Summary

Air Raid Precaution personnel badge used by Air Raid Precaution warden Herbert Leslie Blakeley (1890-1973). He was the son of William Henry Blakeley (1839-1921), founder of the saw manufacturing empire WH Blakeley & Company Pty Ltd.

William Henry Blakeley immigrated to Victoria in 1865. Trained as a saw maker in Sheffield, England, Blakeley established a business as a 'saw doctor' at 150 Little Bourke Street in 1867. His business grew over the next two decades. In 1878, from premises at 116 Russell Street, William Henry Blakeley promoted himself as a 'saw maker and importer of joiners tools' (Leckey 2004: 95). By 1888, his manufacturing and wholesale trade had expanded to such an extent that he was able to purchase a factory at 115 Lonsdale Street. The three storey structure featured a 'shop and office...on the ground floor and saw doctoring and manufacturing operations were conducted on the other floors. The basement was used for smithing and large-saw hammering' (Leckey 2004: 102).

The establishment of his own factory coincided with the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition. W.H. Blakeley and Company exhibited a large number of products, including saws and blades manufactured at their premises in Lonsdale Street, saws from Henry Disston & Sons of Philadelphia (Blakeley being the sole agent for Disston's in Australia), and working saw-grinding machinery.

In 1920, at the age of 81, William Henry Blakeley formed a 50:50 partnership with is son Herbert Leslie Blakeley (1890-1973). William Henry died the following year, and almost immediately Herbert Leslie incorporated the company. Following the creation of W.H. Blakeley & Co Pty Ltd, the company sold their premises at 115 Lonsdale Street, and bought premises at 13-21 Little Lonsdale Street, adjacent to Casselden Place. The company was opposed to the compulsory acquisition of 'Little Lon' by the commonwealth government, acting as nominee plaintiff for the whole precinct in the High Court action of 1953. Unsuccessful in its action, the company relocated to Nicholson Street in Fitzroy in 1961. Herbert Leslie remained head of the company until 1970; his brother William (1905-1995) managed it until 1989. The company, now based in Clayton North, is still in family hands and continues to trade to this day.

Physical Description

Silver coloured shield-shaped badge surmounted by crown. Pair of suspension loops on reverse of badge.

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