Dr Leslie ‘Tim’ Gillespie was born in 1876 and raised in Melbourne where, in his youth, he was a champion cyclist. Not long after he qualified with Bachelors of Medicine (1900) and Surgery (1901) from the University of Melbourne, his parents bought Hillside Station, known as Shaw River Station in the early days, near Marble Bar in the Pilbara.
A consulting doctor in Claremont from 1906, Tim began working as a surgeon in 1912 and, by 1920, was one of only two senior surgeons in Perth. He operated at (now Royal) Perth Hospital, the (now Perth) Children’s Hospital, and at St John of God Hospital, Subiaco. He specialised in goitres and carried out many difficult operations during his long career.
Tim was also a talented gardener and, under his care, Hillside’s two-acre vegetable garden supplied two large mine sites, nearby. He regularly opened Hillside to the public, and also his home at 45 Birdwood Parade, Dalkeith, designed by Oldham Boas, Ednie-Brown in 1934 and still standing. He is described as having a genius for wood carving, and enjoyed creating intricately detailed pieces of furniture. His creativity resulted in many inventions; just one being the gate fastener for Hillside, which became Australia’s most commonly used farm gate fastener.
He was also renowned for his humanitarian attitude towards the Pilbara’s Indigenous Pulku people, especially Hillside’s station workers, and strongly defended their right to a fair wage.
Tim was twice married - first to Doreen Leishman in 1917, a childless union that ended in divorce in 1920; and in 1932, aged 57, to divorcee Evelyn Stanley-Low nee Yelverton (43), from the large south-west pioneering family. Evelyn’s daughter Mary died from septicaemia in 1933, aged ten, despite Tim’s tremendous efforts to save her. The next year Judy, their only child together, was born.
Tim died on 23 July 1950 in Dalkeith, aged 75.
What, Where and When
An early-adopter of motor vehicles, Tim owned many cars and trucks in his lifetime. The car was said to have the engine, radiator and bonnet from a 1903 Speedwell, with the back half of the coachwork from a Model K Cadillac.
Tim named his bespoke motor car Leslie (his first name), and he was known to have made house calls in it from Hillside in the Pilbara, all the way to Perth. He is pictured here with a Gillespie tartan over his knees in winter 1907, at the north end of Fraser Avenue, Kings Park.
The West Australian of 30 July 1909 reports he was motoring - likely in this car - down the Perth-Fremantle Road (now Stirling Highway) when the steering gear failed to act. The car veered violently to one side and overturned, throwing Tim roughly to the ground. He was unhurt, but the report does not mention the state of the car.