Who was Nellie Payne?

Chair carved for Lindesay Clark. Date unknown.


It is not known exactly which Lindesay Clark this chair was carved for – Lindesay Colvin Clark or his son Gordon Colvin Lindesay Clark (1896-1986).  However family descendants can remember the chair in the family home at 5 Bifrons Court, Launceston in the early 1930’s.

Lindesay Clark was born in Victoria, became a civil engineer, and married Jessie Meekison.  He worked in mining at Mt. Lyell and later managed the Briseis Tin Mine at Derby in the north east of Tasmania.  He was responsible for the construction of the company’s dam in 1925 which was built to supply the mine with water.  Unfortunately the dam burst in the record 1929 floods with the result being a high wall of water washing through Derby, drowning fourteen people.  This had a devastating effort on Lindesay.

His son, Gordon Colvin Lindesay Clark was raised in Derby, having a governess until he was twelve, then attended Launceston Church Grammar School and then the University of Tasmania where he gained his Bachelor of Science.  During this time he stayed with the Payne family and became great friends with Madge, Alan and Geoffrey.

Alan Field Payne was also doing science at the University and in the same year as Gordon. They both won prizes in 1913 – Alan in Physics and Gordon in arithmetic. Later they were both in the 93rd Derwent Infantry in 1915.

Gordon served on the Western Front in WW1 as an engineer and was awarded the Military Cross in 1919. On return home he went back to study, gaining a Masters of Mechanical Engineering from University of Melbourne.

In 1922 he went to work with his father, who was then a consulting engineer for the State Electricity Commission in Victoria, which was developing the Yallourn coal deposits for electricity generation, under the leadership of Sir John Monash.

He lectured at the University of Melbourne and established his own consultancy, doing mining engineering work in Central Australia, Queensland and  New Guinea. He worked for Gold Mines of Aust., and manager of Western Mining Corporation in 1933 and held that position until 1962.

Among other awards, he was knighted in 1968 and made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1975 “for eminent achievement  and merit of the highest degree in the development of the Australian mining industry.”  By this time he was known as Sir Lindesay Clark.

Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery 2009-2010 Annual Report:
Of interest is the fact that in 2009-2010 the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston acquired a series of works comprising seven preparatory drawings of the figure for The Portrait of Sir Lindesay Clark which was donated by Professor and Mrs Arthur Clark.

The Payne and Clark families were very good lifelong friends, and it is not known when Nellie carved this chair for Lindsey.  It has been handed down in the Clark family and is currently with Sir Lindesay’s grandson in NSW.