ACT Heritage Library Manuscript Collection

HMSS 0312 Sir John Butters Photograph

Scope and Contents Notes

Call Number

HMSS 0312

Collection Sir John Butters Photograph

Date Range

Ca 1929


0.01m (1 folder)

Access Conditions


Copying conditions

with attribution

Related Collections

Photograph of Sir John Butters, autographed and accompanied by a letter to W. E. Potts: “My dear Potts, Enclosed is a memento of some strenuous years of work together. With kind regards. Yours sincerely. J. H. Butters”. The image is 21.5 x 15.5 cm, sepia and mounted in a brown presentation folder.

Sir John Henry Butters (1885-1969) was an electrical engineer born and educated in England, who moved to Australia in 1909. He worked in the Tasmanian Hydro-electric Department 1914-1924 and was the Chief Commissioner of the Federal Capital Commission which developed Canberra between 1925 and 1930. His time as Chief Commissioner was difficult and rather than continue with the Commission, whose term was due to end in November 1929 but likely to be extended for another year, he chose to resign on 14 August 1929. As a farewell gesture to his staff, he presented each of them with a signed portrait of himself seated at his desk in the Federal Capital Commission offices at Acton.

Sir John moved to Sydney on 15 August, and practised as a consulting engineer until his retirement in 1954. The John Butters Power Station in Tasmania, and Butters Drive in Swinger Hill in the Canberra suburb of Phillip are named after him. He was also an inaugural inductee into the Canberra Engineering Hall of Fame.

William Elmhirst Potts ME, MBE was born in Uralla, NSW in 1891 and grew up in Narrabri, NSW. He was educated at Sydney Grammar School and Sydney University, and was then appointed to the staff of the Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, before serving in Egypt and France during World War 1, reaching the rank of captain, and being awarded the Military Cross. After the war he worked in Birmingham, England, then in Sydney in municipal engineering before being appointed assistant chief engineer to the Federal Capital Commission in June 1925. He oversaw road making, bridge building, water supply and sewerage works, electrical and mechanical installation, parks and gardens, surveys, transport, brickworks, etc. He lived at 18 Balmain Crescent, Acton, and both he and his wife were active contributors to the Canberra community.

Image donated by the Potts family.