HMSS 0213 Lyall Gillespie Oral History Recordings

ACT Heritage Library Manuscript Collection

HMSS 0213 Lyall Gillespie Oral History Recordings

Scope and content notes


Call Number

HMSS 0213


Lyall Gillespie Oral History Recordings

Date Range



0.1m  (1 manuscript boxes)

Access Conditions

Restricted access

File Number

Related Collections



Lyall Gillespie, (23 July 1919-24 January 2006), noted Public Servant and local historian, was interviewed in 2001 by Carol Cosgrove and Peter Dowling of the National Trust of Australia (ACT) under an ACT Heritage Grant. The ACT Heritage Unit transferred its holdings of these recordings to the ACT Heritage Library in 2010.


The Federation of Australian Historical Societies, of which he was a Fellow, published the following obituary in its Newsletter 23/1005 March 2006 :


Lyall Gillespie, noted local historian of the Canberra district, was an enthusiastic writer and researcher with an encyclopaedic knowledge of local history. He had no fewer than 40,000 hand written reference cards and a set of impeccable family connections to all of Canberra’s pioneer families. He wrote scores of articles for the Canberra Times and was a noted contributor for the journal and newsletter of the Canberra and District Historical Society. He also published  eight books on Canberra history including, Ginninderra, Forerunner to Canberra, Schools of the Canberra Region and Aborigines of the Canberra Region. One of his most notable publications was the first volume of a three volume history of Canberra, Canberra 1820-1913, now widely regarded as a valuable resource for all local researchers.


Lyall attended Telopea Park School in the 1930s, riding his bike all the way from Hall. On leaving school, he joined the Public Service where he had a long and satisfying career, culminating in his appointment as Canberra’s City Manager 1978 to 1982. He was also concurrently the ACT’s Controller of Prices and Fuels Controller – a position of considerable power in the city. During the Second World War, he served in the Canberra Militia and then in the RAAF as a radio and radar technician in north Western Australia.


Lyall joined the Canberra & District Historical Society in 1968, was a Councillor from 1969 to 1986, Vice-President from 1972 to 1973 and 1976 to 1977 and President 1977 to 1979 and 1981 to 1982. In subsequent years, he remained an active participant in the Society, including running excursions in the early 1990s, until declining health limited his activities. One of the last Society events he attended was the launch of the Society’s 50th anniversary publication Canberra History 1953-2003 in December 2003.


In 1999, the Federation of Australian Historical Societies elected Lyall a Fellow in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the work of the Canberra and District Historical Society and 5 to the recording of the history of the region of the Australian Capital Territory.


His services were recognised by the award of an OAM in 1998.


Lyall is survived by his wife Norma and their family.


Click here to search for copies of his books on the ACT's history.


Box List






7 compact disc recordings of Lyall Gillespie by Carol Cosgrove and Peter Dowling


 1 Transcription of a Seires of Interviews with Lyall Gillespie ISO OAM, May to June 2001  2001