EVANS, Mr Alexander Thomas (Tom), AO

1917 - 2009

Evans Mr Alexander Thomas - Creswick Historical SocietyTom Evans was born at Mrs Tank’s Private Hospital in Cambridge Street, Creswick in February 1917.  He was named Alexander after Alexander Peacock, but his brothers called him Tom, the name by which he was always known.

Tom’s father, Henry Phillip Evans, ran a general store at Allendale, but with the demise of mining, relocated to Smeaton in 1911.  His mother was Effie Brawn whose family were miners locally, going back to 1854.

Tom attended Smeaton State School, before continuing his education at Ballarat High and attending night school at the SMB for Commercial subjects.  On finishing school, he worked in the family store at Smeaton and then at Woolworths for three years.  Tom’s two brothers joined the army during World War II and, his parents then being elderly, he returned to run the family store, which he did from 1940 until 1960.  It was a good business and entailed interstate buying trips for young Tom.

Tom Evans became one of the major organisers in Smeaton, with many interests in the various sporting bodies of the district.  He was responsible for the building of the Bowling Club at Smeaton and was its first President.  He formed the Mt Prospect Tennis Association, bringing together the ten or so Clubs in Creswick and District and becoming President of the new Club.  Tom also reformed the Clunes Football League after the Second World War and ran the inaugural meeting, having invited the previous President and he then became Vice President, Secretary of the Smeaton Football Club and a playing delegate to the League.  Tom played with Smeaton until about 1950.

Concerned about water supply problems, Tom applied directly to the Government for financial assistance towards construction.  Smeaton obtained its water supply, and this later developed to supply reticulated water in the Creswick District to Newlyn, Kingston, Allendale, Springmount and Broomfield.

Tom’s admiration of Alexander Peacock developed into an interest in politics and when he became frustrated with local issues in the mid-fifties, he stood for the Shire of Creswick, was elected and served from 1955 to 1962.  In 1957 he was asked to stand for the Liberal Party against Russ White, for the State Government seat of Creswick, but was beaten on preferences.  At the declaration of the poll he asserted that he would return and did, being elected in 1960.  He beat a City Councillor who was supported by Henry Bolte for the preselection.  Bolte was not happy and Tom believed he was never forgiven. 

They clashed again over the supply of natural gas, when Premier Bolte said the only city west of Melbourne to get the gas would be Geelong.  Tom argued successfully and Ballarat was added, and later Creswick.

He had other disputes with Liberal Premiers Hamer and Thompson over replacing trains with buses, and over shopping hours but was able to use his strong local support and standing to put political pressure on his leaders to listen to regional voices on the matters.

Tom had resided in Ballarat but moved to Creswick in 1968. He had worked on many Ballarat development organisations, but now he concentrated more on the Creswick District, improving the rail passenger service and helping restore Anderson’s Mill in Smeaton.

Another of Tom’s achievements was his battle for accommodation for the elderly, the first step being the creation in Creswick of a block of housing commission units in Cambridge and Hill Streets.  He was also involved with the formation of the Elderly Citizens Club.

In the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008, Tom was awarded the Order of Australia for his service to the Parliament of Victoria.  The medal was presented at the John Curtin Hostel in Creswick where Tom spent his latter years.

With respect to his political days, Tom said the secret of success was to listen to what the people wanted and what they said.  He practiced this aspiration all of his life. 

When he is spoken of in Creswick, and the District, he is always described as a man of the people who was always ready to listen and had time to attend to their problems, no matter on which side their politics lay.  His personality and integrity were respected and are still spoken of today

Tom Evans passed away on 30th August, 2009.  He was a man of principal, virtue and ethics who dedicated his life to public service and the community, and as such finds his place on the Creswick Civic Honour Roll.

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