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John Noble (Jack) Rogers (1898–1971)

by Jack Taylor

This article was published:

John Noble Core Rogers (1898-1971), surveyor and public servant, was born on 7 October 1898 at Newtown, Sydney, eldest child of Victorian-born parents Henry Havelock Rogers, insurance clerk, and his wife Robina Violet, née Carter. Educated at Sydney Grammar School, Jack was articled as a pupil-surveyor in April 1916 to Frank Wearne at Casino. On 25 June 1918 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force; he served at the military camp, Liverpool, until he was discharged from the army on 31 December. Resuming his profession, he joined Dobbie & Foxall in Sydney in April 1920 and passed the land surveyors' examinations in the following year. At the Presbyterian Church, Pymble, on 7 October 1925 he married Clara Birchenall Moore.

Rogers practised privately for fourteen years, mainly in Sydney, and was elected a fellow (1933) and councillor of the Institution of Surveyors, New South Wales. In 1935 he joined the Department of the Interior and moved to Canberra. After four years of general surveying in the Federal (Australian) Capital Territory, he became administrative assistant to the head of the property and survey branch which dealt with land acquisition and survey matters connected with the war effort. He was appointed assistant surveyor-general in September 1946 and promoted to surveyor-general and chief property officer on 29 March 1949. In these capacities he supervised the surveying needs of Commonwealth departments and agencies throughout Australia and negotiated the settlement of compensation claims for land and buildings acquired during World War II. He was also director of national mapping and chairman (1949-51) of the National Mapping Council, on which he remained until 1963.

Following reorganization of the Department of the Interior in 1951, Rogers was appointed assistant-secretary in charge of the A.C.T. planning and development branch, while retaining the post of surveyor-general. The government's decision in the late 1950s to transfer a number of departments from Melbourne, together with the growth of Canberra, led to an increased workload, not only in surveying, but also in areas such as parks and gardens, forestry and agriculture, and the sale of leases for business and residential purposes—all of which were functions of his branch.

An executive-member (1953-57) of the National Capital Planning and Development Committee, Rogers served as the department's nominated member (1948-65) on the A.C.T. Advisory Council. For the most part, he was quiet and reserved in manner, but he had an alert and clear mind, and the ability to get to the crux of problems without fuss. While he pulled no punches in expressing his views, he remained 'forever the gentleman'. After retiring in 1963, he was chairman (1965-71) of the Canberra Building Review Committee, deputy-chairman (1969-72) of the Design and Siting Review Committee and a member (1968-71) of the A.C.T. Surveyors' Board.

Rogers was an honorary member (1950) of the Commonwealth Institute of Valuers and a fellow of the (Royal) Australian Planning Institute. In 1960 he became foundation president of the Canberra division of the Institution of Surveyors (Australia). He was appointed I.S.O. in 1964. Survived by his wife and their son, he died on 15 October 1971 in his home at Griffith and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Surveyor, June 1934, Sept 1963, June 1972
  • Valuer, Jan 1951
  • Australian, 16 Feb 1965
  • Canberra Times, 16 Oct 1971
  • Rogers correspondence 1951-68 (National Library of Australia)
  • family papers (privately held)
  • private information and personal knowledge.

Citation details

Jack Taylor, 'Rogers, John Noble (Jack) (1898–1971)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 17 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

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