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George Smith PEDDIE

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 20214 23 Feb 1885 32y5m 23 Jul 1917 2 Oct 1919 3

George Smith Peddie (1885-1971)


Family background

George Smith Peddie was born on 23 February 1885 at Portobello, Midlothian, Scotland while his parents, James and Christina Peddie, and their five children were on their annual holidays at the seaside.

The Peddie family lived in Edinburgh where James was a tea merchant but his business was not successful because he took a passionate interest in alpine climbing, spending part of each year tackling difficult climbs. He spoke European languages quite fluently and attended meetings of the Botanical Society in Edinburgh.

The family moved to Glasgow when George was six years old. There George attended Allan Glen’s School for his secondary education, evening classes and university to obtain qualification as an architect. An older brother William took over the family importing business but he suddenly left for South Africa, leaving his family with little means of support.  

When George completed his architect’s course he began to think about living in Australia. One of his cousins, Theodore Todd, had emigrated and settled on large acreage near Warwick, Queensland. In 1911, George bought a P & O steamship ticket to Australia and on arrival at the port of Brisbane, rode on horseback to Warwick. Very soon he obtained steady work as a draughtsman in Brisbane in the Department of Works.

He and a friend, Fred Henk boarded at Kandahar, the home of Mrs Knight and her family on the corner of Haig and Vine Streets, Clayfield. There he met Mrs Knight’s daughter, Florence and they became engaged.

At the same time he had saved enough money to enable him to pay for shipping passages for his parents and sisters with their furniture and other belongings to travel from Glasgow to Brisbane.  

George settled his family and himself into a house in Cook Street, Northgate.  They called it Bristo after the Bristo Street Church in Edinburgh where George’s grandfather, Rev. Dr William Peddie and great-grandfather, Rev. Dr James Peddie had served as Ministers for a period between them of nearly one hundred and ten years.


Once his family was settled, he enlisted for overseas service in the AIF. Sapper George Smith Peddie joined up in Brisbane on 23 July 1917, single, aged 32 years 5 months.

He travelled by train to Sydney and Melbourne and embarked on HMAT Nestor with the Field Company Engineers Reinforcements, arriving in Suez on 15 December 1917.

After further training in Egypt, the corps sailed on HMT Kashgar from Port Said and arrived at Southampton at the end of January 1918.


During 1918 his Engineers Regiment served in trench warfare in France, based at Revelles. The 9th Field Company Engineers were transferred to the 35th Battalion AIF in October 1918.

He was engaged in non-military employment for some weeks before the 35th Battalion returned to Australia on HMAT Chemitz, departing England on 7 July 1919. Private Peddie was discharged on 2 October 1919.

Post war

George returned to his home at Northgate with his mother, father and sisters and resumed his draughtsman’s position in the Department of Public Works in preparation for his commitment to marriage.

Marriage and daughters

The wedding of George Peddie and Florence Rose Knight took place on 19 July 1924 at Kandahar, Clayfield. Their home was to be Laverock, next door to Mrs Knight.

A daughter, Bei (now Barbara Graham) was born in 1925 and another daughter, Beth (now Beth Johnston) arrived two years later. Both Barbara and Beth tell of a very happy childhood, remembering their father as a kind, gentle and humble man who was totally devoted to his wife and family. They remember their regular visits to their grandparents and aunts at Northgate and their holidays at the beach at Margate in another group of houses which the family owned and shared.

Principal Architect in Department of Public Works & Housing

George enjoyed a successful career, becoming Principal Architect in the Department of Public Works and Housing. He designed the government buildings on either side of Anzac Square and also redesigned older structures including Old Government House in George Street.  After the Second World War, he redesigned the American huts at Brighton into aged care accommodation called Eventide.

George Peddie’s story reflects his love for family life. Its telling has been aided greatly by listening to the lasting memories of his two daughters who are thankful for his loving guidance and encouragement.

George Peddie died in February 1971, aged 86 years.

Select Bibliography
To China, India & Home Again, Keith and Barbara Graham, Qld Media Print, Cooroy, Qld, 2014 
Old and New Edinburgh, James Grant, Cassell, 1880 
• National Archives of Australia, service records
• Family memorabilia and papers 
The Brisbane Courier, 16 August 1924, page 6

Compiled by N E Adsett June 2014 ©



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