Born in St Kilda, Victoria, Claude Leplastrier lived at Kewsbury in Sutherland Avenue, Chatswood, from about 1894 to 1912. As a young man he worked at the Manly Aquarium and had a special talent as a ‘lightening sketch’ artist. One of his works hangs in the Willoughby City Library.
In 1887 he married Annie Vickers, a singer and actress. Their son, Claude Vickers Leplastrier fell in France in World War I; while their other son, Henry Charles, became an Anglican clergyman.
By profession an accountant, Laplastrier served as an alderman on Willoughby Municipal Council from 1896 to 1902; and was mayor in 1898. He took a keen interest in all matters relating to the municipality, including the construction of the North Shore Railway and the development of sewage facilities. He was a foundation member of the Sydney Orphans’ Club and was active in the establishment of the Royal North Shore Hospital at St Leonards.
Leplastrier’s most notable achievement was to write and publish the first history of the municipality, Willoughby’s Fifty Years: a retrospect of the jubilee period of the Municipality of Willoughby for the years 1865 to 1915. It was published by the Council In 1915 and sold at the price of ‘half-a-crown’ (2s 6d). The Willoughby Museum has an original copy of the book, together with copies of the facsimile published by the council in 1965 as part of its centenary celebrations.
Another of Claude’s talents was woodworking. An impressive example of his work is the ‘what-not’ shelving displayed at the Willoughby Museum, complete with cherubs on the finials. This was donated to our collection by Willoughby City Council.