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Strutt, Cecil William (Bill) (1902–1980)

by P. G. F. Henderson

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

Cecil William (Bill) Strutt (1902-1980), agricultural scientist and public servant, was born on 14 November 1902 at Wadhurst, Sussex, England, son of Alfred William Strutt, artist, and his wife Nellie Maria, née Ketchlee. William Strutt was his grandfather. Young Bill wanted to be an artist, but was dissuaded by his father. He attended Taunton School, Somerset, where he developed a love of cricket and was later employed as sportsmaster. Winning a scholarship in 1925 to the University of London (B.Sc.Agric., 1928), he studied at the South-Eastern Agricultural College, Wye, Kent; after graduating, he joined the college's staff for a year. At the parish church, Tenterden, on 31 December 1932 he married Catherine Alice Burke.

In 1931 Strutt had become a technical adviser to R. Silcock & Sons Ltd, a firm of animal-fodder manufacturers with which he remained until 1945. During World War II his work was classified as a reserved occupation which excluded him from military service. Joining the Ministry of Agriculture's national agricultural advisory service in 1946, he visited Australia that year and was involved in negotiating the Anglo-Australian meat agreement (1947). He was appointed to the British High Commission, Canberra, in 1948 as agricultural attaché. In 1953 he returned to England.

(Sir) John Crawford, secretary of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, persuaded Strutt in 1954 to join the Commonwealth Public Service. He held the post of assistant-secretary (1955-66) in the division of agricultural production, Department of Primary Industry. In 1955 he was appointed Commonwealth deputy wool adviser; from 1957 he also chaired the Wool Research Committee and the Wheat Industry Research Council. He resigned in 1966 to manage a United Nations project aimed at improving the cattle and sheep industries in Uruguay.

Back in Canberra in 1968, Strutt was appointed executive-officer of the Australian-Asian Universities Co-operation Scheme and of the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee. He also worked for the Australian Farmers' Federation, and was secretary (1973-77) of the scholarship programme run by the Australian Nuffield Farming Scholars' Association. In 1977 he was made a fellow of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science. Retirement from the public service also allowed him to devote more time to community affairs. A parish councillor (from 1959) of the Church of St John the Baptist, Reid, he played a notable part in saving from demolition the historic schoolhouse in the church grounds and restoring it as a museum (opened 1969). He was a member (1970-80), acting secretary (1975-76) and president (1977-80) of its board of management. His 'tenacity, meticulous methods', 'powers of persuasion' and 'thoughtfulness' inspired all who worked with him.

Strutt continued to love cricket, played golf and enjoyed gardening. A 'wide-shouldered, good-looking' man with a 'crinkly smile', he usually had a pipe clenched firmly between his teeth. He died on 1 May 1980 in Woden Valley Hospital and was buried with Anglican rites in Gungahlin cemetery; his wife and their two daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Canberra and District Historical Society, Newsletter, June/July 1980
  • St John's Church, Canberra, Parish Notes, 38, no 5, 1980
  • Wye College Agricola Club, Journal, 11, no 2, 1980/81, p 67
  • Canberra Times, 13 Aug 1977
  • private information.

Citation details

P. G. F. Henderson, 'Strutt, Cecil William (Bill) (1902–1980)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/strutt-cecil-william-bill-11794/text21099, published in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 24 August 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

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