Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Trevor Macateer Henderson (1905–1967)

by Robert I. Longhurst

This article was published:

Trevor Macateer Henderson (1905-1967), optometrist and racehorse-owner, was born on 27 August 1905 at Glencoe, on the Darling Downs, Queensland, third son of seven children of Thomas Henderson, schoolteacher, and his wife Maria Ada, née Mumford. Trevor was educated at Rangeville State (where his father was head teacher) and at Toowoomba Grammar schools. On leaving school, he was apprenticed to the optical firm, Charles Gamin & Co., Brisbane; by the age of 23 he had established his own flourishing business in the T. & G. Building, Queen Street. On 27 December 1933 at the Ann Street Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, he married Irene Erla Cummins; they were to have two sons before being divorced in 1948.

Managing his business adeptly, Henderson combined financial acumen with a remarkable ability to take advantage of publicity, particularly advertising on commercial radio. It was a controversial approach in what was deemed a conservative profession, but his theme song, Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes, was known in households throughout Queensland. He was a member of the Queensland division of the Australian Optometrical Association and served as a councillor in 1935. The growth of his business was often at the expense of many other members of the A.O.A., as was his contractual agreement (1941) with the State government—via the Department of Health and Home Affairs—to provide an optical service at country hospitals 'for persons . . . not in a position to pay'. By 1949 Henderson's firm had branches at Ipswich and Toowoomba, and also conducted a large mail-order business, both directly and through agencies.

Already a city identity, Henderson became one of Queensland's most prominent turf sportsmen of the postwar period. He was a leading owner, racing his horses under his gold, pink and black colours in Brisbane and at Toowoomba: among the more noteworthy were Duke Paul, Masefield, Sir Helion and Red Mirth. Henderson was also a part-owner of several other well-known racehorses, including Cobbler's Wax and Glenrowan. At the Church of the Holy Spirit, New Farm, on 7 August 1951 he married with Catholic rites Veronica Emily Carton, a 33-year-old receptionist.

Henderson was a member (from 1940) of Tattersall's Club, Brisbane; a committee-member (from 1958), he was president in 1961-66 and conjointly president of Tattersall's Racing Club. His presidency spanned a period of important change and growth, during which the government's Totalisator Agency Board developed and Tattersalls became a convivial rendezvous, boasting a six-year waiting-list for membership. He was elected to the committee of the Queensland Turf Club in 1966 and served on its licensing and finance sub-committees, as well as on the Metropolitan Galloping Races allocation committee.

Survived by his wife and the sons of his first marriage, Henderson died of hypertension and coronary atherosclerosis on 26 September 1967 at his Hamilton home and was buried in Pinaroo Lawn cemetery with Anglican rites. His estate was sworn for probate at $187,186.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Optometrical Association, Queensland Division, Notes on the First Fifty Years of Organized Optometry in Queensland, 1908-1958 (Brisb, 1974?)
  • R. Longhurst, Friendship is Life (Brisb, 1993)
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 27 Sept 1967, 12 Sept 1968
  • Telegraph (Brisbane), 27 Sept 1967, 12 Dec 1968.

Citation details

Robert I. Longhurst, 'Henderson, Trevor Macateer (1905–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 13 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


27 August, 1905
Glencoe, Queensland, Australia


26 September, 1967 (aged 62)
Hamilton, Brisbane, Queensland, 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.