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Gadsdon, Sir Laurence Percival (1897–1967)

by Ruth Marchant James

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Sir Laurence Percival Gadsdon (1897-1967), businessman and mayor, was born on 24 March 1897 at High Ongar, Essex, England, twin son and eldest of eight children of Frank Benjamin Gadsdon, master carriage-builder, and his wife Mary Gertrude, née Ashdown. Laurence was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's Hampstead School, London. The family emigrated to Western Australia in 1913 and settled at Victoria Park, Perth. Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 25 May 1915, Gadsdon joined the 12th Battalion at Gallipoli in August. That month he was wounded and evacuated to Egypt. There he became critically ill with tetanus. Invalided to Australia, he was discharged in Perth on 23 June 1916. He was a foundation member (1916) of the State branch of the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia, and later served two terms as vice-president. Employed by Wilson Gray & Co., a firm of stonemasons which later did the facework on the war memorial in King's Park, he was to become its senior partner and managing director.

In 1918 the Gadsdons moved to Cottesloe where they helped to form the North Cottesloe Surf Life-Saving Club; Laurie was its first secretary. A member (from 1925) of the State branch of the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia, he was its secretary (1931-34) and president (1937-46). In addition, he was a founder (1924) and committee-member of the Cottesloe Tennis Club, and also promoted hockey in Western Australia, coaching his sister Kathleen who captained the local and State team. At Christ Church, Claremont, on 26 October 1929 Gadsdon married with Anglican rites Hilda Mary Hedges; another marriage ceremony was conducted, at Hilda's request, by Fr John Fahey at Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Cottesloe, on 26 October 1957. Involved in community affairs with the same energy that characterized his participation in sport, Gadsdon had been elected to the Cottesloe Municipal Council at the age of 25 and served as mayor from 1945.

Of middle height, with blue eyes and dark brown hair, Gadsdon was a practical man, 'open-faced and friendly', and rarely seen without his beloved pipe. He had strong qualities of leadership and a keen sense of business, and established a rapport with a wide range of people. During World War II he was honorary director of communications for the Civil Defence Council. A member (1945-60) of the Metropolitan Local Government Association (president 1952), he was an enthusiastic town planner. Due to his initiative, in 1950 the Cottesloe council purchased Claude de Bernales' magnificent mansion, Overton Lodge, for use as a war memorial hall and civic centre. Gadsdon continued to enjoy swimming and tennis, and took up golf; he belonged to the Royal Commonwealth Society. In 1960 he was knighted.

Ill health forced Sir Laurence to retire as mayor on 25 October 1961. Survived by his wife and daughter, he died of hypertensive heart failure on 7 August 1967 at Claremont and was buried in Karrakatta cemetery with Methodist forms. His estate was sworn for probate at $337,766.

Select Bibliography

  • A. C. Lloyd and A. Ferguson (compilers), Leading Personalities of Western Australia (Perth, 1950)
  • E. Jaggard, A Challenge Answered (Perth, 1979)
  • Cottesloe Spectator, 21, 28 Mar, 1 Apr, 2 May, 4 July 1929
  • West Australian, 11 June 1960, 26 Oct 1961, 8 Aug 1967
  • Daily News (Perth), 7 Aug 1967
  • Cottesloe Municipal Council minutes, 1924-61 (Cottesloe Town Council)
  • RSL Archives (Perth)
  • private information.

Citation details

Ruth Marchant James, 'Gadsdon, Sir Laurence Percival (1897–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gadsdon-sir-laurence-percival-10264/text18153, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 12 December 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

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