Alfred Deakin – The Affable Prime Minister

Day 88 of Colourisation Project – August 3

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Born this day August 3 in 1856, Alfred Deakin was Australia’s second Prime Minister, a position he held three times between 1903 and 1910. Deakin was also a leader in shaping Australia’s future as a federation of states and territories. He was a celebrated orator, skilled conciliator and a man of strong personal ideals. As a politician they don’t make them like this any more.

Alfred Deakin

Photographer unkonwn: Alfred Deakin circa 1876 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Born in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood in 1853, Deakin at various times worked as a private tutor, a school teacher, a storekeeper, water-carter and as an accountant and manager of coach firms, including Cobb & Co in Victoria.

In the last quarter of the 19th century, Deakin was a major contributor to the establishment of liberal reforms in the colony of Victoria, including industrial reforms in favour of workers. His main concern was the welfare of the labouring class and the unprivileged. He also played a significant role in establishing irrigation in Australia. Throughout the 1890s, Deakin was a driving force in the push for Federation and as Attorney-General for the Barton Government was integral in the drafting of a constitution for the proposed federation.

Government during his reign was responsible for much policy and legislation which shaped the formative years of the Commonwealth including;

  • the establishment of the Bureau of Census and Statistics,
  • the choice of Canberra as the site for the federal capital,
  • the establishment of the Bureau of Meteorology,
  • the introduction of tariff protection and old age pensions.

Deakin was a religious man and his intellectual curiosity led him to becoming a lifelong Spiritualist, holding the office of President of the Victorian Spiritualists’ Union.

Regarded as a founding father of the Liberal Party, he was generally admired and respected by his contemporaries. His courteous manner earned him the nickname, ‘Affable Alf.’ Not one for pomp and ceremony, he was

  • the only PM to reject title ‘Right Honorable’
  • the only PM to refuse honorary degrees from Oxford and Cambridge universities
  • the only PM to reject membership of Privy Council

He has an electoral division named after him as well as a Canberra suburb. Alfred Deakin High School, Deakin University, Deakin Avenue in rural Mildura, Deakin Hall at Monash University, Deakin House at Melbourne Grammar School are all named in his honour.

He retired from politics in 1913 and shortly after Alzheimer’s disease took over. Deakin died from a stroke in South Yarra, Victoria, in 1919 at the age of 63. He was given a state funeral and was buried in the St Kilda cemetery.


“Oh God, grant me that judgment and foresight which will enable me to serve my country—guide me and strengthen me, so that I may follow and persuade others to follow the path which shall lead to the elevation of national life and thought and permanence of well earned prosperity—give me light and truth and influence for the highest and the highest only.”

 –  Alfred Deakin

This entry was posted in Australia, Australian Politics, Colorization, Colourisation, Photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Alfred Deakin – The Affable Prime Minister

  1. Pingback: Vera Deakin – Red Cross Pioneer | Random Phoughts

  2. Pingback: Chris Watson – Australia’s Youngest Prime Minister | Random Phoughts

  3. Pingback: Sir Henry Parkes ~ Father of Many | Random Phoughts

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