Solomon Green (1868-1948)

GREEN, SOLOMON (1868-1948), bookmaker and philanthropist, was born on 1 August 1868 at Mile End, London, son of Judah Green, publican, and his wife Elizabeth, née Jacobs. As he later put it, 'I was born in England of poor but very worthy and charitable parents'. He was apprenticed to upholstery but at 15 set off for Australia. He spent his first colonial years working around Melbourne's wharves or buying and selling about the streets.

In 1887 he commenced bookmaking, on the Flat at Flemington, suffered some heavy losses and was reduced to pencilling for former rivals. In 1891, after a visit to England, he again tried his skill with odds, taking bets on the Adelaide Cup. He extended his betting to the goldfields in Western Australia and began a mail-order doubles book which, despite initial legal problems, became a huge success. At the turn of the century he operated the Melbourne Tattersall's Club.

Profits from his bookmaking were invested in pastoral property and in city and suburban real estate. Green also bred racehorses at his Shipley stud, near Warrnambool. His horses won several of Australia's major races. In 1910 Comedy King won the Melbourne Cup. Among other successes were the 1927 and 1928 Newmarket Handicaps with Gothic; Strephon, perhaps his best horse, won the Victoria Derby in 1928 and the St Leger in 1929. But his investments in breeding never won consistent success. He sold Shipley but later bought studs at Underbank and Parwan Park, near Bacchus Marsh.

Green retired from bookmaking in 1913. His mail-order betting had become too extensive; before popular meetings he no longer knew his full liabilities. He owned the Victoria Buildings and the Swanston Buildings in central Melbourne as well as two pastoral estates in Queensland: Dynevor Downs and Llanrheidol. Green's family also held shares in the Glenesk pastoral company, New South Wales, and he had interests in the plastics industry in that State.

When Comedy King won the Cup, Green donated £500 to local charities. His reputation for philanthropy grew with his fortune. He began an annual appeal for blankets for the poor with a donation of £1000. He sponsored several funds to assist victims of World War II bombing in England. His Sol Green Trust bought land at Sandringham and Black Rock to build cheap housing for ex-servicemen but the scheme was hampered by irregular payments. Green bought land for a children's playground in South Melbourne. He gave constantly to Melbourne's public hospitals and in 1947 donated £40,000 to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

'Sol Green—sufficient address, Melbourne' (or Sydney) enlivened the racing world. Sharp with his odds, he covered some huge doubles bets on the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. A big man, always with his hat, spats and Havana cigar, Sol Green arrived at race meetings in a gold-plated Rolls Royce. His dry wit and quick patter established a unique reputation.

On 3 February 1892 at Albert Park, Melbourne, he had married Rebecca Mendes; they had three sons. Green died on 11 May 1948 after several years illness. He was 'always proud' of being a Jew and was associated with the Alma Road Jewish Temple. Many hospitals and charities benefited from provisions in his will, valued in Victoria for probate at £481,721.

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