Tuesday, January 22, 2008

luvverly painting guv'nor

More politicians and art on Rotto. We’re indebted to the WA Constitution Centre for these morsels of information about Admiral Sir Frederick George Denham Bedford, who was our Governor from 1903 to 1909.

Fred was born in 1838 and joined the Royal Navy when 14 (no nonsense about being in cotton wool until he’d finished his education). ‘His family name was originally Tubb but his grandfather changed the family name by Royal licence upon inheriting property from his uncle, Dr Thomas Bedford’, says the ConCen.

Fred waged war far and wide: ‘He took part in many battles and was awarded the Crimean, Turkish and Swedish medals.

‘Sir Frederick was appointed ADC to Queen Victoria in 1888. It is said that his exceptionally high talents were responsible for his appointment as a Lord Commissioner of Admiralty. In 1892, Sir Frederick became Commander-in-Chief at the Cape and during this commission was "engaged in strenuous active naval work which he carried out to a brilliant and successful conclusion".’

A Rottnest name crops up, although it was some distance from the beautiful island: ‘In 1894, he conducted operations at Bathurst on the River Gambia for the punishment of a rebel slave-trading chief. Further action finally saw him promoted to Lord of the Admiralty in 1895. In 1899, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the North American and West Indies Station, a position he held until his appointment in 1903 as Governor of WA.’

Fred knew how to play to the audience: ‘In his welcome speech, Sir Frederick said that "if he did not open bazaars and make nice speeches properly at first, he would probably improve with practice". During his appointment, he opened the Geraldton Town Hall and took many trips around the State.’

He was ‘very fond of children’ and was keen on the School Amateur Athletics Association; he unveiled the marble statue of Queen Victoria in Kings Park; and then there was his painting penchant: ‘Governor Bedford was also known for his artistic abilities and he and his wife spent a lot of time at the Governor's residence at Rottnest painting and sketching. If he was there on Sundays he would often read the lesson at the Rottnest Island Chapel.’

Amazingly, this old warrior was one of the state’s first greenies. We kid you not. ‘In 1905, there were plans to sell off 300 blocks on the island but Governor Bedford protested and, in fact, it is due to his intervention that Rottnest eventually became an A class reserve. He held this office until 1909 and despite encouragement from locals to allow himself to be nominated for another term, he declined, pointing out that he had for 57 years been at work in the service of the Crown.’

His work done, he went back to the Old Dart until his death in 1913.

The image is from Snell and is a Fred effort circa 1903.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:56 PM

    Interesting. I took a shot of Bedford's King's Park piece, but although quite ugly, wasn't quite bad enough for The Worst of Perth. If he knew that his namesake suburb had Safeway Autos in it though...