Ashcroft (Cr) John Richard

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 12-3-1930

Date of death 7-10-2011

John Richard Ashcroft was born at Merriwa N.S.W. on the 12th March 1930.

He was the last of three children born to Fred and Myrtle Ashcroft. His parents both worked with the railways, his father as a ganger on the line and his mother as a gate opener. They lived at various places throughout NSW including Wingham, Taree and Mumbil (between Wellington and Orange).

His high school years were spent at Orange where he boarded with other boys in lodgings across from the school. John would catch a train down to Orange from Mumbil on Sunday night and back to Mumbil Friday night. He was only 10 years old when he started and it was quite an experience for him. The family eventually moved to Fairfield, in south western Sydney and John began working in the railway workshops at Redfern. In 1947 he started work with Century Electrics in Fairfield. This firm decided to open a factory in Willaston and in February 1948, John aged 18, moved across with the L’Green family who owned the business.

Together with the owner’s son, Don L’Green, they drove across in a Morris 8/40 convertible. It had a canvas top. It took three days to get to Gawler. It was pretty well plain sailing until they hit the South Australian border. From there they often had to go through tracks in scrub country.

They arrived in Gawler on Feb. 9th 1948 and the temperature was 108 degrees. They obtained board with an elderly lady just across the railway line at North Gawler. Originally, the factory was in Hobart’s horse stables. This was situated at the corner of Reid and Tod Streets, which today is the car park area in front of the Foodland Supermarket. They were to make industrial electrical switch gear. They even brought some of the machines with them in the Morris. The shed was there and they built the benches, shelves, etc, to fit.

They started with approximately a dozen people, which included women. Not long after the company purchased a section of land at Willaston. This was between Jane Street and the Main North Road and is where Willaston Crash Repairs is today. In the end there were at least 30 people employed there. A lot of these workers were from the Willaston migrant camp. The business lasted for 10 years.

In 1949 he met his future wife Jean at a local dance, where Jean had been told to watch out for those “Sydney boys”, and she did watch out for them, and ended up marrying one of them.

In 1950 John bought two semi-detached houses in Union Street Gawler. John and Jean became engaged in September 1950. After renovating one of the houses they were married in September 1952 and lived in Union Street for 37 years.

Over the years they renovated the houses and purchased another property behind their house in Edith Street.

Their children were all born while they lived there, Gary in April 1955, Peter in October 1957 and Jenny in July 1966. John was an electrician and after Century Electrics closed down in 1958 he worked at A.E.I. Electrical repairing electrical goods and then moving on to televisions. Radio Rentals had opened a store in Gawler so John applied for a job as manager which he got and worked there until 1978. He then worked at Duldig Hardware and Scholz Chemicals at Willaston, then back into the electrical trade again working as a maintenance electrician at ATCO in Elizabeth. When ATCO closed down he decided to work for himself as an electrician and with Jean’s help they built up a very successful little business.

In 1989 they sold their properties in Union and Edith Streets and moved to Edward Street in Willaston. It took them 3 months to pack up and shift and also transport 36 bird aviaries as well. He had most of the Australian parrots and a few other types as well.

1998 saw John and Jean move to a smaller house in Gosford Street Gawler West with a low maintenance garden and no lawns!

Over the years, John has been involved in many things in Gawler. He served on the Gawler Council from 1968 as a councillor for 16 years and was a Rotarian since 1969. He became a recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow award and was an honorary member of Rotary. He became a Justice of the Peace in 1974 and joined Probus in 2004.

John passed away in October 2011.

John was Gawler Councillor for Central Ward 1968 to 1978 and then 1979 to 1985. He was Councillor for Turner Ward 1991 to 1993.

Please click here for photos of John Ashcroft.

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