20. Bateman Brothers - John (1824-1909) and Walter (1826-1882), ship owners and merchants
John and Walter were the sons of John Bateman Snr, an early hardware merchant, pub-keeper and postmaster. Amongst other pursuits, John Bateman Snr also founded the Fremantle Whaling Co. in 1837.
As teenagers, the brothers worked for their father. John Bateman Jr. was an adventurous youth and had sailed with American whalers visiting the coast before his father’s company was formed. He became an expert on the WA coastline. The brothers were the colony’s leading importers and exporters, with goods being carried on a fleet of their own spectacular sailing ships along the coast and as far overseas as China.
John Bateman Jr. remained a man of adventure and promoter of the port of Fremantle. He kept his fleet of sailing ships operating along the northern coast even when steam and steel ships had become the dominant mode of transport.
Walter Bateman, who had followed his mother as postmaster in 1855, was more interested in civic affairs. He was Fremantle’s first representative on the semi-elective Legislative Council in 1868. The Bateman brothers’ sons continued the family involvement in the firm. It eventually became a public company with interests in hardware, plumbing, and marine equipment. Property speculation caused the historic enterprise to be closed in the 1980s, leaving the company name on a number of West End buildings.