Less than two weeks after the death of prominent Monaro grazier, James Litchfield, the wool industry has lost another of its heroes with the passing of Jim Maple-Brown.
James Irwin Faithfull Maple-Brown AM, former fifth-generation 'squire' of Springfield at Goulburn, far-sighted wool industry innovator and polo champion, died Sunday, May 10, after a short illness aged 95.
Taking over the reins at Springfield following the death of his father, Irwin, in 1964, Maple-Brown continued to operate the property's famous Springfield Merino stud along traditional lines.
But meanwhile, he was also developing the family's secondary Merino stud, Fonthill, along very different lines, resulting in his intended 'dual purpose' Merino, combining desirable wool and carcase traits.
At the same time, using breakthrough research by the CSIRO, he was experimenting with objective measurement of wool, and in 1968 he put his ideas to the test by forming a company, Economic Wool Producers (EWP), to market growers' wool on a measurement basis.
This evolved within a few years to sale by sample and description, which at first was howled down by the woolbroking and woolbuying 'establishment', but it was soon widely adopted and is today the basis of all wool marketing.
EWP in due course disappeared, having served its 'seeding' purpose, but it was succeeded some years later by Fibre Direct, another Maple-Brown creation designed for marketing large, even clips to end users.
The management of Springfield passed to Maple-Brown's son, Richard, and in 2007 when the property was subdivided and the historic homestead block sold, Jim and his wife Pamela moved into Goulburn, where they have since remained.
Jim Maple-Brown is survived by his wife Pamela and children, Sue, Richard, Doats and Sarah, 11 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. A family burial took place at Goulburn on Thursday with a memorial service to be held at a later date.
- This story first appeared in The Land.