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Alton Richmond Macleod (1887–1951)

by Rod Kirkpatrick

This article was published:

Alton Richmond Macleod (1887-1951), newspaper proprietor and rifleman, was born on 14 July 1887 at Clear View, Richmond River, New South Wales, eldest son of native-born parents William Alexander Macleod, farmer, and his wife Augusta Caroline, née Hermann. Alton left North Codrington Public School at the age of 13 to help on his father's mixed farm. Apprenticed to a coachsmith at Lismore in 1903, he transferred to a Mullumbimby firm in the following year. From 1907 he worked in Queensland at mining-fields on the Atherton Tableland and the Roper River, but suffered a bout of malaria which affected his health thereafter.

While employed at the Hambledon sugar-mill in 1908, Macleod attended the mill's night-school where he was tutored by an old journalist; using the pseudonym 'Magpie', he had a string of contributions published by the Bulletin. From May 1909 he studied privately in Sydney until his health again broke down. He joined Massey-Harris Co. Ltd to supervise experiments with a new harvesting machine. After giving a demonstration at Manilla, near Tamworth, he decided to settle in the district and bought the local Massey-Harris agency in 1911. On 18 June 1913 he married Lily Hall with Methodist forms in her father's home at Gunnedah. Having conducted the agency profitably, in January 1919 Macleod bought the Manilla Express, a bi-weekly newspaper which he edited from October 1923. He was an executive-member (1920-39) and president (1933-34) of the New South Wales Country Press Association, and a vice-president (1933-36) of the Australian Provincial Press Association.

A rifleman of note, in 1917 Macleod had represented Country against Sydney. In 1927 he won the Country championship and captained the New South Wales rifle team on its New Zealand tour. Next year he was a member of the State team which won the Gordon Highlanders' trophy in Perth. 'Mac' set an Australian record in 1929 by scoring 22 consecutive bull's-eyes at 900 yards (823 m) in the Weinholdt aggregate and the King's prize in Brisbane. He was a councillor (1924-50), life-member (1935) and vice-president (1946-50) of the National Rifle Association of New South Wales.

In 1919 Macleod had been elected to the Manilla Municipal Council: he served as an alderman (1919-21 and 1926-50) and mayor (1930-34 and 1942-50). He was an initiator of the town's sewerage, water and beautification schemes, and was active in more than a score of community organizations, including the Parents and Citizens' Association, hospital board, show committee and Caledonian Society. A drinking-fountain was erected (1934) at the Municipal Chambers in recognition of his community service. He was also founding president (1936-38) and secretary (1939-50) of the Manilla Bowling Club.

'Whatever he did, he put his heart and soul into it.' Macleod believed in work, and in relaxation—through gardening, sport and reading, particularly poetry. After selling the Express in 1947, he wrote a history of Manilla, The Transformation of Manellae (1949). Survived by his wife, son and two daughters, he died of myasthenia gravis on 8 July 1951 at Manilla and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • C. H. Cromack, The History of the National Rifle Association of New South Wales, 1860-1956 (Syd, 1956)
  • Glen Innes Examiner, 29 Oct 1923
  • Australasian, 12 Oct 1929
  • Newspaper News, 1 Feb 1935, p 2
  • Northern Daily Leader, 24 May 1948, 23 Nov 1949
  • Manilla Express, 13 July 1951
  • private information.

Citation details

Rod Kirkpatrick, 'Macleod, Alton Richmond (1887–1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 21 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

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