Papers of Sir Arthur William Coles (1892-1982)
- 56 cm. (4 boxes)
- Available for reference
The papers of Sir Arthur Coles were donated by his wife, Lady
Coles, to the National Library after his death in 1982.
The collection includes letters to Sir Arthur, newscutting books
and loose cuttings, photographs, programmes, invitations, menus
and various pamphlets collected by Sir Arthur. The papers relate
to his period as Lord Mayor of Melbourne, his term as a Member
of the House of Representatives, and his involvement with the
War Damage Commission, the Commonwealth Rationing Commission,
the British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines, the National Australian
Airlines Commission, and the C.S.I.R.O.
A recorded interview with Sir Arthur is available from the Oral History Section
of the National Library.
Arthur William Coles was born in 1892 in Geelong, Victoria, and
was educated at Geelong College. He served in the First World
War, after enlisting as a private, and fought at Gallipoli and
in France. After being wounded three times, he received his lieutenant's
commission and returned to Australia in 1919.
After his return, Coles joined his uncle and two brothers in opening
the first of the stores that were to become the Coles marketing
chain. After the Coles Company was established in 1921, he helped
build up the company and in 1928 he opened a Sydney store, which
he managed for three years. During the years 1931-44, Coles was
Managing Director of the Coles Company.
In 1938 Coles was elected Lord Mayor of Melbourne, having served
as a Councillor for several years previously. He held the position
for three terms until 1940, when he resigned to take up a seat
in Parliament. In 1940 he ran for and won the seat of Henty (Victoria)
as an independant. In 1941 he was one of two Independants who
held the balance of power in the House of Representatives, and
whose decision to vote against the Government toppled the Fadden
Coles retired from the Coles Company in 1944, after becoming the
Chairman of the Commonwealth Rationing Commission and the War
Damage Commission. After completing the work of these two commissions,
he resigned from Federal Parliament to chair the British Commonwealth
Pacific Airlines and the Australian National Airlines Commission.
In 1952 he was appointed Chairman of the Melbourne Olympic Games
Committee, from which he resigned in 1953.
In 1956, Coles was appointed a part-time member of the Executive
and Advisory Councils of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organisation, from which he retired in 1965.
Coles married Lillian Knight in 1919, and had three sons and three
daughters. He was knighted in 1960 and died in 1982.
References: Who's Who (1956)
- General correspondence
- Melbourne City Council, 1937-40
- Visit to London, 1941
- Member of House of Representatives, 1940-46
- Commonwealth Rationing Commission, 1942-50
- War Damage Commission, 1942-48
- Airlines, 1946-50
- Olympic Games, 1952-53
- C.S.I.R.O., 1956-65
- Miscellaneous papers, 1938-64
Series 1. General correspondence
The general correspondence is arranged chronologically. Many of
the letters are letters of thanks, congratulations or notices
of appointments sent to Coles. Letters were received from public
figures such as Artie Fadden,
Sir Robert Menzies,
Ben Chifley and Gough Whitlam. There is also some personal correspondence
from friends, including a letter to Lady Coles and two drafts
of letters sent by Sir Arthur Coles. There is no family correspondence.
Series 2. Melbourne City Council, 1937-40
This series consists of newscuttings, books, loose cuttings and
photographs from the period when Coles was Councillor and Lord
Mayor of Melbourne. The photographs and newscuttings are arranged
in chronological order. The series breakdown is as follows:
A. Photographs of a Council visit to O'Shannassy Watershed
and Souvenir copy of a Special Notice and Minutes of a Melbourne
Council Meeting to commemorate the incorporation of the city of
B. (i) Newscuttings scrapbook, 1934-38. Includes clippings
on the family business, the purchase of Sir Arthur and Lady Lillian's
house in Toorak, and Sir Arthur's election as a Councillor.
B. (ii) Loose cuttings from the above book, that covers
much the same topics.
C. Newscuttings scrapbook, October to December 1938. Covers
the period when Sir Arthur was first elected Lord Mayor of Melbourne.
D. Newscuttings scrapbook, 1938 to February 1940, during
which Sir Arthur retained the Lord Mayorship of Melbourne. Some
loose cuttings were retained in the book.
E. Newscuttings scrapbook, August to November 1940. During
this period, Sir Arthur was elected for his third term of office
as Lord Mayor. Some loose cuttings were retained in the book.
F. Newscuttings scrapbook, March to November 1940. Covers
the period up to and including Sir Arthur's resignation as Lord
Mayor to take up his seat as a Member of the House of Representives.
Series 3. Visit to London, 1941
This series consists of two newscutting scrapbooks that cover
Sir Arthur's visit to London in 1941, while he was a Member of
Series 4. Member of House of Representatives, 1940-46
Covered in this series are Sir Arthur's collection of newscuttings,
covering the years during which he was a Member of the House of
Representatives. It includes his election pamphlets, and some
photographs and loose newscuttings. Newscuttings and photographs
dealing with Sir Arthur's involvement with the War Damage and
Rationing Commissions are included under those headings, unless
they have been pasted into the following scrapbooks. The series
breakdown is as follows:
A. Newscuttings scrapbook, January 1940 to October 1941.
Contains articles that cover Sir Arthur's first run and subsequent
election, for the Victorian seat of Henty. Also includes articles
on the defeat of the Fadden Ministry.
B. Newscuttings scrapbook, 1940 to August 1943. Includes
articles on Sir Arthur's second run for the seat of Henty, as
well as his election campaign leaflets.
C. (i) Newscuttings scrapbook, August 1943 to 1945.
C. (ii) Loose cuttings from C (i) that cover his resignation
in February 1946 from the House of Representatives. Some earlier
articles that were included in the book have been included, as
they were in the scrapbook. They include articles from when he
was Lord Mayor, and later articles about his knighthood and his
Series 5. Commonwealth Rationing Commission, 1942-50
The series consists of a group of cuttings about rationing.
Series 6. War Damage Commission, 1942-48
Contained in this series are photographs and Sir Arthur's copies
of the Regulations and Reports of the Commission. The series breakdown
is as follows:
A. Statutory regulations, copies of various reports (1942-48),
and handbook for assessors registered by the War Damage Commissioner.
B. Photographs, two albums and one set of loose photographs
in a brown envelope, covering the War Damage Commission to New
Series 7. Airlines, 1946-50
In this series are contained all the documents relating to Sir
Arthur's involvement, as Chairman, with the British Commonwealth
Pacific Airlines (1946-50) and the Australian National Airlines
Commissioner (1946-50). Series breakdown is as follows:
A. Contains two photographs, a photocopy of an article
sent to Sir Arthur and printed matter collected by Sir Arthur
on TAA's beginnings.
B. Memorial photograph album presented to Sir Arthur, commemorating
the inaugural flight of the BCPA's new DC-6, in February 1949.
Series 8. Olympic Games, 1952-53
Within this series are contained loose newsclippings and photocopies
covering the period during which Sir Arthur was Chairman of the
Melbourne Olympic Games Committee.
Series 9. C.S.I.R.O., 1956-65
This series contains printed matter collected by, or presented
to Sir Arthur about the C.S.I.R.O. during the period in which
he served as a part-time member of the Executive and Advisory
Councils of the C.S.I.R.O.
Series 10. Miscellaneous papers, 1938-64
Includes photographs, invitations, cuttings and printed matter
Series 11. Object
Plaque presented to Sir Arthur by the United Airlines as a token
of his membership to their 100,000 Mile Club.
Guide compiled June 1987. Last updated July 1996