Thomas Sutcliffe Mort Statue

Thomas Sutcliffe Mort Statue, Maquarie Square, Sydney, Australia

Public Art : Thomas Sutcliffe Mort Statue

Sculptor : © Pierce Francis Connelly (1840 - 1932)  also known as Pierce Francis Connely

Date: Unveiled 1883

Description : Sitting proudly atop a a red and white marble pedestal is the bronze statue of Thomas Sutcliffe Mort. Mort is posed with right hand on hip whilst his left hand rests on a stand. On the trachyte plinth is a plaque noting Mort's achievements.

Location : Maquarie Place, Sydney, Australia

Background to Thomas Sutcliffe Mort : Thomas Sutcliffe Mort (1816-1878) was born at Bolton, Lancashire, England. He arrived in Australia in 1838 at the age of 22 on the ship "Superb". His first job was as a clerk but it wasn't long before the enterprising young man began starting wool and livestock auctions.  After great success Thomas tried his hand at commercial and pastoral enterprises. Thomas's greatest claim to fame was refrigeration. He was determined to find a solution to the long term food storage issues, which hindered Australia's  export trade. Thomas financed experiments by Eugene Dominic Nicolle, a French born engineer, who had arrived in Sydney in 1853. As a result he built, at Darling Harbour, the first freezing works in the world, which afterwards became the New South Wales Fresh Food and Ice Company.  He later tested his new refrigeration system on 300 unsuspecting guests who had been invited to a picnic. The guests were fed food that had been refrigerated at his plant for over 18 months (risky!).  Other important milestones in Thomas Sutcliffe Mort's life were ; founding member of AMP (Australian Mutual Provident Society), pioneering of  wool auctions, helped in establishing the first railway in New South Wales, construction of Mort's Dock at Balmain and donating land to build churches.

History of the Thomas Sutcliffe Statue : Following Thomas Sutcliffe Mort's death from pneumonia in 1878, a meeting of working men was held in Sydney . They gathered to discuss an appropriate way to honour "the greatest benefactor the working classes in this country ever had".  Pierce Francis Connelly was commissioned to create a monument to one of the well respected pioneers of Australia. The Thomas Sutcliffe statue was unveiled in 1883 with great fanfare, flags flew, a band played and thousands gathered. The statue replaced an earlier Doric Fountain of 1819-1820 designed by Francis Greenway for Governor and Lady Macquarie. It is strongly believed that the remains of the fountain lay underneath Mort's monument. 


Thomas Sutcliffe Mort
Born: England 1816
Arrived: Australia 1837
Died: Australia 1878
Pioneer of Australian resources and founder of Australian Industries.
One who established our wool market.
First to make exports of perishable food possible by refrigeration
and to provide docks for the reception of the world's shipping.
A founder of the Australian Mutual Provident Society
And foremost in every movement for the care and welfare of his
fellow citizens who in gratitude erected this monument to his memory.

Trivia : The tallow left over from Mort's abattoirs was sent to a  a soap factory in Soapy Gully (later to be known as 'State Mine Gully') where it was made into soap (oh so 1800's).

Mort's business Mort & Co eventually became what we know today as Elders Limited.

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