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 1861-63, George Crane is listed in the Sands Directories as a builder at Botany Street, Redfern. In 1867 Crane had set up his own firm, G E Crane and Sons, and worked until his retirement in 1886. He died on 18 June 1906 at his home ‘Stanway’ on Orpington Street, Ashfield and was buried at Rookwood Cemetery.
Occupation & interests
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, with the company’s head office situated 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’.
Local government service
A notice in The Sydney Morning Herald notes George Ekins Crane stood for Redfern Council nominations in September 1859. 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’. He 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, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71542494
‘Central Station Indicator Board’, designed and made by New South Wales Government Railways and G E Crane and Sons, Sydney, NSW, Australia, 1906, B2450, https://ma.as/212227
‘Obituary’, The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 20 June 1906, p. 1593, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article164040469
‘Sentences At The Sessions’, Evening News, 19 June 1906, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article114327488
State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 685; Book: 2; Item: 2/8473; Fiche: 1187-1192