Cement History, Family History


In 1914 our town was given the made-up-name of C A N D O S. The story goes that the daughter of the chairman of the cement company played around with the capital letters of key officials of the company and came up with the name Candos. However, when they applied to get a Post Office for the town, the Postmaster General informed them Candos wasn’t suitable because it could be confused with Chandos in South Australia. On the other hand, Kandos with a K was acceptable, and that’s how the town became Kandos.

But there is more to the story than that. Who were those officials who were important enough to have a town named after them?

The first letter represents the first Secretary of NSW Cement, Lime and Coal Company, Colin Campbell. His was not a secretarial or clerical role. Like all company secretaries he was crucial in ensuring proper governance of the company and keeping Board members, shareholders and the media correctly informed. Campbell held the job for 22 years until his early death at the age of 53, which might have something to do with the stress of the role.

James Angus, Chairman of the company, was an impressive self-made man. He rose from Scottish farm boy to successful New Zealand migrant to wealthy rail contractor and wine maker. Thirty years before he helped start the cement company, he helped built the railway line between Wallerawang and Mudgee, the line which carried cement to Sydney. Shockingly and ironically he met his death hit by an express train from Mt Victoria.

Edward Noyes was head of the engineering firm that supplied the machinery for cement making. This included an aerial ropeway (see below), which carried limestone from the quarry to the works. Noyes, like Angus, was a self-made man, who began his working life as an apprentice. The firm he started, Noyes Bros, is still operating.

In concocting the town’s name from letters, the chairman’s daughter, dropped the prefix Mc in order to use the D in George McDonald. He was probably the most valuable early director of the company. A land and mining agent, he identified good land for extracting coal, shale and limestone and took out mining leases, which he onsold to the company. He was also a member of parliament which put him in a good position to promote the new cement works in the right places.

The first General Manager of the cement company was Frank Oakden. You might be surprised to learn that as General Manager of a New Zealand cement company “down under”, he had become a global authority on cement production. That’s the reason the new cement company in Australia, head-hunted him to be GM. He is memorialised in the name Kandos though his name doesn’t appear on any of the streets or parks in the town.

The name Stephens is a well-recognised name in the Australian legal world, being a legal dynasty which has operated for almost two hundred years. The family has bred a Lieutenant Governor and Solicitor General, as well as numerous judges, justices, barristers and solicitors. Who better to represent a new company than a sound, established firm like Stephens, Jaques and Stephens? That name doesn’t appear on a street or park name either.

You can find the first four names on the Kandos street map below


The aerial ropeway has been dismantled In 1921 it carried 168 buckets weighing 50 tons and brought in 100 tons of stone per hour. Photo author. copy
The aerial ropeway has been dismantled. In 1921 it carried 168 buckets weighing 50 tons and brought 100 tons of stone per hour to the cement works. (featured image by author)

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