Movers and Shakers Plot in Antipodean Moon | World Anvil

Movers and Shakers

The Adelaide Establishment

This subplot focuses on a significant historic event that occurred in the Colony of South Australia in February 1886, the failure of the Commercial Bank of South Australia. The League of Gentlemen will be asked to save the bank. No small achievement in the face of major internal fraud and powerful external forces acting to ruin the bank.   The contribution of functional, reliable, and honest banking and finance systems to confidence and opportunity in the Colony of South Australia can't be understated. There were no unemployment, sickness, or disability benefits. The spectre of financial ruin hung over the heads of all, including the wealthiest colonists. For the Colony to be successful, it had to be financially stable.

Plot points/Scenes

Session 1: The Old Colonists

The League of Gentlemen attend the first monthly meeting of the Old Colonists' Association for the year, held on Wednesday 24th February 1886 in the Banquet Room of the Adelaide Town Hall, 128 King William Street. The meeting begins promptly at 6:30 pm with an opening address from the Hon. Sir Henry Ayers, K.C.M.G., President and Life Governor of the Association. Later in the evening, Sir Henry impresses upon the League the need to meet the challenges he's identified so the Colony of South Australia may rise to prosperity again.  

Session 2: A Bank in Trouble

Sir Henry Ayers instructs the League to do all they can to rescue the Commercial Bank of South Australia. The bank's imminent collapse could push the Colony of South Australia into bankruptcy. The League rises to the challenge and gets themselves voted in by the bank's shareholders as the new Board of Directors. Their first directives are to promote a new Bank Manager and Bank Accountant from worthies within the bank, to investigate the bank's finances, and to institute a new program of financial controls.  

Session 3: A View of the Sea

The League attends a luncheon at the summer seaside home of Sir Henry Ayers. He wants to know how the League fared at the shareholder meeting of the Commercial Bank of South Australia the previous day. Sir Henry is well versed in running a bank as he is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Savings Bank of South Australia, a director of the Bank of Australasia, and a founder of the Bank of Adelaide. The League seek advice from Sir Henry on how to deal with the issues facing the Commercial.  

Session 4: A Whiff of Smoke

At the Metropolitan Police Station the League interview the fraudsters of the Commercial Bank of South Australia, the former Bank Manager Alexander Crooks and the former Bank Accountant Alexander M. Wilson. The two villains couldn't be more different. Wilson is a scapegoat fallen on hard times and Crooks is a narcissistic idiot who plays cricket far better than he manages a bank. A few days later the League receive two items of interesting news from Detective Peter Dunlevey.  

Session 5: The Dead Speak

A woman claiming to be a medium told Detective Peter Dunlevey she knew where the Commercial Bank of South Australia's missing money was. The League are keen to follow up on this lead and invite the medium to a seance at the Adelaide home of Charles Howard Angus. To the League's great surprise, Mrs Lucy Adams is the real deal and channels the spirit of the Commercial Bank of South Australia's biggest shareholder, supposed to be alive and in London. The spirit claims he was murdered by the police three months ago.


This subplot enhances the following Antipodean Moon themes:
  • falling stock values, business failures, lack of confidence in banks, and shortage of investment capital constraining economic opportunities
  • acute economic depression causing high unemployment, criminality, homelessness, destitution, violence, and suicide.
At this time in the Colony's history, the colonists are in the grip of a third severe economic depression. Lending losses to failed mining concerns and squatters on large properties made uneconomic by drought have caused stock market downturns and weakened the banks. Consequently, financial shortfalls beset all social classes and lead to high levels of unemployment, criminality, homelessness, destitution, violence, and suicide.   This is a very dark time for the Colony.



The protagonists are leading men in the Colony of South Australia, upper-class individuals of great wealth and influence each with the resources and connections to leave their mark on history.


The Hon. Sir Henry Ayers, K.C.M.G.
Mr. Thomas Wellington, Esq.   Mrs Lucy Adams, Medium


Unaligned or neutral individuals who the League of Gentlemen may come into contact with during the course of this subplot include:
  • banking and finance officers, stock exchange dealers, and bank agents
  • members of the South Australia Police, the courts, and judiciary
  • newspaper reporters, photographers, and journalists.


There are many who do not want to see the Commercial Bank of South Australia fail, but only a few with the resources to be of any real assistance.   The South Australian Weekly Chronicle publishes a flattering piece two days after the tumultuous shareholder's meeting praising the new Board of Directors, specifically the charismatic new Chairman, James Arthur Howard. This single comprehensive coverage of events names the replacement Manager and Accountant, both highly regarded and experienced bankers, identifies the new financial controls being implemented and predicts a timely return to form on the part of the Bank's finances.   As this news circulates through the Colony and the Bank continues to trade, confidence in the Bank soars back to the heady level of September the previous year.


A powerful, ruthless, and motivated colonist has been given the task of bringing down the Commercial Bank of South Australia, the Colony's biggest bank. He has the resources he needs to be successful, he's seen what will be his fate if he fails, and he has a four-month head start on the League of Gentlemen.



Locations include civic buildings used for large meetings, real estate owned by the Commercial Bank of South Australia, and the protagonists' private residences and hotel accommodation. The League will also visit the Metropolitan Police Station to interview those charged with "fraudulent and felonious embezzlement" of money belonging to the Commercial Bank.


The League of Gentlemen faces several threats while saving the Commercial Bank of South Australia.

Bank Debtors

Bank Manager Alexander Crooks lent large amounts of money to borrowers without sufficient real collateral. The Bank's largest outstanding debtors are pastoralists suffering the effects of the drought, and exploratory mining concerns in the far north of the Colony.   If the bank were to fail amid allegations of internal fraud, a lack of required loan documentation, and missing ledger transactions, debtors could assert they paid back their loans before the bank's collapse. Proving they haven't would be difficult given the mess that is the bank's accounts.   Squatters and miners are not known for abiding by the rules.

Prior Board of Directors

Members of the prior Board of Directors made a unilateral decision to close the bank without consulting major shareholders or putting a motion to a vote at a shareholder meeting. There is enough evidence in the bank's accounts to suggest the bank is still viable and will trade out of current difficulties under more competent supervision. It is unclear why the prior Board were so set on this logic-defying course, given how much damage failure of the bank would have inflicted on the Colony.   Astute shareholders accused the prior Board of being, at best, asleep at the wheel, and at worst, part of the fraud perpetrated by the Bank Manager and Accountant. Shareholders cannot believe government inspectors, bank auditors, and the prior Directors didn't discover the audacious fraud beforehand. Despite some previous Board members admitting suspicions regarding the Bank Manager and Accountant, both crooks were still undertaking their assigned duties right up until their arrest at the emergency shareholders meeting.   The ex-Board members disagree with actions taken by the shareholders and with the appointment of the new Board of Directors. The ex-Chairman of the Board remains a force in the Colony. The League should beware retaliatory action on the part of their predecessors.

Competing Banks

Other banks in the Colony would do well if the Commercial Bank of South Australia were to fail. Despite the threat of a run on all the Colony's banks, some banks have enough backing not only to survive but to thrive on the influx of new customers, refugees from the Commercial.   The Bank of Adelaide, of which Sir Henry Ayers was an original Director, and the unassociated Commercial Bank of Australia would both benefit from the Commercial's failure. Whether agents of either bank would agitate for the Commercial to fail and retaliate if it didn't is an open question.


Significant encounters for the League of Gentlemen include:
  1. Dinner with the Old Colonists' Association held in the Banquet Room of the Adelaide Town Hall
  2. Emergency shareholders meeting of the Commercial Bank of South Australia held in the Auditorium of the Adelaide Town Hall on the following day
  3. Luncheon with Sir Henry Ayers at his seaside home of Seafield Tower so he can provide advice on how to run a bank
  4. Interviews with the former Bank Manager Alexander Crooks and the former Bank Accountant Alexander M. Wilson, both charged with embezzling money from the Commercial Bank
  5. Seance with Lucy Adams to determine the whereabouts of the Commercial Bank's missing money.

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