Gladys Locke

(1898-1989)

Gladys Rosalie Locke’s (1898 -1989) parents Ann Rachel White and Herbert John Locke (1864-1944), were married in 1883. Herbert Locke and his brother Charles founded the furniture business of C. and H. Locke, in Fremantle and Locke was Mayor of East Fremantle from 1924 to 1931 and again from 1934 to 1944.

The Locke family lived at ‘Woodlawn’ the name of the family home at 208 Canning Highway, East Fremantle, (now 20 Osbourne Road) from 1914 to 1978. ‘Woodlawn’ was classified by the National Trust in 1979 and entered onto the State Heritage register in 2000.

Gladys had three siblings: Doris Vera Franklin (1894-1985), Herbert William (dec. 4 mths), and William Bertram (1904-1987) and they all attended the local Plympton State School. Gladys was recorded in 1907 playing the part of Bo-Peep in a school musical and in 1911 won a scholarship to attend Princess May School for Girls in Fremantle.

In 1920 Gladys Locke was one of the first women to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the six year old University of Western Australia (with only 412 students and still operating out of tin sheds in 1920) although she was absent at the ceremony. (reference)

During the Locke's ownership, ‘Woodlawn’ became known as the meeting place for a number of charitable and community organisations. From 1922, reflecting the trend of the time of making large houses available for charitable purpose, the place was made available for annual summer holidays for children from the Methodist Orphanage. Mrs Locke was associated with the Fremantle Methodist Mothers' meeting for many years and Gladys with the Methodists Girls Club.

In 1936 Gladys toured New Zealand, Pacific islands, Canada, Japan and the Chinese coast with her parents for six months. Gladys was Secretary of the Royal Fremantle Golf Club in 1940. The club also had an energetic Red Cross branch, whose members met once a week for sewing and fundraising efforts.

During World War ll Gladys went on to become branch president of the East Fremantle Red Cross Emergency Service and hosted meetings at ‘Woodlawn’. The house was also used by the Emergency Blood Bank for the remainder of the war.

Gladys was President of the YWCA (formed to provide accommodation for working girls) in 1951, 1952 and 1953.

"Language is a problem when we entertain New Australians," said the president of the West Australian Young Women's Christian Association (Miss G. Locke), yesterday. "We solve it by using our hands to talk with and by adding gestures to slow and easy English words" she explained. Some women coming from overseas had been members of the association in their own countries and felt at home in branches here. One year's free membership was offered to any migrant woman who wanted to join the association.” (reference)

From 1954 to 1978, ‘Woodlawn’ was the venue of YWCA World Fellowship Group meetings and from 1954 to 1974 was the venue for the Soroptimists Club, an international association of clubs for professional and businesswomen.

The State Library WA recorded an oral history in 1977 with Gladys Locke. (reference)

1945. “When the Mayor of East Fremantle Mr. Herbert John Locke, died in office in August 1945 he left an estate worth £46,074/18/6. Beneficiaries included his widow Mrs. Anne Locke, daughters Miss Gladys Locke and Doris (Mrs. Reg. Franklin) and son William Bertram Locke and the Methodist Home for Children. Mr. Locke was a prominent figure in the civic life of East Fremantle. He was a member of Fremantle Tramway Board and an ex-chairman of Melville Road Board. In 1893, with his brother, he founded the furniture business of C. and H. Locke He retired 25 years later due to a partial breakdown in health. He then devoted his time to real estate and built several extensive properties, including residences and two cinemas in East Fremantle.” (reference)

The two cinemas were: The Richmond Theatre and Gardens, on corner Silas St and Canning Highway (It had an 800 seat indoor cinema- and gardens with seating for 1200 persons- now the Richmond Quarter Apartments), which opened 14 Dec 1934, closed in 1961, became the Richmond Shopping Centre with a Charlie Carters grocery, and was demolished in 1979. Also the Mayfair Theatre, originally called the Empire Picture Hall, opened on the corner of Petra St and Canning Road, now near the corner of Westbury Crescent in 1938.