Allan Howard Spowers

Nat Map Surveyor 1957-1962


By Laurie McLean July 2022


Allan Howard Spowers joined the Division of National Mapping’s Melbourne office as a Surveyor Grade 2 in early 1957.  From its inception in 1945, National Mapping was a section within the Department of the Interior.  In 1956, Nat Map became a division within the Department of National Development.


From 1949 to 1959, Nat Map’s Melbourne office was located at Gregory Hall at 2 Chapel Street St Kilda East, on the southern corner of Dandenong Road, next to the All Saints Anglican Church.  In 1959, Nat Map’s Melbourne office re‑located to the Rialto Building at 497 Collins Street in the CBD.


Rialto Building, 497 Collins Street Melbourne circa 1977.

XNatmap image from Eric MacGibbon.


Allan Spowers undertook extensive geodetic survey field work with Nat Map from 1957 to 1960 and then undertook topographic survey field work prior to leaving Nat Map around 1962.  During research for this article Allan Spowers’ time with Nat Map was not discovered in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette listings.  Thus it appears that Allan’s service with Nat Map was probably on a temporary basis.


The beginning

Allan Howard Spowers was born in Singapore on 28 April 1928.  Allan Spowers came from a remarkable family that had much to do with Australia’s 19th and 20th Century European growth and development.  As outlined below, the family had many connections in Australian society, but the outline given here is by no means complete.



Allan Howard Spowers’ parents were James Howard Spowers (1889-1977) and his Queensland-born wife Nancy Grace Spowers née Eales (1905-1996).  James Spowers and Nancy Eales married at the Saint Matthews Church, Sherwood (Brisbane) on 5 September 1924; the Reverend WF Barrett MA officiated.  James was then 34 years of age and Nancy was 19 years of age.  Nancy was the daughter of Queensland-born Charles George Hammond Eales (1873-1935) and his wife Grace Scott Symington Eales née White who died in Brisbane in 1945.


At the time of their wedding, James Spowers resided in the Federated States of Malaya and Nancy’s parents resided at the western Brisbane suburb of Corinda.  After the wedding James Spowers returned to Malaya with his bride.  James and Nancy Spowers were understood to have had 2 children, Allan and his younger sister Beverly Joan Howard Spowers; who later married (the future) Captain Robert John (Bob) Whitten OBE RAN (1929-2018).


About Allan Spowers’ father

Allan’s father, James Howard Spowers was born on 19 November 1889 in the western Brisbane suburb of Corinda, and died in Brisbane on 22 March 1977.


Brisbane Grammar School, Spring Hill.

Image from Brisbane Grammar School web site.


James Howard Spowers was educated at Brisbane Grammar School.  He appears to have attended BGS from 1903 to 1907.  Established in 1868, as an independent non-denominational day and boarding school for boys, BGS is the oldest secondary boys school in Brisbane.  It is located on Gregory Terrace in the inner suburb of Spring Hill.


Details of James Howard Spowers’ early career were not discovered during research for this article.  However, on 3 October 1911, the Surveyors Board of Queensland registered James Howard Spowers as an Authorised Surveyor.  Despite serving in Malaya from 1913 to 1941, Pugh’s Legal Directory for 1920 (on page 203), listed JH Spowers as an Authorised Surveyor with the Lands Office in Brisbane.  As the Pugh’s entry was apparently somewhat dated, it seems likely that James Howard Spowers may have worked for the Lands Office early in his career.


On 11 November 1911, James Howard Spowers commenced service with the Queensland Railways then headed by Commissioner Barnard Charles Evans (1847-1920).  James Spowers started as a fifth year engineering cadet and initially worked on the construction of the Oakey to Cooyar branch line that covered just over 50 kilometres on the Darling Downs.  The line opened in 1913 and closed in 1969.  On 18 April 1913, James Spowers was appointed as a draftsman in the Chief Engineer’s Office but resigned from Queensland Railways on 15 November 1913.


Late in 1913, James Spowers joined the British Overseas Service (also known as His Majesty's Colonial Service).  James worked in the then Federated States of Malaya as a surveyor and was initially based at Ipoh the capital of the (federated) State of Perak in north-west Malaya.  By no later than 1922, James Spowers was reported to be residing at Kuala Lumpur, the capital of the Federated States of Malaya.


While in Malaya, James Spowers served with the Federated Malay States Volunteer Regiment.  He was a Platoon Sergeant from 1914 to 1919.  James was an above average marksman and was a member of a regimental team that won many shooting trophies.  During World War I, all regimental leave was cancelled and members of the Regiment had to remain in Malaya for the duration.


James Spowers was an active sportsman in Malaya.  He was a tennis champion in Perak State from 1915 to 1919 and competed in the interstate cricket competition from 1916 to 1919.


James Spowers with a rifle shooting trophy in Malaya circa 1915.

Edited image from Queensland Museum of Lands Mapping and Surveying.


On 1 January 1919, James Spowers was appointed as an Assistant Superintendent in the Trigonometrical Branch of the Survey Department, based in Kuala Lumpur.


During 1923, James Spowers was reported to be in charge of the selection, clearing and beaconing of hills in the (unfederated) State of Trengganu for the primary triangulation then being undertaken at the request and cost of the Trengganu Government.  Later James Spowers became the Superintendent of Surveys for the Federated States of Malaya and the Straits Settlements.  This position reported to the Surveyor General and was based in Kuala Lumpur.


The Survey Office at the Java Street-Jalan Raja junction in Kuala Lumpur, Federated States of Malaya circa 1911.


British Malaya showing Federated and Unfederated States and Straits Settlements circa 1922.  Federated States orange, Unfederated States blue and Straits Settlements red.  Base map annotated by Paul Wise.


In 1923, another Australian Surveyor in the Federated States of Malaya was Peter Martin Leckie (1890-1954) who was then reported to be working as a surveyor under agreement in the unfederated State of Kedah.  Peter Leckie was the father of Royal Australian Air Force officer and renowned Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions fixed-wing aircraft pilot Douglas Walter Leckie OBE AFC (1920-2007).


Living in Brisbane

By late 1941, James Spowers was 52 years of age and during that year he retired from the British Overseas Service and returned to Australia.  His decision to leave Malaya may have been influenced by the wartime situation.  The Japanese Imperial Army commenced its invasion of the Malay Peninsula on 8 December 1941 and British forces in Singapore surrendered to the Japanese on 15 February 1942.


On electoral rolls from 1943 James Howard Spowers was listed as residing at 39 Honour Avenue Chelmer in western Brisbane with no listed occupation.  Allan’s mother Nancy Grace Spowers was also listed at that address.  On a 1954 electoral roll, Allan Howard Spowers was listed as a Pupil Surveyor residing with his parents at 39 Honour Avenue Chelmer.  (However, this entry appears to be somewhat dated as by then Allan was a Registered Surveyor.)


About Allan Spowers’ paternal grandfather

James Howard Spowers’ father (Allan Howard Spowers’ paternal grandfather) was Allan Alfred Spowers (1857-1938).  AA Spowers was born on 25 August 1857 at South Yarra, Victoria and died on 8 June 1938 at Sherwood, Queensland.  His wife was Annie Isabel Davidson (1860-1947) who was born on 30 October 1860 at Hobart and died on 16 October 1947 at Sherwood.  Allan Alfred Spowers and Annie Isabel Davidson married on 4 November 1885 at St John's Cathedral, Brisbane; Reverend James Samuel Hassall MA (1823-1904) officiated, assisted by the Reverend John Sutton MA.  James Howard Spowers was the third of their 7 children.


Allan Alfred Spowers (1857-1938).

Edited image from Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying, Brisbane web site.


Allan Alfred Spowers was educated at the then Melbourne Church of England Grammar School (now known as Melbourne Grammar).  He became a registered surveyor in 1881 and was a contract surveyor to the Queensland Government from 1882 prior to becoming a staff surveyor in 1885,  AA Spowers served as the fifth Surveyor General of Queensland; holding that office from 1 July 1902 until 31 December 1926; when he was 69 years of age.  From at least the early 1900s, Allan Alfred Spowers and his family lived at Tivoli, then in Arthur Street Corinda (now known as 186 Dewar Terrace Corinda).


Spowers Circuit in the southern Canberra suburb of Holder was named for Allan Alfred Spowers.


Allan Alfred Spowers’ family residence Tivoli, Corinda.

Edited image from Heritage Brisbane web site.


About Allan Spowers’ paternal great grand parents-grandmother’s side

Allan Howard Spowers’ paternal grandmother, Annie Isabel Davidson, was the daughter of William Montgomerie Davenport Davidson (1830-1909) who was born on 20 June 1830 at Cliveden, (on the River Thames at Taplow, Maidenhead about 40 kilometres west of central London) and died on 7 May 1909 at Cliveden, Oxley in western Brisbane; at 78 years of age.  He was baptised as William Montgomery (sic) Davenport Davidson and was the third of the 5 children born out of wedlock to Isabella Davenport (1792-1885).


Isabella was born on 15 May 1792 at Westminster, Middlesex and died on 28 August 1885 at Lambeth, London.  She left an estate with personal effects valued at £4 115 16s 1p.  (It was not clear from research for this article how all of Isabella’s children took the surname Davidson.  Isabella was the daughter of William Davenport and his wife Ann.  Isabella was buried under the name of Davenport and no marriage record for her was discovered.)


Cliveden sits above the Cliveden Reach of the River Thames at Taplow on 152 hectares of gardens and woodlands that are now open to the public together with parts of the house on certain days and had 524 800 visitors in 2019.  There have been 3 houses on the site: the first was built in 1666 and burned down in 1795 and the second house was built in 1824 but was also destroyed by fire in 1849.  The present Grade I National Trust listed house was built in 1851 by the architect Charles Barry for the 2nd Duke of Sutherland.  Cliveden has been home to a Prince of Wales, two Dukes, an Earl, and finally the Viscounts Astor.  In 1830, Cliveden was owned by Scottish politician Sir George Warrender of Lochend, 4th Baronet, PC, FRS, FRSE (1782-1849).


About Crisp Molineux Montgomerie (1783-1850)

The father of Isabella Davenport’s 5 children was Crisp Molineux Montgomerie (1783-1850).  He was born on 1 July 1783 at Garboldisham, Norfolk and died on 19 June 1850 at Upper Gloucester Place Marylebone, London.  Crisp was the son of George Molineux Montgomerie (1759-1804) and his wife Elizabeth née White (1759-1837) who was the daughter of a Governor of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean.  Crisp Montgomerie was an alumnus of Trinity College, Cambridge University.  He was admitted at Lincoln's Inn (a society for barristers) in September 1800.  Montgomerie retired as a Captain in the 1st Dragoon Guards in January 1812.  In 1808 at Great Horkesley, Essex, Montgomerie married Mary Woodley Parsons (1786-1860).  There appears to have been no children from their marriage.


William Montgomerie Davenport Davidson’s 4 siblings were :


·       Frederick Montgomerie Davenport Davidson (1827-1907), later a Doctor (MD)

·       George Montgomerie Davenport Davidson (1829-1905), later a Colonel

·       Julia Montgomerie Davenport Davidson (1836-1917)

·       Christopher Montgomerie Davenport Davidson (1838-1910), later a Doctor (surgeon).


In his will, Crisp Molineux Montgomerie made provision for the 3 youngest children of Isabella Davenport (ie William, Julia and Christopher) for their advancement in the world to a trade or profession.  He also provided for Isabella Davenport to receive £50 per annum until all of the 3 children attained the age of 21 years.


More on William Montgomerie Davenport Davidson

William Montgomerie Davenport Davidson was educated at the independent Christian Moravian School in Pudsey, Leeds West Yorkshire, and afterwards at the Stockwell Grammar School in Stockwell Park Road Lambeth (south London).  He then attended the College for Civil Engineers and of General, Practical and Scientific Education at Putney, south-west London where he was awarded a diploma.


Davidson left England for Tasmania in 1852 and moved to Victoria later that year.  He returned to Tasmania in 1854 and was appointed Inspecting Surveyor for the southern part of the island.  Following an invitation from (the later) Sir Augustus Charles Gregory KCMG FRSGS (1819-1905) the then Surveyor General, Davidson went to Queensland in 1861 and was appointed as a Staff Surveyor.


In 1868, Davidson became District Surveyor for Wide Bay (based at Maryborough) and held that position until 1 June 1875 when he was appointed Deputy Surveyor General.  On 4 December 1889, following the resignation of William Alcock Tully (1830‑1905), Davidson became the third Surveyor General of Queensland.  He held that position until 13 February 1891 when he was 60 years of age.


William Montgomerie Davenport Davidson (1830-1909)

Edited image from Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying, Brisbane web site.


On 1 February 1860 in Hobart Tasmania, the 29-year old William Montgomerie Davenport Davidson married 18-year old Mary Emily (Polly) Hull (1841-1928).  Mary was the youngest child of Commissary General George Hull (1787‑1879) of Tolosa, (a substantial estate near Glenorchy about 6 kilometres north-west of Hobart) and his wife Anna Hull née Munro (1800-1877).  William and Mary Davidson were to have 10 children.  Mary Davidson died at Tambourine Mountain on 13 June 1928; she was 86 years of age.


(William Davidson’s youngest brother-in-law, Alfred Arthur Munro Hull (1839‑1890), became an apprentice surveyor and architect in Tasmania.  In the early 1860s, Alfred Hull came to Queensland as a surveyor under the auspices of his brother-in-law William Davidson.)


(Together with fellow surveyor (and future brother-in-law) Charles Fredrick Gataker (1843-1921), Alfred Hull prospected in the Gympie area.  They also surveyed and named the Gregory and Chervil Rivers near Maryborough.  The Hull River near Tully in North Queensland is named for Alfred Arthur Munro Hull.  Hull and Gataker married, respectively, Mary Anna (Minnie) and Fanny Gulliver, the daughters of Maryborough solicitor William Barnes and his wife Sarah née Brown.  Charles Gataker became a merchant in Maryborough.  Alfred Hull was also a competent artist; some of his sketches are held in the Queensland Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying in Brisbane.)


Town of Cardwell Northern Queensland circa 1872, a sketch by AA Hull.

Edited extract from Alfred Arthur Hull, Surveyor and Artist by Bill Kitson in Surveying Australia, Volume 10, Number 2, June 1988, page 32.


Circa 1889, William Montgomerie Davenport Davidson purchased 5 acres of land in Oxley from a 17-acre parcel previously purchased by Mrs Nancy Fowles, wife of the first Oxley school headmaster William Fowles.  Davidson’s block was on a rise on the south side of a loop in the Brisbane River opposite Fig Tree Pocket in what became known as Cliveden Avenue.  Here Davidson built a substantial 2-storey weatherboard home which he named Cliveden after the place of his birth.


Following Davidson’s death in 1909, Cliveden was purchased by John Brownlie Henderson (1869-1950) government analyst.  Later the property was purchased by mine-owner and philanthropist William Robert Black (1859-1930) and in about 1923 it passed to the Presbyterian Church and became the Blackheath Orphanage Home for Boys.  Cliveden was demolished about 1965 and the land was subdivided for housing.


Cliveden circa 1948 then the Blackheath Orphanage Home for Boys.

Painting by John Buckby from WikiTree Cliveden House web post.


Paternal great grandparents-grandfather’s side

Allan Howard Spowers’ paternal great grandfather was James Spowers (1813‑1879) who was born on 23 September 1813 at Poplar, London and died on 28 May 1879 in Melbourne.  Allan Howard Spowers’ paternal great grandmother was Fanny Clendon Howard (1837-1912) who was born on 20 June 1837 at Deal in Kent and died on 29 June 1912 at Malvern, Victoria.


James Spowers and Fanny Howard married on 25 April 1853 at Christchurch, New Zealand.  James was then 39 years of age and Fanny was 15 years old.  Allan Howard Spowers’ paternal grandfather Allan Alfred Spowers was the third of their 12 children; their first 2 children were born in New Zealand and the others in Melbourne.  In 1858, James Spowers became a partner in the Melbourne firm of Westgarth, Ross and Spowers, merchants.


One of James Spowers’ brothers was Allan Spowers (1815–1876).  In 1857, this Allan Spowers became a third partner in the Argus, a Melbourne morning newspaper that was published from 1846 to 1957.  Upon the death of Allan Spowers in 1876, his brother James Spowers inherited his interest in the Argus and became a manager there until his own death in 1879.


James Spowers also inherited Allan’s substantial Toorak House residence in St Georges Road Toorak that was built in 1849 and used as Victoria’s first Government House from 1854 to 1874.  (Toorak House was purchased by the Church of Sweden in 1956 and the property converted to a church and a community centre.)


Toorak House 1869.  Edited image of Government House Toorak Melbourne from Mechanical Curator collection on Wikipedia web site.  Artist unknown, lithograph by Standbridge, London.


Some of Allan Howard Spowers’ other notable relatives

Henry Howard Harris Spowers (1872-1933): Allan Howard Spowers’ father’s second youngest paternal uncle was Henry Howard Harris Spowers who was born in Melbourne on 18 July 1872 and died at Kooyong on 7 January 1933.  At Melbourne in 1902, Henry Spowers married the Sydney-born Edith Gladys Alsop (1877-1955); they were to have 4 children.


In 1895, William Scott Purves Godfrey (1872-1953) formed an architectural and surveying partnership with a surveyor named Howitt; the firm was named Howitt and Godfrey.  About 1901, Howitt left and Henry Howard Spowers joined the firm which was then registered as Godfrey and Spowers (Architects and Surveyors).  Shortly afterwards the firm moved to premises in Norwich Union Chambers at 34 Queen Street Melbourne.  Until World War I, the firm’s architectural practice consisted mainly of high-end residences typically with coach-houses and servant’s quarters.


Between about 1908 and 1913, Godfrey and Spowers were the architects for Melbourne Grammar School.  From the 1920s, the firm was involved in large commercial buildings including the 1926 Argus Building, the 1929-30 Bank of New South Wales Building, as well as numerous branches of the State Savings Bank of Victoria, and the National Mutual Insurance Centre building in the 1960s (since demolished).  The firm now operates as Spowers Architects from premises in Collins Street Melbourne.


National Mutual Insurance Centre 447 Collins Street Melbourne.

Edited image from John Young Collection on Victorian Places web site.


Edward Augustus Spowers (1875-1940): Allan Howard Spowers’ father’s youngest paternal uncle was Edward Augustus Spowers who was born on 6 January 1875 at South Yarra, Victoria.  Edward was the youngest of the 12 children born to James Spowers (1813-1879) and his wife Fanny Clendon Spowers née Howard (1837-1912).  Edward was privately educated prior to studying medicine at the University of Melbourne where he graduated with the degrees of Doctor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.  In 1903, Dr Edward Spowers, then a physician and surgeon, took over the medical practice and residence of the retiring Dr Courtenay, at Valetta, then at 206 Clarendon Street East Melbourne.  Edward was to continue to reside at Valetta until his death there in December 1940.


(Situated on the corner of Albert Street, Valetta is still standing today with the street number now 204 Clarendon Street.  In 1880 it was the home of Victorian colonial judge Sir Redmond Barry, KCMG QC, who died there on 23 November 1880.  During 28-29 October 1880, Sir Redmond had presided at the trial for murder of Ned Kelly who was hanged on 11 November 1880.)


Valetta House, 206 Clarendon Street East Melbourne in 1978.

Edited Winston H Burchett image, ID 13816 from Picture Victoria web site.


In April 1915, the then 39-year old Dr Edward Spowers was committed by one of his brothers to the Mt Ida Licensed House (asylum) that was situated on the corner of Tooronga and St Helens Roads in Hawthorn East.  It is not known how long Edward remained at Mt Ida.


However, on 8 May 1917, Dr Spowers was commissioned as a Medical Officer with the rank of Captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps.  He embarked at Port Melbourne for England just 3 days later onboard HMAT A9 Shropshire and disembarked at Plymouth on 19 July 1917.  Captain Spowers served briefly with the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford about 30 kilometres south-east of central London.  On 19 August 1917, Captain Spowers was posted to the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station then located at Brandhoek near Ypres in Belgium.  He returned to Dartford in February1918 and remained in England until he embarked for return to Australia onboard the hospital ship HMAT A61 Kanowna.


Dr Spowers returned to Australia on 28 August 1919 and quickly resumed his medical practice in East Melbourne.  Edward Augustus Spowers and Beryl Marguerite Hamilton Loughnan (1895‑1980) married at St John’s Church Toorak on 20 October 1920.  There were no children from their marriage.  Edward and Beryl Spowers divorced in 1938.  As mentioned, Edward Augustus Spowers died at Valetta in East Melbourne on 31 December 1940.


Ethel Louise Spowers 1890-1947: One of Allan Howard Spowers’ father’s cousins was Ethel Louise Spowers a renowned Melbourne painter and print maker who was born at South Yarra on 11 July 1890 to William George Lucas Spowers (1856-1932) and his wife Annie Christina Spowers née Westgarth (1861-1957).


Ethel Spowers’ maternal grandfather was William Westgarth (1815-1889) who was born in Scotland and died in London.  Westgarth was a Victorian colonial merchant, financier and a respected historian and author who arrived in Melbourne in December 1840.  He was a colonial politician in both the New South Wales and Victorian Parliaments.  In Melbourne, he became a general import merchant; in partnership with an Alfred Ross from 1845 and also with James Spowers from 1858.  Westgarth was prominent in the Melbourne Mechanics' Institute and in founding the Benevolent Society.


In 1854, Westgarth was appointed by Lieutenant Governor Sir Charles Hotham KCB RN (1806-1855) to the commission of inquiry into the goldfields of Victoria and was chosen as chairman.  Supported by other commissioners including John Pascoe Fawkner and John O'Shanassy, Westgarth led the commission in refusing to comply with Hotham's order not to investigate the immediate causes of the Eureka Stockade rebellion at Ballarat in early December 1854.  In January 1855, the commissioners recommended a general amnesty but Hotham pressed on with treason trials for the Eureka rebels.


Ethel Spowers in her younger days.

Edited image from family tree on Ancestry web site.


Ethel Spowers was educated at the Melbourne Church of England Girls Grammar School where she became a prefect and matriculated in 1908.  A family trip to Europe in 1909-1910 allowed her to attend a short course at an art school in Paris.  Ethel then completed an extensive course in drawing and painting at Melbourne’s National Gallery School during 1911-1917.  In 1920, Ethel Spowers held her first solo exhibition of 54 works at the Decorations Gallery in Collins Street Melbourne.


Ethel Spowers returned to Europe several times including to study at the private Grosvenor School of Modern Art in Warwick Square London in 1928 and again in 1931.  Ethel demonstrated the linocut technique during an exhibition of the Art and Crafts Society of Victoria in 1935.  During her lifetime Ethel Spowers submitted works of art to at least 85 national and international exhibitions, including 6 solo exhibitions.  (Linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of the woodcut method, where shapes, patterns or other designs are chiselled into a sheet of linoleum prior to inking and printing by hand or in a printing press.)


For many years, Ethel Spowers maintained an artistic friendship and collaboration with Eveline Winifred Syme (1888-1961).  Ethel and Eveline came from rival Melbourne media families.  The Spowers were associated with the Argus newspaper and the Symes with The Age newspaper.


Swings, 1932

Ethel Spowers: Swings, 1932.

Image from Artnet web site.


Ethel Spowers never married; she maintained her studio above the stables at her family home Toorak House in St Georges Road Toorak.  Ethel Louise Spowers died at Toorak on 5 May 1947 after suffering with breast cancer for some years; she was 56 years of age.


Allan Spowers CMG DSO and Bar MC (1892-1968): Another of Allan Howard Spowers’ father’s cousins was another Allan Spowers who was born at South Yarra on 9 July 1892 to William George Lucas Spowers (1856-1932) and his wife Annie Christina Spowers née Westgarth (1861-1957).  This Allan Spowers was a younger brother of Ethel Louise Spowers (1890-1947).  He was educated at the Geelong Church of England Grammar School where he was a prefect and captain of boats.  Allan Spowers first attended the University of Melbourne in 1912 and graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1920.  His studies were interrupted by service with the British Army during World War I.


Colonel Allan Spowers (1892-1968).

Edited image from family tree on Ancestry web site.


Lieutenant Allan Spowers served in the 6th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment and fought at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli and later in Mesopotamia.  He was awarded the Military Cross (1916) and was twice wounded.  He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (1916) and was also mentioned in dispatches.  Allan Spowers returned to Melbourne after the War and worked as a journalist on the Argus and Australasian.  At Sydney in April 1922, he married Rosamond Sandys Lumsdaine (1898-1976), a niece of author and poet Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson (1864-1941).


Allan Spowers served with the 2nd Australian Imperial Force in World War II between May 1940 and July 1946 and rose to the rank of Colonel, Service Number 14840.  He commanded the 2nd 24th Infantry Battalion in the Middle East, including at the siege of Tobruk.  Colonel Spowers was awarded a Bar to his DSO.  He was taken prisoner-of-war in the Middle East in July 1942 and later held captive in Germany until March 1945.


Allan Spowers became an owner of the Argus, a Melbourne morning newspaper that was published from 1846 to 1957.  He was also a company director.  In 1956, Allan Spowers sold the family home Toorak House in St Georges Road Toorak to the Church of Sweden.  Also in 1956, Allan Spowers was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George and to the Swedish Royal Order of Vasa.  Allan Spowers died on 4 May 1968 at Golden Ball, his property at Everton near the Ovens River east of Wangaratta in north-eastern Victoria; he was 75 years of age.


William Allan (Bill) Spowers (1923-2009): Bill Spowers was the second of the 3 children born to Allan Howard Spowers’ father’s cousin Colonel Allan Spowers CMG DSO and Bar MC (1892-1968) and his wife Rosamond Sandys Spowers née Lumsdaine (1898-1976).  Bill Spowers was born in Melbourne on 2 May 1923 and died at 86 years of age on 12 June 2009 at Windlesham in Surrey.


Bill Spowers was a boarder at the Geelong Church of England Grammar School for about 4 years.  Bill served as a Private (Service Number VX110120) in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force during World War II.  At the age of 19 years, he enlisted at Broadmeadows on 27 September 1942 and was discharged on 15 July 1943.  At discharge Private Spowers was posted to the 112th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment of the Royal Australian Artillery.  The location and circumstances of his discharge are unclear.


An article by Bill Spowers’ friend, Michael Collins Persse, in The Sydney Morning Herald on 18 July 2009 reported that Bill Spowers later enlisted as a Private in the British Army at Cairo and went on to serve as a Corporal in the Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey).  After undertaking an officer training course, in 1943 in Palestine, Bill was commissioned with the Seaforth Highlanders but then seconded to the 6th (Royal Welch) Battalion, Parachute Regiment.  The 6th Battalion supported the Allied amphibious invasion of Italy during Operation Slapstic in September 1943.


In March 1944, Bill Spowers was reported to be severely wounded while on patrol behind German lines.  He was found by another British patrol.  Following treatment in hospital and later convalescence he was discharged from Army service.  Some of Bill Spowers’ convalescence was at Cliveden (on the River Thames at Taplow west of London) then owned by American-born English politician and newspaper proprietor Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor (1879‑1952), and his American-born English politician wife Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor, CH (1879‑1964).


Dinner guests at Cliveden during Bill’s convalescence were reported to include King George VI.  As mentioned above, Allan Howard Spowers’ great grandfather William Montgomerie Davenport Davidson was born at Cliveden on 20 June 1830.  After his British Army discharge, Bill Spowers returned to Australia.


Early in 1945, Bill Spowers joined the Indian Army in Calcutta and became aide-de-camp (a uniformed officer and personal assistant) to the then Governor of the Indian State of Bengal, Richard Gavin Gardiner Casey (1890‑1976) later Baron Casey, KG, GCMG, CH, DSO, MC, PC.  (In 1947, following Independence Bengal was partitioned in to West Bengal and East Bengal with the latter now part of Bangladesh.)


The Brisbane-born Richard Casey was Bill Spowers’ godfather.  Casey was Governor of Bengal from January 1944 to February 1946.  Richard Casey served in the Australian Imperial Force at Gallipoli and on the Western Front during World War I, rising to the rank of Major.  He became a federal politician before and after World War II and served as the 16th Governor General of Australia from 1965 to 1969.


Later in 1946, Bill Spowers was again commissioned in the British Army with the rank of Captain in the Grenadier Guards and served in Britain and Germany.  In 1960, he retired from the Grenadier Guards with the rank of Major.


On 15 April 1953, Bill Spowers married Antonia Aked at St Margaret's Church at Westminster that is located in the grounds of Westminster Abbey on Parliament Square, London; they were to have 3 sons.  Antonia was born in July 1934 at Knaresborough, Yorkshire West Riding.  Bill and Antonia Spowers’ marriage was later dissolved.


In 1960, Bill Spowers joined Christie's, the then London art auctioneers, as Director of the books and manuscripts department that he pioneered for the firm.  Bill had a love of illuminated manuscripts and books, particularly those in fine bindings.  From 1968, he led the establishment of an Australian branch of Christie’s auction house.


At his Windlesham arboretum, Bill Spowers established 3 500 species.  The arboretum started with 7 hectares and developed to cover 65 hectares.  It was described as a masterpiece of arboreal splendour in the grand tradition of landscape architecture.  Bill Spowers would drive visitors around it in his pale blue Rolls Royce; he would climb the trees and do much of the heavy work himself.


In September 2004, Bill Spowers married Jane Rees-Davies the widow of William Rupert Rees-Davies QC (1916-1992) a British Conservative and Unionist Party politician and barrister.  Rees-Davies was an officer in the Welsh Guards during World War II and served from 1939 until 1943 when he lost his right arm on active service.


Allan Spowers - living at Warwick in the early 1940s

David Robert Carstens was a Nat Map Surveyor on Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions for the 1961 summer season and for the winter of 1962-63.  David grew up in Toowoomba and later at Warwick about 130 kilometres south-west of Brisbane.  Between 1940 and about 1946, David’s family lived in Locke Street Warwick.  David recalled that during that time, future National Mapping surveyors Allan Howard Spowers and Edmond Francis Norman (Ted) Seton (1920-1997) lived nearby.


Allan Spowers’ immediate family was apparently never registered on electoral rolls as residing in Warwick.  However, Allan’s uncle Eric Howard Spowers and his wife Elaine Marie were listed on electoral rolls from the late 1940s to the early 1960s as residing at 20 Victoria Street Warwick with Eric occupied as a herd recorder.  (Eric and Elaine had previously resided at Yandinna).  Perhaps Allan had spent some time living with his uncle and aunt at Warwick.


Allan Howard Spowers’ education

Allan Howard Spowers attended Brisbane Boys College an independent day and boarding school located at Kensington Terrace in the inner northern riverside suburb of Toowong.  The College was established in 1902 and moved to the Toowong site in 1930 under the control of the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association.


For some of his time at BBC, Allan attended as a boarder and remained there, with a few fellow boarders, for some of his early school holidays rather than return to his parents in Malaya.  On Sunday evenings during these times, the housemaster would take this remaining group of boys to the centre of the school oval (now Oakman Park near the corner of Union Street and Mogill Road).  Here the housemaster would read to his charges.  Allan’s favourite reading was the 1885 adventure novel King Solomon’s Mines by English author Sir Henry Rider Haggard KBE (1856-1925).


It is not clear when Allan Spowers ceased to be a border at BBC.  He was not listed as a boarder at BBC in the College’s The Portal magazine for December 1944 and December 1945.  Presumably, by then Allan was residing with his parents who had returned to Brisbane from Malaya.


The Portal in December 1944 reported that AH Spowers had received passes in 8 Junior level examinations that year, namely: English B, French C, Latin C, Arithmetic A, Algebra C, Geometry C, Chemistry B, and Physics B.


Allan Howard Spowers matriculated in November 1945.


Main building at Brisbane Boys College, Toowong.

2014 photograph by Kgbo on Wikipedia web site.


Allan Howard Spowers’ surveyor registration

On 15 February 1946, Allan Spowers became a Pupil Surveyor articled to Bundaberg-based Surveyor John Wesley Mott DCM MC (1891-1981).  Allan Spowers left his engagement with John Mott on 9 January 1948.  Between 1 March and 22 November 1948, Allan Spowers was articled to Gympie-based Surveyor Vernon Edward White (1894-1967).


From 3 January 1949 to 31 July 1950, Allan Spowers was articled to the then Brisbane-based Surveyor Alan George James (1902-1974).  Alan James was the father of Northern Territory Surveyor Earl Bruester McDonald James AM who was articled to Allan Spowers in 1951.


Allan Spowers completed his final written surveying examinations in February 1951 and completed oral examinations and practical assignments in March 1951.  At its meeting on 19 March 1951, the Surveyors Board of Queensland gave authority for Allan Spowers to be registered as an authorised surveyor under the Queensland Land Surveyors Act 1903-1916.  Allan’s registration took effect on 27 March 1951.


Department of the Interior Queensland early 1950s.

In his 2014 book, The Spinifex is Green, Earl James mentioned that in 1951 he was articled to Allan Spowers who was then a newly Authorised Surveyor with the Department of the Interior based at Ann Street in Brisbane.  Earl found Allan to be a brilliant man.  During 1951, Earl James spent many pleasant months as a Pupil Surveyor with Allan Spowers in North Queensland undertaking surveys for the acquisition of land for Commonwealth Government purposes.


It is not known how long Allan Spowers worked with the Department of the Interior during the early 1950s.  However, as discussed below, in 1974 Allan returned to Interior’s successor organisation the Department of Services and Property where he remained until retirement.


Allan Spowers’ Nat Map service

As mentioned previously, Allan Howard Spowers undertook extensive survey field work with Nat Map’s Geodetic Survey Branch from 1957 to 1960.  From 1961 until leaving Nat Map the next year, Allan worked as a Surveyor in Nat Map’s Topographic Survey Branch.  Both of these Branches were based in Melbourne.  During his time with Nat Map, Allan was given the nick name Spuzz.


Allan Spowers’ Nat Map Geodetic survey work 1957-1960

1957 field work: In 1957, while preparations were being made for the main geodetic survey program for that year, Allan Spowers took a small field party to clear some trig stations in the Wangaratta area of north-eastern Victoria.  Between March and June 1957, Allan Spowers led a small field party that completed azimuth observations on 10 lines through the already completed geodetic triangulation scheme that extended about 560 kilometres north from Mt Charlotte-Mt Rodinga (south of Alice Springs) to the Devils Marbles on the Stuart Highway about 100 kilometres south of Tennant Creek.


Later in 1957, Allan Spowers and a field assistant proceeded north to the Larrimah-Katherine area of the Northern Territory and undertook the reconnaissance for 9 geodetic survey traverse stations along the Stuart Highway over a distance of about 160 kilometres.


In September 1957, following a Tellurometer MRA 1 electronic distance measuring demonstration by the then Nat Map Surveyor Keith Waller (1922‑2014) at Wycliffe Sandridge (about 130 kilometres south of Tennant Creek), Allan Spowers joined the Tellurometer survey party to gain experience with that new instrument.


Allan Spowers then proceeded to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and commenced reconnaissance for a traverse westward from Mt Wudinna (about 190 kilometres west of Whyalla).  This traverse was to include side triangles wherever possible.


A model MRA 1 Tellurometer.

(XNatmap image.)


Later that year, the Tellurometer traverse of 8 stations (plus 5 side stations) from Mt Wudinna to Penong (on the Eyre Highway about 70 kilometres west of Ceduna) was beaconed, cleared, observed with Wild T3 theodolites, and measured with an MRA 1 Tellurometer set, a distance of about 320 kilometres.


1958 field work: A field party under Allan Spowers left Melbourne in March 1958 and completed the geodetic survey traverse reconnaissance from Colona Spur south of the Eyre Highway near Yalata in the west of South Australia to Norseman on the Eyre Highway in Western Australia, a distance of about 1 000 kilometres.


Later in 1958, Allan Spowers led a field survey party that undertook the reconnaissance for a geodetic survey traverse from Powell Creek to Larrimah in the Northern Territory.  Owing to the fairly dense tree coverage, 10-metre (30‑foot) towers were used for the traverse route reconnaissance; firstly along the cleared line of the railway and then the cleared line of the Stuart Highway.  Towers were sighted at the bends but many short lines were necessary.  The traverse route covered a distance of about 300 kilometres and required 48 tower stations.


(By 1929, the narrow gauge Northern Australia Railway ran from Darwin to Birdum.  But in the early 1940s, following the sealing and re-routing of the Stuart Highway, the railway was terminated at Larrimah about 9 kilometres north of Birdum.  During World War II, a railway route from Birdum to Alice Springs was surveyed but the line was not constructed.  The standard gauge Alice Springs to Darwin railway commenced operation in 2004.)


Afterwards Allan Spowers led a survey party that undertook the beaconing and observing (angles only) of the Darwin to Katherine geodetic survey traverse that involved 12 stations and a distance of about 320 kilometres.


Powell Creek to Larrimah reconnaissance tower on Commer 4X4 vehicle in 1958.

XNatmap image from Reg Ford.


1959 field work: A field survey party under Allan Spowers left Melbourne in April 1959 and completed the observing of the Colona Spur to Wilsons Bluff traverse section of about 270 kilometres around the Great Australian Bight in the far-west of South Australia.  Allan’s survey party then observed the Colona Spur to Ooldea geodetic traverse section of about 130 kilometres.  (Ooldea is on the Nullarbor Plain about 280 kilometres east of the Western Australia border.)


While this work was progressing, Allan Spowers completed reconnaissance of the Kalgoorlie to Carnarvon Range geodetic survey traverse section in Western Australia.  Carnarvon Range is in the Little Sandy Desert about 600 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie.


After completing its work in South Australia, Allan’s survey party returned to Adelaide and collected 10-metre (30-foot) observing towers, scaffolding and other sundry requirements and then drove to the Mataranka area on the Stuart Highway about 100 kilometres south of Katherine in the Northern Territory.


During this time, Allan Spowers travelled via Carnegie Homestead (about 300 kilometres north-east of Wiluna) to the Giles Weather Station and reconnoitered a connecting traverse from Mt Fanny (about 85 kilometres south‑east of Giles) in Western Australia to Mt Hardy in the Northern Territory on the Aileron to Halls Creek traverse.  Mt Hardy is about 30 kilometres north‑west of Yuendumu and about 320 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs.  The geodetic survey traverse section reconnaissance involved a distance of about 500 kilometres.


Allan Spowers then proceeded north to join the observing party at Mataranka and take charge of the work on the tower traverse from Mataranka to Powell Creek that involved some 51 stations over a distance of about 400 kilometres.


1960 field work: Initially in 1960, Allan Spowers supervised the theodolite observations and Tellurometer distance measurements for the Kalgoorlie to Carnarvon Range geodetic survey traverse section.  Some 23 stations and about 700 kilometres of measurements were completed on this traverse section.


Nat Map’s Bob James, Field Assistant (Survey), left Melbourne separately with some Nat Map field staff and collected the balance of the Weapons Research Establishment personnel and vehicles in Adelaide.  This survey party then moved to the Giles area and beaconed the geodetic survey traverse from Mt Fanny to Mt Hardy in the Northern Territory.  This traverse included a spur from Mt Farewell to Sandford Cliff near the eastern shore of Lake Mackay which straddles the Western Australia-Northern Territory border.


Bob James’ survey party then commenced observing and were later joined by Allan Spowers and his survey party which had just completed the Kalgoorlie to Carnarvon Range traverse.  The Mt Fanny to Mt Hardy traverse was observed and measured; it involved 22 stations and a distance of about 650 kilometres.


Allan Spowers’ survey party then moved south to the Kingoonya area of South Australia, about 300 kilometres north-west of Port Augusta.  Here they beaconed, observed and measured the Kingoonya to Mt Wudinna geodetic survey traverse section before returning to Melbourne at the end of the field season.  This traverse involved 10 stations and the distance measured was about 180 kilometres.


Topographic survey work from Melbourne office in the early 1960s

At the start of 1961, Allan Spowers transferred to Nat Map’s Melbourne-based Topographic Survey Branch.  That year, National Mapping and other Commonwealth Public Service surveyor and other field officer positions were re-designated.  The Surveyor Grades 1-3 positions became Surveyors Class 1, Senior Surveyors became Surveyors Class 2, and Chief Surveyors became Supervising Surveyors (Surveyors Class 3).


Despite his extensive field survey work experience and achievements, Allan Spowers was re-designated as a Surveyor Class 1.  This outcome is believed to have been a factor in Allan’s decision to leave Nat Map in 1962.  While the surveyor and other field staff re‑designations were announced in 1961, it took a few years before these changes were reflected in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette notices.  For example some Nat Map appointments to Surveyor Grade 3 positions were still being promulgated in late 1963.


1961 field work: Surveyor Allan Spowers led a Nat Map barometric heighting survey field party that used this method of height determination to obtain vertical mapping control in an area generally to the south and east of Alice Springs.  The survey area included around the Ross River Resort about 70 kilometres east of Alice Springs, Erldunda Station on the Stuart Highway about 200 kilometres south of Alice Springs, Idracowra Station near the Finke River about 70 kilometres east of Erldunda, and Finke on the old Ghan railway about 220 kilometres south-east of Alice Springs.


Other field survey party members included: Surveyor Ted Seton, as well as John Colquhoun, Neil Fenton, Brian Daenke, Terry Douglas and Ivan Yodgee.  The Sydney-based Helicopter Utilities Pty Ltd provided a Bell 47G-2 helicopter to support the barometric heighting operations.  The helicopter pilot was Lance Yeates.


Later in 1961, Allan Spowers undertook spot photography from a chartered light aircraft of pre-marked survey points determined by astronomical observations over a wide area to the north and west of Alice Springs.  This survey area extended from around Central Mount Wedge to around Mount Doreen, The Granites, Tanami and Highland Rocks.  The points had been pre‑marked by Brian Daenke and others working in a field party under Surveyor Ted Seton.  Other field party members included Neil Fenton, John Colquhoun, Ivan Yodgee, and Terry Douglas.


Nat Map barometric heighting field party with AA120 series International vehicles at Ross River in 1961; from left: Ivan Yodgee, Allan Spowers, Brian Daenke, Neil Fenton, Ted Seton, and Terry Douglas.

XNatmap image provided by Terry Douglas.


1962 field work: Nat Map Surveyor Frank Leahy recalled working with Allan Spowers in 1962 on a gravity survey for the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics in the Eromanga and Cooper Basins of northern New South Wales and south-west Queensland (BMR Project No 196211).  The helicopter-supported survey observed 633 gravity stations on an approximate 11-kilometre (7-mile) grid.


The gravimetric observations measured small changes in gravity due to changes in the density of rocks beneath the Earth's surface.  Barometric heights were also obtained.  Bases used during the survey included Cunnamulla and Birdsville.  This survey party was working in the field in Queensland around the end of April 1962.


(Frank Leahy worked with Nat Map’s Melbourne office between 1961 and 1965 prior to taking up a position at the University of Melbourne where he went on to become Head of the Department of Surveying and later Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Engineering.)


Living in Melbourne 1950s

On a 1958 electoral roll, Allan Howard Spowers was listed as a surveyor residing at 1 Kensington Road South Yarra.


Photogrammetry course at ITC Enschede circa 1963

Allan Spowers is understood to have left National Mapping in Melbourne around 1962 to travel overseas for further study.  Allan undertook a course in photogrammetry at the International Training Centre located at Enschede in the eastern Netherlands about 140 kilometres east of Amsterdam and about 5 kilometres west of the border with Germany.  ITC was founded in 1950 as the International Training Centre for Aerial Survey and is now formally the University of Twente, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation.


After his return from the Netherlands, Allan Spowers is understood to have taken a position, presumably in photogrammetry, with the engineering consultancy firm Gutteridge Haskins and Davey in Melbourne.  This firm had an extensive surveying practice and a considerable photogrammetry capability.  This capability included undertaking contract work for National Mapping on the 1:100 000 scale national topographic map series.


At Gutteridge Haskins and Davey in Melbourne, Allan Spowers worked with Phillip Waldemar Meinhardt.  Phillip had studied photogrammetry at the then Institute of Technology at Delft in the Netherlands and was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Science (Photogrammetric Engineering).  Philip was registered as a Licensed Surveyor by the Surveyors Board of Victoria on 3 September 1968.  Phillip went on to become GH&D’s chief photogrammetrist and by the 1990s was the Surveying subject coordinator in the Department of Civil Engineering at Monash University’s Clayton campus.


Living back in Brisbane

On a 1968 electoral roll, Allan Howard Spowers was listed as a surveyor residing at 147 Gladstone Road in the inner Brisbane suburb of Highgate Hill.


Living in Melbourne 1970s

On a 1972 electoral roll, Allan Howard Spowers was listed as a surveyor residing at 10/10 Avondale Road Armadale.  In the early 1970s, Allan Spowers’ business address was Gutteridge Haskins and Davey 380 Lonsdale Street Melbourne.  GH&D had occupied these Lonsdale Street premises in 1966 and remained there until they were destroyed by fire in 1982.


In the early 1970s, Gutteridge Haskins and Davey apparently decided to reduce the size of its Melbourne photogrammetry operation and Allan Spowers sought employment opportunities elsewhere.


Survey Branch/ Survey Division/ Australian Survey Office, Canberra from 1974

On 11 March 1974, Allan Howard Spowers was appointed as a Land Surveyor Class 2 in Canberra with the Survey Branch, Department of Services and Property.  Allan’s appointment was promulgated on page 120 of the Australian Government Gazette, Issue No P4 on Friday 27 June 1975.


In April 1974, the Survey Branch was renamed the Survey Division within the Department of Services and Property.  In October 1975, the Survey Division was renamed the Australian Survey Office and came within the Department of Administrative Services.


On 20 November 1975, Allan Howard Spowers was registered as a surveyor by the Surveyors Board of the Australian Capital Territory (Registration No 221).  On the Board’s lists of surveyors registered between 17 February 1977 and 29 July 1987, in accordance with Section 17 of the Surveyors Ordinance 1967, Allan’s address was the Australian Survey Office Unit 2, Cameron Offices, Chandler Street Belconnen ACT 2617.  (Construction of the Cameron offices commenced in 1970, they were completed in 1977 with progressive occupancy from 1973.)


Part of the Cameron Offices in Chandler Street Belconnen.

Edited image from docomomoaustralia web site.


During his time with the Australian Survey Office in Belconnen, Allan Spowers mostly worked on photogrammetry assignments.  During some of his time at ASO, Allan was supervised by Surveyor Douglas James White who went on to become a State Office Manager with ASO and later with the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group.


Mapping for regional growth centres

One of Allan’s early projects at ASO, during the time of the Australian Labor Party Government (from December 1972 to November 1975) under Prime Minister Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC (1916-2014) was large scale photogrammetric mapping for proposed regional growth centres under a New Cities Program.  Allan Spowers’ large scale photogrammetric mapping was known to have been used to initiate the development in growth centres at Geelong, Albury-Wodonga and Bathurst-Orange under this program.


(The Whitlam Government’s New Cities Program was led by World War II veteran Tom Uren AC (1921-2015) who was Minister for Urban and Regional Development.  The program was wide in its scope and as well as Albury‑Wodonga, Bathurst-Orange and Geelong involved a number of other locations including Holsworthy, Menai, Campbelltown, Camden, Gosford‑Wyong, South-east Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula, Townsville, Gladstone, and Rockhampton.)


Mapping assistance for Pacific Island Sates

Allan Spowers also undertook a considerable large scale photogrammetric mapping project as part of the Australian Government’s assistance for the island States in the South Pacific region; including Fiji and Samoa.


Alice Springs to Darwin railway mapping project

Allan Spowers managed a large scale photogrammetric strip mapping project for the proposed railway corridor from Bond Springs to Darwin.  These strip maps formed the basis for the design of the 1 420 kilometre standard gauge railway route between Alice Springs and Darwin.  (The section between Bond Springs and Alice Springs was mapped previously as part of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs railway line route design.)


(In January 1983, the Liberal-National Party Coalition Government under Prime Minister John Malcolm Fraser AC CH GCL PC (1930-2015) announced its intention to extend the standard gauge railway from Alice Springs to Darwin.  It planned to open the complete Adelaide to Darwin railway as a bicentennial achievement in 1988.  However, in March 1983 a new Australian Labor Party Government was elected under Prime Minister Robert James Lee Hawke AC GCL (1929-2019).  The new government cancelled the project and it languished for some years.  The project was renewed by the Liberal-National Party Coalition Government under Prime Minister John Winston Howard OM AC SSI (born 1939).  Construction of the Alice Springs to Darwin section began in July 2001 and was completed in September 2003 with trains operating from early 2004.)


(Construction of the 830 kilometre standard gauge railway line from Tarcoola on the Trans Australia Railway, about 360 kilometres north-west of Port Augusta in South Australia, to Alice Springs began in April 1975 and the new line opened in October 1980.  This line replaced the narrow gauge Central Australia Railway [the Ghan] that ran from Port Augusta via Oodnadatta to Alice Springs and was completed in 1929.  The early 1970s route design for the Tarcoola to Alice Springs railway line extended to Bond Springs on the northern side of the MacDonnell Ranges about 20 kilometres north of Alice Springs.)


Terrestrial photography for heritage sites in the ACT and NSW

Also during his time with ASO, Allan Spowers worked with Surveyor Russell John Wenholz undertaking terrestrial photography for the National Trust of Australia of heritage sites in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales.  Sites involved during this field work included :


·       The Australian War Memorial in Campbell.

·       Lambrigg homestead off the Tharwa Road at Paddy’s River about 20 kilometres south of Canberra.  Here William Farrer (1845-1906) worked on genetic selection for wheat varieties including the famous rust resistant high yield Federation variety.  As well as the homestead, the work at Lambrigg included the nearby laboratory where Farrer conducted his experiments.  (The bodies of William Farrer and his wife Nina were buried at Lambrigg.)

·       The Australian Institute of Anatomy at Acton that is now occupied by the National Film and Sound Archive.

·       Colverwell family gravestones at Glenburn Homestead on the southern edge of Kowen Forest near the New South Wales border about 10 kilometres north-east of Queanbeyan; the Colverwell family settled in the area in 1831 and were the first Europeans to do so.

·       Bishopthorpe a 2-storey bluestone manor on the north-western outskirts of Goulburn that was built in 1870 for the Right Reverend Mesac Thomas (1816-1892), the first bishop of Goulburn.


Lambrigg homestead circa 1900.

Edited image from De Salis Family Album on Wikipedia web site.


William Farrer's laboratory at Lambrigg circa 1898 shortly after it was built.

Edited image from De Salis Family Album on Wikipedia web site.


Living in Canberra from early 1970s

On electoral rolls for 1977 and 1980 Allan Howard Spowers was listed as a surveyor residing at 14 Parer Place in the Belconnen suburb of Scullin.  (1980 is the last available publicly searchable electoral roll.)  Also on a 1980 electoral roll, Allan’s mother Nancy Grace Spowers was listed as residing at 2 Norman Street in the southern Canberra suburb of Deakin; previously Nancy had resided in the Spowers’ Brisbane family home at 39 Honour Avenue Chelmer.


When Allan Spowers first came to Canberra in 1974, he would have dinner each Friday night with Colin Fuller, Colin’s wife Judith, and their 5 children at the Fuller family home in Jalanga Crescent in the Belconnen suburb of Aranda.  Allan apparently enjoyed his long association with the Fuller family.


After the Australian Survey Office

Allan Spowers is understood to have left the Australian Survey Office in the latter part of the 1980s.  However, he continued to reside in Canberra.  After his retirement Allan returned to Malaysia a couple of times seeking to locate his childhood nanny who apparently had more to do with him as a child than his parents did.


Allan Spowers’ Scullin home in July 2022.

Edited image from Russell Wenholz.


Allan Spowers never married.  Like many bachelors, particularly as he became older, Allan was fairly intolerant; often his way of doing things was the only way and his interests seemed to be the only worthwhile interests.  Allan’s opinions could rarely be changed on any subject.  Those who didn’t know Allan well often found him unreasonable; almost rude.  However, Allan could often laugh at himself.


For many years from the 1990s, Allan would have lunch about twice a year with Russell Wenholz and his wife Louisa in Canberra.  Allan also maintained regular social contact with former ASO/AUSLIG surveyors Doug White and Col Fuller.


Allan remained interested in computing and, even in retirement, was up with the latest devices; particularly sound systems.  He had a great music collection on vinyl records that he donated after he had all his music stored electronically.  Allan was a classical music enthusiast and had a room in his Scullin home for listening to music and watching movies.  Allan’s favourite classical music was that of the French Romantic composer Louis-Hector Berlioz (1803-1869).


Allan’s music tastes also extended to popular music but only up to the 1950s.  His favourite artist was Peggy Lee.  (Peggy Lee [1920-2022] was an American jazz and popular music singer and songwriter; who was born as Norma Deloris Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota to a Swedish‑American father and a Norwegian-American mother.  Peggy Lee died in Los Angeles, California at 81 years of age.)


Allan Spowers was also a good photographer and was always up with new developments in that field.  Allan handed in his driver’s licence in 2008 after he turned 80 years of age.  He walked for exercise and also rode a push bike.  Allan had an electric bike but only for a short time as he had a couple of busters with it.


In December 2021, Allan Spowers was a patient at the Canberra University Hospital in Guraguma Street Bruce.  At that time a fellow hospital patient was former ASO/AUSLIG Assistant Surveyor General Col Fuller.  Apparently Allan and Col were able to chat about the old days.


Allan Spowers (left) and Col Fuller at Canberra University Hospital in December 2021.

Edited image provided by Col Fuller.


Allan Spowers in 2022

Allan had his 94th birthday on 28 April 2022.  Around July 2022, Allan Spowers was residing at the Canberra nursing home complex Villaggio Sant' Antonio that is located at 35 Burkitt Street Page and he was said to be in frail health.




During the research and preparation of this article the following people generously provided assistance:

·       Kaye Nardella, senior curator of the Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying, Brisbane

·       Bill Kitson, former senior curator of the Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying, Brisbane

·       Colin Fuller AM, former Assistant Commonwealth Surveyor General

·       Russell Wenholz, former Australian Survey Office and AUSLIG surveyor

·       Doug White, former Australian Survey Office and AUSLIG surveyor and manager

·       Syd Kirkby AO MBE, former Nat Map surveyor and assistant director

·       Frank Leahy, former Nat Map surveyor

·       David Carstens, former Nat Map (Antarctic) surveyor

·       Terry Douglas, former Nat Map technical officer

·       Paul Wise OAM, former Nat Map surveyor and founder, operator, and editor-in-chief of the XNatmap web site.


The author gratefully acknowledges the kind assistance provided by each of these people.