Old news from Armidale and New England

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Armidale

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Illustrated Sydney News, Sat 4 Jun 1892

THIS is the capital of New England, and, in point of size, the largest, and perhaps the most important, town on the table land. It is connected with the metropolis by rail, the main northern line to Brisbane passing through it. This pleasant retreat has proved more attractive to tourists and others than is generally known. The city has been not inaptly termed the ‘Cathedral City’ owing to the number of fine churches within its limits. To these the citizens are not slow in calling one’s attention. There still remain many residents who delight in recounting their experiences connected with the early settlement of these parts. The first family to seek its fortunes here was that of Captain Dumaresque, who held land to the extent of fifty miles north and south of Armidale. They were shortly followed by others of the early pioneers, who, in their turn, allotted portions of land to themselves.

The first court house of the district – a bark gunyah – was situated near the present site of Solomon’s photo studio ; the second court house, of shingle, was erected on the site of the present one, the late Mr. Bradshaw being first chief constable. Owing to glowing reports spreading abroad, it was reasonable enough to find the tide of humanity flowing in this direction, and the embryo city soon began to assume some sort of shape. Land was put up in Sydney in half-acre allotments, and disposed of at £4 each. Signs of progress were appearing in every direction, all traces of native savagery vanished by degrees, and the town was laid out, streets arranged, and matters respecting the furtherance of the place discussed. To the late Captain Gorman was allotted the laying out of the streets, which, to the credit of Armidale, are well preserved and cared for to the present day. Of the sale of land there is a story to the effect that the land on which the present Tattersalls Hotel and some of the best business houses of the city stand, was parted with for an ‘old black horse,’ valued at about £10. Major Innes, then police magistrate at Port Macquarie, is credited with erecting the first store, managed by Mr. Patterson. This was afterwards sold to Mr. John Mather, who, in turn, sold out to the late Mr. John Moore. Of the religious denominations, the Rev. Mr. Trickham appeared for the Church of England, followed by the Roman Catholic body under the late Father McCarthy and the Presbyterians under the Rev. Mr. Morrison. The services were held in a bark gunyah on the present site of the Catholic College. In those delightful times the window panes of this gunyah were stuck in with flour paste, as no putty was obtainable, and the story is told of the late Father McCarthy’s visit to it one Sunday morning, when to his astonishment, he discovered the panes of glass strewn, out upon the ground in innumerable pieces; it turned out on enquiry that the gunyah had been attacked by soldier birds, who betrayed a weakness for stale pastry. Of the liquor sold in those times it is easy to understand how piles were made by the enterprising landlords when one had to pay as much as a sovereign for a bottle of well watered rum. These were apparently easy days to prosper in. The wages, up to the outbreak of the Rocky River goldfields, were not over enticing, as station superintendents were in receipt of the munificent sums of 8s. and 10s. per week. The rush served to alter things considerably ; the wielders of the pick and shovel soon set out in a mad torrent. Numbers were enriched, and ‘big blankets’ were knocked down wherever opportunity offered. Tradespeople benefited with the rest, and big profits were made in their different lines – grocery particularly – the “squatters’ sugar” selling at 1s. per pound. It was served out in big black lumps, and required the use of an axe to make it presentable. Such times are over now, and a thing of the past, for this city is now a delightfully progressive and attractive place, enjoying the kindest allusions from all sides.

Of the principal buildings it is needless, to say that they are in every way a credit to the people. The illustrations on the opposite page serve to show plainly enough the excellence of construction and finish. The city is laid out on a gradual slope, and within sight of the Great Dividing Range. The main street – Beardy Street – possesses the principal public and private buildings, and good accommodation can be had in several well-appointed hotels. At the south end of the town, and near the cathedrals, a fine park, beautifully planted with choice trees, serves to adorn this portion ; facing this, the New England Ladies’ College has been erected and enjoys one of the finest views to be had. This establishment was built by Mr. P. P. Bliss, and has proved attractive to lady students from all parts of the colony. It possesses a fine reception room, private sitting room for lady principals, class rooms, four music rooms, and bedrooms charmingly decorated by the students (prizes for the neatest and most tasteful being given). This college is capable of accommodating 120 resident pupils. The Ursuline Convent and Cathedral, a handsome semi-Gothic building, is situated almost opposite. Further to the west of the town, the Railway Station, together with residence and sheds, is situated, and connected with the town by busses, cabs, etc. Armidale possesses two newspapers, viz: the Express and Chronicle. The mines of Hillgrove, to which Armidale is greatly indebted for its recent advancement, are situated about twenty miles to the east, and it is to these mines that attention is anxiously turned. The farming is progressing, but not to any great extent. There are some fine sheep runs in the vicinity. The photographs from which our sketches are taken were kindly supplied to our artist by Mr. Solomons, of Armidale.

Written by macalba

July 13, 2018 at 5:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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