LEICESTER WARBURTON (1921
Leicester Warburton, long-term offshore resident and
former editor of Scotland Island’s newsletter, died
yesterday at the age of 101.
Leicester and his wife, Florence, bought on the island in
1962 and spent much of their time here until moving off in
2004. For 28 of those 42 years Leicester ran S.I. News,
the island newsletter. Leicester took over the paper in
1972, running it until 2000, when it became the Pittwater
in the 1940s
Born in 1921, Leicester started his career as a cadet
journalist on Sydney’s evening paper The Sun. He
enlisted in the RAAF in World War II, serving with a
bomber squadron in Borneo. It was while on leave that he
met his wife, Florence Goetze, in the Sydney offices of Woman
magazine. They were to remain married for over 70
years, producing two daughters and a son.
After the war Leicester spent a period in Canberra,
working for a political party. Not wanting to be separated
from his wife, Leicester returned to Sydney, moving with
Florence to North Curl Curl, where they lived for 26
years. It was during this period that Leicester discovered
Scotland Island, happening upon it while out on a country
drive with his eldest daughter, Jane. This led to the
‘impulsive purchase’ of a block on Florence Terrace.
By the time of his purchase on Scotland Island Leicester
had already switched to a career in advertising, working
for British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines, which operated
trans-Pacific flights before being taken over by Qantas.
Leicester then worked for a ‘hard-driving young publisher’
Rupert Murdoch in connection with the 1964 launch of The
Australian newspaper. This was an unhappy time for
Leicester, who later spoke openly of his alcoholism and
the strain this put on his marriage. Even so, Florence
remained ‘loyally supportive’.
Despite these setbacks, Leicester’s career in advertising
flourished and by the late 1960s he was well respected in
the industry. Indeed islander Penny Wise remembers that
Leicester was an early contact for her when she first
moved from England to Australia looking for a career in
the media. Leicester had no work for her, but when they
later became close neighbours on Florence Terrace a
with his wife, Florence,
their two eldest children, Jane and Mark.
‘He was just gorgeous’, she recalls. ‘He loved the island,
swimming outside his home every day’. It was during one
such swim that Leicester and some neighbours dived to the
bottom of Pittwater for what they thought might be a box
of legendary sunken treasure. It turned out to be a dumped
In 1972 Leicester inherited S.I. News from Ian
‘Bunks’ Carmichael. Older island residents will recall
Leicester delivering the paper house to house on the
island, something Leicester recounted in an article he
wrote for the PON in 2013, reproduced below.
Surprisingly, Leicester never lived full-time on the
island. Starting as a weekender, after retirement he
became the inverse, spending weekdays offshore and
weekends on the lower north shore. But through his
editorship of S.I. News Leicester won fans across
the island. 'I was very fond of him', says Jenny Cullen.
‘He was a real gentleman’, recalls Gill Unwin. ‘A lovely,
friendly guy’, remembers Alison Uren.
with his friends at the 'Cremorne Coffee
Club', Cremorne Point
Unfortunately the rigours of island life became too much
for Florence and the couple moved to Cremorne Point in
2004, having already handed over S.I. News to Paul
Purvis, who renamed it the Pittwater Offshore
Sadly Florence developed dementia and in 2015 he made the
‘heartbreaking decision’ to move her to a nursing home.
After more than 70 years together, Leicester described the
‘ache of separation’ as ‘almost unbearable’. After
Florence died in 2016 Leicester, with admirable candour,
spoke about loneliness that might have driven him close to
suicide. Fortunately he found solace in the Cremorne
Coffee Club, a group of friends who met daily at a café at
Cremorne Point Wharf.
In time the challenges of independent living became too
much for Leicester and he moved to Uniting The Garrison
aged care home in Mosman. It was while living there that
he suffered a stroke earlier this month.
‘Our astonishing father, who has bounced back from so many
challenges in his 101 years, passed away very early this
morning’, said his family yesterday. ‘We are very grateful
to the wonderful staff of the Garrison, Royal North Shore
and Northern Beaches Hospitals for their care and
Leicester leaves not only his children but also
grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His family say that
a celebration of his life will be held in the near future.
with Florence, his wife of more than 70
When Scotland Island had
its very own newspaper
Leicester was a
writer, so it seems fitting to let him tell of his
offshore journalistic endeavours in his own words. The
following article, written by Leicester, first
appeared in the PON on 1 November 2013.
Most recent arrivals on the gem of Pittwater are unaware
that a record of life on the island over 60 years ago is
archived in the Mona Vale Library Local Studies Unit for
residents to read at their leisure.
It was back in 1955 when the first two-page issue of the
Scotland Island Progress Association Newsletter
was born, printed on an ancient Gestetner and with a
print run of about 50 copies. Not many were needed in
those days. Residents were mainly week-enders on
waterfronts with only a couple of houses owned by
courageous climbers higher up in the thick foliage.
Those early copies are faded now and so is my memory of
the name of the first editor who later fled to Gosford.
I think it was Geoff Steen. But the second was Ian
'Bunks' Carmichael, a senior executive at the ABC, who
lived to survive a giant gum tree, blasted by a fierce
nighttime storm, topple over his house and come down,
cutting the house in two while they slept. His term as
editor lasted for two years, rallying residents to an
occasional meeting in the fireshed which stood, in those
days, just near the end of the Tennis Wharf walkway.
One day 'Bunks' announced that he was being sent to
London by the ABC to head the office there. Some sort of
fall guy or eager beaver was required to take over the
island editor’s mantle. It seems I was to be the bunny.
It lasted for 28 years. It was during this time that Scotland
was more conveniently condensed into S.I.
and so it was referred to ever after.
Interestingly the subheading of 'the journal of the
Progress Association' was later replaced by 'the journal
of the Residents Association' when it was decided the
residents felt the sylvan peace of the island could be
marred by the suburbanisation of progress per se.
of Gwyn Perkins' inimitable cartoons
relating to offshore life
I had trained as a journalist but was working in
advertising at the time so I did have some useful
background experience to contribute. I was also able to
utilise some of my secretary's free time to cut the
necessary stencils for our printing. As time went on I
was able to utilise the services of one of the artists
at the agency to design a far more professional and
punchy masthead for the title page. Later, I inveigled
Gwyn Perkins to contribute his skilled illustrations of
topical island activities laced with his wonderful sense
of humour. This he continues to this day in the paper’s
outstandingly modern successor, Pittwater Offshore
, at the beginning of each month.
I set myself a whimsical task one day about halfway
through my editorship with a sub-sub-headed alliterative
line like 'the quixotically quidnuncial quarterly of the
Scotland Island Residents’ Association' or 'the
roguishly riparian report'. I found my readers were
wondering amusedly what bizarre piece of alliteration
was coming in the next issue!
Right from the start I was determined to make the
occasional publication as folksy and personal as
possible as well as an Association news-sheet. I felt it
would help to build a sense of community and personalise
the place when one side of the island did not see or
know much about the other side. New babies, new
arrivals, new services, all the special information to
make the escape from suburbia entertaining
without being intrusive. Later I began a
series of interviews uncovering the wide-ranging
experience and careers of residents under the heading of
'The people we know'. When it was felt necessary we
included editorials urging action or improvement.
Problems at Church Point were a continuous news source.
They still are.
The introduction of advertising had to come. So much
began to happen as the population grew and the need to
know kept growing. Eventually the print run passed 300.
Issues now ran to eight pages. Collation was quite a job
for my helpful family.
For many years I had handled the distribution alone most
of the time with occasional help from my wife. Every
issue was delivered into the hand or, at least, to the
door. On one very warm day at the end of my run I
debated whether I would climb a steep track to the last
house or not. Finally, when I staggered around the back
there on the mat was a copy delivered by my wife from
the top of the island! On hot days this could also be a
serious hazard as generous and sociable islanders would
offer a cooling but usually alcoholic drink. After
several collisions with trees as a result, I was
compelled to decline after that.
There were other hazards. I was bitten by dogs eight
times, on one occasion twice by the same dog. First it
bit my calf at the front door of the house. Then, when I
found its owner at the back, it ran through the house
and bit me again.
Then came the remarkable improvement with offset
printing and first use of computers. The convenience of
instant correction to 'typos' made all the messing about
with obliterations unnecessary. Once, while the dear old
ferry, the Curlew, waited, a major change was effected
right on printing deadline.
It was March,
1995, that the last issue of SINEWS appeared,
celebrating 40 years of publication, sharing the
anniversary with the bush fire brigade for the same
length of service.
The sterling character Paul Purvis, an expert on
computers and now of Elvina Bay, felt it was timely to
embrace the internet and gather information for all
residents of West Pittwater with the introduction of a
more contemporary news service with the Pittwater
. It was immediate. It was
fast. And it was sooo easy to deliver. He even recruited
me to write a monthly historic piece with the quaint
title of 'History Corner' which ran for two years.
Subsequently he handed over editorship to Julian Muir
who has continued to do a remarkable and dedicated job.
I am sure he would agree that it can be hard work but it
leaves you with a good feeling.
Thanks, Leicester. A good
writer is never silenced.
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