William Hedges - Member for Fremantle 1906-1913

William Noah Hedges (originally baptised Noah William Hedges) was born in Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire in England on 16 July 1856, second child of Noah (who died in 1863). Hedges was educated in England and arrived in Australia c.1878.

He spent time in Queensland and apparently worked as a contractor on stone quarries and as a builder and building repairer in Mount Barker, South Australia, where he served on the Mount Barker District Council and Road Board. On 4 April 1884 he married Elizabeth Paterson at Wistow and the couple had three sons and three daughters. After several years building wharves and other works for railways and ports he came to Western Australia in 1893 where he was engaged in public works before acquiring a large share in a timber and firewood company of which he became managing director.

Fremantle, from the lighthouse,

Fremantle, from the lighthouse,
c 1910.
Courtesy National Library of Australia: pic-an11056765-43 Alfred J Moulton Collection.

He also purchased farming properties including 'Koolberrin' near Narembeen and a farm in South Australia near Lake Alexandrina.

In 1904 Hedges unsuccessfully contested the Legislative Assembly seat of Yilgarn standing as a Ministerial Party candidate. He went on to win the Fremantle seat in the House of Representatives in December 1906 for the Western Australia Party, defeating the sitting Labor member W H Carpenter by 169 votes. He retained the seat for the Fusion/Liberals in 1910, defeating Carpenter by over 1200 votes, but lost by more than 3000 votes to Labor's Reginald Burchell in 1913.

High St, Fremantle, c 1910

High St, Fremantle, c 1910.
Courtesy National Library of Australia: pic-an11056765-40 Alfred J Moulton Collection.

Following the death of John Forrest in 1918 Hedges made two unsuccessful attempts (at the 1918 by election and in 1919) to win Forrest's old federal seat of Swan as a Nationalist candidate. He also failed to regain the Fremantle seat in 1922 following the retirement of the sitting Nationalist Reginald Burchell. In that year his wife died and in subsequent years he commuted regularly to South Australia and Victoria. From 1929 until his death on 21 November 1935 Hedges was the president of the Western Australian Employers Federation and at one stage he was vice president of the Central Council of Employers of Australia.

View from Arthur Head Signal Station looking across Cliff St and the railway lines to the Fremantle Harbour, late 1904.

View of Fremantle looking north west, 1910/1911.
Courtesy Fremantle City Library Local History Collection: Photo No. 1231D.
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