Sir Edward Knox (1819-1901) founder of CSR was born in Denmark. At 16, he entered his uncle’s London merchant house but chose migrate to Australia.
Arriving in Sydney in 1840 he joined the Australian Auction Co. and in 1843 became manager before he transferred to the Australasian Sugar Co. With two associates he bought Bowden’s refinery and a distillery which he leased to AS. As he prospered he became (among other posts) a director of the Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney. In 1847, when the managing director was sacked, he became manager.
In 1854 the Australasian Sugar Co. went bust. In January 1855 Knox founded the Colonial Sugar Refining Co., holding a third of its capital of £150,000. The new company bought the refinery and distillery from Knox and his associates. He was its first chairman of directors and held the post until 1901. For two years the company flourished: it paid a dividend of 50 per cent in 1856.
Knox sold his home and some shares and sailed to England, but world prices fell, leaving the company in trouble. He returned to Sydney, reassured his partners, and gradually put the company’s affairs in order. He determined that profits would never again be lavishly distributed. CSR discouraged competition by efficiency and taking over rivals. New refineries were built in other Australian colonies and New Zealand, and mills were built in NSW, Queensland and later Fiji. In 1880 he handed over the general management of the company to his second son Edward William but remained chairman until 1901.
Knox was knighted in 1898 and died in 1901, survived by his wife, four daughters and three sons.
For more information, visit the Pyrmont History website.