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Kenneth Edward Joseph Bardolph (1895–1964)

by David St Leger Kelly

This article was published:

This entry is from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Douglas Henry Bardolph (1893-1951) and Kenneth Edward Joseph Bardolph (1895-1964), newspaper publishers and politicians, were born at Manly, New South Wales, on 18 February 1893 and 11 August 1895, the third and fourth sons of Henry Bardolph, labourer and later a building contractor, and his wife Mary, née Taggart. They were educated in Victoria, where Kenneth studied architecture at the Working Men's College in 1911-12 and served his apprenticeship under William Pitt. From 1914 he was employed by the Commonwealth government for two and a half years, working on the plans for the Federal capital under Walter Burley Griffin. At the end of World War I the family moved to Adelaide and became involved in newspaper publishing and politics; Kenneth also practised as an architect.

Douglas became prominent as publisher and editor of the Unley News (1918-23) and of the South Australian Worker from 1924. He entered politics, joined the Australian Labor Party, was an Adelaide city councillor in 1927-29, and was State president of the Clerks' Union in 1929-30. He became involved in a bitter pre-selection battle in 1929 against S. R. Whitford for nomination for a Legislative Council by-election; a special A.L.P. council-meeting declared null and void the ballot which Bardolph had won, and both brothers were expelled from the party for canvassing for votes. Each was a supporter of Jack Lang, and they had close links with the party in New South Wales. They printed in Adelaide Labor Weekly, the official organ of the New South Wales Labor Council; in this connexion Kenneth later successfully sued the New South Wales government for breach of a contract entered into with the prior Lang government. They organized visits to South Australia by Lang and his supporters, and Kenneth worked in New South Wales for a period, assisting Lang and campaigning for Eddie Ward in his initial election for the Federal seat of East Sydney.

In 1931 when the South Australian branch of the A.L.P. expelled most of its parliamentary members, including the L. L. Hill ministry, for accepting the Premiers' Plan, Douglas officially launched the Lang Labor Party in that State. Despite a strong tendency towards fragmentation, and notwithstanding frequent defections to the A.L.P., the new party's representatives, including Douglas, won all three seats in the electorate of Adelaide in the 1933 State election; objection to Bardolph's victory was taken unsuccessfully to the court of disputed returns. Douglas had dominated the local Lang party, 'suffered no superior and brooked no equal'; opponents claimed it was essentially his personal political machine. When the A.L.P., the Parliamentary (Hill) Labor and Lang Labor parties amalgamated in 1934, both the Bardolphs were formally reinstated, but in August 1935 Douglas was again declared outside the party for non-payment of the levy on parliamentarians. He held his seat as an Independent Labor member in 1938 and 1941, continued his attempts 'to clean up the dirty stable of the A.L.P.', and had an enviable reputation as an eloquent and hard-working parliamentarian. He lost in 1944 to the endorsed A.L.P. candidate and unsuccessfully sought re-election in 1947 and 1950. A bachelor, he died of cancer on 2 February 1951 at Croydon; his estate was sworn for probate at £2437.

Kenneth was president of the United Trades and Labor Council of South Australia in 1929-30, a member of the interstate executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and vice-president of the South Australian Lang Labor Party in 1932-33. He remained within the A.L.P. after reinstatement in 1934. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Federal seat of Adelaide in 1934 and in 1937, but was elected to the Legislative Council in 1941 where he served for twenty-three years and became deputy leader of his party. Bardolph was elected a fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in 1951. Chairman of the State Manpower Advisory Committee in World War II, he was again president of the Trades and Labor Council in 1941-43, was State president of the A.L.P. in 1944-46 and in 1950-51, and was several times a delegate to federal conference. On 29 March 1927 he had married Mary Josephine Dineen; she and their six children survived him when he died in Adelaide on 9 November 1964. Both brothers were Catholics.

Select Bibliography

  • D. Hopgood, ‘Lang Labor in South Australia’, R. Cooksey (ed), ‘The great Depression in Australia’, Labour History, 1970, no 17
  • R. Pettman, ‘Factionalism in the South Australian A.L.P., 1930-1933’, Labour History, May 1975, no 28
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 8 Nov 1932, 3 Feb 1951, 10 Nov 1964.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

David St Leger Kelly, 'Bardolph, Kenneth Edward Joseph (1895–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


11 August, 1895
Manly, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


9 November, 1964 (aged 69)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.