Friday, 6 May 2016

Portraits and Personalities of Townsville: Arthur D. Murgatroyd

Special Collections Librarian,
Brownyn McBurnie, looks through
the A.D. Murgatroyd Archive.
Arthur Dexter Murgatroyd was an active member of the ALP who spent many years as an alderman in the Townsville City Council.

Born in Charters Towers in 1896, Murgatroyd's career in the public service began early.  He worked with the Post-Master General's Department in both Townsville and Cairns, joining the service after achieving one of the highest scores on the entrance exam - the highest in Queensland at the time.

After the outbreak of the First World War, Murgatroyd enlisted with the 1st AIF, along with many young men from the Townsville region.  While serving during the war, he was deployed to France where he saw, first hand, the effects of conflict caused by warring ideologies.  After returning to Australia, he spent some time in Melbourne before moving back to Townsville during the Great Depression.

Murgatroyd worked for Main Roads for several years, and it was during this time he became Secretary of the Federated Clerks’ Union.  A committed union member, he held his post as secretary until 1970.

In addition to his involvement with the union, Murgatroyd was also heavily involved with the Australian Labour Party, and became a local campaign director for all levels of government (local, state and federal). However, he was one of several members of the Hermit Park branch of the ALP who were expelled from the party in 1942 for alleged disloyalty.

A "how to vote" card from the 1940s.
They haven't changed much over
the years, have they?
During his time as an alderman, Murgatroyd became a driving force for implementing social services in the Townsville region during the early part of the 20th century.  He was actively involved in the development of the council-run bus service, and pushed for other social services throughout the region.  He wanted the council to adopt a more progressive socialist agenda, and fought for key election promises, such as the municipal bus service.

JCU's Special Collections hold the A.D. Murgatroyd archive, which contains his research into the public transport of Townsville and Rockhampton, as well as minute books and information regarding the ALP in Townsville during Murgatroyd's time, and monographs and pamphlets of interest to anyone looking into the socialist history of Australia.

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