Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Edgar James Bartrop (1903–1989)

by Anne Beggs Sunter

This article was published:

Edgar James Bartrop (1903-1989), real-estate agent and community leader, was born on 11 February 1903 at Brighton, Melbourne, son of James Samuel Bartrop, a Victorian-born traveller (insurance agent), and his wife Blanche Caroline, née Tomkins, who was born in Sydney. Edgar attended Caulfield State School and Bendigo and Ballarat High schools. He left in 1921, wanting to become a Methodist minister, but was too young to enter training college. At the age of 18 he set himself up as a real-estate agent in Ballarat and soon discovered that this was his vocation.

Prospering, Bartrop took over a number of real-estate agencies. On 13 April 1927 at St Andrew’s Kirk, Ballarat, he married with Presbyterian forms Madge Evelyn McArthur. In 1930 he purchased the long-established business of William Little & Co. at 54 Lydiard Street South. Bartrop’s approach to his profession was entrepreneurial and innovative; in 1933 he sponsored Ballarat’s first `ideal homes show’ to promote a residential development. He would later be involved in housing projects of various types, and prominent in schemes to accommodate workers and migrants.

Bartrop wished to establish ethical standards for his profession. After founding the Ballarat and District Auctioneers and Estate Agents Association in 1929, he took a leading part in forming the Real Estate and Stock (later Real Estate) Institute of Victoria in 1936. He was to be president (1943-44) and a life member (from 1971) of the institute and author of its history, `50 Years On …’ (1987). A pamphlet he wrote in 1941, Real-Estate Multiple Listing, led to the introduction of this system in Australia. His booklet Co-operative Building Societies (1944) influenced the framing of Victorian legislation to regulate these bodies.

Appointed Commonwealth controller of accommodation in World War II, Bartrop supervised the construction of new housing and the provision of hostels and other dwellings for munitions workers, and formulated plans to relieve the national housing shortage. Politicians noted his abilities, and in 1946 the Victorian government appointed him chairman of the Decentralization of Industries Committee and a member of the Central Planning Authority.

In 1937 Bartrop had brought together leading businessmen to found the Advance Ballarat (later Greater Ballarat) Association, which was effective in promoting industry, commerce and tourism in the city. After a study tour of Britain and Europe in 1949, he instigated the city’s annual Begonia Festival in 1953. He was also foundation president of the Ballarat branch of both the National Safety Council of Australia, Victorian division, and the Good Neighbour Council of Victoria. In 1967 he was appointed OBE.

A small, wiry man of boundless energy, Bartrop was a teetotaller and pipe-smoker, an original thinker, an astute businessman and a tireless worker who championed his beloved city of Ballarat. He was a member of the Lydiard Street Wesleyan (later Uniting) Church, serving as choir member, lay preacher and elder. He died on 24 June 1989 at Ballarat and was cremated. His wife and their daughter and two sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • W. Bate, Life After Gold (1993)
  • Courier (Ballarat), 7 Aug 1972, p 4
  • Canberra Times, 17 May 1988, p 25
  • Ballarat News, 29 June 1989, p 9
  • Victorian Real Estate Journal, Sept 1989, p 6
  • Bartrop Real Estate archives (Ballarat, Victoria).

Citation details

Anne Beggs Sunter, 'Bartrop, Edgar James (1903–1989)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 27 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (Melbourne University Press), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


11 February, 1903
Brighton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


24 June, 1989 (aged 86)
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.