John Jessop

John (Cec) Jessop (1892 – 1968) chairman of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works
 John Jessop chairman of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works was an unpretentious man who often took his cut lunch into the canteen to eat with the staff. Many of his ideals of management stemmed from his ‘abounding Christian charity’. For many years treasurer of the Sutherland Homes for Children.

John Cecil Jessop (1892-1968), chairman of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, was born on 29 March 1892 at North Carlton, Melbourne.

He described himself as a Baptist minister when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, with which he served from July 1915 to June 1919: he saw action on the Western Front with the 8th Battalion and Australian Corps headquarters as a stretcher-bearer. In her parents’ home at Clifton Hill, Melbourne, on 13 September 1919 he married with Baptist forms Catherine Rose Robinson (d.1966); their only child died in 1923. Working as an accountant, Jessop made his way up to become manager of the mortgage and investment department of the Trustees, Executors & Agency Co. Ltd; he was later a director of a home-building and finance company.

His long career of public service began in 1930 when he was elected to the Heidelberg City Council. He was mayor in 1935 and a councillor until 1940. In 1934 he had been chosen as commissioner for Heidelberg on the M.M.B.W. where he rose to be vice-chairman (1937) of the finance committee. In 1940 he was appointed chairman.

Jessop took over the powerful M.M.B.W. at a difficult time. Public dissatisfaction was widespread, relations with other government agencies were poor and staff morale was low. Wartime restrictions on manpower and finance delayed overdue extensions to the water supply and sewerage systems, but Jessop’s frank, open style and wide-ranging consultation soon smoothed relations on all sides. His concern for the well-being of workers and his firmly applied set of ‘ideals’ produced harmonious industrial relations within the board. In the M.M.B.W.’s dealings with constituent metropolitan councils Jessop was fortunate that parliament finally approved reforms to the board’s structure in 1944 which gave better representation to newer suburbs and took account of population shifts.

Largely due to Jessop’s initiative, the board’s powers to shape and direct Melbourne’s development were greatly increased in 1949 when it was given authority to prepare a planning scheme for the city. The ‘Master Plan’, released with a fanfare of publicity in 1954, was a crucial first step towards improving the quality of urban life and marked the end of totally uncontrolled and uncoordinated growth. Jessop retired in February 1956, optimistic that the Board’s ‘blueprint’ for future growth would alleviate some of the most pressing problems, at least in regard to the supply of essential services.

An unpretentious man who often took his cut lunch into the canteen to eat with the board staff, Jessop was firm in decision-making and enjoyed the confidence of those who worked closely with him. His private life was largely given over to the expression of his ‘abounding Christian charity’ from which many of his ideals of management also stemmed. He was a tireless supporter of community and philanthropic projects, an active advocate of Moral Rearmament in the late 1940s, and a keen gardener and surf fisherman. For many years treasurer of the Sutherland Homes for Children, in 1958 he published a book on the life and work of their founder Sulina Sutherland.

Complete article :

John Jessop (Jessep) family tree : (site  no longer available – Google cached)

Information on Sulina Sutherland :

Sutherland Homes for Children (1908 – 1991) with reference to John Jessop :

Image : Mr Jessop of the M.M.B.W. presents Com. W.B. Dalziel of the Salvation Army with a cheque to go with the mobile canteen.
Source :

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One thought on “John Jessop”

  1. John Cecil Jessop was my Great Uncle. It is very pleasing to read this tribute. He was known to everyone, and called himself, Cec. He was not known as John as implied by this article.
    He studied at the Victorian Baptist Theological College and served as a trainee Pastor at the Barham-Koondrook Baptist Church for a couple of years until he was transferred to a church in Gippsland, but the war intervened and he enlisted. He was apparently very disturbed by experiences at war.

    Newspapers abound with very positive comment about his contributions to public life in Greensborough prior to his being elected Mayer of Heidelberg, then later Chair of MMBW.

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