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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Croft, Ida Lucy (1878–1957)

by Hilary Weatherburn

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Ida Lucy Croft (1878-1957), pharmacist, was born on 6 February 1878 at Terowie, South Australia, eldest of four surviving children of John Thomas Davey Croft, a pharmacist from England, and his native-born wife Lucy Nixon, née Wardle (d.1913). The family lived in Adelaide when Ida was young, but about 1891 moved to Broken Hill, New South Wales, where for twenty years her father ran a pharmacy. Ida probably helped in the shop and began her apprenticeship under her father's guidance before the passage of the 1897 Pharmacy Act. On 12 July 1900 she was one of the last three women in the State to gain registration without passing the Board of Pharmacy's examinations. She gained her poisons licence in August and was a dispenser for her father until his death in 1911. Executrix of his will, Miss Croft handled his affairs and maintained the pharmacy until 1914 when she went to live and work at Semaphore, Adelaide.

Returning about 1921 to Broken Hill, where her married sister Cordelia was living, Croft was employed by the Broken Hill United Friendly Societies' Dispensary Ltd and managed its South Broken Hill branch in Patton Street until it was closed about 1927. The years spent working with her father, and a thriving friendly society membership, ensured that she was well known and widely respected in the community: a passenger on a Broken Hill bus claimed that 'We ALWAYS used to go to her for father's asthma powders'. Croft later had her own business in Patton Street, near the old shop, but in the mid-1930s was dispensing for Dr Ian MacGillivray.

By 1941 Croft had moved to Balaklava, South Australia, where she worked in C. F. Martindale's pharmacy. Although she resigned in 1942, suffering from pneumonia and pleurisy, she registered in that State in July and managed R. W. Goldsack's pharmacy at Victor Harbor while he served (1942-45) with the Royal Australian Air Force. After the war she bought a small business at Semaphore; she retired about 1955, but remained a registered practitioner.

A small, serious woman with dark hair, large, grey eyes and a fair complexion, Croft was 'very fond' of literature. Her strong character was evidenced by her choice of a profession in which women were uncommon at the time of her entry and in which she exhibited considerable competence. Although unable to attend meetings because of ill health, she was a loyal member of the Women Pharmaceutical Chemists' Association of South Australia. She died on 5 June 1957 in Le Fevre Community Hospital, Semaphore, and was buried in the graveyard of St Jude's Anglican Church, Brighton. Father and daughter had dispensed for the Broken Hill populace for nearly fifty years of the town's pioneering days.

Select Bibliography

  • Australasian Journal of Pharmacy, 44, no 526, Oct 1963, pp 929, 38, no 450, June 1957, pp 747, 855, no 452, Aug 1957, p 959
  • Chemist and Druggist of Australasia, no 8, Aug 1900, p 209, no 9, Sept 1900, p 238, no 13, Dec 1915, p 468
  • Barrier Miner, 27 Sept 1911
  • Observer (Adelaide), 30 Sept 1911
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 8 June 1957
  • Pharmaceutical Society of New South Wales, miscellaneous papers (State Records New South Wales).

Citation details

Hilary Weatherburn, 'Croft, Ida Lucy (1878–1957)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 22 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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