NELSON ST: Ken Lester’s grandfather William Nelson worked for the Bundaberg City Council.
NELSON ST: Ken Lester’s grandfather William Nelson worked for the Bundaberg City Council. Ken Lester

‘Bull’ was a gentle giant

KEN Lester remembers his grandfather, William Burnett Nelson, "was nicknamed 'Bull' not so much because he was a council foreman but he was a big man, what you'd call a gentle giant.

"All the grandkids would call in on the way home from school and grandma would always have a glass of milk and a soda biscuit for us and grandfather would always talk with us.

"He never raised his voice to the grandchildren. One Christmas my younger brother was playing up and making himself obnoxious and grandfather didn't say anything, just got a bucket and half-filled it with water and threw it over Alan and said, 'When he dries off he'll be a better boy'."

William Burnett Nelson was born October 5, 1883, at Kalbar, near Bundaberg, the ninth child of 11 to Thomas Nelson and Elizabeth Crabb, and worked for 40 years for the Bundaberg City Council, rising to the position of head overseer.

"Grandfather used to ride a pushbike to work and it had a leather saddlebag along the bar where he carried pencils etc for his notes at work," Mr Lester recalled.

"He had an accident when he was at the stone-crusher and one of the rocks came out of the crusher and hit him on the shin. It never really healed and his wife Grace had to dress it every day. She was only about a third of grandfather's size.

"I can remember him hobbling around with a walking stick, and in later years he had a walker made. It had to be made because he was a big man - no wheels in those days and it was lift and move, lift and move as it was very heavy.

"He was a great reader, and spent a lot of time lying down to ease the pressure on his leg."

When the council decided to name a street in Mr Nelson's honour, the mayor, Ald CJ Nielsen, said, "Mr Nelson was one of the most loyal workers the council ever had, and took great interest in his work and the development of the city."

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