English, Scottish and Australian Bank, Tennant Creek
Lot 181: A small galvanised building was erected for the ES&A Bank before April 1935. The first manager was Bruce Clezy who went to Tennant Creek in 1935 to open the bank. It was Rudolph Schmidt, according to Clezy who induced him to convince his management that it was an appropriate time to open a bank in Tennant Creek. The arrangement was that Schmidt (who held the mining tenement/Lot in his name) would provide the building and the bank would pay the rent. The building was built around the safe to avoid a repetition of what happened in Alice Springs when a safe had to be fitted into an already existing building.
“What sort of building was it?” Just a Sydney Williams Hut… There was a little banking chamber about eight by twelve or something like that and then my office behind and then our sleeping quarters behind that, and an ant bed floor.
He (Schmidt) said to me: “Well, now what’s the rent?” and I said “Well I’ve got no idea, what would you suggest?” And he said “A pound a week.” And I said “Well that’s seems pretty stiff!” So he said “Well I’ll toss you for it” … So we tossed and I won, and so we paid ten shillings a week .. but he was a terrific man. Bruce Clezy
BANK FOR TENNANT’S CREEK
Opens Early Next Month.
A branch of the English, Scottish, and Australian Bank will be opened at Tennant’s Creek, Northern Territory, early in April, with Mr. B. A. Clezy as manager, said the manager of the Adelaide office of the bank (Mr. Cawdell) today. This should prove of great value to those on the Tennant’s Creek goldfield, as the nearest bank now is at Alice Springs, 340 miles distant.
Material for the building has been forwarded, and as soon as construction is completed banking operations will begin. Gold will be purchased, and all banking facilities provided.
Mr. Clezy opened the Alice Springs branch of the ES&A Bank two and a half years ago, during the rush to the Granites goldfield, and has been stationed there since. He is now spending a holiday in the South-East.
News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), Thursday 14 March 1935
Butcher and Ice Plant above (Possibly oldest business in Tennant Creek)
April 1935 J Monaghan was on site to erect a refrigeration plant
1938 Central Australia Butchering and Ice Co – partners Rudolph Schmidt and J S Higgins
Jan 1937 taken over by Mr Allen and Jock Nelson
GOLD STOLEN FROM TRAIN – GUARDS CHANGED SIX TIMES
In connection with the robbery of a parcel of gold valued at nearly £4000 from the train between Alice Springs and Quorn, it is stated that the guards changed six times in the long Journey.
Stops were made at 39 points, the time occupied in so doing being seven hours. The parcel of gold measured 8 inches by 12 inches by 8 inches. Practically everyone in Alice Springs knew the gold was going through, and it is common knowledge along the route that every, Ghan (as the trains are called) carries parcels of gold.
Yesterday’s train was made up of two sleeping cars, one sitting-up car and a brake-van. There were from 25 to 30 persons on board. An interesting point is that a police officer, Mounted-Constable D Taylor, joined the train at Oodnadatta with a prisoner to be conveyed to Port Augusta. The police officer noticed nothing suspicious on the journey.
The major portion of the consignment of gold was from Tennant’s Creek, and it arrived at Alice Springs about 5 p.m. on Sunday by motor car, in the charge of Mr. B. A. Clezy, manager of the Tennant’s Creek branch of the English, Scottish and Australian Bank, who was accompanied by an armed escort of two miners – Joe Costello, who was going to Alice Springs on business, and F. Segar, who was on his way to Adelaide. They left Tennant’s Creek with the gold at 6 a.m. the same day. On arrival at Alice Springs the gold was lodged in the safe of the bank’s branch, a small wood and iron building in the main street. Just prior to the departure of the train the gold was taken to the safe in the train van. It is understood that gold from the Chapman’s claims at the Granites was also included in the stolen consignment. It was stated that all the gold from Tennant’s Creek had been crushed at Schmidt’s modern battery, which began operations about six weeks ago. At the present time there is a large number of men at Tennant’s Creek who are unemployed
Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895 – 1950), Saturday 1 June 1935
GOLD INGOTS VANISH
Central Australian Train Mystery £4000 STOLEN – May 30.
A parcel of gold ingots weighing about 3lb., valued at nearly £4000, disappeared from a locked safe on a train travelling between Alice springs and Quorn.
When the train left Alice Springs on Tuesday morning the gold, which was owned by the ES&A Bank, was among the registered mail handed to the guard (Mr. J. P. Baker), and it was locked away in a safe in the guard’s van. During the trip down, the train stopped at all stations from Alice Springs to Marree, and then came on as an express to Quorn, arriving there at 5.30 a.m. to-day.
On the arrival of the train Mr. J. Carter, a railway employee, who was to act as armed guard for the gold, entered the van, and, owing to Mr. Baker’s hands being full of odds and ends, was told to take the key and remove the gold from the safe. When the safe was unlocked the registered mail was missing from the tin.
KEY LEFT IN POCKET … Until arrival at Quorn no occasion had arisen for the train crew to open the safe, so that no approximate time for the disappearance of the gold can be fixed. As the key of the safe was large, and attached to a large ring, or piece of brass, it was inconvenient to carry round in a waistcoat or trousers pocket, so it was left in the pocket of a tunic which was hung up in the van during shunting at various stations, when the guard usually divested himself of his tunic. The small old type of safe used on the train was not a combination one, and it would be easy for anyone to make a duplicate key. It was stated that the safe could have been easily opened with a piece of wire in competent hands.
Two detectives and a finger-print expert have gone by motor car from Adelaide to investigate, and a departmental inquiry was conducted this afternoon by Mr. Skinner, Commonwealth Railway Inquiry Agent.
Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), Friday 31 May 1935
MESSAGE DROPPED TENNANT’S CREEK.
CAR AS GUIDE – For Lost Plane
“PLEASE point your arms quickly to the aerodrome. I am short of petrol.” Scribbled in blue pencil on a brown paper bag containing a spanner, the message was dropped at Tennants Creek to-day from the transcontinental mail plane and picked up by a Sydney visitor. Mr. James MacDougall.
The pilot had spent 10 minutes flying around the town in search of a landing ground after arriving here some hours behind schedule. The postmaster (Mr. George Ashton), running over to the car belonging to the bank manager (Mr. B Clezy), attracted the pilot’s attention by waving a handkerchief, and guided the plane to the aerodrome, seven miles north of town. The plane, piloted by Capt. Stoddart was delayed in taking off from Alice Springs through engine trouble. Two adults and three children were passengers.
Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895 – 1950), Saturday 1 June 1935
Tennant’s Creek Gold for Adelaide
ALICE SPRINGS, August 19.
Mr. B. A. Clezy, manager of the E.S. and A. Bank at Tennant’s Creek, accompanied by Mr. J. Costello as guard, arrived late last night by car with 800 ounces of gold, the fortnightly consignment from the goldfields. The gold, which is valued at approximately £6,000 will be forwarded to Adelaide by train tomorrow morning.
Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 – 1954), Tuesday 20 August 1935
NT Library – B A Clezy photographic collection; Sister O’Keefe Collection
Newspaper Articles – Trove
The Heritage of Tennant Creek, Helen J Wilson