Samuel Dennis

Northcote Mayor 1913-14, 1927-28 and 1936-37

Samuel Dennis (1869-1945) followed his father William into the Northcote Council in 1909, a position he held until his death in 1945. During that time he served three terms as Mayor, 1913-14, 1927-28, and 1936-37. During a life time of public service Dennis served as a M.M.B.W. Commissioner from 1920-1945 and the Federal Member for Batman from 1931-1934.  His church duties included being a trustee of the Northcote Methodist Church, and trustee of the Northcote Tent of the International Order of the Rechabites (as well as being the Deputy District Director of the Order).

During the First World War tensions in the Northcote Council were frequently high. Labor representative John Cain Snr. frequently clashing with several other Councillors,  especially Fred Plant, who baited Cain about not volunteering to fight. Dennis frequently found himself dragged into these nasty disputes. In 1917 Dennis found himself opposing Cr. Cain as both fought to represent the state electorate of Jika Jika. Dennis represented the National Federation who unwisely decided to field two candidates. The plan backfired and Dennis was narrowly beaten by Cain, who later went on to become the Labor Party Leader and thrice Premier of Victoria.

During the 1920s Sam Dennis was a heavy investor in the building of Westgarth Picture Theatre, a grand building which cost £20,000 to construct. In 1931 the Nationalist Party recreated itself as the United Australia Party. Dennis again threw his hat into State politics. This time he was successful, claiming the seat of Batman from the Labor Party’s Attorney-General, Frank Brennan. Three years later in the 1934 State election Frank Brennan beat Dennis to end Dennis’s brief State political career. In his later years Dennis suffered from poor health, no doubt exacerbated after a road accident.  

In 1957, a memorial clock in High Street, Westgarth was unveiled as a tribute to Samuel Dennis. More than 300 people attended the ceremony and listened to a review of his life and work. The clock has since been removed.

Lemon, Andrew (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.

PIONEER TOWNSMAN PASSES: DEATH OF CR. S. DENNIS, JP. (1945, Jan 31) Northcote Leader (Northcote, Vic. : 1882 - ), p. 6.