Last week I was the successful bidder for the Clipsal CW key below in a local online auction.
The key was made in c. 1944 by Gerard & Goodman Ltd of Adelaide. Clipsal Morse Keys, as they were known. were manufactured during World War II for the Defence Forces. The manufacture of the keys continued after the war and they became popular with amateur radio operators.
Below is a great video about the key.
Alfred Edward Gerard was born in 1877 in Aberdeen, Burra, South Australia. After completing his education in Burra, he commenced employment with a local coach builder. Gerard then worked for Edwin Davey and Sons, who were flour millers. He was employed there as an engineer and manager of the company’s electric lighting plant.
In 1902 Gerard married Elsie Goodman.
Above:- Alfred Edward Gerard. Image c/o SA Museum.
In 1907 Gerard obtained a £100 from his father-in-law William Goodman and he established a contracting business from his rented home at Prospect. His business soon employed five people and he moved the business from his home to the basement of Super Elliott’s bicycle shop at 200 Rundle Street East, Adelaide. On the 3rd day of August 1908 the company name ‘Gerard & Goodman’ was registered.
In 1909 Gerard founded the South Australian Electrical Importers & Suppliers Association, which was later known as the Electrical Wholesalers Association.
In 1910 the business moved to rented premises in Twin Street, Adelaide. Soon after the business moved to 100 Pirie Street, Adelaide, and then expanded to the shop next door at 102 Pirie Street.
Above:- Article from the Daily Herald, Adelaide, Tues 15 Sep 1914. Image c/o Trove.
In 1920 Gerard & Goodman commenced making a clip-on metal conduit fitting which was abbreviated to ‘Clipsal’ due to the product’s ability to ‘clip to all sizes’. The name Clipsal has now become a household South Australian name.
In 1921 Gerard purchased land in Synagogue Place, Adelaide which was the company’s first freehold property. Showrooms, offices and a factory were built on the site. It commenced as a two-storey building and was extended many times. The main entrance was in Synagogue Place, while access to the bulk store was at the rear entrance in Tavistock Street.
Above:- The Gerard and Goodman Ltd premises at Synagogue Place, c. 1928. Image c/o State Library SA.
I found the video below which is a walk-through of the old Synagogue Place premise.
The business continued to grow, and Gerard purchased a shop at 132 Rundle Street, Adelaide as an electrical and radio and retail business.
In 1932 the company Gerard Ltd was registered.
Above:- Article from The News, Adelaide, Sat 8 Oct 1932. Image c/o Trove.
In 1936, Gerard & Goodman moved its operations to Bowden.
Above:- Gerard Electric premises at Bowden. Image c/o Clipsal.com
In March 1938, CH Martin Ltd, Adelaide, was contracted to build a sop and offices for Gerard and Goodman at 192-196 Rundle Street, Adelaide. The building had an internal connection to the warehouse in Synagogue Place, which it abuts.
Television was first displayed in South Australia in the Gerard & Goodman shopfront window in Rundle Street between the 30th day of May 1949 to the 2nd day of June 1949. It is reported that this drew large crowds. It would not be until a further ten years that permanent TV broadcasting was brought to Adelaide.
Above:- the Gerard & Goodman store in Rundle Street, 1969. Image c/o State Library SA.
Other than his running of the electrical business, Gerard was also devoted to the welfare of aboriginal children. In 1929, he established the United Aborigines Mission (UAM). He was also a lay preacher and a member of the Prospect Masonic Lodge. He authored a book entitled Ears of Corn.
In 1945 Gerard financed the purchase of a 5,800-acre property at Winkie in the Riverland region of South Australia. It is now known as the Gerard Aboriginal Community in his honour.
Gerard died on the 13th day of October 1950, aged 73 years, at his home at Prospect. He is buried at the Payneham cemetery.
Gerard & Goodman continued to trade in Rundle Street until the 1970s.
In 2003 the Gerard family sold its interest in the Clipsal business to Schneider Electric.
In March 2017, the Gerard & Goodman building in Synagogue Place was demolished and replaced with new student accommodation.
Above:- An aerial view showing the old Gerard & Goodman building in Rundle St & the warehouse in Synagogue Place. Image c/o Google maps.
- Adelaide City Explorer, 2023, <https://adelaidecityexplorer.com.au/items/show/193>, viewed 24th February 2023.
- Autopsy of Adelaide, 2023, <https://autopsyofadelaide.com/2017/03/30/urban-exploration-gerard-goodman-building-adelaide/>, viewed 24th February 2023.
- City of Adelaide Heritage Survey, 2008
- Radiomuseum, 2023, <https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/gerard_clipsal_morse_key_cat_no_610_2_terminal_key.html>, viewed 24th February 2023.
- SA History Hub, 2023, <https://sahistoryhub.history.sa.gov.au/people/alfred-edward-gerard>, viewed 24th February 2023.
- SA Museum, 2023, <https://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/collection/archives/provenances/aa841>, viewed 24th February 2023.
- Wikipedia, 2023, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._E._Gerard>, viewed 24th February 2023.