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Edwin Harold (Ted) Tytherleigh (1905–1995)

by Greg Patmore

This article was published:

Edwin Harold Tytherleigh (1905–1995), leader of the building society movement, was born on 19 August 1905 at Five Dock, New South Wales, fourth child of English-born Thomas Tytherleigh, fitter, and his New South Wales-born wife Lilian Emma, née Kipping. Ted attended Five Dock Public School, gaining a qualifying certificate. Stricken by influenza during the post-World War I epidemic, he was no longer able to do metalwork and could not pursue his desire to work as a marine engineer. After working in retailing, he briefly opened his own store in Five Dock using finance from his father. He then became a commercial traveller selling manchester goods and later chinaware. On 17 October 1927 at the Holy Trinity Church of England, Dubbo, he married Constance Amy Pearl Ezzy; they would be divorced in 1952.

The onset of the Depression and the introduction by the Scullin Labor government of restrictions on imports led Tytherleigh to look for more secure employment. By April 1931 he operated a ham and beef shop in the Sydney suburb of Epping. On the proceeds of the business, from 1931 he purchased land to build and sell houses and opened another store at nearby Eastwood.

Tytherleigh became interested in developing his community and helping young people, particularly through home ownership. He disliked banks and believed that through building societies, with their principles of self-help and cooperation, Australians could gain independence by owning their own home. He was critical of initiatives, such as the New South Wales Housing Commission, which he believed could stifle enterprise and encourage renting, where tenants had no stake and interest in the property. At a time when the State government gave the building societies a guarantee to raise funds and encourage home building, in 1937 he helped form the Northern Districts Home-Building Co-operative Society Ltd. He became founding chairman of the Northern Districts Permanent Co-operative Building & Investment Society Ltd in 1939. In World War II he served part time (1942–43) in Sydney with the Volunteer Defence Corps.

In 1962 Tytherleigh persuaded his fellow directors to change the name of the Northern Districts Permanent to the United Permanent Co-operative Building & Investment Society Ltd and to expand its geographical base across the State. The United Permanent merged with the Parramatta Permanent Building Society Ltd in 1969. From 1971 to 1978 he was chairman of the amalgamated organisation, which became the United Permanent Building Society Ltd, presiding over its biggest expansion. The National Mutual Royal Bank acquired United Permanent in 1987, which was indicative of the decline in building societies following the deregulation of financial institutions.

Tytherleigh served as president of both the State (1947–64) and Australian (1956–64) peak bodies of building societies. He was also president of the International Union of Building Societies and Savings Associations from 1968 to 1971. Believing that active leadership was important for the vitality of the building society movement, he lobbied both State and Federal governments to provide funds and support to the building societies and actively promoted their spread throughout Australia. He emphasised the value of publicity for the movement. Appointed MBE in 1960 and CMG in 1972, he won the Florence Taylor award of merit in 1963.

On 20 June 1956 Tytherleigh had married English-born Lily Emily Morres, shop manageress, at St John’s Church of England, Darlinghurst. Selling his store and property concerns, in 1960 he purchased a Sutton Forest grazing property. In 1972, suffering poor health, he sold it and returned to Sydney. Survived by his wife, and two daughters and one son from his first marriage, he died on 4 February 1995 at Wahroonga, and was cremated.

Research edited by Karen Fox

Select Bibliography

  • Hill, M. R. ‘Housing Finance Institutions.’ In Studies in the Australian Capital Market, edited by R. R. Hirst and R. H. Wallace, 98–129. Melbourne: F. W. Cheshire, 1964
  • Lyons, Mark. ‘Ted Tytherleigh.’ In Australian Financiers: Biographical Essays, edited by R. T. Appleyard and C. B. Schedvin, 388–400. South Melbourne: Macmillan, 1988
  • Narromine News and Trangie Advocate. ‘Public Gossip.’ 24 April 1931, 5
  • Withycombe, Susan Mary W. A Home of Our Own: Half a Century of Co-Operative Housing 1937–1987. New South Wales: Co-operative Housing Societies Association of New South Wales, 1987

Additional Resources

Citation details

Greg Patmore, 'Tytherleigh, Edwin Harold (Ted) (1905–1995)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published online 2019, accessed online 25 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 19, (ANU Press), 2021

View the front pages for Volume 19

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