George Gardiner, a well-known oil and glue manufacturer, was born on 1 March 1845 at Bathurst. He married Mary Patton, a native of Glasgow. They had the following children:
George Arthur — born 1867 in Melbourne, married Mary Emily Searle in 1890, died in Prahran in 1935 aged 67
John Wesley — born 1869 in Melbourne, died on 7 February 1906 as a result of suicide
Sophia Jane (Tottie) — born 1871 in Melbourne, married Henry Thomas Pride on 6 April 1898, died 6 August 1928 aged 56, buried in the Church of England section of the Geelong Eastern Cemetery
Thomas — born 1873, married Mary Ollie in 1891, died 21 January 1946 in Geelong
Robert — born 1875, married Lillie Riley in 1911, died on 21 May 1954
Victoria — born 1878, married Ralph Martin, died in Fitzroy in 1894
Louisa — born 1879, married George Hillcant in 1911, died in Shepparton in 1949
Edith — born 1881, married Stephen Reynolds in 1903, died in Shepparton in 1950
Mary died at the age of 37 at her residence in Marshalltown on 18 January 1882 and was buried in the Church of England section of the Geelong Eastern Cemetery in a single grave.
On 21 Jun 1882 George married Mary Ann, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (née Hoyler) Jeffery of The Fernery, Newtown, at the High Church Manse. They had two children:
Elizabeth (Lily) — born 9 May 1883
Ethel Maud — born 19 September 1884, married George Cecil Pitcher in 1955, died in 1971 aged 86
Mary Ann died on 16 May 1887 from exhaustion caused by shock from accidental burning. She was buried with George's first wife, Mary, at the Geelong Eastern Cemetery.
By 1898 George was living at Sunnyside, on the corner of Brearleys Lane and Tannery Road, Marshalltown. In 1899 George married Emma Elizabeth Moran. It was obviously a short marriage as Emma was suing his for maintenance by 1910. On 26 April 1907 a sale was held to dispose of household furniture and effects, live stock and farm implements as George had disposed of the property.
He was a South Barwon Shire councillor, serving from 1874 until 91, 1889 until 1892 and 1895 until 1910. In 1898 he failed to lodge his nomination paper before the date necessary for lodgement, however an election was held to fill the extraordinary vacancy and he was the only person nominated and was duly elected a councillor. He was president of the shire twice — 1897-1898 and 1905-1906. He served on the council a total of 24 years. He was on the committee of the Torquay Improvement Association. He was a vice president of the Torquay Racing Club. The racecourse was on the property of Andrew White.
In 1884 George made arrangements to set up a tannery beside the Barwon River next to his glue factory. He later added the manufacture of fertilisers under the brand of "Magic". In 1894 George's glue factory was almost burnt to the ground. The efforts of the neighbours saved part of the buildings, and most of the equipment in the complex. Replacement buildings were erected and manufacturing of oil and glue resumed. He added extra buildings, fitted with the latest machinery for the manufacture of bone dust on a large scale. When the new plant was up and running George entertained the councillors, council officers and visitors and in the evening a banquet and social was held for about 150 of the neighbouring residents. In the new factory every safeguard was taken to ensure the strictest cleanliness and prevent the slightest objectionable odour which would be a source of nuisance to the residents in the vicinity. The "gaseous emanations" were passed at a high pressure through water, which is itself either again utilised or thoroughly disinfected before being discharged into the Barwon. After the tables were cleared dancing followed into the early hours. By 1910 business was slowing because of the scarcity of hides.
On 7 February 1906 George's unmarried son, John Wesley, aged 36 years and 10 months committed suicide by shooting himself with a breech loading shotgun. He was buried with his mother and step mother, Mary Ann.
George died on 26 April 1911 at the age of 65 years and was buried in the Church of England section of the Geelong Eastern Cemetery. A large crowd attended the burial which was conducted by Rev D W Weir. The coffin was carried by F Baench, G Klemke, W Lockwood, L Jarvis, H Holmes and J Allen, all employees of the firm. The pall bearers were E Sparrow, W Munday, E Watson, F Tozer, C Palmer, H Storrer and G Dixon. Emma died on 23 December 1935 aged 87 years and was buried in a separate grave at the Geelong Eastern Cemetery.
On 15 December 1911 the tannery together with 22 acres of land was sold at auction to John Heslop for £3000. It was managed by Charles Frederick Palmer. He purchased the tannery in 1912.
At the time of his death in 1911, George Gardiner lived in a brick cottage erected on allotment 15 in Tannery Road, Marshall. The block also contained a weatherboard cottage which was leased. Across the road on allotment 4 was a tannery, bone mill, oil works, stables outbuildings and a small cottage. Two cottages were erected on allotment 4. Two more cottages were erected on allotment 5 which George also owned. He also owned a block in Breakwater, and a small acreage on or near the corner of The Esplanade and Beach Road in Torquay. He also owned farmland in the Parish of Puebla which backed onto Thompsons Creek.
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