Edward John Doran: District Governor, District 76, 1940-1941

 
Edward John Doran - photo and certificate
Edward John Doran, and a copy of the Objects of Rotary signed by him as District Governor
 
Edward John Doran was born on the 16th of September 1865.  He was the son of Irish immigrants, Patrick and Catherine Doran, who had migrated from County Carlow and had settled in West Maitland.
 
Leaving school at the customary age of 14, he entered the workforce, following his older brother Patrick into the State Telegraph Department.  He said later that, as a cadet, he "formed the sole postal service at Muswellbrook".  (His brother Patrick later entered the Priesthood, eventually becoming a very popular Archdeacon at Canowindra.)
 
Following the inauguration of the Transport Service in 1879, Edward transferred to the Railway Service, where his father was also employed.  At that time, the Northern Railway Service ran only from Newcastle to Quirindi - some 244 miles (or 393kms).  He said later that during his time with the Railways he was employed "at practically all the stations between Hawkesbury and the Border of Queensland".
 
In April 1888 Edward married Rose Mary Walsh.  Theirs was a long and very happy marriage; at their Golden Wedding celebrations in 1938 it was described as "a happy partnership which has been productive of so much benefit to others, as well as to themselves".  Together they had 12 children - and together experienced the heartbreak of losing 7 of them in infancy.  5 children survived, 3 daughters and 2 sons.  Both boys (Arthur and John) would eventually join the Transport Service also.  As well, Edward's brother Joseph became Depot Master at Tempe Tramway Depot, another brother, Denis, was a traffic inspector with the Railways Department and yet another, James, became Stationmaster at Beecroft.  Indeed, the Dorans were very much a ‘transport family’.
 
Edward transferred to the Tramways branch of the Service in 1895.  By 1914 the family had moved to Warren Road Marrickville and Edward had become the Traffic Manager.  Later he went on to become the Tramways Manager, a position he held until his retirement in 1930, when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 65.
 
Trams were originally horse-drawn vehicles, with steam trams being first introduced in Sydney in 1879.  Some of these were double-decked, and Edward later reminisced that these were notoriously top heavy and it was not uncommon for them to "capsize on the route, until they were withdrawn".  Steam trams ran until 1910, being gradually replaced by electric trams, with cable trams being used in North Sydney and the Eastern Suburbs where the gradients were too steep for conventional trams.  When Edward Doran joined the Service, there was only one steam tramway running into the City through Elizabeth Street, serving a very limited suburban area.  By the time he retired, tramways had increased to 200, and revenue increased from £283,000 to £4.5million.  At that time too, Edward declared that the electric tramway system in Sydney was "second to none in the world".
 
Upon his retirement, Edward received a presentation from the Cable Tramways Veterans' Association of a bookrest made of wood taken from one of the first Sydney cable cars.
 
In 1919, Edward Doran was sent by the Government to study Tramways in the U.S. and Canada, reporting back in February 1920 that the system here was superior and in much better financial shape than those he had studied there, especially in New York.  In its heyday in the 1920's, the Sydney tramway network serving the inner suburbs was the largest in Australia and the second largest in the British Commonwealth (after London).  Trams were described as being "quiet, fast, clean and enormously popular".  It was possible for trams to transport over 80,000 people to Randwick Racecourse, for example, and disperse the crowd within 20 minutes of the finish – an achievement unsurpassed today.  In many ways, the Sydney Tram system was a victim of its own success: the crowded, heaving trams, running at high frequency in increasing competition with private cars and buses ended up being blamed for the congestion caused by the latter.  Line closures began from the late 1930's.  After the end of WW2, overseas experts were called in and advised the closure of the system.  This was not supported by the general population, but became Labor government policy.  The last tram ran on 25 February 1961, to La Perouse (driven by Czech-born Jerry Valek).
 
Throughout his career, Edward Doran was noted as having the best interests of his workers at heart.  The "Great Strike" of 1917 was particularly difficult for him.  It was called in support of railway workers in Sydney and ran for 6 weeks (2 August - 8 September).  Over 100,000 workers went on strike, mainly in NSW and Victoria, including almost 2/3rds of railway and tramway workers.  The Acting Premier, Sir George Fuller, ordered Edward Doran to run the service regardless of the strike.  And so, during the strike, middle-class men and boys from business or study (e.g. Sydney University and Sydney Grammar) crossed picket lines in an attempt to break the strike.  But, having "risen through the ranks" himself, Edward's sympathies were always with the workers.
 
The strike and its aftermath (where some railway workers' jobs either disappeared or were downgraded) politicised many who were involved – including train driver Ben Chifley, later Prime Minister of Australia, and Joe Cahill, a future Premier of NSW.  (There is a family photograph of the Railway and Tramway Institute - Tempe Branch "Officials of the 14th Annual Road Race 18/8/1927".  In the front row, next to Joseph Doran, is "J. Cahill M.L.A.")
What sort of man was E.J.Doran?  His granddaughter Helen Downing recalled that he was regarded as "a man of courage, integrity and great honesty."  His grandson Peter Folkes said of him that "there was always an aura of respect and dignity about him".  Very much a "people person", although entitled to a departmental car he refused to use one, choosing instead to travel by tram from his home in Marrickville to his office, which was located at the Circular Quay end of Macquarie Street, in a building later demolished for the Cahill Expressway, and very close to the Fort Macquarie Tram Depot.  (What we don't know is what the tram crew felt about having the Boss on board).
 
(This Depot was opened in 1902 on the site of the old Fort Macquarie.  In homage to the previous building, it was constructed in the design of a fortress, with castellated ramparts.  It was closed in 1955 and demolished in 1958 for the construction of the Sydney Opera House.)
 
A firm believer in outdoor sport, E.J. Doran was a founding member of two golf clubs.  The first began in 1897, with a gathering of "golf mad cranks".  This became the "Marrickville Golf Club", playing on a 12 hole course amid what were then "the estates and grand homes that dotted the hills of Tempe".  It re-located to Arncliffe in 1907, with a name change to "Bonnie Doon", the name of the grazing property the Club purchased.  In 1932, he was a member of a group of golfers who decided to form a Club to play on public rather than private courses.  On 8 December 1932 the "Niblick Golf Club" came into being.  It was later decided to purchase the lease of some land already planned to be a golf course: this became St Michael's Golf Course.  It is one of the most attractive courses in Australia, with beautiful ocean views to inspire – or distract – the player.
 
One of the three aims of the Niblick Club was "to do everything and anything as may be considered advisable to advance the welfare of members".  It was also said of Edward and his wife that they "showed keenness and zest in any good cause".  With this in mind, it is easy to see that he would be drawn to Rotary, becoming a founding member of the Sydney Club and Governor of District 76 in 1940-41.  (In 1938 the Rotary Club of Sydney was "making a drive for £40,000 in aid of crippled children, having previously raised £15,000 for the same excellent object" – not inconsiderable amounts in a country still recovering from the Great Depression.)
 
In the August 1939 edition of The Rotarian (p47.), the following appears:
"Spadeworker.  New South Wales is a big place... in these reaches, one man, one Rotarian has done the spadework in there establishing 30 Rotary Clubs.  He is Ted Doran, a charter member of the Sydney Club and a Special Representative under four district governors.  He surveyed the ground for and supervised the establishment of the 30 clubs in seven years."
 
One of these Clubs was the Rotary Club of Hurstville.  In September 2016 John Walsh returned to the club a framed certificate for "Service above Self", presented by the Club to his great-grandfather, E.J.Doran.  Past President/Director, Bernie Dolan, advised John that "the Rotary Club of Hurstville was chartered on the 2nd September 1939 (eve of World War 2).  We were chartered by the Rotary Club of Sydney.  E.J. Doran was a founding member of our Club".
 
In his capacity as incoming Governor, Edward Doran was one of the 3,719 representatives attending the International Convention of Rotary, held in Havana (Cuba), from June 9 - 13 1940.  He then reported back to Clubs in New South Wales about resolutions passed at the Convention.
 
Rose Mary Doran died on the 10th December 1941 and Edward Doran survived her for just 10 months, dying on Friday the 3rd October 1942, "at the advanced age of 77 years".  He was a man devoted both to his family and his community; a man of great loyalty, energy and courage – one of those inspiring individuals who, when they see a problem, don't rest until they find a solution.