The “Christians who made a difference” segment on 1 May 2016 high-lighted the story of Royston Siddons, the founder of the Sidchrome brand in Australia. He gave his country a tool with which to build. He gave his country the common spanner. Siddons was a practising Christian. At his church, Ivanhoe Methodist Church, he was a lay preacher, a trustee, and Sunday-School superintendent. Listen to his story below.
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Royston Siddons founded an industrial empire, Siddons Industries Limited, which at its peak had subsidiaries in six countries and 1500 employees. He created the Sidchrome brand, and was Australian franchisee for Ramset. Siddons was a practising Christian. At his church, Ivanhoe Methodist Church, he was a lay preacher, a trustee, and Sunday-School superintendent. He gave his country a tool with which to build. He gave his country the common spanner. One of his bequests continues to help students to train for the ministry of the Uniting Church in Australia.
Royston Siddons was born in 1899 in Williamstown, Melbourne. He was the eldest son of a miner immigrant from England. He left school at 14 to help in his father’s carrying business. The family moved to Wonthaggi, where Royston worked for the local coal mining company. In the evenings he studied electrical engineering at Swinburne Technical College.
At the age of 24 he married and also started as an electrical contractor with his own shop in Wonthaggi. Four years later he sold this business and moved to Melbourne. He and his family lived with his parents while he worked in the manufacture of wireless radios. At the age of 32 he leased a metal-casting factory in Collingwood and with a staff of four, began producing hardware items for cabinet makers. He survived the Depression and began to prosper, moving to a larger premises at Clifton Hill in 1934. Having perfected the die-casting of padlocks from zinc alloy, he manufactured them under the brand name, Sidco.
During World War II he manufactured hand tools for the armed services, including gun parts and bomb caps. Postwar shortages of imported tools offered the opportunity for expansion and his company certainly did expand. By 1945 Royston Siddons was supplying the domestic market with Sidchrome spanners, pliers, chisels, wrenches, hammers and screwdrivers.
In 1948 the company purchased a new factory site in Heidelberg.The business became a public company, and Royston’s son John started working in the company. As an employer Royston promoted a harmonious workplace for his employees.
The Siddons’ factory developed a number of innovations. One was low-voltage resistance heating (a technique in forging invented by the company’s laboratory head). They also developed a continuous ‘austempering’ furnace, automatic electroplating, and advanced forging presses from the United States of America. Royston’s son John set up the Ramset franchise in Australia. Import restrictions forced the company to manufacture Ramset guns and pins in Australia. Siddons tools were exported to the Pacific Islands, South East Asia and the Middle East. The company continued to expand, using drop forging and steel-rolling.
The board removed Royston as managing director in 1963 and gradually eased him out of management. He passed the chairmanship to his son in 1968 and he left the board in 1972. From the 1960s Royston pursued other business interests, with limited success, in gold- and opal-mining, and in citrus- and olive-farming. He was a director of various companies connected with his business. For recreation he sailed and played bowls. He was a member of the councilof Melbourne’sWesley College school.
Royston Siddons died in 1976. Through his Christian principles he survived the Great Depression and flourished. He gave Australia the spanner, the Sidchrome brand, and thousands of jobs. An advertising slogan which became synonmous with their brand was ‘Y canna hand a man a grander spanner than a Sidchrome thats the brand the experts use’. Siddons was a devout Christian man and active in his church in teaching others about the Christian faith. We salute Royston Siddons, a Christian who made a difference.