Neave Les

Neave Edgar Leslie (LES)

Research by Gordon Freegard

Les Neave was an unassuming man who went quietly about his missions, giving gentle words of advice, never voicing a cross word, helping others in a hundred ways. He was an active member of various organisations in the Shire of Kalamunda – it was rarely necessary to ask a favour – he would see the need and act before the asking. No wonder that when he died on 9th November 1973, aged 66, so many felt they had lost a dear friend and expressed a desire to perpetuate his memory in the form of a practical memorial.

Les came from a pioneer family, his grandfather, who was born in Fordingbridge on 28th March 1907, had flourmills at Fordingbridge and Southampton, and was associated with the well-known Neave brand of baby foods


Josiah Reynolds Neave and his brother Digby H. Neave owned the Neave Baby Food Company. About 1850 Josiah built the family home called Highfield House on Bowerwood Road, Fordingbridge. It was a fine example of a late Victorian residence. The Neave family were well known and respected in the area as they also owned the large milling business in the town which gave much needed employment to the community. In addition to their milling interest they were pioneers of baby products whose patron included the Russian Royal Family.

Shortly after the Managing Director, Walter James Lucas died in 1946, the business seems to have “folded” and
in 1948 Highfield House was sold and it became a cottage hospital. When it ceased being used for this purpose it was turned into the Fordingbridge Nursing Home. In 2002 it was skillfully converted into Highfield Hall comprising of a high quality development of eight apartments and a two storey maisonette by Cranbrook Homes (Southern) Limited. Highfield Hall enjoys a delightful rural location approximately a mile or so west of the Avon town of Fordingbridge. The converted country house stands in delightful parkland surroundings of approximately 3.75 acres with many mature indigenous trees.


Les’s father, Charles Neave and his mother Elise Mary with their family, left England for Western Australia in 1914 when Les was only 7; his elder brothers joined the forces while he went to school in North Perth. After the war his brothers and father took War Settlement land blocks in Pickering Brook which they cleared by hand.

Charles and Elise had 12 children:
Charles Victor
Constance – Married Gane? Canada.
Gladys M. – Married Joshua A. Bracey 1917, Fremantle.
Hilda W. P. – Married John E. S. Gregory 1939, Perth.
Douglas Reynold – Served 10th Light Horse AIF No.1186
Sylvia “Aunty Fussy” – Married Frederick C.B.F. Grosvenor 1920, Perth.
Children: Joan, Norma, Gordon, Joy
Cecil Herbert
Gordon Harold – Married Lorraine.
Children: Graham, Judith
Godfrey “Joe” Mauger – Married Nell Padgett 1931, Canning.
Children: Dallas
Edgar Leslie “Les” – Married Mary Francis “Molly” Lancaster 1938, Canning. Children: Leon, Bevan, Bruce


Les was relief driving of the delivery truck for Bert and Alice Beard’s General Store at Pickering Brook, whilst Bert was sick in hospital and was introduced to Mary Francis “Molly” Lancaster, from Fremantle, by Alice. Molly was the first daughter of George and Margaret Lancaster, of 35 Canning Road, East Fremantle. They had eight children: Harry, Mollie, Clara, Nance, Ada, Fred, Ron, Neville. She was born on 26th August 1908 and was housekeeping for a family in the district at the time and regularly came into the shop. Romance blossomed and he married Molly and settled down to married life in Pickering Brook, running a poultry farm with his brother Godfrey.

During the Second World War he served in the 7th Army Engineers afterwards returning to the old homestead as an orchardist. The family later moved to Kalamunda so that they could be near to a school for their children.

Their three children were:

Leon Neave born 13th June 1931 at Fremantle. Worked as a wharf labourer. On the 20th July 1956 he married Louise Goodall in Darwin. Louise was born 24th October 1932 at Newcastle Waters, Northern Territory to parents John Goodall and Dianah Candrooni.
They had seven children:
Jeanetta Neave born 25th March 1956
Karen Neave born 3rd April 1957
Sandra Neave born 10th January 1958
Alan Neave born 29th April 1959
Bruce Neave born 6th April 1963
Doug Neave born 11th May 1966
Cliff Neave born 8th November 1967

Bevan Douglas Neave born 8th June 1939 at North Fremantle. Worked as a motor mechanic. On the 30th July 1960 he married Pamela Irene Croswell in Bassendean. Pamela was born 28th October 1940 at Cottesloe to parents Ernest Croswell and Hilda Mogg.
They had five children:
Michael David Neave born 4th March 1961
Gary Anthony Neave born 29th March 1962
Gavin Lindsay Neave born 27th September 1965
Kimberley Stuart Neave born 20th March 1967
Tracey Gail Louise (adopted) born 29th February 1968

Bruce Mauger Neave born 21st January 1945 at Fremantle. Married Lynette Anne Rolfe.
They had two children:
Nicole Gae
Brett Michael

In 1924 there was a plague of rats. They were everywhere. This photo shows the result of a “rat hunt” at the Neave’s property which resulted in 25 being exterminated.

Left to Right: FRED GROSVENOR (Brother-in-law), GODFREY “JOE” NEAVE, GORDON NEAVE, LES NEAVE & dog #12

In 1948 Les joined the Department of Agriculture as a Fruit Fly Inspector. His knowledge and experience resulted in him later being appointed Horticultural Advisor until his retirement in 1971.

He wrote various publications for the Department. Here is a article he wrote in 1961 on “Walnut Growing in the Bickley Valley”.


He was made a member of the Rotary Club, Kalamunda branch and of the Central Darling Range Fruit Growers Association. As an ex-soldier he was an active member of the Returned Soldiers League, was a foundation member of the Pickering Brook Sports Club and was associated with the P. & C. movement at the Kalamunda Primary School

As if this were not enough Les, for many years was judge of grapes at the Annual Swan Districts Grape Show and in 1969 became a foundation member of the Kalamunda Historical Society. When the Society’s Museum opened in William Road he was a leading worker on restoration of exhibits and his advice was greatly appreciated by other members.


Relatives of the family are now scattered in many parts of the world of the world and in 1972 Les travelled to Canada to meet several of them. One of his last acts was to help in the completion of the timber arch at the Kalamunda Museum and as he admired the finished structure with Bill Shaw and Alan Anderson, he said “I’d love to see a pair of really fine gates there” – so the community for whom he did so much have now contributed generously to bring his wish to fruition – with the gates made and erected to his memory. On Sunday 20th October 1974 a dedication service was performed by Mr. George Spriggs, Shire President. The gates were named in memory of Les Neave who passed away on 9th November 1973.

Memorial Fund Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. Geo. Melville, of the Rotary Club, gratefully acknowledges the contributions from members of the following organisations;

Rotary Club of Kalamunda

Pickering Brook Fruit Growers Association

Returned Soldiers League, Kalamunda Branch

Kalamunda Primary School Parents & Citizens Association

Central Darling Range Fruit Growers Association

Pickering Brook Sports Club (founding member)

Kalamunda Agricultural Society

Kalamunda & Districts Historical Society (founding member 1969)

and also from relatives and friends in Western Australia, Eastern Australia and Canada, from the very successful Social and Raffle, Mr. Brian Down’s design and work on the gates and the Shire of Kalamunda Council’s co-operation in their erection all of which helped to make possible this memorial to our departed friend.

Les’ father Charles passed away after a long illness on 9th June 1928 aged 68 years.
At that time he had a brother, Alfred living in Bullfinch.
Les’ mother Elise Mary, passed away on 1st August 1953 aged 92 years.


Every endeavour has been made to accurately record the details however if you would like to provide additional images and/or newer information we are pleased to update the details on this site. Please click here to email us at We appreciate your involvement in recording the history of our area.

References:             Article:        The Kalamunda News
                                                Pickering Brook Heritage Group

                              Images:     1, 2, 7, 8 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 31, 32      Mike Neave
                                               3, 4, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30                      Internet
                                               5, 6, 13, 25           Pickering Brook Heritage Group
                                               9. 10                    Trove
                                               12, 20, 21             Kalamunda & Districts Historical Society
                                               23, 24                  Gordon Freegard