William Arthur Mordey Blackett

William Arthur Mordey Blackett (1872-1962)

Architect & Soldier

Location: CofE*ZG*19

Blackett was born on 18 September 1873 at Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Victoria the son of the noted pharmacist and government analyst Cuthbert Blackett (d 1902) and Margaretta née Palmer. Educated at Scotch College and later Melbourne University, in 1895 he worked as a draftsman in Western Australia for two years before returning to Victoria. 

From 1899, Blackett was involved in a number of architectural partnerships notably with his cousin William Blackett Forster (1914-32); noted “for his house remodelling and as a designer of interior decoration and fittings”, in 1929 “Blackett & Forster” won the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects’ medal for Francis House, Collins Street (1927). Other designs include the Warburton Chalet (1929) and Victor Horsley Chambers, Collins Street (1926). On 13 February 1917 he enlisted and served in the Education Service attaining the rank of Lieutentant returning home in November 1919. As an architect, Blackett’s contribution was through the advancement of the professional bodies rather than his private practice. He served as a councillor of the Royal Victorian Institute Architects (1907-52) and president in 1916-18 and 1928-30; he later went on to become first president of the Australian chapter in 1930 and was awarded a life fellowship in 1952. His greatest achievement was as a member of Legacy. As vice-president (1926-27), Blackett along with others, including Donovan Joynt VC (q.v.) was instrumental in campaigning for the Shrine of Remembrance concept in the face of fierce opposition from the State Government, the R.S.L, the Melbourne City Council and Keith Murdoch’s Herald newspaper.  

Thrice married (Gertrude Lewis 1904; Anne Lewis née Hancock 1930; Isabel McCallum née Wills 1960), Blackett resided at 71 South Road, Brighton Beach and died on 2 June 1962 survived by his wife; all are interred in the same grave.

ADB Volume 7 1891-1939 (A-Ch).
The Age 4 June 1962.
The Herald 4 June 1962.
AWM Biographical Cards for Official History (AWM140).
Who’s Who in Australia (1933-34).
Blatchford, C., “Legacy: The Story of the Melbourne Legacy Club” (1932).
Russell, W. B., “We Will Remember Them: The Story of The Shrine of Remembrance” (1991).
Allen, H. (ed), “The University of Melbourne Record of Active Service” (1926).

(By permission of the National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an10046136)