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Langridge, George David (1829–1891)

by S. M. Ingham

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

George David Langridge (1829-1891), by unknown engraver

George David Langridge (1829-1891), by unknown engraver

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, IAN28/08/80/156

George David Langridge (1829-1891), politician, was born at Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, son of John Langridge. Early left fatherless, he went to Banbury, Oxfordshire, where he became apprenticed to a carpenter and then went into partnership with his brother, a builder in London. In 1851 he married Maria Elizabeth, daughter of William Meade of Tunbridge Wells; they had nine sons and two daughters. The gold rushes brought Langridge to New South Wales where he spent three months before moving to Victoria in 1853. He was unsuccessful as a digger at Ballarat and Bendigo for six months but later recalled that he had been hunted for his licence. He settled at Collingwood and for two years worked as a carpenter on the building of Melbourne's military barracks before establishing his own contracting business. In 1869 he opened an auctioneering and estate agency firm; by 1881 he had established three building societies, the most important being the Langridge Mutual Permanent Building Society. In 1866 he had been elected to the Collingwood Town Council and was mayor in 1867 and 1872. On 18 February 1874 his wife died; on 13 December 1877 at the Wesleyan Chapel, Glebe, Sydney, he married Emily Judson, widowed daughter of John Holt, grocer, and his wife Betty, née Greenwood.

In 1874-91 Langridge represented Collingwood in the Legislative Assembly. His background and his urban working-class constituency were determining factors in his staunch and uncritical support of the Liberal leader, Graham Berry. He began by voting against payment of members but by 1877 decided 'to put myself right with my constituents, because it was against their wishes that I voted as I did'. He was an unspectacular back-bencher but in 1875 chaired the royal commission on friendly societies and in 1877 had a leading role in the relevant amending legislation. In 1878 Langridge served on the royal commission on closed roads and in 1885 was chairman of a select committee on the fire brigade system. From August 1880 to July 1881 he was commissioner of public works and vice-president of the Board of Land and Works in the third Berry ministry. His term of office was unremarkable save for the controversy over his decision to use 'Stawell' stone in the façade of the parliamentary buildings. He was a member of the 'Berryite' Opposition during the O'Loghlen ministry in 1881-83. From March 1883 to February 1886 Langridge was a competent commissioner of trade and customs in the Service-Berry coalition. Because of ill health he did not seek office in the Gillies-Deakin coalition in 1886-90 and left in July 1886 for a year's holiday in England. After his return he supported the ministry, but in October 1890 he criticized the government for its awkward handling of the maritime strike and acquiescence in Lieutenant-Colonel Price's provocative instructions during the crisis. Langridge was one of the seceding Coalition-Liberals who helped to defeat the government in early November 1890. He then became chief secretary, commissioner of customs and minister of health in the Liberal ministry of James Munro. He was acting premier in Munro's absence when he died suddenly on 24 March 1891 at his home in Clifton Hill, aged 62.

Langridge was a grand master of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a Freemason and a member of the United Ancient Order of Druids. He was actively associated with various international trade exhibitions. He was a member of the Melbourne Water Supply Board and in 1891 treasurer of the Working Men's College. His unassuming ways and common sense in politics enabled him to retain the warm allegiance of working-class electors who were becoming dissatisfied with other Liberal representatives. His public meetings at Collingwood were gala occasions: he never lost the common touch, and artisans and labourers mourned his death in impressive numbers. Significantly, an early Labor politician, John Hancock, followed Langridge at Collingwood.

Select Bibliography

  • Federal Australian, 26 Apr 1883
  • Imperial Review (Melbourne), Oct 1887
  • Argus (Melbourne), 25 Mar 1891
  • Leader (Melbourne), 28 Mar 1891
  • Observer (Collingwood), 2 Apr 1891.

Citation details

S. M. Ingham, 'Langridge, George David (1829–1891)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/langridge-george-david-3989/text6307, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 15 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

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