A Man of Power and Benevolence
There would be no Gloucester Park had it not been for one man. The Great Depression had cast its shadow over Harness Racing in Western Australia and construction of the new city harness racing complex had ground to a halt, bankrupt. In 1929, the future of harness racing in Western Australia lay in the balance.
Despite the difficult fiscal times, John Peter Stratton was forging his business empire and as a financial guarantor of the city harness racing construction project he was required to step in. In return for salvaging the financial situation, Stratton was offered a position on the Western Australian Trotting Association committee. Bringing business acumen and financial wealth to the organisation, he spearheaded its turnaround, saw the construction of the city harness complex to completion and was elected to the position of President in just one year.
Six years later, in 1936, Stratton ran with an idea of James Brennan's to hold an annual championship for the best horses from Australia and New Zealand: The Inter Dominion. Joining forces with the New Zealand Harness Racing industry, Stratton was instrumental in establishing the conference and presided over the inaugural events, held at Gloucester Park.
He became President of the Inter Dominion Trotting Council, was a founding board member of the TAB as well as President of the Western Australian Trotting Association. He remained in these positions until the end of his life, serving the industry and stoking its fires continually until one evening, stoking the fire in his Nedlands home in 1966, he passed away at the age of 80.
Always in Control
Although the 1946 Royal Commission into the administration, conduct and control of trotting found that Stratton had ‘stacked' the Western Australian Trotting Association's membership, improperly changed the name of Brennan Park to Gloucester Park in 1935 and forced the departure of the Chairman of Stewards who had disqualified one of his horses, the Commissioner acknowledged Stratton's strength in managing and promoting the organisation. When the State Government took control of trotting under the Western Australian Trotting Association Act (1946), Stratton's power was left intact.
A man of action, Stratton was known to say he liked a committee of three... with two away.
Many people were touched by JP Stratton's benevolence. He financially supported Legacy, Surf Life Saving and the Ngala Hospital where he provided beds and equipment.
He would say that people who can help themselves should not be helped, but people who cannot help themselves, through no fault of their own, should be helped by people who can.
He left much of his estate as a charitable trust which has been used to help people with intellectual disabilities, the Bindoon Boys Town, the Police & Citizens' Camp Quality and the Spina Bifita Association to name just a few.