9. William Ernest Bold (1873-1953), Town Clerk and City Planner
William Ernest Bold was born in Lancashire, England and migrated to Western Australia in 1896. He was immediately employed as a clerk-typist by the City of Perth and in September 1901 was appointed Town Clerk, the youngest in any Australian capital. He quickly gained a reputation as a “stickler” for efficiency and instigated many changes to the administration of the City of Perth.
Bold based his concepts on the Birmingham civic administration model created by Joseph Chamberlain, promoting the key areas of engineering, building, health, sanitation, and administration.
Historian Tom Stannage writes of William Bold in The People of Perth: “Cool under fire, persuasive in conversation and in written reports, Bold became a powerful driving force in Council affairs… he always wore a top hat and morning coat with a very high collared shirt. He also affected a tightly twirled moustache. In Council meetings he was always bewigged. This in itself was a source of wonder to the self-made men he served”.
William Bold was a strong advocate of municipal socialism; that is, one authority to control most of the city’s facilities. He promoted the idea of a Greater Perth and the amalgamation of suburban municipalities of Leederville, North Perth and Victoria Park into the City of Perth during World War I.
In 1918 Perth City Council purchased the 526 hectare Limekiln Estate west of the city, and Bold refined his concept of Greater Perth to include the satellite garden and seaside suburbs. In 1928 the Western Australian Parliament passed Australia’s first Town Planning Act from which emerged the Town Planning Committee of the Perth City Council.
William Bold had served as “Town Clerk Extraordinaire” for 44 years when he resigned in 1944. Bold Park, in the suburb of Floreat Park west of the city, is a lasting testimony to his work.