Cr Reginald James Watson

Cr Reginald James Watson (1960)

As the municipal council elections were due every August, in 1957 Altona residents were again required to go to the polls.  The last three councillors elected in May 1957 were the first to be mandated to seek re-election. One of the independent candidates, who had not been previously successful in May, also decided to stand and this time he aligned himself with the independent team. His name was Reginald James Watson.

Reginald and his wife, Nellie Dorothy Watson (nee Wilson), had moved into the Altona area around the end of World War 2. Since their arrival, they had become very active members in their local community and within organisations beyond its borders.

Reginald James Watson was born in the rural township of Cootamundra, New South Wales, on 11 Mar 1908.  He was the youngest of three children born to James Barnier Watson and Flora Watson (nee Hobourn).  Upon leaving school, Reginald accepted an apprenticeship as an office machine mechanic, completing a three-year course as a fitter and turner at the Sydney Technical College. He was apprenticed to a company in Sydney, Stott & Underwood, where his manager convinced him to join the 21st Australian Field Artillery. This was part of the citizens militia, where he had gained the rank of warrant officer.

By the early 1930s, Reginald had changed companies a few times over, having moved to Adelaide and then Melbourne to work for a company, Stott & Hoare Limited, as their Chief Mechanical Inspector. At this point in his life, he was now living in Footscray where he met and married Nellie Dorothy Wilson in 1935. The couple soon moved to the suburb Camberwell and in 1940, following the outbreak of World War 2, Reginald enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force. He initially served within the manufacturing area in Mascot, New South Wales, but was later transferred to 81 Fighter Wing, based at Williamtown New South Wales. He was later transferred to 76 Squadron in Townsville, Queensland. It was from here that he was discharged from service on 13 February 1946 at the rank of flight sergeant.

With his war service completed, Reginald returned to his wife, Nellie, in Melbourne and they soon moved to the western seaside suburb of Seaholme. Here, he emersed himself into community life, firstly joining the newly formed Ratepayers Association. In 1951, he then established and ran the Seaholme Post Office in High Street, just south of the railway station. Outside of his local community, Reginald was also a member of the Australian Education Union and was the Executive Officer for the Lord Somers Boys Camp association.

When Altona finally seceded from the Shire of Werribee, Reginald put his name forward with many others to stand for election to the first shire council. He not only stood as an independent but stood on his own ticket, and whilst he was unsuccessful, he polled considerably well. He must have gained a level of confidence from this because he stood again just three months later alongside other independent candidates such as Catherine McIntyre and Robert Frazer. This time he was successfully elected and served on the Shire of Altona council from August 1957 until August 1960, when he decided not to seek re-election and retire.

Shortly after his term as a councillor, Reginald retired from full time work as well. He and Nellie settled down to retirement in their much-loved suburb of Seaholme, continuing to be very active members of their local community. In December 1997, Nellie passed away at the age of 92 and was interred within the Altona Memorial Park. Just seven months later, Reginald James Watson passed away on 9 July 1998, aged 90, and was buried alongside his wife.


  1. Archives – Altona Laverton Historical Society Inc.
  2. Altona Star – Newspaper
  3. Victorian Electoral Roll
  4. National Archives Australia – RAAF Service Records
  5. Victorian Municipal Directory (1958 & 1960).

Research by:  Graeme Reilly (2022)

Edited by: Adam Virgona (2023)