INFLUENTIAL town planner Patrick Troy died last month aged 82, leaving his passion for “creating better cities” embedded in Fremantle.
Professor Troy was a respected civil engineer, academic and educator, and was described by brother John as a “generous man in every respect”.
Prof Troy made his first contribution to the local community when he was just 12, convincing Freo council to give he and his mates some space in the Town Hall Tower for their Meccano club.
“Most of the working folk in Fremantle at that time had really very crowded housing situations and if you had Meccano you couldn’t be leaving it around the house,” says John.
“Well, Patrick just wasn’t for this; in order to build stuff and continue building and developing you need space.”
Prof Troy’s professional career began in civil engineering, but his desire to improve society and cities lead him to town planning.
He was a prominent member of the Labor party during the Whitlam government, playing an influential role in the creation of the federal department of urban and regional development.
He chose the role of deputy secretary over being head, so he could keep an eye on the department’s programs with particular interest in social justice.
“Fremantle council was one of the councils around Australia that responded very fulsomely to the urban programs and local government programs produced in that time,” says John.
“If you walk down the street in Fremantle today you can identify the old Maritime Museum and the Fremantle Arts Centre amongst other buildings that were redeveloped out of my brother being involved in urban development.”
As a trusted confidant and adviser to politicians, including 1970s prime minister Gough Whitlam, Prof Troy explored planning as a means of improving society and stressed its importance in the development of Australian cities.
“[Town planning] is the belief that cities can be made more comfortable, attractive, environmentally sensitive, aesthetically pleasing and functionally affordable, and be better laid out,” wrote Tony Powell in a Canberra Times obituary for Prof Troy.
This passion led him to take up teaching in universities, encouraging students to become aware of demands for housing, schools and public services that arise with regional development, and the disparity that follows when these facilities are not available for people with low incomes.
Prof Troy spent 46 years in research at the Australian National University, including 40 years of teaching, and was honoured as an emeritus professor of urban research when he retired in 2006.
He published 15 books, and extensive papers on housing, infrastructure and energy and water consumption.
Prof Troy’s father, Paddy (1908-1978), was a source of inspiration and was on the inaugural committee of the Fremantle Society and considered a “hero” for his involvement in protecting Fremantle’s character and identity in the face of development.
by MOLLY SCHMIDT