Alfred Ernest “Alf” Chittock

Alf Chittock Portrait B&W

Born in Hindmarsh, South Australia, on the 31st August 1913  the eldest son of Arthur Henry Chittock and Helene Matilda Wilhelmina (Kolosche)   Alf had only one sibling, a brother, Frederick Edwin Chittock (1916-2005)

Alf did his Primary education at Hindmarsh Private School and later completed his secondary education at the Thebarton Technical College. After leaving school he was apprenticed as a fitter and turner machinist

The Depression and drought years in South Australia during the early 1930’s saw Alf unemployed.

1939 he enlisted in the Army  but was discharged after four days when it was found he was employed in civilian essential services. Again he enlisted in 1944 and spent most of World War II making barrels for anti-tank guns before spending two years at army bases in NSW. He was discharged after the hostilities ended in 1945 with the rank of Acting Sargent

He was employed by Pove Products and Hercus Manufacturing Tool Makers in Adelaide after the war.

Eye trouble led to hospital, and in 1949 a cousin, Dick Turner, (a pioneer of wolfram mining) advised a change of environment and organised a job for Alf, mining with him at Wauchope NT. When the Korean War broke out, wolfram  prices soared, and Dick and Alf both benefited. (Wolfram is also known as tungsten)

A mate, Jim Taylor, was accidentally shot, happily not fatally, and Alf offered to help in his butcher’s shop in Tennant Creek while he recuperated. Taylor was so grateful he signed over half the business to him. Alf later bought him out, then bought out the only other butcher in town. Butchery was not the most hygienic practice then. Alf would kill cattle at Banka Banka Station, quarter the carcasses and cart them 110 kilometres to town in a utility, covered with foliage. The Territory administration, thinking this “a bit uncivilised”, told Alf to build a slaughterhouse. After organising supply contracts with other stations, he would travel 1,000 kilometres a fortnight to get cattle to town. The Territory of the 1950s was entering its first mining boom and men were flocking to the area. They worked hard, and ate a lot of meat.

Like many in butchering, Alf doubled as the local SP bookie, which was illegal, of course, but a Saturday punt was part of life. After the Territory administration licensed betting shops, they invited Alf to apply for a licence, he had some experience after all. Alf was to hold a betting licence until the TAB took over on the 1 July 1985.

Had the trading stores at Peko Mine, later at Warrego Mine (known as the Apollo Store)

In the Territory there was no problem in a betting butcher running for political office. Rather, it was a political advantage, because he knew everyone. Alf was instrumental in the affairs of Tennant Creek, involved with Local Town Progress  Association until it closed in 1965 due to lack of attendance, becoming chairman of the Town Management Board.  Alf ran for Mayor when elected councils were established in 1978. He won, and became Tennant Creek’s first Mayor. He held this position with the Tennant Creek Town Council for ten years. He was also instrumental in setting up the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory.

In 1979 he was awarded the Order of Australia for service to the community

Alf died on Christmas Day 2007 in Darwin, Northern Territory, aged 94 years of age

Having agreed to give the town a try for three months in 1950, Alf Chittock lived in Tennant Creek for 57 years. He is survived by his partner Emmy, whom he met in 1957  at the Tennant Creek Hotel.

He was involved in the Masons of Central Australia Lodge,  Returned Soldiers and Services League,  Red Cross, Senior Citizens Club, was a foundation member of the Lions Club, Sporties Club and the Memo Club in Tennant Creek. Alf also supported the many and varied sporting clubs, often providing uniforms and equipment when their funds were low. In fact, if you want to find the epitome of what the heart of the Territory is about, you would look no further than Alf Chittock.

In 2010 “Chittock Crescent” was named after him as Alf had become an institution in Tennant Creek, as butcher, bookie, mayor and true character of northern Australia.

Read more … LINK –  “Memories of Alfie” written by Gavin Carpenter

References …

Genealogy – “The trunk, some branches and a fair few twigs” – http://www.shirley-elrick.com/p6844.htm  : Ancestry.com.au  : “Butcher mayor bookie and more” – Sunday Morning Herald, January 24 2008  : Facebook group – “Tennant Creek Friends” : Bruce McRae : A.E. Chittock “This Is Your Life” –  Appreciation Dinner 6 August 1988 (story and photos)