George Battye

One of the stories from the 2011 project: Who were they? People who shaped Victor Harbor and for whom our parks and reserves are named.

photo of George Battye Reserve

George Battye Reserve is an extremely pretty reserve by the roundabout at the junction of Nicolas Baudin Drive and Islander Drive, Encounter Bay.

The South Australian story of the Battye family begins with William Battye, born 26 September 1832 at Holmfirth, Yorkshire. He married Elizabeth Turner at Cartworth Moor in Yorkshire on 6 January 1855, a month before sailing from Liverpool on the Mermaid to Hobson’s Bay, Melbourne. They then travelled by the steamer Havilah to South Australia on 24 May 1855, and eventually took up land at Waitpinga in 1857. When they moved to Encounter Bay, they first leased land near the Bluff. Later, they purchased land from the South Australian Company and set up the farm that stayed in the family for well over 100 years. William and Elizabeth had a large family of whom George was the youngest. George took over the family farm after his father’s death in 1916.

The Battye farm was situated on what is now Battye Road at the corner of Franklin Parade. The farmhouse and sheds are still there.

George married Eva Lilian May (May) Gibson in the Newland Congregational Church on 16 August 1906. Unfortunately, May died of scarlatina one month after the birth of their daughter Ruth. George then married Emma Amelia Grace Hanns on 10 October 1910 in the Presbyterian Church, Hawthorn, and a further four children were born. Emma died at 39 years of tuberculosis on 4 May 1919. George then married again, this time to Edith Florence Lee on the 17 November 1924, and another four children were born.

George was very involved in community affairs. He was Chairman of the District Council of Encounter Bay 1915–1947. The first meeting of the Encounter Bay Racing Club was held in 1922, and George was Judge and President.

He was also part of an elected 13-member Hospital Committee. He became Chairman of the Board of the South Coast District Hospital, which opened on 21 November 1929, and held that position until 1946. Part of the hospital had a George Battye Wing until alterations were done.

George died on 25 November 1961 at the grand old age of 82 years in the hospital he helped to administer.

Acknowledgements

  • Settlers Around The Bay, Anthony Laube
  • Victor Harbor: From Pioneer Port to Seaside Resort, Michael Page
  • Anne Boulter, George’s youngest daughter