Notable People of Collingwood

Collingwood Notables Database

William Richard Butcher

1860-1933

Town clerk, tramways manager

Personal Photo 1
W R Butcher in 1915

W R Butcher held the position of Town Clerk of the City of Collingwood from 1907 until 1931, and was thus the longest-serving town clerk in the municipality until L. Dudley Cook (1962-1987). Prior to this appointment he was the manager of the Abbotsford tramway sheds which belonged to the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company. He was an active member of St Philip’s Church.

Butcher was the son of Henry George Butcher, a pioneer who had arrived in Victoria in 1848. As a young man he managed his father’s station in NSW before being appointed manager of the cable tram depot, which was built in 1887 on the corner of Johnston Street and Trenerry Crescent. The cable system had 13 such depots at the outer ends of the cable tram lines.

He and his wife moved into a new residence just over the road from the depot. This was a large brick house with a return veranda and elaborately-arranged garden beds, paths, and a summer house. Here Mrs Butcher conducted a kindergarten and infants school from 1896 until 1898 in a house at the rear of their residence. Events such as the annual prize-giving, and a charitable fair, were described in glowing terms in newspaper reports. Butcher was appointed town clerk early in 1907 against the wishes of the then mayor, Cr Coulsen, because he had yet to sit for the municipal examination. Coulsen later changed his mind on the occasion of the announcement of Butcher’s successful completion of the exam; he praised Butcher’s financial and administrative skills which had proved his worth. Butcher was active in other local affairs: he was a vestryman at St Philip’s Anglican Church in Hoddle Street for 45 years, was appointed a Justice of the Peace, and was treasurer of Collingwood Technical School for many years. As for recreational interests, he was a fervent member of the Melbourne Chess Club and participated in their competitions on a weekly basis. The Butchers moved to Kew around 1919 but maintained their Collingwood connections.

Butcher was aged 71 in December 1931 when council passed a resolution that employees should be compulsorily retired at the age of 65. Less than two years later he died at his sister’s house in Surrey Hills, collapsing suddenly – and fittingly - during a game of chess. Two minutes’ silence was observed at the next council meeting, and compensation for the compulsory retirement was paid to his next of kin. A funeral service was held at St Philip’s.

Life Summary

Birth Date Birth Place
1860 Avoca, Victoria
Spouse Name Date of Marriage Children
Margaret May Lublin 9c. 1860-1927) 1882, St Peter's, Eastern Hill William Hector 1886, Margaret Annie (Nancy) 1899
Home Addresses
Home Street Home City Status of Building
399 Johnston Street Abbotsford Demolished
Work Addresses
Work Street Work City Status of Building
426 Johnston Street Abbotsford Demolished
Town Hall, Hoddle Street Abbotsford Extant
Church Lodge
St Philip's Anglican, Abbotsford
Death Date Death Place Cemetery
18 November 1933 Surrey Hills Fawkner (cremated)
Sources

The Argus; The Age; Hibbins, A short history of Collingwood; Cummings, Bitter roots, sweet fruit; The Tribune

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