George Milford, a long term staff member of Thompsons Foundry Castlemaine, remembers discussing Alexander Sinclair with this son, Alex Sinclair Jnr.
"When Alex Jnr was a boy, his father, a senior design engineer, was sent to Malaya to oversee the erection on site of a suction cutter dredge for Thompsons. This was an adaptation of the idea of a bucket-dredge, where gold is won from alluvial gravels. In the 1915-1920 era, the Thompsons Engineering Department designed a suction-cutter dredge, by which hydraulic suction with a revolving cutter at the end of a long proboscis would collect the alluvial soil and deliver it into the dredge for recovery of the precious metals.
Export marketing was then ‘all the go’, and the tin dredges were ordered from Thompsons, using the new cutter design. The dredges were, of course, shipped to Malaya in pieces, ready to be assembled on site. A number of Thompsons employees were selected to travel to Malaya to assemble the dredges. There were fourteen men in the gang. These men sailed on 1st July 1925, their number including Delmenico, McKay and Charles Albert Hauser, an engine driver. C A Hauser died of malaria in Malaya shortly after arrival. Components for a further three of these dredges were in transit or on site when the first suction-cutter dredge was assembled and tested. The designers had failed to take into account the fact that, in the jungle floor in Malaya, many trees grow up, and fall down, in tropical conditions, and become submerged still waterlogged in the floor of the jungle, and in the tin-bearing gravels. The suction-cutter dredge was found to be inefficient in these circumstances, the price of tin had fallen and the Malayan client reneged on the contract.
Faced with an outlay of over £4,000 on which no money would be received, the company went bankrupt on 25th August 1925.
Alex Sinclair Snr was at that stage in Malaya, and received the news of the bankruptcy by telegram. Upon telegraphing his employers for funds to return home, he received the reply that there were no such funds available. Alex Sinclair Jnr told the story of how his father worked as a labourer in Malaya for two years, while his mother took in washing and ironing during the same period, until together they had assembled enough money to pay for his father’s return
Anyone who talks about “the good old days” is talking nonsense!"
Large blue printed paper plan outlining the conditions of contract for the making of a steel boiler. The Blueprint includes design drawings and written contract specifying materials, time frame and costs.
Inscriptions & markings
Signed on front 'Alec Sinclair Consulting Engineer, 31 Queen Street, Melbourne'.
Stamped on verso 'Printed by Paterson & Co, Colonial Mutual Chambers, Collins St, Melbourne'.