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Sir Norman Lane Jude (1905–1975)

by Jenny Tilby Stock

This article was published:

Sir Norman Lane Jude (1905-1975), politician, was born on 7 April 1905 at Handsworth, Staffordshire, England, son of Archibald Alexander Jude, engineering draftsman, and his wife Edith Susan, née Lane—who died at Norman's birth. Raised by relations, he boarded at Stamford School, Lincolnshire, in 1917-23, becoming prefect, sergeant major in the Officer Training Corps and captain of Rugby; a kick to the head in a game left him deaf in one ear.

In 1924 he migrated to South Australia, entering Roseworthy Agricultural College, where he played cricket and Australian Rules football. Graduating in 1926 with a diploma of agriculture, Jude was a cellar-hand in the Reynell wineries, Reynella, briefly a farm hand at the Murray mouth from 1929, then manager of a dairy near Meningie. He travelled to Adelaide on his motorbike to play hockey, and was selected for the State side. On 6 August 1935 at Christ Church, North Adelaide, he married Nancy Margaret, daughter of a pastoralist, K. D. Bowman of Poltalloch station, whose death in 1932 had left her independently wealthy. After visiting England, the couple purchased Carolside, a sheep run near Naracoorte, in 1936.

Jude served on the district committee of the Stockowners' Association, the governing council of the Chamber of Rural Industries and the Naracoorte hospital board, and was also president of the local branch of the National Fitness Council and a physical training instructor at the boys' club. He helped to form and was later president of the south-eastern fire fighting association, belonged to the Volunteer Defence Corps and supported the Australian Red Cross Society. He was a member of the South Australian Jockey Club.

In April 1944 he won Southern District for the Liberal and Country League in the Legislative Council elections. Though supporting the premier (Sir) Thomas Playford, he called the wheat stabilization bill a 'Moscow system' that would destroy growers' freedoms, and dubbed the State land tax unworthy of 'the most solid Liberal Government in Australia'. When Playford increased his cabinet in late 1953 Jude, a surprise inclusion, was allocated local government, rail and the new portfolio of roads. The family moved to Adelaide. In 1957 Robin Hill, at Collinswood, became their home; managers ran Carolside until it was sold in 1973.

Facing enormous challenges in a city which was to almost double in size in the two post-war decades, Jude was of little assistance to Adelaide's first town planner Stuart Hart, failing to act on his recommendations or to champion legislation to halt the excesses of speculative land sales. The poorly maintained rail system continued to decline, although some new lines were opened. From the mid-1950s, 'Red Hens' on metropolitan and 'Blue Birds' on country lines began the transformation from steam to diesel locomotion. Diesel buses had replaced trams on all but the Glenelg line by 1958, while trolley-buses ceased in 1963.

Convinced of the need for good arterial roads, Jude encouraged efficiencies in rail freight and refused to impose harsh restrictions on road hauliers. In 1954 he visited New Zealand to inspect its strict weight and speed limits and in 1962 attended a meeting of the International Road Federation in Madrid. With the Highways Department enjoying perhaps its most optimistic and dynamic period, in 1960 Jude, his wife and a senior engineer spent four months in Europe and the United States of America examining road construction and traffic control. The sealing, widening and upgrading of roads continued; in 1962-64 a third bridge over the Murray was built, at Blanchetown. The South Eastern freeway was begun, its route through Arbury Park—(Sir) Alexander Downer's property—causing an imbroglio which Jude mediated with some success.

Jude's relatively humble origins may have delayed his membership of the Adelaide Club; he was elected in 1962. Playford's government fell in March 1965 and Jude was knighted in June. He became a director of the pastoral firm, Bennett & Fisher, in which he was a major shareholder, and in 1967 president of the Australian-American Association in South Australia. Excluded from Steele Hall's cabinet of 1968, he railed against reforms ending the rural gerrymander. In June 1971 he resigned.

Sir Norman kept up his interests in road transport, sports administration, his pastoral property and investments. He revisited the U.S.A. in 1974. Fond of cigars, wines and spirits, he suffered from a duodenal ulcer. Jude died of cancer on 18 February 1975 at his home. His wife, three daughters and one son survived him. After a state funeral at St Andrew's Church, Walkerville, he was buried in Centennial Park cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at $159,884.

Select Bibliography

  • A. B. Cox, Local Government in South Australia (Adel, 1964)
  • H. Stretton, Ideas for Australian Cities (Adel, 1970)
  • N. Blewett and D. Jaensch, Playford to Dunstan (Melb, 1971)
  • B. Carroll, Getting Around Town (Syd, 1980)
  • P. Donovan, Highways: A History of the South Australian Highways Department (Adel, 1991)
  • Roseworthy Agricultural College, Student, XXIII, Dec 1924, p 15, XXIV, i, July 1925, p 21, XXIV, ii, Jan 1926, p 18, Dec 1938, pp 80 & 86, Dec 1955, p 61
  • Highway (Adelaide), 13, no 2, Apr 1975, p 1
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 12 June 1965, pp 1 & 3, 8 June 1971, p 16, 19 Feb 1975, p 4
  • Jude diary and papers (privately held).

Citation details

Jenny Tilby Stock, 'Jude, Sir Norman Lane (1905–1975)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 24 February 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne University Press), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


7 April, 1905
Handsworth, Warwickshire, England


18 February, 1975 (aged 69)
Collinswood, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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