Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hinchliffe, Albert Thomas (Bert) (1901–1993)

by Rod Kirkpatrick

This article was published online in 2017

Albert Thomas Hinchliffe (1901–1993), newspaper editor, was born on 19 November 1901 at Crocodile, near Bouldercombe, Queensland, fourth of nine children of Queensland-born Daniel Hinchliffe, miner, and his Irish-born wife Margaret Isabella, née Inslay. Bert was educated at Rockhampton Technical College and studied several tertiary subjects privately, becoming a skilled shorthand writer. He joined Queensland Railways in 1916 and was employed as a clerk.

A 1921 visit to Rockhampton by the premier, Edward Theodore, set Hinchliffe on a new career path. The reporter who was to cover the event for the local Daily Record fell ill, and the editor, Godfrey Westacott, called on Hinchliffe to fill the gap. His report was so impressive that he was offered a job as a junior reporter the next day. The following year the newspaper became the Evening News. On 10 May 1926 he married Ena Vivian Simpson Cross at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Rockhampton.

The Dunn family, founders and proprietors of a Queensland newspaper empire, acquired the Evening News in 1929 and, a year later, appointed Hinchliffe to their sister paper, the Morning Bulletin, as chief of the reporting staff. In October 1942 he was transferred to the daily Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs Gazette, first as sub-editor, and then, in November 1943, as associate editor. After deputising for five years for the proprietor and editor, William Dunn, who lived in Brisbane, he was appointed to the senior position in 1951. He was the first non-proprietorial editor in the ninety-year history of the newspaper.

Hinchliffe was known for his integrity and ethical approach to journalism. In April 1966 the Toowoomba Development Board was upset when the Chronicle published criticism of the board's latest proposals even though the newspaper had supported the plans editorially. In a memo to the Chronicle’s general manager, he strongly defended the principle of publishing all sides of a story. But when he formed the view that a story would be detrimental to the community or could harm innocent people, he withheld publication entirely. He strongly believed that regional newspapers were indispensable because of their intimacy with local opinions, priorities, and needs.

A ‘quiet, mannerly man, not easily ruffled and with a graceful writing style’ (Chronicle 1993, 11), Hinchliffe’s grandson described him as ‘a small man with a big heart and a first-rate mind’ (Chronicle 2015, 12). He continued as editor until his retirement in August 1969, and was succeeded in the role by his son, Bruce. His proudest achievement was establishing a training system for journalists. Among those he trained were four who became editors: Evan Whitton (National Times), Pat Hinton (Melbourne Herald), and Greg Chamberlin and David Smith (both the Courier-Mail). He was appointed OBE in 1964.

As a young man, Hinchcliffe was an enthusiastic and periodically successful amateur jockey, and maintained an interest in boxing. In 1951 he won a Commonwealth prize for poetry. He was involved in numerous community organisations including the local branch of the Australian Red Cross Society, the Toowoomba Art Society, the Toowoomba Orchid Society, and Rotary and chess clubs. Collaborating with his grandson, the artist David Hinchliffe, he produced the illustrated Toowoomba Sketchbook (1977). Survived by his wife, son, and two daughters, he died on 13 October 1993 at Toowoomba and was cremated. A portrait by his grandson is held by the Chronicle (Toowoomba).

Research edited by Tessa Wooldridge

Select Bibliography

  • Chronicle (Toowoomba, Qld). ‘David Hinchcliffe’s Tribute to Grandfather.’ 11 September 2015, 12
  • Chronicle (Toowoomba, Qld). ‘A Gentle-Man in Every Sense.’ 14 October 1993, 11
  • Hinchliffe, A. T. Autobiographical notes. Unpublished manuscript, 1976. Copy held by author
  • Kirkpatrick, Rod. ‘The Chronicle: Groomed to Survive.’ In They Meant Business: An Illustrated History of Eight Toowoomba Enterprises, edited by Bruce Hinchliffe, 48–82. Toowoomba, Darling Downs Institute Press, 1984
  • Kirkpatrick, Rod. ‘Ghost of Caution Haunts House of Dunn: The Rise and Fall of a Queensland Newspaper Dynasty (1930−1989).’ PhD thesis, University of Queensland, 1994
  • Kirkpatrick, Rod. Purposely Parochial: 100 Years of the Country Press in Queensland. Kelvin Grove, Qld: Queensland Country Press Association, 2008

Additional Resources

Citation details

Rod Kirkpatrick, 'Hinchliffe, Albert Thomas (Bert) (1901–1993)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hinchliffe-albert-thomas-bert-18067/text29644, published online 2017, accessed online 19 October 2019.

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