COBB AND CO.
In a publication, well and interestingly illustrated, Mr. Wm. Lees gives a history of Cobb and Co., the coaching house, whose activities have been intimately
associated with the development and pro- gress of Australia from the early fifties. The subject takes the author over a wide field, through periods which live in the re- collections of comparatively few people, connecting the present railway era with the time when Cobb's coaches represented the one regular and relatively speedy means of communication between one part of Australia and another. Mr. Lees has collected together a great deal of informa- tion, and he tells his story plainly and directly; as one who has been over much of the country himself, and has had prac- tical experience of coaching over long dis- tances, and through country far from the iron horse. Every one who feels an interest in the early days will find in this book much that throws light on the course of settlement, and the strenuous life of the pioneers. Cobb and Co., as he points out, came into existence about the middle of 1853, when four Americans, Freeman Cobb, John Peck, James Swanson, and Anthony Blake, formed a partnership, and imported coaches from Connecticut to establish communication between Mel- bourne and the gold mines about Gee- long, Ballarat, Bendigo, and Castlemaine. The venture proved a great success, and in a few years each of the partners was able to retire with a fortune. Freeman Cobb went to California, where he lost his money, and subsequently went to South Africa, where he started a coach- ing business between Port Eliza- beth and the Kimberley Mines. He died in 1873. Peck founded a large stock and station agency in Melbourne, where he died a few years ago. Swanson and Blake returned to America fairly wealthy men. Cobb and Co., as originally started, thus ceased to exist, but its name was preserved, and the business in other hands spread itself practically all over Australia. The guiding spirit of what may be termed the greater Cobb and Co was the late Mr. James Rutherford. He, too, hailed from America. For 50 years Mr. Rutherford was the governing director of the company, and as he prospered he be- came interested in various other large undertakings. Associated with him in the firm which he founded were John Wagner, A. W. Robertson, B. and C. Robertson, — Pollock, Walter R. Hall, and W. F. Whitney. "Large and success- ful as the business had been under the previous owners from the original Cobb days," writes Mr. Lees, "it was insigni- ficant in comparison with the gigantic proportions it assumed, and continued for over 40 years under the new firm. James Rutherford and A. W. Robertson were splendid managers, resolute and re- sourceful, and discipline under them was exact. They were most excellent types of men, to whose enterprise Australians. especially those resident in the interior, are under the deepest obligation. As em- ployers they were just and liberal in all dealings with their vast army of em- ployees. Evidence of this is in the fact that no difficulty had arisen between the management and men during their 40 years of coaching business, and never had a firm a more reliable, loyal, and faith- ful body of servants." Cobb and Co. in Queensland dates back to 1865. It was a separate concern. The original shareholders were Mr. Ruther- ford, Mr. H. Barnes. and Mr. John Robertson. The first stables were in Albert-street on the site now occupied by Messrs. P. Fleming and Sons. Then a move was made to the spot where the premises of the Queensland Machinery Co., Ltd., stand, and later on the Bris- bane headquarters were at the junction of Queen-street and Petrie's Bight, where now is Joliffe's showroom. The first coach ran from Brisbane to Ipswich. In. 1881 the firm became a company, with a capital of £50,000. It then operated some 4000 miles of lines; the runnings totalled 10,000 miles a week, the equipment was valued at £50,000, some 3000 horses were used, and the mail subsidies amounted to £24,000 a year. Cobb and Co. was the great transport company of Queensland; and it is still in possession of a wide field. Mr. Lees gives some graphic glimpses of old drivers and other employees, and he traces comprehensively the development and vicissitudes of the business in various parts of Queensland. The publication carries tha imprint of the Carter-Watson Co, Elizabeth-street, Brisbane.