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West, Raymond (1897–1968)

by R. Kiss

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

Raymond West (1897-1968), town clerk, was born on 5 May 1897 at Shepparton, Victoria, sixth child of Victorian-born parents William Payne West, clerk, and his wife Florence, née Nightingale. John West was his uncle. Educated at Shepparton Agricultural High School, Ray enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 8 April 1915. He served with the 5th Battalion at Gallipoli (November-December) and on the Western Front (March-July 1916) where he was promoted sergeant. A wound he suffered at Pozières, France, in July resulted in the loss of his right eye. After treatment in England, he was repatriated and discharged from the A.I.F. on 26 December 1917. Commissioned in the Australian Military Forces in July 1918, he performed training duties in Victoria before resigning in 1921 as a lieutenant.

In 1922 West joined the staff of the Coburg City Council, Melbourne, where he gained his municipal clerk's certificate. At St Ambrose's Catholic Church, Brunswick, on 20 October 1923, he married Ethel Eileen Davis. By 1926 he was secretary to the Yea Shire Council. On 27 September 1927 he was appointed town clerk for the newly established Borough of Shepparton. An exemplary servant of local government, he combined a commitment to order and proper procedures with an imaginative approach to civic improvement. He advocated town planning, oversaw the building of the council offices and art gallery, prepared a scheme for financing the construction of new streets and urged the council to proceed with a sewerage system. Shepparton was proclaimed a city in 1949. Its swimming pool, named after him, was opened in 1955. Retiring in 1960, he was appointed M.B.E. in 1961.

West had been the force behind the establishment in Victoria of the Institute of Municipal Administration (later Victorian division of the Institute of Municipal Administration, Australia), the purpose of which was to increase the status of local government clerical staff and improve the standard of their work. He believed that administrators needed to be as well qualified and learned as professional and technical staff. Elected foundation president in 1936, he held office for two years and saw the institute grow into a national body in 1949.

When not occupied with his official duties, West endeavoured to improve the cultural life of Shepparton by encouraging the public appreciation of history, art and music. A member of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, he published numerous works of local history, including Those Were the Days (1962). In retirement he busied himself preserving the city's historical records and cataloguing its art collection. He was active in the Returned Sailors', Soldiers' and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia and a trustee of the Shepparton War Memorial. During World War II he had commanded (as lieutenant colonel) the 22nd Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps, with headquarters at Benalla. He was a member of Shepparton's bowling and Rotary clubs. Towards the end of his life he suffered from cerebral atherosclerosis. He died of bronchopneumonia on 28 February 1968 at Numurkah and was buried with Anglican rites in Shepparton cemetery. His wife and their daughter survived him. The Shepparton Art Gallery holds Ernest Buckmaster's portrait of him.

Select Bibliography

  • Local Government Administration, Dec 1960/Feb 1961
  • Australian Municipal Journal, Mar 1968
  • Shepparton News, 1 Mar 1968
  • private information.

Citation details

R. Kiss, 'West, Raymond (1897–1968)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/west-raymond-12000/text21519, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 26 June 2019.

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

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