Fremantle Stuff > people > Walter Padbury, 1820-1907

Walter Padbury

Walter Padbury was born in Stonesfield, Oxfordshire on December 22, 1820.  As a ten year old, he journeyed on the ship Protector with his father to the Swan River Colony.  It was intended that Padbury (Senior) would find work and accommodation, then send for the family to join them.  Tragedy struck when Walter's father died of pneumonia, soon after their arrival.  The young boy was left in the care of a couple who had travelled with them on the Protector.   They promptly stole the money his father had left to care for the child and disappeared. Walter Padbury was left to fend for himself in a strange land.

He supported himself by working in a variety of jobs including carpenter's assistant, shepherd, drover, and stock agent.  Through hard work, he built an empire making him a rich man.  By 1849 he had enough money to return to England with his wife Charlotte NAIRN to bring out the rest of his family. He returned on the Mary, arriving 20 October 1849.

He was the first pastoralist to take up land in the North West in 1863, but with low wool prices and the loss of one of his ships, he was forced to abandon this enterprise after three years.  In 1865 he acquired the ship Bridgetown and commenced trading goods to India, Singapore, and London.  He ran this trading operation until 1890, when too much competition caused him to withdraw.   

Throughout his life, he served the community in many ways.  In 1864 he was elected to the Perth City Council, representing the Swan River District in the Legislative Assembly.  In 1871 he was elected to the first Victoria Plains Road Board, and became the President of the Agricultural Society, a position he held again in 1885.  He was appointed as a Justice of the Peace in 1883.  A year later he was elected Chairman of the Guildford Municipal Council.

At the age of 78, Walter Padbury established the Peerless Flour Mills Ltd at Guildford, a very profitable business.  At its peak, the mill was producing high quality flour, and exporting it to Egypt, and England.  The mill covered four acres of land, and had a storage capacity for 20,000 to 25,000 bags of grain, including the granary.  Tragically, the mill burnt down in 1975.

His wife Charlotte died in 1895.  When he died in 1907 with no heirs, his vast fortune was bequeathed to churches and charities. His story is truly a rags to riches story, showing that with luck, and a lot of hard work,  it's possible to make dreams come true.

Walter Padbury built 'Garden Hill' in Meadow Street in 1893. It was purchased in 1941 by the Archbishops of Perth and Geraldton for a seminary. The seminary opened in 1942, closed in 1975 and reopened in 1993. New buildings were constructed in 2002.

Padbury Stores, Bassendean, still standing on the corner of Guildford Road and Old Perth Road

PADBURY, Walter, b. 22.12.1820 (Eng). d. 18.4.1907, son of Thomas, arr. 26.2.1830 per Protector with his father. m. 23.4.1844 Charlotte NAIRN b. 14.2.1826 d. 1.2.1895, dtr. of William & Mary who arr. 1829 per Marquis of Anglesea. Chd. Dtr. b. 1859 (Frem) d. young. He was unsuccessful in appeal to receive his father's grant. Employed by Burges brothers as a shepherd at York. By 1844 was beginning his career as a storekeeper, butcher & merchant at Perth. Acquired several pastoral stations 1847 - including" Yathroo" in Victoria Plains & others in Blackwood district. Sent the first stock to the Northwest 1863. Owned vessels Emma (lost at sea 1867), Bridgetown 1865 & Charlotte Padbury. In partnership with W.T. Loton 1867 & bt. J. Farmaner's business. Qualified as a juror 1860 with £1500 personal estate. Brought relatives from Eng. to assist in managing his properties. Employed 60 T/L men on occasions 1851-1887 mostly at "Yathroo". Perth City Councillor 1862. Member of Agric. Soc. & President 1875- 6, Vice-President at time of death. MLC for Swan 12.1872-1.1878. JP 1883. Chairman of Guildford Munic. Council & 1st Mayor 1885. Established Peerless Flour Mill at Guildford 1898. Planned to retire to Eng. 1878 but returned to WA 1880. Left many bequests to church & charity. Commemorated in 1979 in a brass plaque in Perth pavement for year 1863. (Erickson)

References and Links

Cammilleri, Cara 1971, 'Walter Padbury (1820-1907): Pioneer Pastoralist, Merchant and Philanthropist'Early Days, Volume 7, Part 3: 51-64.

Carter, Jennie 1986, Bassendean: A Social History 1829-1979, Bassendean Town Council: 121, 133.


Swan Guildford Historical Society page for Walter Padbury, from which much of the above is 'borrowed'.

Garry Gillard | New: 18 August, 2019 | Now: 7 September, 2023