Whitesides family


Whitesides store, 1891 (AOT, PH30/1/970)

James Whitesides (18031890) emigrated from Ireland to Britain in 1832, and in 1834 married Alicia Beaugarde (c 18181908). James set up a successful furniture factory in Hobart. Their fifth son Edward married Sarah Field, and despite the handicap of deafness, their four children were all achievers in their different fields.

Charles Beaugarde Whitesides (18831975) had a successful career in rowing despite losing his hearing completely at the age of thirteen. Like his siblings he developed lip reading skills, but in had difficulty in sculling as he could not hear the starter's gun. A handkerchief had to be dropped, and this did not always work.

Whitesides worked in the family cabinet-making firm, and started rowing in 1897. Noted for his great stamina, he won the Southern Tasmanian Sculling Championship 1905, and was a member of the state eight in that year, and in 1906 when Tasmania won national championships, now known as the King's Cup, a wonderful triumph celebrated statewide. Whitesides started orcharding in the Huon, supplementing his income by building houses, and coached local crews.

Elvie Whitesides (18821971, later Mrs Ronald Murdoch), who also was deaf, started playing golf on medical advice. In 1906 she played in the Australian Ladies' Golf Championship in Sydney. Her luggage went astray, and instead of the usual long-sleeved blouse, long skirt and small hat, she had to play on the first day in an afternoon frock and picture hat. Nevertheless, she was the only competitor to break the hundred on all four rounds, scoring 94, 97, 91, 89, and won the championship. After 1906 there was much silverware on the Whitesides family piano. Marie (18901914, later Mrs Charles Davis) was also a golfer and her record for the original Hobart course was unbeaten.

Vera Whitesides (18861941) lost her hearing at the age of seven. She became a leading portrait painter, specialising in miniatures and holding a number of exhibitions. She studied with Benjamin Shepherd, Lucien Dechaineux and Alan Walker at the Hobart Technical College, and received commissions from many leading Tasmanians, including two governors.

Further reading: Joan Graney, The Whitesides of Birralee, Hobart, 1995; memoirs and press cutting in the possession of Joan Graney.

Joan Graney