THE father of Robert Bates, Alfred Edward Bates was the son of Robert Jackson Bates, a leading English cotton manufacturer. Born in Manchester in 1850, Alfred Bates came to Australia in 1875 and worked as a commercial traveller for wholesale drug houses for a number of years before buying a farm at Moorooduc. The family eventually settled in Mornington where Alfred became a shire councillor and was treasurer of both Mornington Progress Association and the fire brigade.
With the outbreak of war the whole family, which included three daughters, became heavily involved in the Red Cross as a support to their only son and brother, Robert.
Mornington was shocked when, on Easter Day, 1917, Alfred Bates was knocked down by a motor car while attempting to cross Main St. This is believed to be Mornington’s first road fatality.
The townspeople held Mr. Bates in such high regard that a public appeal was held for a memorial and in three weeks 102 subscribers had pledged 40 pounds. A clock was placed on the front of the Mechanics Institute where it remained until 2004 when it was moved to the new Mornington library. At the same time the congregation of St Peter’s church in Mornington commissioned a stained glass window in memory of Alfred Bates.