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australian rowers profiles and history

Sir Thomas S R Nettlefold

TAS then Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)

11 November 1879 at Tunnack Tasmania - 20 July 1956 at Singapore

The 1955-56 Mercantile Rowing Club include the following brief obituary of Sir Thomas.

Sir Thomas Nettlefold in his younger days was a successful oarsman and rowing administrator in Tasmania.

In transferring to Victoria he joined your Club and took a keen interest in all State rowing matters.

On account of high civic and business obligations, he rarely visited the clubhouse, but was nevertheless a generous supporter of your Club and rowing generally.

The sport is poorer by his passing.

His Australian Dictionary of Biography entry authored by Margaret Steven reflected on his business and civic activities including that he worked his way up through the ranks of the Hume Pipe company taking up the General Manager role in Melbourne in 1920. His expansion of the business led to operations commencing in New Zealand and Singapore. In 1924 he personally negotiated the sale of the company's patented process rights when manufacturing plants were established in Britain, France, Germany, North and South America, Japan, the Philippines and India. 

After leaving the Hume Pipe business, Nettlefold continued an impressive variety of business, philanthropic and civic interests. He was an outspoken patriot and a supporter of the National and United Australia parties. 

Steven added: A Melbourne city councillor in 1930-51, he was war-time lord mayor in 1942-45. Many major war charities claimed his time, as well as the Red Cross and the Big Brother movement and, appropriately in the light of his frequent overseas trips, he was a leading 'Resonian', an organization celebrating education through travel. In 1938 he was appointed C.B.E. and in 1945 he was knighted. 

Obviously a man of great talent, drive and energy.

Andrew Guerin
March 2023

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