John Hay Goodlet

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Portrait of John Hay Goodlet, Ashbury, ca 1900

John Hay Goodlet was a Scottish building materials merchant, soldier and philanthropist, who purchased Canterbury House in 1878.

After a short period of employment with a building firm in Melbourne, Goodlet came to Sydney in 1855 and launched a successful business career with a profitable disposal of a cargo of American doors. Next followed the establishment of a sawmill in Erskine Street, complete with its own wharf. About seven years later he was partnered by James Smith and during the time Goodlet was a resident of Canterbury, the firm was trading large-scale in building materials. Besides the original timber yards, Goodlet and Smith owned two coastal sawmills, a brick and cement works and a pottery producing pipes, tiles, terracotta and chimney pots and stoneware. The firm suffered severely in the depression of the 1890's, but Goodlet's business acumen enabled him to recover and progress. In 1920 a new company was formed retaining the original name. The business enjoyed moderate prosperity until 1925 when a disastrous fire caused the discontinuance of the tile works at Granville, the company's major income source. In 1955 the firm became a subsidiary of the Newbold Group.

Goodlet was a director and twice chairman of the AMP Society. He had a keen interest in military affairs; he worked for the development of the volunteer corps, later receiving the rank of lieutenant - colonel of the second infantry regiment. Goodlet was best known for his philanthropy. His charitable activities involved generous aid for a range of benevolent institutions. His softest spot was for the Presbyterian Church to which he was so devotedly attached. From the simple office of a Sunday school superintendent at Ashfield, Goodlet's church work involved convenorship of the finance committee of the Presbyterian overall authority, the General Assembly of Australia, for which he represented his state at the World Missionary Conference in Scotland in 1910.

JH Goodlet married 3 times. His first wife, Mary Hay, died before his busines successes enabled him to participate in his philanthropic activities, but Anne and Elizabeth were keen participators in all their husbands charitable work. He died childless in 1914, but his third wife Elizabeth not until 1926.


Larcombe, F.A. Change and Challenge: A History of the Municipality of Canterbury. [Canterbury, NSW]: Canterbury Municipal Council, 1979.