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Pitt Donald Graham

From Mallala
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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual

Date of departure 1962

Don Pitt attended Mallala Primary School from 1935-1941, Adelaide High School from 1942-1945 and Muirden College Adelaide for a term in 1946. Don commenced work as a junior clerk in the Mallala Council Office on Aerodrome Rd. Mallala on April 1st 1946. Don says "Mr Andrew Driscoll, formerly of Dublin, was the District Clerk and also held the positions of Overseer of Works, Secretary of the Local Board of Health, Registrar of Dogs, Health, Buildings, Noxious weeds, Weights and Measures, Sand Drift, Vermin Inspector, Curator of Cemeteries etc" The original District of Grace Council Office, built in 1877 on Aerodrome Rd. Mallala, was Don's work place which was one large room. In 1935 the District of Grace amalgamated with the Districts of Dublin and Pt Gawler to form the District Council of Light - renamed the District Council of Mallala in 1937. On Council meeting days the Office became the Council Chamber. Don says" The monthly meetings commenced at 2.00 p.m. and usually concluded at 4.30 p.m. One of my duties on Council meeting day was to drive Mr. Driscoll's 1937 Chevrolet Coupe to Algar's shop to bring back the afternoon tea for the Councillors. This comprised pasties, buttered buns and a huge pot of tea along with the crockery and other necessities required. The Chairman augmented this with some fruit from his Buckland Park property" Don continued "Security was not a problem at the office. At least twice a day I would walk or ride to the Post Office or the Commercial Bank leaving the office door wide open whether or not Mr Driscoll was present. Nothing was ever taken and sometimes a rate payer would be in the office patiently awaiting my return." Don said " My main duty was to keep all the Council's financial records. Among other things the Assessment book had to be maintained. This was a record of all the ratable properties throughout the district and the rates payable and received. It was hand typed and hand written. The annual financial statements had to be audited each year by a qualified auditor who came from Adelaide. He enjoyed grilling me over every small detail and in addition a State Government auditor would call unannounced at various times" Don was also the typist and amongst other things had to type up the Council minutes into a loose leaf book and then on a heavier typewriter he would pound out eight copies for the Councillors using carbon paper - no such thing as photocopiers or duplicators. "Another major job was the annual preparation and mailing of hundreds of rate notices which had to be typed with relevant names and addresses, the assessed ratable value of the property and amount payable." The junior clerk had diverse duties including trimming the shrubs in the garden, washing and polishing the Council Office floor, and polishing the weights and measures equipment.Once a fortnight Don assisted Mr Alf Huxtable in watering the newly planted trees in the streets or around the park. Don would drive the old 1930 Chev truck whilst Mr Huxtable filled the square shaped 400 gallon tank from the fire hydrant and so they watered the trees. "For some time the old truck was the only vehicle available for fighting rural fires. Eventually we were able to establish two permanent E.F.S. (now C.F.S.) brigades at Two Wells and at Mallala. The brigades were largely financed by a levy on the Council rates, which was later taken off as promised by Council. The old Chev truck was also used on Balaklava Race days as my duty was to water down the unsealed roads in the morning and again in the afternoon so that the traffic did not create too much dust." Other duties included registering dogs, organizing the grave digging at the cemeteries, and being responsible for weighbridges at three sites, and issuing ration cards until that policy ceased. "During the war the Mallala Council plant had been hired by the Commonwealth Government for various defence projects including the establishment of the RAAF base at Mallala. As a result the Council had significant funds on hand at the end of the war. Unfortunately, the lack of normal Council Works activity from 1941 - 1945 meant that the roads and other facilities in the district were in a poor state. With the advent of more and faster motor cars and trucks, together with the cessation of petrol rationing, it became difficult to overcome the backlog of road construction and maintainance. This in spite of an increase in Council's outside staff and the purchase of more road making plant. The Council's plant included a bulldozer which was said to be the first owned by a council in the state. With the strictures of war over, and a period of full employment, local government was faced with an affluent society wanting more and better facilities of all kinds - not just roads. There was a demand for a local hospital and Council agreed to purchase (with the assistance of a State Government subsidy) a large house and grounds belonging to Mr E.J.P. Earl. Following alterations and additions the Mallala District Cottage Hospital was established. Mr Driscoll became treasurer and Don Pitt became the secretary. In 1954 the new Council Office was built in Wasleys Rd. Mallala on land previously used as a Caltex fuel depot. The cost of the building of 4,500 pounds was paid in cash from the war-time enterprise. Don says" I became District Clerk in 1954 at the age of 24 years ( the youngest in the state at the time) when Andrew Driscoll retired from the position. Mr Driscoll continued as Overseer of Works, but unfortunately he died shortly afterwards and I accepted the dual position at a time when the workload was increasing rapidly. Rosemary Roberts became my assistant and later Ken Lindsay joined the staff. The major project of the reconstruction and sealing of the Mallala- Two Wells Rd. was financed by Government grant money. The outstanding performance of the Mallala Council employees resulted in a high quality road on a shoe string budget." During his service as District Clerk, Don experienced the development of the southern and coastal areas of the district, closure of the Mallala Aerodrome, and the winding down of the East Bros business enterprise. In 1962 Don Pitt accepted a position as Town Clerk of the Corporation of the Town of St. Peters.

Don Pitt's career included the following:

• Commissioner of the Planning Office Board of S.A.

• Member of the Royal Commission enquiry into Council areas throughout the state

• Member of the Local Government Advisory Commission

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