George Ekins Crane


Terms served on Council

Title Council From To
Alderman Redfern 1862 1864

Family background

George Ekins Crane was born to parents Daniel and Sophia Crane in London, England on 22 January 1826. On 24 October 1847, he married Georgiana Sibella Miller at St James’s Church in Westminster, London. They had 12 children together: Frederick, Henry, Francis, Alfred, Walter, Charles, Arthur, Emma and four who died during infancy, Herbert, twins George and Frank, and Alice.

In 1849, Crane left London with his wife under employment with the Southern Whale Fishery Company to participate in attempts to build the first settlement and whaling industry at the Auckland Islands, New Zealand. The experiment, which became known as the Enderby Settlement, failed within two years, plagued by poor weather, unproductive soil, inexperienced crews and a shortage of whales. Crane, his wife and two sons departed the Auckland Islands on 31 March 1852 aboard the ship Samuel Enderby, arriving in Sydney on 25 April.

In 1867 Crane had set up his own firm, G E Crane and Sons, and worked until his retirement in 1886. He died on 17 June 1906 at his home ‘Stanway’ on Orpington Street, Ashfield and was buried at Rookwood Cemetery.

Occupation & interests

In 1861-63, George Crane is listed in the Sands Directories as a builder at Botany Street, Redfern. George Crane worked as a builder and contractor before he founded the successful building materials firm, G E Crane and Sons Pty Ltd, in 1867. Their original premises in 1867 was an iron shed and yard at 29-31 Pitt Street, expanding to 19-31 Pitt Street, and then moving to a larger showroom and head office at 33-35 Pitt Street, Sydney. The company was listed in the Sands Directories as ‘cement, slate, lead and galvanised iron merchants, and general importers of building materials’, and later expanded to incorporate steam marble and slate works.

The firm GE Crane and Sons was renowned for its use of Australian marbles and was credited with popularising local marbles. The firm also manufactured decorative metal ceilings, centre flowers, ceiling panels and friezes; used widely in Federation and Inter-war houses and retail premises. Their work can be seen in significant public buildings around Sydney. They produced marble flooring for St Mary’s Cathedral and a pressed metal ceiling for Pitt Street Congregational Church; both buildings are listed on the State Heritage Register. GE Crane & Sons also collaborated with the NSW Government Railways to design and manufacture the large indicator board which was used on the main concourse of Sydney Central Station 1906-1982.

Local government service

George Ekins Crane stood as a candidate for Redfern Ward in the inaugural Redfern Council elections. A meeting was held at the Gardener’s Arms on Botany Road on 8 September 1859, where Crane addressed a group of his supporters ‘and his views appeared to give general satisfaction’ and a resolution of Crane’s ‘fitness to represent the ward was unanimously carried’. However, Crane was pipped at the post on election day. He continued to pursue his civic dreams. He stood again for Redfern Ward in 1860, and was eventually elected to Surry Hills Ward in late 1861 before going on to represent Redfern Ward from 1862. (In this early period one councillor in each ward had to step down each year). Crane served as an alderman of Redfern until 1864.

According to his obituary in the Evening News, Crane was also among the first aldermen of Ashfield Council after it was proclaimed a municipality in 1871. He served on Ashfield Council until 1874.


‘An Australian Industry’, Australian Town and Country Journal, 7 November 1906, p. 33,

The Sydney Morning Herald,18 June 1906, p. 6.

‘Sentences At The Sessions’, Evening News, 19 June 1906, p. 2,

‘Obituary’, The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 20 June 1906, p. 1593,

State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 685; Book: 2; Item: 2/8473; Fiche: 1187-1192

‘The Crane Art Metal manufactures’ trade catalogue, Sydney Living Museums

‘Central Station Indicator Board’, designed and made by NSW Government Railways and G E Crane and Sons, Sydney, NSW, Australia, 1906, B2450,


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