City keys for unparalleled innovator Bill the builder

"Bill set an example to all young Australians and had shown what could be done by ability and willingness to take a chance” - said Jack Renshaw, Local Government Minister and future Premier, in 1956.  

Blacktown City Council has honoured construction giant Bill McNamara OAM with a Key to the City in recognition of the entrepreneur’s enormous contribution to this, and neighbouring, districts.

Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM said Bill has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape and transforming Blacktown into a modern city over the course of 60 years.

“Thanks to his knowledge and foresight, Bill led the way in the 1970s with the biggest single development in Blacktown, Westpoint Shopping Centre,” Mayor Bleasdale said.

“He was not only a businessman but a true community leader and gave generously of his time to his community.”

Highlights of Bill’s career

The McNamara family has been part of Blacktown City’s history for the past century, when Bill’s family moved to Riverstone from Western NSW in the 1920s.

Born in 1927, Bill attended Riverstone Public School before completing his secondary schooling at Auburn High School, where he received his Intermediate Certificate.

Bill recalls that it was during his school days that he wanted to become a builder and remembered fixing structures and nailing iron onto fowl sheds that had blown off in the wind.

He became an apprentice carpenter at Riverstone Meatworks, signing up for five years with the Riverstone Meat Company and attending Granville Technical College.

At just 29, he was singled out by the then Minister for Local Government, and future Premier, Jack Renshaw, who said Bill “set an example to all young Australians and had shown what could be done by ability and willingness to take a chance”.

In 1950, Bill and his wife Pat built a home at 22 Hunter Street, Riverstone. In 1953, the McNamara Group built an office and joinery in Riverstone Parade – one of the first factories to be built in that industrial area.

The McNamara Group delivered and was responsible for many large developments that have shaped both Blacktown and Western Sydney over the past 50 years.

The McNamara Group was responsible for WestPoint Shopping Mall at Blacktown and Marketown Shopping Centre at Riverstone, Mount Druitt High School, Riverstone Schofields Memorial Club and Blacktown Aquatic Centre, which are landmark building projects in Blacktown City.

Bill and his team also built the Del Rio Resort on the Hawkesbury River and many important buildings in Parramatta – the McNamara Centre, the Octagon, the United Permanent building, the Parramatta Cultural Centre, the J.A. Fleming Stand at Rosehill and the Riverside Theatres. He also built many facilities for the Royal Australian Army, as well as the Royal Australian Air Force Base at Richmond.

Bill served on numerous community boards, was Chair of the Economic Development Board of Greater Western Sydney for four years and served as a board member of Council’s Blacktown Venue Management Limited.

He was also the driving force in engaging local small business involvement in the lead up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Bill was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1984 and in 2017 was Blacktown City Council’s Corporate Citizen of the Year.

Bill turns 95 this year and continues to work and serve the Blacktown City community to this day.

Picture: Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM (right) with Key to the City recipient Bill McNamara OAM and Cr Julie Griffiths at Blacktown Aquatic Centre’s 60th anniversary celebration.

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