Royal Reels: Gambling


This large commercial airmail cover was sent from General Motors-Holden Ltd., Melbourne to Mr. Len Nettlefold, C/- Robt. Nettlefold Pty. Ltd., 113-115 Macquarie St., Hobart, Tasmania. It is thought to have the largest block of violet eight 9d ‘Roo on Map of Australia’ stamps on cover, augmented by a block of 4 as well as a pair of chestnut 6d stamps of the same stamp design (a total postage of nine shillings), all cancelled with a MELBOURNE/ 16/ 1JE31/ VIC. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

Leonard Nettlefold , golfer & businessman was born on 16 October 1905 at Bellerive, Hobart, one of 3 children of Isaac Robert Nettlefold, a Tasmanian-born assurance agent, and his wife Edith Maria. Encouraged by his father to join him in learning the game of golf on a 9-hole golfcourse at Wharncliff (the family property on the Huon River), he developed as a natural left-hander and soon played off low handicaps. In 1926 he won the Australian Amateur championship. One year later he was runner-up in the Swiss and a quarter-finalist in the British amateur championships. Australian amateur champion again in 1928, Nettlefold combined with Ivo Whitton to take the national foursomes title in 1932. He captained the Australian team which toured Britain in 1938. Between 1924 and 1947 he won sixteen Tasmanian amateur championships, including eight Open titles (1930-32, 1934-37 and 1947).

He had numerous other successes in men’s and mixed foursomes, often partnered by his father or his sister Mollie. A prodigious hitter off the tee, he held many Australian club records. In 1927 he had equalled the amateur record for the old course at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Scotland. In his later years Nettlefold helped in the administration of his chosen sport. He was president (1947-60) of the Tasmanian Golf Council, a State delegate to the Australian Golf Union for much of the period 1932-56, and president (1944-47 and 1960-64) of the Kingston Beach Golf Club.

At St Clement’s Anglican Church, Kingston, on 1 October 1934 Nettlefold had married Beryl Olga Heathorn. In the mid-1930s, when his father became chairman of directors of the family’s motor-trade business, Robert Nettlefold Pty Ltd (which held the Tasmanian franchise for General Motors), Len succeeded him as managing director. From May 1943 to March 1944 he served as an intelligence officer in the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was appointed a director of several radio and television companies, he was also a foundation trustee of the Van Diemen’s Land Memorial Folk Museum, a councillor (1957-69) and life member (1971) of the Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania, and a State council-member of the Fairbridge Society.

Nettlefold was a successful and prosperous businessman who gave generously to philanthropic organizations. He helped young sportsmen financially, but always on the condition that they make some small contribution themselves. An extremely private person, he had accepted community adulation for his sporting achievements, but shunned it fiercely in all other respects. In 1960 he was appointed C.B.E. Survived by his wife, son and two daughters, he died of a heart attack on 4 October 1971 at Honolulu, Hawaii, and was buried in the graveyard of the church where he was married. His estate was sworn for probate at $1,211,676. Nettlefold’s name was listed (1988) in the Tasmanian Sporting Hall of Fame, Launceston.

His father Robert was born on 25 July 1877 at Tunnack and was educated at Rev. Gray’s grammar school, leaving to gain experience in a succession of businesses before beginning his own in 1904 as a general merchant in Macquarie Street, Hobart. On 29 October 1898 he married 19-year-old Edith Maria Hutchison from Adelaide, at Bellerive. A representative of the Victoria Insurance Co. Ltd in 1905-12, he combined selling fire insurance to farmers with dealing in their wool, skins and produce, later selling them their farm machinery through his franchise from the International Harvester Co. (Australia) Pty Ltd. In 1910 he founded the motor garage business, Robert Nettlefold Pty Ltd.

Robert was the most versatile and successful sportsman of the family (his elder brother William was a leading amateur billiards and bowls player), holding tennis, royal tennis and table tennis titles, including a Tasmanian doubles tennis championship. When he turned to golf he won Tasmanian titles and the Rotary International Championship at Brussels in 1928. A member of the Royal and Ancient Club, St Andrews, Scotland, he founded the Kingston Beach, Hobart, golf club. He was also a keen cricketer and angler. An Anglican, he was a churchwarden and parish representative at synod. He died of coronary vascular disease on 16 September 1946 at Kingston, and was buried there. His wife, a son and two daughters survived him.

The above text was extracted from the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

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