An engineer of progress for the city

George Clement Frost endeared himself to many people during his lifetime, being described as a man who lived to serve others, a man who rendered distinguished service to his fellow man over a period of almost 50 years.

Born in Suffolk, England in 1869, George Frost knew hardship during his early life; he said he was “with the underdog all the time” and this no doubt played a major part in his readiness to help those in need.

At age nine he had to leave morning school and become a “half-timer”, but he still managed to pass his examinations.

Seeing no prospect of advancement at home, he left England at the age of 20, bound for Australia and soon after arriving in Victoria, came to Maryborough and found work with baker, Herman Lobeck where he remained for the next five years.

Mr Frost purchased the bakery from Mr Lobeck and continued to operate the business until 1919.

Reporting on his death in 1942, The Maryborough Advertiser quoted stories of George Frost’s life — his midnight bread deliveries in all weathers and conditions; his repeated actions in leaving bread for poor families and omitting to render an account; his walking of long distances to pursue his parliamentary business; his constant “dipping into his pocket” to assist needy persons, all incidents which made him a remarkable personality, and a man beloved by all sections of the community for his kindness and consideration.

“George Frost has gone!

“Maryborough will miss him.

“That was the universal comment heard in Maryborough yesterday when news of his death became known” reported the paper.

“Those who knew him best realised there must be an inevitable end to the vigorous life which he led, but they, too, were shocked at the announcement of his death.

“In every corner of his constituency, yes, in almost every home, he was known as a sincere friend, benefactor and adviser, and because of this hundreds will miss his helping hand.

“Officers of public departments in Melbourne knew him as a man who courteously refused to take no for an answer.

“For that reason his work for his constituents became famous.

“No request that was entered in his little black book was ever erased until finality had been reached.”

It was said Mr Frost had political enemies, having been elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1920, defeating Alfred Outtrim, but personal animosity towards him was practically unknown.

For 40 years Mr Frost entertained pensioners and pioneers at a Christmas party; he never celebrated the meal with his own family during that time.

For some years after his death, the local branch of the ALP carried on the Christmas tradition.

In a Through The Office Window segment in the Maryborough Advertiser in 1948, Harold Nunn wrote about “George Frost’s Boys”.

“It was characteristic of George Frost to think of others, he lived very much for that purpose, and that is why Maryborough has cause to remember him with so much affection.

“One had to mix with old men to realise how much they gained from George Frost’s generosity.

“That much was my privilege, and it will remain a happy memory for me.

“Some were men who had seen better days; others were hardy types from mud huts in the bush.

“George Frost, however, cared naught for their social standing.

“So long as they were lonely at Christmas time they were welcome to his party.

“It was a wonderful thought on the part of a man who found his pleasure in that of others.”

As a businessman in Maryborough George Frost immersed himself in the affairs of the community, elected to the Borough Council in 1913, holding his seat until 1927, when he retired due to increased parliamentary duties.

He served as Mayor in 1917-18, 1923-24 and 1926-27.

During the First World War he involved himself in patriotic movements and chaired a number of committees which raised large amounts of money.

At the end of the war he presided over the Repatriation committee.

George Frost served on the Technical School Council as member and president, was treasurer of the Maryborough Citizens’ Brass Band and the Ambulance Car committee, chairman of directors of Patience and Nicholson, director of the Maryborough Knitting Mill, member of the Swimming Club, Railway Employees’ Picnic committee and the Highland Society.

In 1920 he entered State Parliament as a representative of Maryborough, defeating sitting member, Alfred Outtrim; he held the Labor Party seat until his death.

When the Maryborough seat merged with the seat of Daylesford, George Frost, serving a wider constituency, found it necessary to retire from many organisations.

George Frost played a major part in the progress and development of Maryborough, when the glory of the mining era was over.

Maryborough was at a low ebb.

Mining activities had declined and several local industries had closed, namely the Soho Foundry and the Maryborough and District Brewing Company.

What was to become of the town?

Mayor George Frost held a public meeting to address the problems; 400 people talked for almost three hours about possible ways forward.

The Maryborough Progress Association came into being, with an industrial policy and various proposals to follow up.

During the first 12 months of operation, the group had attracted cool stores and a butter factory to Maryborough.

Cream from local farms had previously been sent to butter factories at Ballarat, Clunes, Wallace and Newstead.

Rabbits and eggs could be stored in the freezing chambers; the butter factory gained a contract for rabbit and hare freezing, creating employment and helping many local families stave off starvation during the long, hard years of depression.

After much campaigning, in 1923 the Progress Association enticed what was to become the Maryborough Knitting Mills to set up operations in the town and in 1924, Patience and Nicholson Pty Ltd Toolmakers were attracted by the town’s progressive policy.

Throughout those years, residents were called upon and rallied to raise large amounts of share capital.

A plaque above the entrance to the original P&N factory reads: “This industry stands as a memorial to the late George Frost Esq., MLA, whose untiring efforts played such a large part in the establishment and development of same.”

George Frost, MLA opened the Pioneers’ Memorial Tower on Bristol Hill in 1933.

He unveiled the Simson Memorial in Kennedy Street in 1939.

George Frost died suddenly at his home in Napier Street in 1942.

Before unveiling a memorial plaque in the Maryborough Hospital in December, 1946 Clive Stoneham, then Minister for Transport and Decentralisation, said the late Mr George Frost left behind him many intangible memorials in the hearts of countless people whom he befriended; he also left several concrete memorials in the form of industries in this town, and today we are gathered to unveil a memorial plaque as an official recognition by his admirers of the great humanitarian work that he accomplished while in our midst.

Funds had been raised to purchase a portable X-ray plant.

Inscription on a plaque on the X-ray plant read:

In commemoration of the

Distinguished Public Service

rendered by

GEORGE C. FROST, Esq M.L.A.

This portable X-ray plant was

presented to this Hospital

by his admirers

1945

A plaque displayed on the wall of the hospital, is similarly worded.

Frost Avenue in Maryborough bears his name.

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