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Jack Pickering Cartledge (1900–1966)

by Susan Marsden

This article was published:

Jack Pickering Cartledge (1900-1966), public servant, was born on 3 July 1900 at Southwark, Adelaide, son of Herbert Cartledge, locomotive fireman, and his wife Eliza Ann, née Pickering. Educated at Petersburg (Peterborough) High School and on a scholarship at Adelaide High School, Jack won a bursary to the University of Adelaide (LL.B., 1921). He was articled to F. G. Hicks and admitted to the Bar on 15 December 1921. Next year he joined the Attorney-General's Department. Cartledge had a ruddy complexion, sleek, fair hair and, as a young man, a toothbrush moustache. On 4 July 1923 he married Margerie Vortmann in the registrar general's office, Adelaide.

Appointed assistant parliamentary draftsman about 1927, Cartledge worked with (Sir) Edgar Bean on revising and consolidating more than 1200 bills passed between 1837 and 1936; they published them in nine volumes as The Public General Acts of South Australia (1937-40). Cartledge was appointed C.M.G. in 1947 and in 1959-65 was draftsman-in-charge of statutes. An intensely private man who belonged to no clubs, he read, played golf and devoted much of his time after 1945 to the South Australian Housing Trust.

Having been chairman (from 1934) of the Local Government Advisory Committee, in 1937-40 he chaired the Building Act Inquiry Committee which considered the need to replace insanitary or ramshackle houses with new ones. In 1938 the committee undertook Adelaide's first survey of substandard housing, classified over 25 per cent of rental housing as slums and recommended government action. Cartledge inspected the buildings which he described as 'old, damp, decayed, badly-lit, ill-ventilated and vermin-infested'. The experience affected him deeply and influenced his drafting of the Housing Improvement Act (1940).

He impressed the new premier (Sir) Thomas Playford, who was keen to expand the State's recently formed housing trust. Playford appointed him its deputy-chairman (1940) and chairman (1945), in succession to Sir William Goodman; he also made Cartledge chairman (1941) of the Building Act Advisory Committee. Regarded as a 'key official', Cartledge became closely identified with Playford's use of the trust as a tool in the State's economic development. The mass construction of inexpensive houses in large estates became typical of the era; the social consequences of this development were of less concern to politicians and civil servants.

Cartledge chose the trust's staff astutely, notably Alexander Ramsay, general manager in 1949-78. They directed a huge operation, building more than 48,000 houses, shops and factories, operating an immigration programme and constructing the satellite town of Elizabeth. Cartledge showed keen interest in the town's affairs; he first opposed, then supported its becoming a separate, local-government area. He was, as well, chairman of the State's Local Government Officers Classification Board.

After Cartledge had retired in 1965, Playford appointed him permanent chairman of the trust. Survived by his wife and son, Cartledge died of pulmonary embolism on 23 July 1966 in North Adelaide and was cremated. Ramsay praised his intellect, humanity and leadership: 'Trust developments . . . continue to pay tribute to this service to the community, and Trust policy to bear the imprint of his fertile mind'.

Select Bibliography

  • M. Galbreath and G. Pearson, Elizabeth, the Garden City (Adel, 1982)
  • D. A. Cumming and G. C. Moxham, They Built South Australia (Adel, 1986)
  • S. Marsden, Business, Charity and Sentiment (Adel, 1986)
  • S. Cockburn, Playford (Adel, 1991)
  • Building Act Inquiry Committee, Parliamentary Papers (South Australia), 1940, 2 (34)
  • News (Adelaide), 1 June 1927
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 12 June 1947, 25 July 1966.

Citation details

Susan Marsden, 'Cartledge, Jack Pickering (1900–1966)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 22 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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