Thursday, 23 April 2015

West End Cemetery Pioneers - Thankful Willmett

Next up in my series on our pioneers buried at West End Cemetery - Thankful Percy Willmett - who arrived in Townsville in 1870 and within a few years had started a long-running business supplying stationery, and providing printing and book-binding services.  Thankful also served on the Townsville Council for ten years, and served as Mayor in 1880, 1881, 1883 and 1884.
Headstone in the West End Cemetery, Townsville, for the Willmett family, including Thankful Willmett.
Photo:  Trisha Fielding, 2012.

This from the Townsville Daily Bulletin, Thursday, 22 August 1907.


Another link between the past and present history of Townsville was severed by the death on Wednesday evening of Mr Thankful Willmett at the ripe old age of 76 years.

The late Mr Willmett throughout his long association with Townsville played a prominent part in the admin- istration of local government affairs. Born in London in 1831 within hearing of the chimes of the Bow Bells, the deceased at an early age entered into maritime pursuits, and during the Crimean War was one of the crew of a transport engaged in conveying British troops to Balaclava Bay where he heard the roar of the guns of the combatants. Subsequently joining an emigrant ship as an officer he came to Australia, and it was then he first met the lady destined to become his wife. Returning with the ship to England he resigned, came out to the Central district of Queensland, where he entered the ranks of the benedicts and spent 10 years between Rockhampton and Nebo.

Attracted by the Cape diggings rush he came to Townsville in 1868, and two years later established the business with which he was associated up to the time of his demise. Shortly afterwards he entered civic life, and his ability was not long in being recognised. In 1880 the Aldermen showed their appreciation of his worth by electing him Mayor, a position he filled on four subsequent occasions. The separation movement next claimed his attention and for a number of years he occupied the post of president of the North Queensland Separation Council, devoting with enthusiasm his ability in the struggle to free the north of the fetters linking it with the south.

In other local public bodies he was also a prominent figure, one of the notable charitable functions he performed being the laying of the foundation stone of the Townsville Hospital. While holding the position of Mayor it fell to his lot to preside at the function organised in connection with the opening of the Northern Railway line as far as the Reid River. Some years ago he entered the political arena, but suffered defeat by Mr A. Ogden, in the contest for the seat in the State Parliament rendered vacant by the death of the late Mr G. Burns.

Of late Mr Willmett had sought retirement from public affairs and left the management of his business pretty well in the hands of his sons Fred and Percy. Of a genial disposition the deceased had a wide circle of friends, whose sympathy will go forth to the family in their bereavement. His wife predeceased him some six years ago but he is survived by two sons and three daughters.  Messrs Fred and Percy manage the Townsville business, and Miss E. Willmett controls the Charters Towers branch. Another daughter (Alice) who married Mr R.B. Taylor, is now in England, while a third is resident in Townsville. The funeral takes place at 4 p.m. today moving from his son's residence, The Avenue, Hermit Park, for the old cemetery.”
Mr Thankful Percy Willmett, of the Townsville Council, 1887
Photo: CityLibraries Townsville Local History Collection.
Willmett & Co.'s Stationery Warehouse and Printing Works, Flinders Street, Townsville.  Most likely taken in 1913.
Photo: CityLibraries Townsville Local History Collection.

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