Historic Albany - come and visit our past!

The Batelier Collection


The Batelier Collection

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Claude John Batelier was born in 1887 at Daylesford Victoria and died in 1971 at Seaton Lodge, Albany, Western Australia.

His parents were George Louis Batelier, born Daylesford l857, and mother Bedella Smith. As the State of Victoria was going through the Depression, the Batelier family travelled to Albany by sea in 1897 and lived in various locations in the town. The father was a talented painter and the two sons also possessed considerable artistic talents.

They painted a great deal of the maritime history of Albany at the turn of the 19th/20th Century, in particular recording the units of the British Naval Fleet on the Australian Station prior to the formation of the Royal Australian Navy in 1911. Many warships of other nations, Japanese, Russian, Austrian and American, were also recorded. The overseas, interstate, and State Merchant Marine trading vessels were painstakingly recorded to scale, being very precise in the dimensions, usually pencilling in the dimensions of the vessels on the border of the rough pencil draft of the work they were doing at the time.

They also recorded the work vessels of the Port of Albany of the era, namely tugs, dredges, work launches and coastal sailing vessels. Other items recorded were buildings of civic and religious interest in the town, such as churches, public buildings, hospitals and business houses, including the first brewery in Grey Street, Albany. In later years, the boys took up photography and produced postcards for sale.

George Louis Batelier died in 1938 at the age of 80 years and is buried in the Methodist section of the Memorial Park Cemetery in Middleton Road, his wife joining him in 1940, aged 81. George Victor died in their residence in Festing Street, Albany in l955 and was buried with his parents.

Claude John lived for another twelve years, becoming a familiar sight on the streets of Albany, wearing a type of naval dress with white coat and white topped, peaked cap. His 'office' was at a corner table in the Rainbow Milk Bar on the east side of York Street. Claude sat here from early evening until the milk bar closed around midnight. He wrote hundreds of letters to the press; his grammar was that of a highly qualified academic, the editions of the local newspapers of the era bearing witness to this. 

He died in Seaton Lodge Private Hospital at the corner of Cliff and Melville Streets, Albany, in l971 and was buried in the then new Allambie Park Cemetery on the Lower King Road. Mr Edgar Green, who was the owner of the Rainbow Milk Bar, paid for the funeral expenses. It is interesting to note that Claude lived the last few years of his life in the same building that he lived in at Albany from 1899 to 1914. The Private Hospital was originally built as a semi-mansion, but the builders’ wife did not like it and so he leased it to the Bateliers. After the Bateliers left the house, it became a Private Maternity Hospital run by a Nurse Anderson.

At the time of Claude’s death he left instructions with Mr Edgar Green (owner of the Rainbow Café) that his art collection be donated to the Albany Historical Society, thus giving the Society a maritime art collection of truly national significance.

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