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Frederick Gordon Grenfell (1914–1982)

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Gordon Grenfell, 1945 (enlistment photo)

Gordon Grenfell, 1945 (enlistment photo)

National Archives of Australia

Frederick Gordon (Gordon) Grenfell (1914-1982) boilermaker and trade union official 

Birth: 9 July 1914 at Meekatharra, Western Australia, son of Raymond Frederick Grenfell (1874-1953), engine driver, and Mary Ann Pearse (Polly), née Caddy (1875-1936). Both parents had been born at Ballarat, Victoria. Marriage: 26 February 1943 at Mount Lawley, WA, to native-born Ena Doris Brett (b.1916), typiste. They had two daughters. Death 31 March 1982 in hospital at Middle Swan, WA. Religion: Methodist. 

  • Joined Boilermakers Society aged 15, as apprentice at Midland Junction Railway Workshops, WA.
  • In 1936 left railways to work in Eastern Goldfields. Executive member of Kalgoorlie branch of Boilermakers’ Society.
  • On 3 May 1940 Enlisted in the 3rd Railway Construction Company, Royal Australian Engineers, Australian Imperial Force. Sapper Grenfell served in Great Britain, New Guinea and Borneo. Discharged at Karrakatta on 17 October 1945.
  • Active in Boilermakers’ Society in Perth after WW II: executive member 1946; assistant secretary 1948; vice president; president; and acting secretary prior to his election as first full-time organiser of union in July 1963.
  • With amalgamation and creation of Amalgamated Metal Workers and Shipwrights’ Union, became WA State president from 1972 to 1978.
  • Noted for activism in 1952 metal trades strike, significant in defeating penal clauses of arbitration system.
  • Prominent in establishing WA Trades and Labour Council.
  • Joined Australian Labor Party in 1954. His union’s representative on State ALP executive from 1962. Secretary of Midland district council of ALP from about 1957 to 1962. Life member of the ALP.
  • Cause of death: mesothelioma (nine months)

(Sydney), 21 April 1982, p 14; The Amalgamated News, September 1978.

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Citation details

'Grenfell, Frederick Gordon (1914–1982)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 28 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Gordon Grenfell, 1945 (enlistment photo)

Gordon Grenfell, 1945 (enlistment photo)

National Archives of Australia

Life Summary [details]


9 July, 1914
Meekatharra, Western Australia, Australia


31 March, 1982 (aged 67)
Middle Swan, Western Australia, Australia

Cause of Death


Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Military Service
Key Events
Key Organisations
Political Activism