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George Charles Kerr (1872–1941)

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George Charles Kerr (1872-1941) delivery clerk, horse driver and trade union official

Birth: 21 June 1872 at Wattle Flat, Sofala, New South Wales, eldest surviving of thirteen children of native-born parents Robert Coulter Kerr (1848-1918), a miner of Irish ancestry, and Mary Ann, née Crawford (1850-1922). Marriages: (1) 1897 at Perth, Western Australia, to Elizabeth Ann Elliott (1872-1912), born at Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom. They had two daughters and four sons. (2) 1915 at Perth to Elizabeth Kirby McKnight. They had three daughters. Death: 21 May 1941 in hospital at Perth, WA; his home was in Great Eastern Highway, Belmont. Religion: buried in Anglican section, Karrakatta cemetery, Perth. 

  • Delivery clerk in 1897. Member, Lorry and Draymen’s Union, Sydney.
  • With his parents and family moved in 1896 to Perth, WA, where his father was a yardsman and groom and George worked as a horse driver.
  • He was associated with the Australian Labor Party in Perth from 1901. He was secretary of the Coastal Breweries Employees Union from 1911 until his death.
  • Secretary of the Metropolitan Horse Drivers Union, 1912. Secretary of the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Workers Union, 1913-1915. Secretary of the Coastal and Eastern Goldfields Government Water Sewerage and Drainage Union, 1916-1934. Secretary of the United Metropolitan Timberyards, Sawmills and Woodworkers Union, 1913-1938. Secretary of the Perth Electric Tramways Union, 1917. Secretary of the Barmen and Barmaids Union.
  • In 1911 Kerr became part-time secretary of the WA Municipal, Roads Boards, Parks and Racecourse Employees’ Union [WAMRPPREU]. When he retired from active union work due to failing health in 1939 the position became full-time.
  • Had a long association with the labour movement. “The organisations under his control were always maintained in sound financial conditions, and the high standard of the awards secured for his members was testimony to the work he has done”.
  • A race-horse fancier he owned and raced race horses.
  • His daughter Mary Kerr, previously assistant secretary of the WAMRBPPREU, succeeded her father as secretary of the Coastal Brewery Employees’ Union, which became a full-time position.

Death certificate: Perth 1934/1941; marriage certificate Perth 1073/1897 and Perth 81/1915; Post Office Directories 1911-1916; union membership files 1101/199/1917; Westralian Worker 23/5/1941, 27/8/1928, 11/8/1939; DW Cooley, The Breweries and Bottleyards Employees Industrial Union of WA, A history of industrial progress 1910-1975, pp.2-3 (Battye Lib.); Australian Worker, 11 July 1923 p.1; Westralian Worker, 22 June 1923 p 5; 24 August 1928 p 2, 11 August 1939; 23 May 1941 p 1.

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'Kerr, George Charles (1872–1941)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012