Gordon William (Bill) Updated August 2019

Reseach by Gordon Freegard

William Gordon was born to William and Emma Gordon (nee Jenkins) in the East End of London, United Kingdom on 28th August, 1906. (If you can hear the Bow Bells from St. Mary le Bow Church you can call yourself a “Cockney”). Bill was a Cockney. He lost his parents at a very early age and his grand-parents cared for him for a short period before he moved to an orphanage. He was educated at an orphanage in Elephant & Castle. He then went back to live with his Grandparents, George and Mary Gordon and started work as a Printer. Later he worked for a short while at a factory making suitcases until he was retrenched for a dispute with his boss.Not a lot is known of Bill’s early life, but he did tell of playing the cornet in a band. He was a natural musician and he learnt to play the coronet at an early age. The Brass Band traveled around various counties playing in many different towns and fairs and always enjoyed the afternoon teas which were supplied.


He then at the age of 16, decided to migrate to Australia, and applied for a passport, which he received on 10th June 1922. After obtaining his passport and arranging transport to Australia, his former boss called to say he had made a mistake, and could Bill come back to work. His Grandparents said “No”, as he was going to Australia.

Bill arrived at Fremantle on 16th February 1923 but sailed straight on to Port Pirie in South Australia. He never returned to the U.K., as he considered himself an Aussie, and said he had no desire to go back.

Bill worked in South Australia for six years, firstly on a dairy farm, and later in a sawmill, then as a brickie’s labourer. Bill gained employment with a builder and became a friend of his employer and his family. Many years later the two families for whom Bill worked, came from South Australia to Western Australia to visit Bill and his family.

In 1929, he put his motorbike on the train and headed to Western Australia. On the train he met his future Father-in-Law who was South Australian born, and returning to his home in East Chapman, just out of Geraldton, Western Australia. During conversations, it was suggested that if Bill was unable to find work, he was invited to visit the Homestead “Halden Grove” in East Chapman and see William (Bill) West.

Bill duly arrived in Perth, and through contact with the Y.A.L. (Young Australia League), he traveled on his motorbike to Pickering Brook and a property on Barton’s Mill Road, which was then owned by a Mr. George Mavor. During this time Bill played for Kalamunda Soccer Team in the 1929 Country Week Soccer Competition with fellow team-mates, George Holroyd, Les Neave, Cecil Neave, Godfrey Neave, and Jock King, who were all from Pickering Brook. He was nick-named “Mouie” because he had a moustache.


In 1929 Bill heard that land was for sale in Pickering Brook, and contacted the Lands Department to arrange purchase of a property at the end of Merrivale Road. He paid 50 pounds for 25 acres of virgin land, which he managed to pay off in a relatively short time of three and a half years. Bill then began the arduous task of clearing the land by hand – a major undertaking in those days of little or no machinery! He constructed a rudimentary shack, and in order to make a living, Bill planted a vegetable crop, which included peas, swedes, potatoes and tomatoes. He continued clearing the land and draining the peat swamp, covering the open drains with Blackbutt timber slabs taken from the trees felled on the property.

It was during this period that Bill traveled to East Chapman to renew his acquaintance with Bill West whom he met on the train to Western Australia some years previously. It was on this visit that he met Bill West’s daughter Olive. She was a musical young lady who played the piano for the local dances.

Some seven years later, on 7th September 1938 William Gordon married Olive Sylvia West in Perth.

In the intervening years, Bill helped build two houses in Pickering Brook, which are still inhabited to this day, and a third house for himself and his new bride.

While continuing with his market garden, Bill gradually planted fruit trees until he had a fully-producing orchard. Bill Gordon was well known in the district and he initially commenced poultry farming while he developed the orchard. Around this time he built poultry sheds in order to go into egg production, during World War 11. He had considerable success with this venture, so much so that the Manager of the Bank of New South Wales in Perth, brought interested clients to see Bill’s farm and gain information on the establishment of their own poultry farms. As the orchard came into full production he scaled back, and eventually discontinued the poultry side of farming. His fowls and dressed chickens were sold locally and to Draffen Bros. Butchers in Barrack Street, Perth.

He had a great sense of humour and was known for his practical jokes. He recalled to his sons, the day he went fishing in Mandurah with the Neave’s and Niven’s and they took the boat up and down the river traveling under the bridge where they were watched by many interested spectators, eager to know how their catch was progressing. The fishing was dismal and they only caught one fish, but to add to the sense of fun in true Bill Gordon style, they dropped the line with the fish attached, over the side of the boat, as they approached the bridge. And as they passed under the bridge pulled the fishing line and attached fish out of the water. The crowd apparently were excited because they truly had had a successful fishing trip.

Bill and Olive had two sons – William (Bill Jnr.) Edward, born 4th November, 1942 and James (Jim) Halden, born 13th June 1946. Both boys attended Carilla Primary School (later changed to Pickering Brook Primary School) and then went to different high schools in Midland Junction. After leaving school, both boys worked on the home farm, with Jim working one season at Ellershaw’s Coolstore in Pickering Brook, which is situated opposite where Jim now lives in Repatriation Road.

Early in 1958 Bill Senior could see the farm would no longer support more than one family, and by chance learned that a part of the land owned by George and Marie Parton in Walnut Road, Bickley was for sale. An offer was made to the Partons, which was accepted, and Bill Junior purchased 23 acres (with financial backing of his father) on 23rd April, 1958. Plans were made to clear and plant the first two and a half acres by August 1958. Young Bill grew swedes and tomatoes to make money, while still working for his father.

In 1966 Bill Junior married Patricia Irene Hains. They set up home on Bill’s orchard, now 12 acres starting to produce fruit, where they raised their three children; Bradley William, Damian Philip and Melanie Joanne. The boys played senior cricket for Pickering Brook Sports Club. Bradley also played Colts football, and was informed that he had the distinction of playing in a cricket and also a football premiership team in the same season. Bill and Pat’s children have moved away from the district, married, and have families of their own.

While Bill Junior’s orchard was still coming into production, Bill Senior retired from the business, Jim took over the existing farm and the two brothers were in partnership in the two properties (Merrivale and Walnut Roads) known as “Merrivale Orchards”. In the early 1970’s the brothers dissolved their partnership and commenced to trade separately on their own farms. Bill Gordon Jnr. sold his Bickley orchard in 1999 and retired to Lesmurdie where he lives with his wife, Pat

Bill Senior lived and worked on the original property (now owned by Jim) until his death at his home on 14th August, 1985 aged 78. He was a hard-working “Man of the land” having spent 56 years in agriculture. Over the years he represented fruit growers at various positions. Olive remained in the old home until failing health necessitated her moving to a nursing home, and she passed away on 22nd February, 1992 aged 88.

Jim continued farming the Merrivale Road orchard until his retirement in August 2004. Bill Senior assisted Jim until his death. Fruit was the mainstay of the property, but later, Jim planted rose bushes and supplied cut flowers for the commercial market, thus adding another dimension to the products grown on the property.

Jim constructed his first home from kit-form, with help from his Father, and built one of the earlier fruit-picking machines in the district. Along with this machine (nicknamed the “Possum”), Jim still also owns Bill Senior’s first tractor – a David Brown 30c.


As a young man, Jim discovered that he had a talent for water- diving, and as water became more precious with the passage of time, was often called upon by members of the community to assist in the location of bore sites.

Jim Gordon ran the original family orchard until his retirement in 2004. Jim still remains as a resident of Pickering Brook, is a member of the Pickering Brook Sports Club, and was a member of the Pool team. He is involved with the Pickering Brook Heritage Group in various roles and is committed to retaining the history of the area that his father helped to carve. He still resides in Pickering Brook. Together with partner Beverley, enjoys many an interstate trip in their caravan. Having spent a long working life, Jim is happy in retirement, and planning further travels around Australia in the caravan.

On the 17th January 2005 bushfires swept through the Pickering Brook district. The Merrivale Road property was surrounded by fire, and the original family home, although unoccupied at the time was unfortunately destroyed – coincidentally the birthday of the late Olive Gordon. It also caused major damage to the fruit trees and the plastic irrigation system, which had to be replaced by the new owners.