 Unicorn Street, Portsea, England.  Their first daughter, Sarah Ann was born in Landport, Hampshire, England and their second daughter, Caroline Francis was born in Greenock, Scotland.  Their last address in England was 9 Inverness Road, Gosport, Hampshire[19].  They moved to Victoria and lived in Electra Street, Williamstown near Alexander Stevens' employment in the Navy.


The Stevens family's last location in England



Where Did They Live

In 1912 to 1914, Bert lived with his mother at 57 Earl Street, Windsor, Victoria[11]

After Bert and Minnie married they lived at :

* 420 New Street, Elsternwick      1914-1915
* 16 Horne Street, Elsternwick      1915-1916
* 6 Ross Street, Elsternwick          1919-1936
* 20 Harcourt Avenue, Caulfield    1937-1965

During 1914-16, when another son, Enoch Leslie was away at war, Bert's mother, Matilda Maud Crask stayed with Bert and Minnie at 420 New Street, Elsternwick and Horne Street, Elsternwick[12,13].  This was a source of irritation for Minnie[5].

When Bert and Minnie met, Bert was quite poor but Minnie loved him and saw a future ahead.  They rented the Horne Street house and their only child, Marjorie Gwendoline (Gwen) was born there.  Minnie had a little money and with that they purchased the Ross Street house.  The houses in Ross Street were originally built for railway employees.

After Bert's death, Minnie lived at Harcourt Avenue by herself until 1968 when the house was sold and she moved to a villa unit at 18 Parkside Street, Caulfield where she lived until her death in 1972.  She lived alone but was assisted by her daughter and granddaughters[5].


Minnie, Bert, Gwen, Murray (Enoch Leslie Kinder's son)

Minnie, Gwen and Bert at Luna Park, Stkilda 1926

Bert, Minnie


Minnie, Bert.  St Kilda ca 1934

Minnie was a significant factor in Bert's success.  Although she left school aged only 13 years, she had strong numeracy skills and an instinct for profit and loss.  Remember, Bert could not read nor write.  Bert was somewhat lazy and Minnie usually had to pull him out of bed to get him out to work.  She drove both the household and Bert's business.

Bert was a kind and generous man.  He loaned his sister, Ruby Frances, enough money for her to purchase a house at 10 Henry Street, Oakleigh.  He also loaned money to his nephew, Kenneth Francis Kinder.  He was also a man of contrasts.  He lost all his teeth early in life but was too proud to have false teeth.  Also he would go for months without bathing.  These odd habits did nothing for his relationship with Minnie!

It has been said that Bert had a lady friend who he would meet at a bathing box at Mentone.  This apparently, was one place to which he knew the way and could drive himself without Minnie's guidance!


Their Working Life Together

Until 1936, Bert stated his occupation as Electrician although he had no formal training in the trade.  Later, he stated his occupation as Manufacturer[14].

In his early working days, Bert worked as a Household Electrician, wiring houses, installing electrical appliances, etc.  During this time, his inventive mind was already working.  He saw an opportunity to manufacture the wooden boxes that housed the electrical switches.  These were circular in shape and difficult to make since the grain direction of the wood varied around the circumference.  He built a machine to do this and it was very successful.  He then built a machine to make the fixing nuts and assemble the switch and its fastening nuts into the housing box.

Kinder & Williams

Bert started manufacturing electrical fittings in his Horne Street home garage then moved the manufacturing by partnering with William Joseph Parish of the Parish Engineering Co.

In the early years, Minnie was very involved in the business doing most of the bookkeeping and administrative work. 

Parish left the business and Bert carried on as H.G. Kinder.  The Partnership, at least legally, continued until its formal dissolution in July 1944.

Walter Wlliams
joined the business in 1933.  He was a local real estate agent and came in as an investor to help grow the business.  A meeting was held on 24 August 1933 between Bert, Minnie, Walter Williams and Mrs Margaret May Williams whereupon it was agreed that the 4 persons present would each put up 1,000 of paid-up capital to establish a new proprietary company to carry on Bert's busines under the name of Kinder & Williams.  

Bert and Walter each had a 50/50 shareholding in the new business.  Inittially the business would be operated from Bert's garage at 23/24 Horne Street, Elsternwick.


The Argus, 3 July 1944
 
Their first Board meeting was held on 7 September 1933.


It wasn't long before Kinder & Williams moved to new premises located at 607 Glenhuntly Road, then because the numbers were changed, the premises became number 617 and later number 875  – without moving an inch.



At the Glenhuntly Road factory, Bert manufactured a wide range of metal items such as various types of nuts (for bolts/screws), hand lamp guards, post standards and electrical brackets.  He also carried out die making and a variety of mechanical work.

He invented a number of the machines he used for manufacturing.  During the Second World War, the Australian Army even offered to purchase some of his designs but he declined to sell.  Even into his 70s, Bert continued to sketch his unique ideas on tablecloths, napkins, even the walls of his house!

Walter Williams was a big talker, had a big ego, always having grand ideas and Bert liked this but a side effect was that Minnie was somewhat pushed aside and she greatly resented this.  This affected Bert and Minnie's relationship negatively.  Minnie had been Bert's driving force to success and now she was being shut out.

Williams was, supposedly, the financial brains of the business but it seems that he played clever games with the company accounts to avoid paying company taxation.  The tax office noticed that Williams’ son, appeared to be living beyond his means and initiated an investigation.  The blame was sheeted back to Williams and the tax office looked into the Kinder & Williams business.  The result was that Williams was fined, the business was fined but Bert avoided being charged since he could prove that he could not read nor write so was not held responsible. In any case, Bert and Minnie, paid all the costs and fines levied by the tax office.

Williams’ reputation was in tatters and as a prominent local businessman he was severely embarrassed.  In desperation, he threw himself under a train at the North Road railway bridge, North Brighton on 10 June 1949 and was killed.  Williams’ son, Angus, took his place as Bert's business partner but was in the army at the time and even later, he did little to help the business[5]


In 1938, Bert and Minnie's only child, Gwen, married Walter Frank Fillmore (b 1914) and they had two girls.  After many years as a Mechanical Engineering Teacher in Yallourn and later Swinburne Technical College in Hawthorn, Fillmore joined Kinder & Williams.  After Williams' death, Walter was appointed to the Board of Directors on 15 June 1949.



Leading up to Bert's death, the business was struggling a little and was not paying dividends, which caused some financial stress.  After Bert died in 1965, Fillmore, took over the management of the business and things improved.  Fillmore managed Kinder & Williams until 1984 but he realised that lower cost imports were creating long-term problems and he closed the business.  Walter and Gwen Fillmore and Angus Williams each received half of the proceeds from the sale of the Glenhuntly Road property[5].

Passing On

Bert suffered from emphysema due to his lifelong heavy smoking habit.  He suffered acute cardiac failure and died in hospital on 18 August 1965 aged 77 years[2].  

He was cremated and interred at The Necropolis, Springvale, Victoria on 20 August, grave reference BOR-22-Q-219[3].

Bert died without leaving a Last Will.  At Minnie's request, Gwen was granted Letters of Administration to deal with Bert's estate[18].



Minnie died on 16 August 1975 aged 89 years.  She was also cremated at The Necropolis on 18 April and her ashes were scattered[16,3]

Her Last Will specified that the shares in Kinder and Williams be divided between her daughter, Gwen and Gwen's husband, Walter.  After making provision for her two granddaughters, the balance of Minnie's estate passed to her daughter[17].


Bert at left

Bert with grandaughter Gail

Gwen (standing) with Minnie - holdiays at Rosebud

Bert (at right) - holdiays at Rosebud

Bert




References
  1. George Herbert Kinder b1888 birth certificate
  2. George Herbert Kinder b1888 death certificate
  3. Records of Springvale Botanical Cemetery, Springvale, Victoria
  4. Wikipedia
  5. Gwen Fillmore (nee Kinder) personal communication
  6. All photographs kindly provided by June Fillmore
  7. George Herbert Kinder b1888 & Stevens marriage certificate
  8. New South Wales Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1826-1922
  9. Victoria Unassisted Inwards Overseas Passenger Lists
  10. NSW Immigration Deposit Journals, 1853-1900
  11. Sands and McDougall Melbourne & Suburban Directory
  12. Australian Electoral Rolls 1903-1980
  13. Enoch Leslie Kinder b1883 war service record
  14. Victorian Electoral Rolls 1903-1980
  15. Minutes of Meeting, 24 Aug 1933 between Kinder and Williams
  16. Maud Minnie Stevens Extract of Death
  17. Maud Minnie Stevens Last Will and Probate
  18. George Herbert Kinder b1888 Probate
  19. 1881 UK Census, RG 11/1147, Fol 83, page 24