Liverpool’s Nanna Dudley celebrates 100th birthday

Jean blows out candles on her birthday cake with her daughter Rita Keane. Picture: John Keane
Jean blows out candles on her birthday cake with her daughter Rita Keane. Picture: John Keane

Liverpool resident Jean Beryl Dudley who was born January 7, 1918 celebrated her 100th birthday with close family and friends last weekend with 110 of her descendents at Liverpool Catholic  Club.

Not many people can say they’ve lived to the milestone age, but this isn’t the first special life event for Mrs Dudley.

Her son-in-law and pastor John Keane told the Champion she was the first European baby born on Cockatoo Island after her parents moved there when her father built ships.

Nanna Dudley enjoys a piece of cake in celebrating her 100th birthday. Picture: John Keane

Nanna Dudley enjoys a piece of cake in celebrating her 100th birthday. Picture: John Keane

Pastor Keane added, “When her parents announced they were expecting her, a sign was erected ‘Here at Cockatoo Island, we not only make the ships, but the men to sail them’, however, she tricked them by turning out to be a girl!”

Mrs Dudley was reported to also be the first female child to stand on the newly built Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Apparently her father worked on the bridge as did her uncle as a watchman.

“In 1932 the two arches of the bridge met and the bridge officially opened. She was 14, but amid the celebrations she held a secret. Her Uncle Harry arranged for her to be the first female child to stand on the completed bridge.

“Under the cover of darkness he secretly brought her to stand on the top of the Southern Pylon before the bridge opened. Her parents were not impressed when they find out,” Pastor Keane said.

Mrs Dudley had a vibrant career and once lived in Brisbane working at the Golden Circle Pineapple Cannery.

She also worked in Newtown, Sydney making ammunition for the soldiers during WWII. 

“That work involved operating a lathe and filing bullets,” the pastor said.

Mrs Dudley had her hands full when she became a mother with five daughters and one son. Eventually she also ended up with 23 grandchildren, 58 great-grandchildren, 23 great-great-grandchildren and two more on the way.

Pastor Keane and their family’s message, “Nanna Dudley, you are a legend, a living treasure and all of us here love you dearly and today we salute you. Happy 100th Birthday!”

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