Our History

West Torrens Historical Society

The genesis of the society came in the early-1970s. Mrs D.M. (Maybelle) Marles, the Assistant Librarian at the City of West Torrens library who had lived in the area since 1953 began discussing with Miss Blanche Landers, the West Torrens Librarian, the importance of establishing a local historical society. Both noted for example that school children and others often came into the library requesting information about the history of West Torrens and that virtually nothing had been written or compiled on the subject. The two approached the then mayor of West Torrens, Mr Steve Hamra, and the city manager, Mr M.G.H. Stott, and both agreed that the establishment of a local historical society was overdue.

The first public meeting to form the West Torrens Historical Society was held on 20 November 1975 at the West Torrens Library. As a result of the meeting a steering committee was formed under the chairmanship of Mr. Hurtle Morphett to draw up a constitution. At a second public meeting on 4 March 1976 the West Torrens Historical Society was officially formed. Mr Stott was elected as the first president, Mr W. Hickman as vice president, Mrs Marles as secretary and Mr J. Blumberg as secretary.

Maybelle remained secretary of the society from 1976 until 2002, apart from a period as president in 1981-84, when she succeeded Mr Stott, and again in the mid-1990s. In June 2003 Maybelle was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her ‘service to the historical heritage of Adelaide, particularly through the West Torrens Historical Society, and to the community’. Membership of the society has fluctuated over the years from around fifteen to over forty. Apart from Maybelle, some of our more influential members have been Mrs Yvonne Jackson (d.2014), a foundation member and former secretary of the society who undertook many interviews on its behalf and who was largely responsible for collating the society’s huge collection of files; Mrs Eileen McNamara (d. 2011), a foundation member and long-time friend of the society who served as president for a time in the 1980s; former West Torrens Councillor Mr Trevor Owen, who instigated the society’s online presence; and Mr A.J. (John) Andrewartha, who having served as society president from the 1990s until the present is by far the longest serving occupant of the role and who remains the driving force behind the society.

The society has hosted history walks through West Torrens, visited historic homes in the district and toured local places of interest. Since the early 1980s the society has met at the historic home, Kandahar, at 327 Marion Road, North Plympton.

Geoffrey Grainger