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Arthur Turton was a hardware salesman in Fremantle in the 1890s for Union Stores. He was NF Councillor 1919-32, and mayor of North Fremantle 1932-1945. He was apparently popular as mayor, at least in his early years, as it is recorded that when he looked like resigning in 1934 local residents came in droves to Turton House to petition him to stay on.
Arthur Turton came to Western Australia in the early 1890s in the wake of his elder brother the Rev William Frederick Turton, who had taken up a posting to the Johnston Memorial Congregational Church in Fremantle. Rev Turton later transferred to Kalgoorlie, then left the state altogether, although he eventually returned and died in East Fremantle 1922. During the period during which what is now known as Turton House was constructed, the Rev W F Turton was pastor of the Rockdale Congregational Church in Sydney, NSW, and Rockdale House was the original name of the house. The name was changed to Turton House by Rob Garton Smith who bought the house in 1970 and renovated it.
Turton House, at 25 Harvest Road North Fremantle, was constructed in c.1904-05 for Arthur Turton and his wife Jessie May Turton, to a design by notable architect J. Talbot Hobbs. Jessie was a daughter of James Pearse, one of the three Pearse brothers to found the Pearse Brothers Tannery and Boot Factory.
Arthur Turton lived at Turton House until his death, 17 October 1958. His daughter Gwen Evelyn Turton died in 1995, having lived all but the last few years of her life in Turton House. (The house passed out of family ownership in the early 1990s.) She was honoured in 1989 for 50 years voluntary service to the Red Cross. She was the eldest, unmarried daughter of Arthur and Jessie May Turton, and was known in the family as Min or Minnie, a nickname bestowed upon her by Jack Grigg, her brother-in-law.
The top photo by Izzy Orloff is from 1929 when Councillor Arthur Turton was Treasurer of the North Fremantle Municipal Council: Fremantle Library Local History Collection photo #1988G. The later photo by Alan Gough is from 1945 when Turton was Mayor of North Fremantle: Fremantle Library Local History Collection photo #1752.
Many thanks to Alan Thompson, great-grandson of Arthur Turton, and grandson of Jack Grigg, for much of the information above. Thanks also to Rob Garton Smith, who owned Turton House 1970-1981.
Heritage Council page for Turton House (known in the family as Rockdale House).
Page on this site for Turton House.
Love, Judith & Alan Thompson c. 2016, Three Gentlemen from Yorkshire: A Voyage to Western Australia by the Turton Family, privately published.
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