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Edward (Teddy) Needham (1874–1956)

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This entry is from People Australia

Edward Needham, by Swiss Studios, 1920

Edward Needham, by Swiss Studios, 1920

National Library of Australia, 23371528

Edward (Teddy) Needham (1874?-1956) labor politician

Birth: probably 30 September 1874, Ormskirk, Lancashire, England. Son of Patrick Needham, labourer, and Margaret nee Fahey. Marriage: Lillian Helen Gosden, West Perth 1908. They had two sons. Death:. 26 October 1956, Perth. Roman Catholic.

  • Educated at St. Mary's Catholic School, Sunderland and at Seaham College, Durham;
  • Left school and started work at age of 12;
  • Became trapper boy at Seaham coalmine 1886-88;
  • Family moved to Scotland; Found work as power-loom weaver at Paisley Mills (West Scotland) and shipbuilder at various yards in Clydeside, 1888-1901;
  • President, Renfrew branch Amalgamated Shipyard Helpers Society of Scotland 1890 and consequently became deeply involved in the union movement; Also active in Friendly Societies in UK;
  • Arrived in Western Australia in 1901;
  • Worked in Rocky Bay quarries;
  • Boilermakers assistant in government's Fremantle locomotive shops, 1902-04;
  • Member, Society of Railway Employees, Fremantle branch, vice-president, 1902-04; president, 1906;
  • President, United Workers Union Fremantle District, 1906;
  • Secretary, Perth THC, 1921-23 (resigned);
  • President, Fremantle Council of Political Labor Party, 1902, Treasurer, 1903-04, Vice-President, 1904-06,
  • Member of Legislative Assembly (WA) Fremantle 1904-05 (defeated);
  • Became unemployed after defeat of 1905 and moved between unemployment and work as agent for National Life Mutual Assurance, 1905-07;
  • Turned his attention for a time to Federal politics and became Commonwealth Senator 1906-20 (defeated by Major Drake-Brockman), 1922-29 (defeated); Contested Senate 1919, 1928, 1931;
  • MLA Perth 1933-50, North Perth 1950-53 (retired); Contested Fremantle 1905, 1906 (b/e), Contested North Perth 1921, 1930;
  • Contested Perth House of Representatives, 1929;
  • Executive member, Parliamentary Labor Party, 1916-19;
  • Assistant secretary and Senate Opposition Whip 1917-19; Deputy Leader of Opposition in Senate 1925-26; Leader of Opposition 1926-29; Temporary Chairman of Committees 1914-17; Member, Select Committee on General Elections, 1913; Member Standing Committee on Public Works 1916-20; Member, Federal Parliamentary Recruiting Committee 1917-18; Member, Joint Committee of Public Accounts 1923-26;
  • Honorary Secretary, Federal Members' branch, ALF 1916;
  • Secretary, Metropolitan Council Australian Labour Fedeation (WA branch) 1921-23;
  • Acting secretary, ALP, WA branch 1922; Delegate, Metropolitan District Council 1929-39, rep. on ALP State Exec. 1931-32; Vice-president, 1933; Perth representative, ALP triennial Conference 1935; General President, ALP State Executive, 1939;
  • Agent, 1929-33;
  • Council, Industrial School for Blind WA;
  • Chairman, Board of Management Civilian Maimed and Limbless Assoc.;
  • Vice-President, Australian Advisory Council for Physically Handicapped;
  • Member, Soldiers' Descendants War Patriotic Fund;
  • Member, War Loan and War Blinded Soldiers' Committee;
  • Member, Metropolitan Unemployed Relief Committee;
  • Member, Perth Hospital Board 1938-39 

Joan Rydon, A Biographical Register of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1901-1972 (Canberra, 1975), p.150; G. C. Bolton & Ann Mozley, The Western Australian Legislature, 1870-1930 (Canberra, 1961), p.141; Westralian Worker, 12 Jan. 1923, 3 Feb. 1933 p.3; 12 Jan. 1940 p.1, 18 July 1941 p.3; Cyclopedia of Western Australian, Vol. 1, 1912.

Citation details

'Needham, Edward (Teddy) (1874–1956)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 July 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Edward Needham, by Swiss Studios, 1920

Edward Needham, by Swiss Studios, 1920

National Library of Australia, 23371528

Life Summary [details]


30 September, 1874
Ormskirk, Lancashire, England


26 October, 1956 (aged 82)
Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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.

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