Prior family

Date of Birth/Death:


Henry (Harry) Prior and his wife Bertha came to Willunga in 1915 when he was appointed as a guard on the new Willunga to Adelaide Railway line. They bought the former Buckland House School at 19-21 St Luke’s street which remained the Prior family home until the early 1950s. Harry Prior had married Bertha Priscilla Eliza Keast at Kapunda on 5th March 1891. Her brother Arthur Keast was one of Sir Sidney Kidman’s head drovers and stockmen for 40 years before retiring to live with Bertha in Willunga. In 1927 Bertha was employed as Pound-Keeper by the District Council of Willunga. The Pound was conveniently located next door to her home, at the rear of the Council Depot, previously the Bassett Boys’ Schoolroom. Harry Prior had worked for the Railways Department at Port Pirie, before transferring to Willunga. He retired in December 1932 having reached the age limit, after 36 years service with the Railways Department. A social gathering was held at the Station-master’s residence where he was presented with an armchair and a case of pipes. Harry also received gifts of a tobacco pouch and jar and tobacco from school children who used the Willunga line. It was reported that Mr Prior had been on the Willunga line since the opening day and by his courtesy and attention to duty had won the esteem of travellers. Harry Prior died at home in December 1942, aged 74 years and was buried at the Methodist Cemetery in Willunga. Bertha Prior died later, in 1953, and was buried in West Terrace Cemetery. Harry and Bertha Prior had one daughter, Ethel May, born on 26th August 1907. She was a teacher at Seaview School. In 1934 she became housekeeper for Basil Dunstan and his son Martin, living at Glantawe House at 20 St Andrews Terrace. Basil was Manager of the Australian Slate Quarries and subsequently Clerk of the District Council of Willunga. Ethel assisted him with Council business as well as being involved in local community activities.


News, 17 December 1932, p5, viewed 23 Jan 2024,
Willunga National Trust – papers and documents available at the Willunga Courthouse.

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