Old news from Armidale and New England

Local news from newspaper archives

1879: A Tour From Armidale To The Chandler River.

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The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Fri 26 Sep 1879

After partaking of an early breakfast, I left Armidale, steering a N.E. course by Mr. Taylor’s farm, which I understand is likely to be the route for the permanent road to Gyrah and Rock Vale.

Three miles from Armidale is Tilbuster Creek, where the crossing is very uncertain, on account of the moving sand. A good Hotel or Accommodation House would pay well here. There are a great many farms a little to the North of this creek, but not in sight of the main road. Eight or nine miles further, and Thalgarrah Station, the property of Mr. Bigg, is reached, and I noticed that Mr. B. has erected a comfortable brick building since his purchase.

Three miles more, and we arrive at Pint Pot Creek, where a culvert is urgently needed, as this being the thoroughfare to the Stations—Rock Vale, Aberfoil, Kangaroo Hills, Alfreda, Lindhurst, Ward’s Mistake, Paddy’s Land, Oban, &c., and the traffic is considerable. The Coningdale and Chandler road branches off at this point from the Rock Vale road to the Eastward, passing by Mr. Mulligan’s selection, and, further on, Mr. A. McLennaghan’s. The soil about here is very rich, and well adapted for agricultural purposes. The sheep, on Mr. McLennaghan’s selection were in fine condition.

At Mr. Donald Finlayson’s residence, Foreglen, I saw some very good draught mares.

From Foreglen, through a well-grassed and lightly-timbered country, I arrived at Mr. Kenneth Finlayson’s, Coningdale, where I was most hospitably entertained. The Finlaysons were among the first who commenced sheep farming in this district, and now have a fine property, with nice residences, commanding a view of the Wollomumbi River and surrounding country. The wild dogs are troublesome, and play sad havoc, at times, amongst the sheep. At this season of the year, crossing the Wollomumbi River is not a very safe undertaking.

Half a mile further is Pointsfield, the selection of Mr. R. Finlayson, where, owing to the magnificent soil, lucerne, maize, &c., are grown to great perfection. The cultivation paddocks here have been subdivided and laid out under artificial grasses, consequently dairying operations are carried on all through the winter. Considering the wet and cold winter experienced this season, the stock looked remarkably well.

Mr. Roderick McLennan’s homestead at Killcoy is the next stopping place. Here a site for a Presbyterian Church has been granted, and a large sum is already promised for the building. The Rev. Thos. Johnstone at present officiates twice a quarter.

There is also a School halfway between Killcoy and Pointsfield, under the charge of Mr. and Mrs. Painter.

Continuing the road, you travel over a good pastoral land, of ironstone formation, with grass and water in abundance. The wattle tree, with its beautiful blossom and perfume, is a great relief, after perpetual gum. Kangaroos are very plentiful here, and eat more grass than the sheep.

Fairview is the next selection on the Chandler. Here the Chandler River is extremely dangerous to cross, on account of the shifting sand.

Camberdown, Mr. John Coventry’s, is next, but his stock have been removed to his station, Alfreda.

A mail comes this way once a week, on to Oban.

Before concluding, I must say a few words as to Free Selection. It is evident that, in spite of what is said to the contrary, Free Selection has been a decided success, and the Land Act of 1861 has conferred a lasting benefit on the country. Twelve years ago this district was a mere waste; now many respectable and well to-do people are settled here. The feeling between squatters and selectors here is of a very harmonious nature. And, as regards the Land Law. It is unwise, in compelling selectors to improve their land to the extent of £1 per acre, on what are often useless improvements. The selector denies that he obtains his land on easy terms. The squatter can buy at auction practically as much as he pleases for 25s. cash. The selector’s land costs him £2 per acre, viz.: 5s. cash, and the balance of 15s. in three years, with the option of allowing it to remain unpaid at 5 per cent.; and further, he is compelled “nolens volens” [whether unwillingly or willingly] to expend £1 per acre in improvements on his selection within three years, and make it his bona fide residence for that period. The selector has no security of pre-lease, with considerable chance of forfeiture, should he fail in any of the conditions of the Act. For farming purposes only, the terms are easy enough; but, as the bulk of selectors want to run stock as well, the limited area, with other conditions, make it the most expensive way of obtaining land. The squatter, on the other hand, can select the “tit bits” out of his run, chiefly by improvement purchases; the law being that, by improving to the extent of £1 per acre, he can buy it, if he likes; and also, by the absurd auction system, principally used to deprive the selector of his grazing right. But this knotty question has for years puzzled cleverer heads than mine, and is as far off now from being settled as ever. It is the old story of the man and the ass, who tried to please all, and pleased none !


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June 5, 2019 at 4:18 pm

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1918: Yesterday’s Great Celebrations.

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The Armidale Chronicle, Wednesday, 13 November 1918



The procession which preceded the celebration in the Park yesterday afternoon was remarkable in the his- tory of Armidale. It was the largest, as well as the most historic on record. Dense crowds lined the route and occupied every coign of vantage. The cheering was deafening. It is safe to say that every citizen took some part in the celebrations. Punctually to time the procession was started on its way by the Marshal (Capt. T. Webb). It was led by the City Band and patriotic tableaux and devices preponderated in its make-up. The Fire Brigade made a brave show with two lorries. A coffin, with the inscription, “To L with the Kaiser,” attracted a great deal of notice. It had been arranged by Mr. G. Piddington, undertaker. Every interest in the city was represented. The military and cadets, and children from all the schools and boys and girls from the colleges, marched, carrying flags, as did the Friendly Societies in regalia. The Red Cross workers and associated branches of women war-workers were cheered. The Junior Red Cross was similarly honored. The Pipe Band lent color and spirit to its part of the procession. Numerous decorated motor cars brought up the rear.

At the park the crowd was equally dense. The Mayor (Ald. Purkiss) presided.

After the singing of the hymn, “O, God our Help in Ages Past,” the Mayor read the following telegram from Mr. H. W. Lane, Member for Armidale, who had been called away that morning:—Congratulations for Liberty won. Peace assured. With sympathy to all who have suffered through the tragedy of this great war. He explained that that gathering had been arranged at a special meeting of the City Council the previous day. He congratulated the people of Armidale upon the orderly way in which they had conducted their “maffick,” despite their great excitement. He urged them, in spite of their victory, to retain their sympathy for the relatives of those who had made the supreme sacrifice, and to bear in mind also their duty to the men who would be returning. The Mayor read the terms of the armistice, his reading being punctuated with cheers, “If that is not unconditional surrender,” added the Mayor, “I don’t know what is.”

“Thank God,” declared Archdeacon Johnstone, “Prussianism is smashed.” But in the smashing of that Prussianism there had been sacrifices, and it was their duty to look after those men who were returning from the fight. He congratulated the people upon their orderly conduct, and also placed on record the splendid work done by the operators at the local telephone exchange.

Sergt. Campion was loudly cheered. At his request the audience stood in reverent silence in honor of the comrades who fell at Gallipoli. He appealed for support to the Returned Soldiers’ League, and urged both the League and the Rejected Volunteers’ Association to organise, so that they could kick for what was coming to them when the time came.

Cheers were given for the Red Cross when Mrs. Hickson rose to commence her address. She invited all the soldiers to attend a dinner that evening, given by the Red Cross, and also thanked the people of Armidale for the help given the Red Cross during four years of war. “But,” she added, “this work must not yet cease.”

Major Richardson, M.C., as the representative of the military, pleaded for consideration in any faults they might find with individual returned soldiers, and help for them in overcoming them.

Ald. W. Curtis, representing the Chamber of Commerce, was the next speaker, and made a very strong appeal to the people to be mindful of the duties that followed peace.

At this juncture the rain, which had been threatening for some time, arrived, and adjournment was made to the Town Hall. The large crowd were unable, however, to all find accommodation in the hall.

Other speakers were Rev. H. S. Buntine (Presbyterian), Chaplain-Major Orames (Salvation Army), Rev. H. Putland (Baptist), Rev. H. E. Andrews (Methodist), Mr. H. Rafferty (Rejected Volunteers’ Association), Staff-Sergeant-Major Johnson (Recruiting).

Mr. S. J. Kearney and Canon Forster were included in the list of speakers, but were unable to be present.

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November 12, 2018 at 11:11 am

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1918: World’s Greatest War Over.

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The Armidale Chronicle, Wednesday, 13 November 1918


Ever since the premature announcement of peace last Friday, the world has been on the qui vive [on the alert]. It waited expectantly for the message that Germany, the last of the combination that menaced the liberty of the world, had surrendered. It was known that the memorable 72 hours allowed by Marshal Foch for the enemy, to accept or reject the terms of armistice delivered to the German Parliamentaires who visited the lines would expire at 11 o’clock on Monday morning. The difference between Sydney and Greenwich time made 9 o’clock on Monday night the fateful hour in New South Wales. All day on Monday there was an electric atmosphere in Armidale. The talk was of nothing else but peace. News of Germany’s internal troubles grew graver as the cables came to hand. State after State of the German Federation was reported to have joined the revolution. Republics were proclaimed here and there, and generally the indications were that the cast-iron autocracy of the Kaiser was crumbling. With the internal chaos added to the military situation, it was apparent that no course was open to Germany but surrender. It was the news of this that the whole world awaited. That it would come was a certainty; the exact minute was a matter for speculation.

How the News Came to Armidale.

The first intimation of the signing of the armistice was given to Armidale by the “Chronicle” message, which was delivered by arrangement to a representative of this paper a few minutes before 8 o’clock. The Mayor and a number of the principal citizens were present. The reading of the brief cablegram was greeted with uproarious cheering. The telephone was called into requisition, and in no time the news was from one boundary of the city to the other.

A Riot of Joy.

Within a minute or two of the receipt of the message by the “Chronicle,” the City Band appeared in Beardy-street, and the strains of the National Anthem blared forth. Soon pandemonium was set loose. All the streets were thronged with streams of people rushing towards Beardy-street. Men, women, and children helped to swell the crowds. Tottering, grey-bearded pensioners jostled the youthful and middle-aged. Sedate professional and business men threw dignity to the winds. Personal attire was a matter of small consideration. Ladies fled from their boudoirs, showing plainly that the excitement of the moment over-rode the details of the toilet. Hands were clasped in an ecstasy of joy. Castes, sects, politics, and everything that makes for dissension in normal times was swept aside by the irresistible tide of rejoicing. At any other time such deeds would have qualified the population to fill a lunatic asylum. The main street seemed to be filled with a crowd of savages executing a war dance. The half light provided by flares which commenced to burn, showed a weird spectacle. It reminded the onlooker who retained his faculties sufficiently to register any definite sense of observation, of the fantastic stories of novelists who describe savage rites. The strain of over four years of tension had snapped, and the spirits of the people rose with savage exultation by the release of the load that had borne them down. Those who have seen a steel hawser break and fly as its burden is taken off it will understand the behaviour of Armidalians on this historic night. Those who have stood by a powerful, heavily-loaded engine when the belt flew off will be able to imagine a simile while will describe the situation better than words. It was a riot, pure and simple, but a riot of joy, with no destructive impulse. No matter what the differences of opinion and action on any other subject, on this occasion there was unanimity. “Friendship divides grief, but multiplies joy.” Through the dark days of those four years of war we had shared our griefs. Friends have commiserated with other friends when the clergyman has arrived with the ominous tidings that a father, a husband, a brother, a son, or a sweetheart had fallen. Throughout the bad days when the German horde seemed invincible, we had been buoyed with the hope of just this day. The Germans had drunk to “Der Tag.” The day arrived—but not as they expected. Our boys had done their job. They had brought us victory. The fathers, mothers, sisters, and wives, who had given those men had fought the battle at home. Why should they not abandon themselves to rejoicing now that the struggle was over? The banging of tin-cans and the ringing of bells might seem ridiculous, were it not the only means that presented itself for the expression of the feeling within. The din and discord spoke of harmony. It told a story more moving to the spirit and more soothing to the senses than the immortal symphonies of the classic composers. Gratitude, relief, unity, and all the other characteristics that have sustained the Allies as one people during the war were symbolised by it.

Soon after the Brass Band the Pipers struck up their fighting music. The sounds of the two bands were added to each moment by the advent of anything that would make a row. Girls and women appeared with gongs, iron trays, buckets, tubs—anything that would give out a metallic sound. The motor garages were raided for petrol tins by an enterprising gang of boys. They belted the tins until their shape was no evidence of their original purpose. Too tired to hammer them they let them fall to the ground in sheer exhaustion. There was a scrum for their possession reminiscent of the football line-out. Those who could find no other outlet for their ebullition kicked the tins along the roadway. Bells clanged and whistles hooted. Church bells rang, but the noise of these and the whistles was simply an undertone heard at rare intervals as the nearer noises rose and fell. There were shouts and cheers from thousands of throats that wore themselves hoarse as time went on.

Soon the firemen appeared in uniform, marshalled by Captain Webb. The Brigade threw themselves into the celebration with the vim which always characterises them. Torches were brought, but these proved insufficient. Bags were then procured, and laid at intervals along Beardy-street. The firemen brought tins of benzine and fed the flares with a prodigality that would have brought them under the ban of the War Precautions Act at any other time. Who paid for it? That was an aspect of the question that worried nobody, but we have the Captain’s word that this little detail of the celebrations cost the firemen £3 10s. Motor cars coming into the street were rushed. Men and girls filled the seating accommodation, hung on to the running boards, and even sat astride the radiators. Crackers spluttered everywhere, rockets soared, and “bungers” boomed with explosion like artillery. Confetti was thrown in all directions. Wherever a banner or piece of bunting could be procured, the bearer of it headed a procession. Dozens of these contingents paraded the whole city. Sleep there was none, even if anybody had been so disposed. The City Band paraded every street of the city. There was scarcely a lane that was not included in their patrol.

The Mayor’s Address.

At about 10 o’clock a suggestion was made that the Mayor should address a few words to the crowd. The Mayor saw the hopelessness of the task, but the demand was so persistent that he felt compelled to make the attempt. He took up a position on the balcony of Tattersall’s Hotel, from which he looked down upon the biggest audience that it will ever be his lot to address in Armidale. Several times he attempted to speak, but the crowd, unaware of his intention, maintained its uproar. As a last resort he called the Band up on to the balcony. The National Anthem was played, and immediately the noise ceased and everybody came to attention. The Mayor led in cheering for the boys who had brought us victory, and all hope of speaking was lost. “The Marseillaise” and the “Star Spangled Banner” followed by the Band, after which the Mayor snatched the opportunity to address a brief congratulatory speech to the assemblage. The riot of shouting then broke out afresh.

Duration of the Celebrations.

It was considerably past mid-night before there was any abatement in the tumult of joy. People seemed reluctant to leave the streets, and it was only when they almost dropped from sheer exhaustion that they turned their steps homewards, shouting with hoarse voices as they went. Revellers continued to parade the streets until daylight.

At the Telephone Exchange.

The work done at the Armidale Telephone Exchange on Thursday night will stand as a record, both for the amount of business and the expedition with which it was handled. In about an hour after the arrival of the peace cable, no less than 1500 local calls were dealt with. Special arrangements had been made by the Postmaster (Mr. H. E. Williams) and the operators, for the contingency, and within five minutes of the receipt of the message every board was double-staffed, and the heavy business was dealt with without the slightest hitch. Yesterday morning was nearly as busy, 1000 calls being dealt with between 10 and 11 o’clock. Subscribers everywhere appreciate the splendid service given, and we have to thank the operators for their courtesy and promptitude. Thanks to the assistance rendered, we were able to inform, first all the outlying centres, and then the local subscribers, immediately the wire came to hand.

A Good Natured Crowd.

Special police precautions were soon put into effect after the arrival of the news, but although the guardians of law and order were quite vigilant to see that no damage was done by the more ebullient spirits, no extreme measures were required to keep the crowd within bounds. “They’re doing no harm,” was the comment of Superintendent Banks to our reporter, after he had completed a patrol to see that all was in order.

A solitary drunk, who had celebrated not wisely but too well, had to be taken into custody for his own protection. He was brought before the Police Magistrate yesterday morning, but in view of the exceptional circumstances he was rebuked and discharged. This was the only arrest during the whole of the celebrations.

Circus Tricks.

All kinds of antics were indulged in by the crowd to relieve their pent up enthusiasm. But during a night of medley tricks a man who paraded with a concertina and endeavored to do a cake-walk was conspicuous. Needless to say neither the music nor the dance were up to professional standard. But they had their effect in amusing the crowd and satisfying the conscience of the performer that he was “doing his bit.” Another patriot could not be convinced that he was unable to stand on his head, and it took an hour of persevering effort to convince him that his centre of gravity had shifted. Probably he had not allowed for “the load” which he had imbibed.

A group of horsewomen and men who dashed into the crowd on sweating horses showing signs of hard riding attracted considerable interest. It was learned that they had galloped in from Kelly’s Plains as soon as they heard the news. They raced about the street until the police gave them the hint to seek some more open space, on account of the danger to other people by their movements amongst the crowd.

Heard from Afar.

On previous occasions when the celebrations of lesser victories have been limited to bell-ringing and whistle-blowing, the noise has told residents ten miles from Armidale that something untoward was afoot. On Monday night, however, a resident whose property is 15 miles distant, assures us that he could hear the noise quite distinctly.

Meeting Abandoned.

At the time of receipt of the news the committee of the Literary Institute had just assembled for the business of the monthly meeting. It broke up in disorder, and upon reassembling about an hour afterwards the committee was in no mood for business. Instead, the Mayor, who was in the chair, moved a resolution that the committee place on record its thanksgiving for the good news that had come through that night, their appreciation of the good work done by the men who had represented us at the front and helped us on to victory.

Dr. Ritchie seconded the motion, which was carried with enthusiastic cheers. The meeting then adjourned.

Interrupted Examinations.

Mr. T. F. Mills, Hon. Secretary to the Supervisory Committee of the Leaving Certificate and Qualifying Certificate Examinations, received the following telegram from the Director of Education:—In the event of a public holiday being proclaimed for peace, leaving certificate examination must proceed according to time-table. Another urgent wire stated:—On account of holiday, suspend leaving certificate examinations to-morrow (Wednesday) ; put all succeeding duties one day ahead.

The excitement of the night before considerably upset the balance of the students, who were in no frame for answering examination questions. One boy was so disturbed that he found it impossible to proceed with his work, and abandoned the task.

A Happy Coincidence.

Rev. H. S. Buntine had good cause to feel happy on Thursday night. He had received a cable from his son at the front, Lieut. Murray Buntine, to say that he was well. Shortly after he entered the School of Arts the message stating that the armistice had been signed arrived.

The Morning After.

Yesterday morning people were able soberly to contemplate the far-reaching effect of the good news. There was not the boisterousness of the night before, but there was a continuation of the rejoicing in a quiet way. All business places were closed, but not till they had given out almost their entire stock of ribbon. Those fortunate enough to gain possession of this shared it with their friends until soon there was scarcely man, woman, or child who was not displaying favours. Flags waved everywhere. Nobody worked; to suggest the idea even was treasonable. The Band paraded in the morning.

This Is “The Day.”

The following proclamation was issued yesterday morning, under the hand of the Town Clerk (Mr. F. W. Milner), who organised the peace celebrations, under the direction of the Council:—This day (Tuesday) is a public holiday. The Council requests that all branches of the military, patriotic, educational, business, and political life of our city, together with all civil societies and organisations, and the general public, will form in procession, starting from the gasworks, Beardy-street, this glorious day, at 2.30 p.m. Captain Webb will be the marshal in charge. The procession will proceed to the Central Park for a monster patriotic meeting of joy and thanksgiving at 3 p.m. Three minute speeches. This is “the day.”

No more historic document has ever been, or probably ever will be published in Armidale, and no record of the proceedings would be complete without it. Hence our reason for publishing it, even though the celebrations to which it refers are over.

The Religious Aspect.

Throughout the whole of the rejoicings there was a fitting feeling of thankfulness to the Almighty apparent on all sides. All the churches gave their congregations the opportunity of offering thanks to God for the deliverance of the Allies, at special services.

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November 11, 2018 at 11:11 am

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1883: The opening of the railway to Armidale (from Newcastle)

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The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Friday 2 Feb 1883

[Some interesting details about the construction of the rail link between Uralla and Armidale – albeit with some gratuitous editorial comment to begin with, and the stilted language of 135 years ago. GS.]

Ever since the train reached Uralla, and the New England public whetted their demonstrating appetite with the festivities upon that occasion, the interest in the official opening at Armidale has been increasing. People commenced to mark events as to take place before or after “the opening.” The Uralla opening was looked upon as a mere trifle—a sort of pistol shot giving notice of the boom of a cannon. Very many of the visitors to Uralla took the opportunity of making facetious remarks to the inhabitants of that town, twitting them concerning imperfections in the arrangements, and stating as an indisputable fact, in no modulated tone of voice, that that day would be the greatest Uralla would ever see. With regard to the faulty arrangements at Uralla, there was every reason why they should have been excused. It was not known officially until the day before the opening whether there would be any official opening whatever, and if so, when it would take place. A better excuse than that for any mistakes that might have been made could not be offered. As to whether the festivities at Uralla were in reality its death-knell, is a debatable question, but we have no belief in the extinction of Uralla. Being little more than a village, the impetus given to business, and the influx of population consequent upon the progress of the work upon the railway, was particularly noticeable and acceptable, and the depression necessarily attendant upon the withdrawal of the nomad population as marked and disagreeable. But because there is a stagnation of business and an absence of population, that is no reason why Uralla should die. The circumstances that brought Uralla into existence and fostered its growth have not been taken away; and if railway communication is going to kill Uralla then it must be a bad thing. Experience does not say and in all probability Uralla will advance with did without it.

We have thought it well at this time, when Armidale is filled to overflowing with people, and prospects seem most brilliant, to call attention to the position of Uralla, because there is a lesson to be learnt by so doing. The same influences that gave a stimulus to Uralla have been for some time at work in inflating Armidale, and as now Uralla wondering if it can exist, so will the croakers in Armidale soon be pointing to this town’s collapse. In a very few months Armidale will cease to be a terminus, and hundreds of a floating population will have moved further Northward. Temporary stagnation will ensue just as certainly as it has done at Uralla. Even the pessimists may hesitate to proclaim that Armidale will die, but they will allude despondingly to its future. Provided people are prepared for the inevitable period of depression during which Armidale will have to suffer a recovery, the croakers will do very little harm; but if, at the signs of failing strength, the inhabitants allow themselves to become alarmed for the result, harm will be done in the killing of public spirit and business enterprise, and the recovery will be retarded. It is well, therefore, that we should be prepared for coming events, and it will do us no harm to remember as we stand now upon a hill of prosperity that there is a somewhat steep descent in front before we commence ascending again a more gradual incline, leading, however, to a greater height.

“Carpe diem,” wrote Horace, and since, as far as we can judge, he got a fair amount of enjoyment out of life, we may, if we want to enjoy ourselves, pay some attention to what he says. There would be very little enjoyment in life if we were to speculate each day upon the possibilities of our breaking our necks the next. And Armidale at the present time seems very much of Horace’s opinion, and is seizing the opportunity of enjoying itself regardless of the morrow, which may be presumed to be capable of looking after itself. Everybody has been to much trouble for some time past in making preparations for enjoyment, and life is not so overstocked with fun that we can afford to mar joy in esse with alloy in posse. The first of February, the formal day of our rejoicing, is past, but our festival continues, not to be broken up until, some time during next week, we speed the parting guests and settle down to every-day life once more. Nearly every private house in the town is filled with guests, some of the city, civilised, others of the bush, bushy. The former smile with concealed amazement at the latter, who in turn grin with undisguised amusement at the former. Each regards the other as a peculiar development of humanity, congratulate themselves—for it is mutual— that they have got to see very little of each other, and, being in a good humour, pass on amused, and perhaps improved, In this meeting of fellow men of different bringing up—the throwing of them more intimately together, as it were, by railway communication […] much to be gained by each. Honesty, dullness, and a degree of coarseness are intimately associated with the man of the soil; quickness of intellect, shrewdness—sometimes near akin to knavery—and refinement, are the attributes of the man of cities, and it is to be regretted that, while the country folk soon learn to ape or adopt the vices of those of the city, the latter absorb but little of the blunt honesty of the bush. But by moralising we shall not turn the tide of so-called progress, and hoping that both bush and city have found pleasant diversion in the demonstration of Armidale’s rejoicing on the opening of the railway yesterday, we turn to the matter-of-fact narration of the proceedings.

It must be borne in mind that our demonstration of yesterday was not a celebration of the junction of the table-land with the plains. The contract of Messrs. Amos Bros., that terminated at Uralla, completed that task of engineering skill, and the people of Uralla, with justice, insisted upon being allowed a demonstration in honour of the event. Upon the arrival of the railway at Armidale we have demonstrated in celebration of railway communication with the capital of New England, the cathedral city of the North. The contract of Messrs. Amos Bros, was completed at a distance of 245 miles 42 chains from Newcastle, being a point a few chains this side of Uralla. From this point to Glen Innes the line is being constructed by Mr. David Proudfoot, and is now completed to Armidale. The railway station at Armidale is situated at 259 miles 77 chains from Newcastle, which gives the distance from Uralla to Armidale by rail as nearly as possible 14½ miles. There are no cuttings or embankments of any magnitude on the portion of Mr. Proudfoot’s contract now completed. The point at which the contract commenced is 3360 feet above the level of the sea, and the Armidale station 3312, Uralla being at a slightly greater elevation than Armidale. The 14 or 15 miles traversed are very level, and, although the gradients in places are as steep as 1 in 50, the greater portion of the line is comparatively level. The highest gradient in the whole of Mr. Proudfoot’s contract occurs just beyond the goods-shed at Armidale, on the way to Glen Innes, where it reaches 1 in 40. To return, however, to the extension opened yesterday, it is technically divided into 24 embankment and 24 cutting contracts. Embankment No. 1, commencing near Uralla, at 245 miles 2 chains, contains 33,000 cubic yards, and runs out at 245 miles 56 chains, in which occurs the bridge over the Great Northern Road. Cutting No. 1 contained 7000 cubic yards, largely composed of granite boulders. In cutting No. 5, which runs out at 247 miles 44 chains, the Great Northern Road is again crossed, and at this point the usual 15 feet gates are provided. A series of small cuttings and long, low embankments—the latter principally made up from side cuttings—are next traversed. In embankment No. 12, which runs out three 20-feet timber openings over Lambing Gully, and again in embankment No. 14, which runs out at 253 miles 59 chains, occurs a similar bridge, over Saumarez Creek. In embankment No. 15, at about 254 miles 40 chains, there is another bridge of three 10-feet timber openings over Perrott’s Creek. Cutting No. 17, near Roseneath, is the largest in the extension to Armidale, containing 28,000 cubic yards, and in this cutting there are to be seen the pretty, variegated coloured chalks which created some local interest at the time they were first discovered. At about 257 miles 50 chains the Gostwyck road is crossed, and a series of small cuttings and embankments leads to the cutting opposite the railway camp of 18,000 yards, from the centre of which there is a fall of 1 in 50, decreasing to 1 in 440 to the railway station at Armidale. In the whole 15 miles there are about 190,000 cubic yards of cutting, and 180,000 cubic yards of embankment. The cutting in which the station is situated is in reality the largest, as 30,000 cubic yards were removed from it, but, of course, it is of especial breadth. At all road crossings there are 15 feet gates, and to paddocks 10 feet gates. The culverts are principally 5-feet timber openings. The line runs into the town at the back of the Gaol Hill, at the Southern end, and crosses the Great Northern Road once more just before arriving at the station, which is situated, somewhat inconveniently, at the Western extremity of the town, about a mile from the Post Office or business centre.

The railway station buildings are some way from being finished, the goods-shed and engine-shed being in a mere skeleton condition. The main building will be finished in two or three months time, and is already so far complete that an idea can be formed of the handsome appearance the structure will soon present. At the commencement of the building operations the contractors were seriously delayed in consequence of the scarcity of bricks, and when that difficulty was overcome a further obstacle was found in the absolute impossibility of obtaining seasoned timber. The wet weather prevailing during the past few months has also delayed the work considerably. The contractors made every effort in their power to render the reception yesterday at the station successful. Each end of the platform was barred up, with a view of keeping off the crowd and preventing the recurrence of such a scene as was presented on the platform at Uralla on the arrival of the Ministerial train. The contractors further erected an arch at the entrance to the railway station ground, which was very prettily decorated with flags and evergreens. Along the route traversed by the procession triumphal arches were conspicuous by their absence, and we do not know that there is any need to lament over the fact. We understand the Committee had not the funds at their disposal to justify their indulging in any extravagancies of decoration, and they wisely, at an early stage, abandoned all ideas of triumphal arches. But at nearly all the comers of intersecting streets in the route of the procession were erected tall posts, from the tops of which were stretched lines carrying innumerable flags. This display, assisted by the efforts of certain of the more enterprising, or enthusiastic, of the private citizens, who displayed bunting, gave the town that festive appearance which it was only right it should assume. It was not thought right that the visitors to our city should be allowed to escape a glimpse of Beardy street, and the procession was accordingly taken down Jessie-street, and brought along our main business street as far as the Post Office corner, where it turned up the hill once more and round by the Town Hall to the temporary platform erected opposite the Church of England Cathedral.

There was some disappointment felt at the non-arrival of the Governor, and we believe that much is lost to the popularity of a Governor and the encouragement of loyal sentiments by the absence of regal representation on such occasions as that of yesterday. More good can be done in a short time to the cause of loyalty by a happy speech to a crowd predisposed to enjoyment, such as Sir Hercules Robinson knew so well how to deliver, than volumes the most careful logic can accomplish in fifty years. However, we presume the absence of his Excellency was unavoidable. Nor can it be said that we were liberally treated in the way of Ministers, but on that head we can well afford to be forgiving. In the first place, we have not the present Government to thank for our railway, and in the second place, the new Ministers have already earned the title of a Ministry of work, and they may well have hesitated before travelling over 300 miles for a holiday. A fair sprinkling of members of Parliament came up, and very many gentlemen of position from all parts of the country. The town was full last Saturday, but all through the present week visitors have been pouring in. Great difficulty was naturally found in procuring accommodation, and very high prices were demanded and gladly paid merely for a blanket and room to lie down. Up till Wednesday night, however, room was found somewhere for everybody. Hundreds of telegrams were received on Tuesday and Wednesday by private people in the town from friends asking them to procure accommodation for them in the hotels, and in every case a reply had to be sent saying that all hotel accommodation had been secured by Saturday night.

The rain that fell on Wednesday was most unwelcome. There has been abundance of rain of late, and around the railway station there is so much of that yellow clay that puddles into a cloggy bog, that it was feared that the station would have been almost unapproachable yesterday. Fortunately the rain cleared off before midnight, and Thursday morning breaking fine and bright, many anxious fears were dispelled. The town yesterday …ance from an early hour. Hundreds of people congregated in the streets, and old friends and acquaintances were continually dropping across each other, and exchanging mutual congratulations upon the kindness of the clerk of the weather. About noon the crowd commenced to move towards the railway station, and by one o’clock between 3000 and 4000 people were present. The platform at the station was kept exclusively for the use of the Committee, and although some people were very indignant at not being allowed to come on to the platform, it was necessary to be very strict and no exceptions could be made. Over 20 constables under Superintendent Orridge maintained excellent order. The bulk of the people were assembled upon the bank opposite the platform, and for some distance along the line on each ride of the station. Some telegrams received from along the line made those waiting aware that the train would not be far behind time, and at five minutes to two the engine smoke was visible on the top of the cutting. As is usually the case the carriage in which the Ministers were travelling was not brought to a standstill at the place where the Mayor and Aldermen were waiting. It was not very far distant, however, and after a few hasty rushes in the wrong direction, a juncture of the two parties was effected, and general handshaking was the order of the day. The Mayor addressed a few words of Welcome to the Ministers, Mr. Copeland and Mr. Farnell, and requested Mr. Copeland as Minister for Works to formally declared the line open.

Mr. Copeland said he had much pleasure in acceding to the Mayor’s request, and he hoped the line would bring all the benefits the inhabitants expected. He congratulated the district upon the completion of communication with a seaport so near as Newcastle. He declared the line formally open. The ensign was hoisted at the flagstaff, and the band struck up “God Save the Queen.” Three cheers were then given, and some shots were fired from a small piece of ordnance upon the opposite side of the fine. The Ministers and members of Parliament who came up were then taken through to the carriages waiting, and thanks to the exertions of Mr. Matters, the marshal, the procession was soon got into order. Five mounted constables headed the procession, followed by the Lambton Band playing a spirited march. Next came the Mayor’s carriage containing the Ministers, Messrs. Copeland and Farnell, and following that a long string of carriages amongst which were prominent three four-in-hand teams, all drawn by beautiful horses, which behaved with the decorum appurtenant to well-trained thoroughbreds. Following the buggies were the Friendly Societies succeeded by a few horsemen, and a good few on foot. The procession was fully half a mile long and was very successfully conducted. The route taken we have already mentioned, and the platform opposite the Cathedral was reached shortly after 2.30. About 50 ladies had assembled on the platform, and the Societies excellent guard around the structure. Mr. Copeland and Mr. Farnell with other distinguished visitors were conducted on to the platform by the Mayor, who then called upon the Council Clerk to read the address from the Council as follows:—

To the Honorable Henry Copeland, Esq., M.L.A., the Minister for Works.

We, the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Armidale, desire to express our welcome to you and your colleagues in office on the occasion of this official visit formally to open the Railway Extension from Uralla to Armidale. We feel confident that the opening of the railway to this important point will materially increase the prosperity of the whole of the Northern part of the colony. And we have no doubt that you will agree with us in saying that there is no surer road to the success of every interest than that of Railway Extension. We thank you and the other members of the Legislature for your kindness in, no doubt at some personal sacrifice, thus coming to rejoice with us on the arrival of quite a new era in the history of Armidale. We beg to subscribe ourselves your obedient servants, John Moore, Mayor, A. W. Simpson, Edmund Lonsdale, James Tysoe, John Harper, John Bliss, G. Holmes, William Drew, John Trim, Aldermen.

Mr. Copeland, in reply, said it afforded him the greatest satisfaction to convey to them his appreciation of the honour of his position, and he could scarcely find words to express his thanks for himself, his colleague, and the friends who accompanied him to this city of Armidale, one of the most beautiful in Australia, for the reception accorded them. This was a red letter day for Armidale, and no doubt it would mark an epoch in the history of New England. He congratulated the district and those present that they were now connected with the second best port in the colony by a journey of some 13 or 14 hours. He felt particularly the honour of occupying his present position, because some years ago he had taken an active part in bringing the railway to Armidale, instead of its going some miles to the West. (Hear, hear.) He was glad that it had been one of his first duties as Minister for Works to open the railway to Armidale. He trusted the opening of the railway would bring the amount of prosperity to the city that its best friends could possible imagine, and be hoped that before long they would be connected also with the city of Sydney. (Applause, and three cheers for Armidale.)

Mr. Joseph Scholes, Jun., then read the following address, which was most beautifully engrossed and illuminated, from the Oddfellows:—

The Hon. Henry Copeland, Minister for Works. Sir—We, the Oddfellows of this District, unite in according you a hearty welcome on your present visit for the purpose of opening an important Extension of Railway to this the City of the North.

We desire to express our loyalty to her Majesty the Queen, and confidence in the Government which you have the honour to represent.

The which we are now met, is to us a cause of great rejoicing as it will be the means of connecting this district with other important parts of the colony, and providing an outlet for the many products for which this district is justly celebrated, and places within easy reach, of the inhabitants of the plains a cool summer retreat in this salubrious climate.

We take this occasion to express our congratulations upon the prosperity of the colony, which we hope may continue, and afford means for extending railways in all directions, and thus develop the vast natural resources of the country and open it up for the settlement of a large population.

We are, hon. Sir, your obedient servants—signed on behalf of the Oddfellows of this district,—Joseph Scholes, Jun., Provincial Grand Master.

Mr. Copeland briefly responded. He said he had not the good fortune to be an Oddfellow himself, but many of his best friends were. He hoped the railway would bring prosperity to the Oddfellows and all other fellows.

The Mayor then called for three cheers for the Queen, which were heartily given and succeeded by other rounds of cheering for Mr. Copeland, Mr. Farnell, the other members of Parliament present, and the Mayor and Aldermen.

The Ministers were then escorted to the St. Kilda Hotel by the Mayor and the Police Magistrate, returning in about half an hour to the banquet room.

The banquet was held in the new Town Hall, the walls of which have now been built to their full height. The Committee made an arrangement with the contractor for this building some time back to lay down a pine floor and erect a temporary roof, to be covered with tarpaulins. At the time this contract was entered into it was thought that the opening would take place about the end of December, when the walls would not have been built to any great height. It was after wards found that the line could not be opened as soon as anticipated, but the contractor had then made all arrangements for roofing in, and the fault to be found in the result, if any, was that the roof was too low. By opening the tarpaulins at places in the sides, however, plenty of ventilation was afforded, and there was very little to complain of. The Hall is, for a country town, a very large one, measuring 75 feet by 45, and was very tastefully decorated. The posts which supported the roof were covered with coloured calico, and from the roof hung flags and evergreens in profusion. Chinese lanterns and lamps were hanging from above and fixed to the supports in all directions, but these were not required, it is needless to say, at the banquet. Upon the stage, which is situated at the North end, was the Lambton Band, and immediately below, raised about a foot from the floor, was the cross table, extending across the whole breadth of the Hall, in the centre of which, in the chair, sat the Mayor with the Hon. Henry Copeland, Hon. J. Richardson, Archdeacon Ross, Mr. Buchanan, Mr. John Williams, and Mr. Proctor, M.L.A., on his right, and the Hon. […] Farnell, Rev. Dean Mr.H. C. Dangar, Mr. Fosberry, and Mr. A. A. Dangar on his left. Running down the length of the Hall were ten other tables.

The banquet was served cold in the excellent style for which the City Catering Company have acquired a reputation, and there was abundance of food and wine all of the best description. About 300 gentlemen sat down to the banquet, and as the Hall was arranged to seat 375, there was plenty of room. After doing full justice to the viands, the Chairman proposed the Queen, which was received in the usual loyal manner, the band playing the National Anthem. The toast of the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Royal Family was also welcomed with the usual enthusiasm, the band playing “God bless the Prince of Wales.”

Mr. Jas. Mackenzie then proposed the health of the Governor in a short speech, and this, too, was received with enthusiasm, and hearty cheers were given at the conclusion of the few bars given by band of “The fine old English gentleman.”

The Chairman then proposed the present Ministry. It was his impression that the Ministry would legislate with a view to benefiting the colony generally. He knew Mr. Farnell very well, as one of the Ministers, and he had confidence in Mr. Copeland. He had much pleasure in proposing the toast of the Ministry.

The toast haying been duly honoured, Mr. Copeland, who was received with prolonged cheering, said that although he was a junior representative of the Government to Mr. Farnell, who had been Premier and Minister for Lands in different Ministries for periods of 2 and 3 years, and therefore it might seem a sort of presumption for him to reply to this toast in stead of Mr. Farnell, yet in virtue of the office he how held as Minister for Works, it was his duty to respond on that occasion to that toast (applause), and he thanked them for the hearty manner in which it had been received. He would ask them to refer back for five or six years, and remember the occasion when he first appeared as a budding politician standing for the Northern Gold Fields, and this constituency of New England was the first he had the honour to represent. (Applause.) He would like to refer to his career during the last four or five years. Presumably they read the papers —not only the local papers, but the Sydney papers—and he would ask them had he during his political career, done any thing to disgrace them? (Cries of “No, no.”) He owed his political existence to New England, and he was—politically speaking—the child of New England (applause), until the last few weeks. It was he thought, to his credit, and it was some satisfaction to a man to say that no man in New England could say he had done other than his duty to the constituency and the country. (Applause.) He might have done some things which did not appear pleasing to the idiosyncrasies of all, but, on all occasions, he had considered the interests of the country and of New South Wales, But the object of the present meeting was the celebration of the opening of the railway to Armidale. which he had made for reference, in the train. But he would remind them that about seven years ago some money was voted with no more definite object than to make a railway to New England. About that time the Government, of which Mr. Farnell was a member, came into power, and Mr. Sutherland, the then Minister for Works, advised that the train should come to Armidale. The opposing interest of Inverell then came in, which they had to fight with, and he was not going to deny that Inverell was a most prolific district. But he joined Mr. Terry and fought for the Armidale people, not because he thought Inverell was not a fruitful district—for he knew the wealth of the Inverell district—but still it was not such a settled district as Armidale, and probably would never have been so much settled as it was had it not been for Armidale, and it was to a certain extent dependent upon Armidale. It was Mr. Farnell’s Government that successfully carried the railway to Armidale. But there was another battle that had to be fought. The Government of that day only secured the railway going along the surveyed route which went some miles to the West of Armidale. There was then another battle to be fought, and he, years ago, when up in this district advised the people not to rest content with the line passing some miles to the West of them, and pointed out the numerous disadvantages that would be entailed by such a course. Action was consequently taken, and Mr. Terry and he did their best and got the resolution amended, so as to bring the line to Armidale instead of going to the West of the city. (Applause.) In advocating the line he pointed out the amount of money that had been spent here, and showed that if the railway were not brought here much would be done to destroy Armidale. Where the railway was, there would be business and population, and increase in the value of land. (Applause.) In the days when he supported this railway he could not, of course, have foreseen the day when he should come here as the representative of an able, and, he believed, a strong Government, in an official capacity, and declare the line open for passenger and goods traffic, as he had done that day, but he was proud that such should have been the result. He was glad that he had retained their confidence, and appeared before them that day as Minister for Works. (Applause.) He did not think that any of those present that day fully realised the benefit that railway communication was about to confer upon them. As an illustration of the benefits—to bring it home to them— he was reminded by the Mayor that everything, the glass, Hie crockery, the eatables, and drinkables, which they saw before them, was all brought from Sydney, and that they were actually eating to-day what was cooked yesterday in Sydney. (Applause.) This district was now connected with Newcastle, and there was no longer any necessity for them to send all their produce to Sydney, since they could ship from Newcastle direct to England, and thus save much expense in carriage. And now the Sydney market would lie open to their fruit, their flour, and wheat, and this might fairly be considered as a red letter day for Armidale, and as the brightest day New England had yet seen. (Applause.) Ho could tell them that the Government of to-day would not be behindhand in carrying out the public works of the country, and would extend light railways into the interior as soon as possible. He was in favour of making light railways to such places as Willcannia and Cobar even once a week, and take to the people stores and bring back their produce, even if the line should be worked for a time at a loss. He might state that the railway returns for the year were about £350,000 in excess of the returns for the previous year. Every line in 1882 produced a larger revenue than in 1881. Even where extensions had been made to unsettled country—to mere gum trees—they were paying. (Applause.) He thanked them for the hearty reception given to the toast. (Cries of “What about the tramways?”) The tramways had nothing to do with Armidale, so far as he knew. (Laughter.) He intended to work for the interests of the whole country, and thought he would have the support of the people generally throughout the country. (Applause.)

There were cries for Mr. Farnell, who rose reluctantly after some clamour and said he thought Mr. Copeland had done ample justice to the toast. He rejoiced at the assemblage in the Hall of the largest number of people he had met at a meeting out of Sydney. He had always advocated the railway to Armidale before he represented this constituency, and had done so for the good of the colony. Sir Henry Parkes and some of his Government were the greatest manipulators of men ever born. The country had lately been appealed to and returned the present Ministry to office, saying that they would have a new Land Law, and as Minister for Lands he would do his best for the interests of the country. The speaker proceeded to denounce the former Government saying that their four years in office had been four years of Corruption, at which there was considerable uproar, and the speaker proceeded to propose the toast of the Pastoral, Agricultural, Mining, Mercantile, and Manufacturing interests of New England, which he did in a few appropriate words.

Mr. H. G. Dangar, in replying on behalf of the pastoral interests, said that he saw so many gentlemen around him intimately connected with the pastoral interests that he wondered why he should have been called upon to respond to that portion of the toast, but be supposed that in consequence of his father having been the discoverer of the district and his family having been identified with it so many years, the Committee had called upon him. (Applause.) If such were the case, he thanked the Committee for their courtesy, and for their remembrance of these facts. He was a squatter only in theory, but he would, at any rate, illustrate one of the virtues of dummyism by not saying more than was necessary on this occasion. (Laughter and applause.) But he thought he ought to allude to the discovery of New England, and in doing so would couple it with a name that had perhaps faded from their memories, but which should be chronicled on this occasion—that of “Gostwyck”—a man who was one of those who worked for the good of others, but he could not help thinking how much they were indebted to that man. Had it not been for him indeed he (Mr. Dangar) would not have the privilege of speaking to them that day. No man should regret that the flocks should recede before the wants of the people, and he, for one, did at not all regret it. (Applause.) He wished to express his intense satisfaction at the arrival of the iron horse. (Applause.) His thanks were due to them for the manner in which the toast had been received. The present subjected to a great amount of vituperation. For all that the pastoral interest had been the back bone and spinal marrow of the country—(applause)—and it would be a sorry day when they killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. (Renewed applause.) The present Government had undertaken such a task as they never dreamt of in adjusting the land law, and he did not envy them a task presenting difficulties enough to wreck half a dozen Governments; still he hoped they would make an honest effort, and he wished them God speed. He would like to go on, but the tune was limited, and perhaps he had better stop and not drift into what he wished to avoid—a political speech. (Applause.) He thanked them, especially for the manner in which they had received the toast of the pastoral interests and those joined with it. (Loud applause.)

Mr. George Faint responded for the Agricultural interests. He said he had been trying to make agriculture a success, and so far had succeeded (applause), as he had competed in many plaices and come out at the top of the poll. (Renewed applause.) He did not think the present Land Law was a liberal one for the poor man. (Applause.)

Mr. Cleghorn, in responding for the Mining interests, said that all would admit that Australia stood foremost in the world for mineral wealth, and New England prominent in New South Wales. Even up to the present time they had exported such minerals from N. S. Wales as would pay for the carriage, and now that they had railway communication they would be able to develop the large mineral resources of New South Wales.

At this stage of the proceedings much noise was caused by the removal of the seats and tables that had been vacated, and much that the rest of the speakers said was inaudible.

The Hon. John Richardson returned thanks on behalf of the Mercantile interests. He alluded to the benefits of settlement in New England. He was glad to see so many present, but would have liked to see his old friend Sir John Robertson amongst the number (applause), although he was not a member of the present Ministry.

Mr. Henry Roman proposed the toast of the Parliament of New South Wales, saying that although there might be weak spots in the Ministry, the Government was as a whole worthy of support. He had great pleasure in proposing the toast.

Mr. Goold, M.L.A., claimed their indulgence in responding to the toast, basing his claims as a junior member of the Legislature, He was glad to hear the terms of praise in which the proposer had alluded to the Government, as he was convinced the Government intended to do their duty. He was also glad to hear from Mr. Farnell that the Government intended to do everything which, in the opinion of the Government, would be for the benefit of the colony, and make it progress as it should do. He rejoiced as a Northern member at the completion of the railway here, and was glad that the Northern districts were so well represented in the Ministry. He hoped soon to see the railway completed from Newcastle to Sydney. (Applause.)

[Rest of scanned newsprint mostly unreadable].

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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.

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July 13, 2018 at 5:36 pm

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The Dynamite Tragedy at Uralla.

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The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Friday 11 Sep 1896

The Dynamite Tragedy at Uralla.

On Tuesday forenoon Coroner Roman held an inquest as to the cause of death of Raymond Duncombe, the victim of the sickening dynamite explosion. The jury having viewed the body, the following evidence was taken.

Constable Clark stated: On Sunday afternoon, 6th inst., between 2 and half past 2, from information, I went to John McGinty’s house, Armidale-street, and there saw Raymond Duncombe lying on a bed suffering from wounds, which I believe to have been caused by some explosive; then examined the lad, and found a large T-shaped wound in the abdomen; the stomach and portions of the intestines were protruding; the left hand was blown off at the wrist, and the forefinger of the right hand shattered below the knuckle; he was bleeding very much ; he had some slight abrasions on the face; Dr. Williams arrived, and took deceased in charge as medical attendant; then Dr. Pring came and assisted Dr. Williams ; I produce a complete dynamite detonator, which was found where I was told the accident occurred; this morning I identified the body of Raymond Duncombe, the subject of this inquest; I now produce a piece of jagged metal like copper, handed me by one of the doctors, which was taken from deceased’s body.

Clarence Faint stated: I am eight years old; live with my mother and father; know a place called Lynch’s, near my father’s place; our yard is divided by one fence from it; I remember last Sunday afternoon; left my home about not a minute after dinner, and went into a closet in Lynch’s yard; my brother Garnet was with me; when I got there I found a tin with some brass things in it—like a blacking-tin—up in the brick wall; some of the bricks were out, and the tin was in one of the holes; the things I found in the tin were similar to the caps produced, only not bent; eight were in the tin; then I gave one to our baby, who was with us ; then left the closet and went into the bushes near the Church of England schoolhouse; Garnet, my brother, went with me; saw Ray Duncome there, and he said, “Give them to me,” and I said,” ” I won’t unless you give me something for them; he said, “I won’t give you anything for them,” and he took them from me; my brother had a pocketknife, and Ray took it from him, and he held six cartridges in his hand and a seventh in his finger and thumb ; this last one he was picking with a pocketknife, and it went off like a gun; then I could not see, but felt pains on my face, like stones hitting me in the face; for a time I was blind; then I went home; have seen the dead body of Ray Duncombe down at Mr. Duncombe’s.

William Faint also gave similar evidence.

Dr. M. P. Williams stated: Am a duly qualified medical practitioner at Uralla; I was called on Sunday afternoon last, about half past two, to the residence of Mr. J. McGinty, Armidale-street, Uralla; I saw Ray Duncombe lying on a bed; his left hand was off at the wrist, and his right forefinger was shattered to the second joint; he had a large T-shaped lacerated wound (external) in the abdomen; through this wound portion of the stomach and intestines protruded; shortly after Dr. Pring arrived; we replaced the stomach and intestines after cleaning them; we then sewed up the wound; had a consultation and decided that the boy was too much collapsed owing to injuries to further operate on the hands; we decided to operate on the hands at 10 a.m. next day, providing the condition of the lad could bear it; in the meantime Dr. Wigan was sent for by me to assist in the operation; on the following morning Drs. Wigan, Pring, and myself removed the forearm bone up to about 3in. above the wrist, and the remainder of the forefinger of the right hand; the three of us visited the patient again about two in the afternoon, and Dr. Pring and myself showed Dr. Wigan the wound in the abdomen and then re-dressed it; on going up again at 7 p.m. Dr. Pring informed me that the child had died; have seen the body of Ray Duncombe as he now lies; the piece of jagged copper metal now produced was found in the wound of the abdomen, and handed by me to Constable Clark ; when we returned the stomach and intestines to the abdomen, there was a quantity of blood internally ; I attributed death to collapse, shock, and loss of blood occasioned by injuries which he had received.

James Stuart Duncombe stated: Am a butcher residing in Uralla; have seen the dead body the subject of this inquest, and identify it as that of my son Raymond ; his age was 10½ years; his death occurred at about 6 o’clock yesterday evening; I was present when he died; he left no property.

Senior-constable Harris stated: This morning I forwarded a telegram to the Hillgrove police, requesting them to see a man named Robert Burns, who had formerly occupied the house referred to as Lynch’s house, and to ascertain from him whether he or his father-in-law (whose name is Fry) had ever left any dynamite detonators in or about a closet belonging to the premises; to this I received a wire in reply, and which reads—”Re your wire Robert Burns states that about 8 months ago his father-in-law put some dynamite caps in a tin box on the brickwork of the closet referred to; may have been forgotten.”

This being the evidence, the jury returned this verdict:—”We find that Ray mond Duncombe met his death from injuries received by dynamite caps accidentally exploded by himself. We also wish to say if there is no restriction placed upon them by law, we desire to protest against their being left about in a careless manner,”


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April 30, 2018 at 2:17 pm

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Melrose – The New Goldfield

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The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, Sat 14 Jun 1890

Melrose – The New Goldfield.

(from our special reporter.)

MELROSE, June 9.

Twelve months ago Melrose was unknown. To-day it boasts a population of between, five and six hundred inhabitants, and its interests are shared by thousands of persons in the Australasian colonies. As Hillgrove is to Armidale, so is Melrose to Uralla. The last-mentioned township is regarded by the Melrosians as ‘headquarters.’ and a constant run of traffic is kept up, not withstanding the fact (undisputed by those acquainted with it) that the road is one of the worst in the colony. The position of the field is about equidistant in an easterly direction from Armidale and Uralla, and the distance is said to be about 30 miles, but this measurement greatly depends, first, upon the weather, and, next, upon the means by which one travels. For instance, a drive out on a fine day behind Mr. Jim Bonnar’s spanking pair would convince one that a short 30 would cover it, whereas a ride in at nighttime after rain would argue in favour of a long 60. To quote a cautious member of the Society of Friends, ‘It all depends.’ Let that pass. From Uralla we will call it 30. The road from this town has some advantages, passing as it does through pretty Gostwyck, one of the most picturesque holdings of the colony; and being situated 15 miles nearer Sydney, on the railway, Uralla, with some improvements in mail communication, is likely to hold its own.

Various obstacles, including some 19 gates, having been overcome, we arrive at Mr. King’s half-way accommodation house ; and thence, through a series of swamps and bogholes, to the township of Melrose. As is usual in mining centres, the town ship is far ahead of the field. The speculative spirit is evinced in the commercial surroundings as well as in the development of the mines, and future prospects rather than present requirements govern the case. Three hotels flourish in the hands of Messrs. Martyn, Burraston, and Gardiner respectively; a skating rink and general ball of entertainment is run by Mr. Parkiss; stores by Messrs. Pearson and McCrossin, of Uralla, are evidently stocked with a view to future emergencies, and various other needs are more than supplied. In one important particular the Government has been neglectful. With 123 children in the immediate neighbourhood, there is no provision whatever for their educational necessities. No teacher has been appointed, nor school established. Of course, the reply of the Department to oft-repeated applications is the ever-ready word, ‘shortly,’ but in the meantime the children are running wild and losing the precious advantages of youth.

The descent to the mines may be compared to that from Hillgrove, though in the case of Melrose the township is fortunately partly down the gorge, and thus the distance is shortened. Besides this, thanks to the enterprise of the Enmore Consolidated Mining Company, a good road-siding has been made at an easy gradient of about one in four.

Chief interest is at present centred in the operations of this company, for upon the result of the first crushing, now going on, depends in a large measure the fate of the field, or at any rate its immediate development. Capitalists are eagerly watching progress of events. As far as can be judged, shareholders will have every reason to congratulate themselves on their speculation. Without indulging in extravagant hopes, it may be confidently anticipated that for 200 tons likely to be crushed by the date of ‘cleaning up’ (15th instant) the yield of smelted gold will run into four figures. With a working expense not exceeding, say, half an ounce per ton, it will readily be seen that should even this moderate estimate be realised the mine should pay.

The history of the mine dates from July last, when Messrs. McKay (the owner of the Enmore run, on which the field is situated), Robson, McCrossin, and McClelland struck the reef. The lodes are situated on a spur between Postman’s and Gorge creeks, having their trend into the latter creek. These creeks are about 1200ft. below the top of the main tableland and within three-quarters of a mile of the same. From the top of the spur on which the outcrop of the lodes was discovered into Gorge Creek is 400ft. perpendicularly. The stone at once commended itself to capitalists, and after a trial crushing showing 11oz. of good gold for 4 tons taken from a drive 30ft. below the cap of the lode a company was successfully floated, and Mr. John Lewis was appointed manager. Since the beginning of October an enormous amount of work has been accomplished. The captain has had to work against very heavy odds. The road above mentioned, extending over a mile in length, for the conveyance of the machinery to the battery, was constructed in little more than a month. One thousand feet of driving and 200ft. of winze sinking have been accomplished, besides the erection of an extensive battery, and this in spite of an extraordinarily wet season. Work was commenced at the cap of the lode about 400ft, above the creek, and a winze has been sunk 52ft. to No. 1 tunnel, which is now driven 128ft. on the lode, and rich stone has been obtained. A second winze is down 50ft. to No. 2 tunnel, which is driven 120ft. A winze of 50ft. connects this with No. 3. Gold is found all through, and the reef averages, say 18in. No. 4 tunnel is 300ft. below the cap of the lode, and on this level 200ft. of driving has been done — 100ft. on the course of the lode, which is here 6in. to 12in. wide.

Most of the work is let by contract, and the men employed are making rather more than average wages — miners, 9s per day ; labourers, 8s 4d. Sixteen miners are employed, six stone-breakers, eight men in the battery, and one for trucking quartz. The contract price for stone-getting is 15s per ton, and for breaking 2s 11d.

The machinery and means of transit to the battery are constructed with careful regard to economy of working and gold-saving. All the levels are connected with a large hopper at the foot of the hill by a shoot, which passes all the different tunnels, out of which the stone is tipped on to a plat, there broken and tipped through a grating into the shoot. From the large hopper it is conveyed by short tram to the battery. The battery consists of 10-head stamper, made by Messrs. Langlands and Co., Melbourne, driven by a 20-h.p. portable engine by Marshall, two self-acting ore-feeders, a 5ft. Huntingdon mill (imported by Messrs. Park and Lacy), and the necessary copper plates, blanket tables, &c. The plates at the Huntingdon mill are electro-plated. At the battery the quartz is tipped into a large hopper directly above the self-feeders ; it is reduced in the battery and passes through a punch grating, 200 holes to square inch. The pulp flows over the copper plates and blanket tables and into pyramidal troughs, where the water is separated from the pulp to a large extent, so as to admit of its passing through the mill, which mill, it may be noted, takes the whole of the tailings, regrinds them, and delivers through a screen 1600 holes to the square inch. After some experience, the manager considers these mills eminently adapted for regrinding the tailings from the battery. The whole was erected by Mr. E. Doherty, of Ballarat, at a contract price of £196, and with complete satisfaction. A very neat piece of work in connection with the battery was the excellent joining and making of the mercury troughs, &c., executed by Mr. E. Purkiss. It will be seen that the utmost care has been taken to save the gold, and as this is valued at as much as £4 1s a comparatively small average should pay well. Other reefs on the company’s property have been prospected, but are not yet sufficiently developed to warrant an opinion as to their future value.

In concluding notice of this mine, too much praise cannot be given the respected manager, Captain Lewis, for the extraordinary energy and skill he has brought to bear in developing this mine so completely, in the face of difficulties against which few mine managers have had to contend.

Houghton’s Blocks, alias ‘Jimmy the Reefer’s,’ has made rapid progress in public favour, and was next visited. The first reef was discovered by James Houghton in October last, and since that date no time has been lost There are about 60 tons of stone at grass. Two shafts have been sunk, and good gold struck on reefs about 18in. and 2ft. wide respectively. A tunnel is being driven, and Mr. Morgan, managing on behalf of a syndicate, anticipates the best results. A trial crushing by Messrs. Park and Lacy yielded an average of 2oz. 5dwt. The area extends over 29 acres, and is apparently gold-bearing country right through. The property has recently been brought prominently forward in connection with attempted ‘jumping ‘ on the part of an individual who had a fancy for what is known as the ‘wedge-shaped’ block. It would have been an acquisition, no doubt, but the warden could only see another instance of the necessity for mining-law reform, and gave the case against the jumper.

Adjoining Houghton’s blocks, on the north-west side, is King and Doolan’s 8-acre block, showing a large formation nearly 7ft. in width, having two well defined walls, carrying stone averaging 1oz. per ton in free gold, but being heavily charged with pyrites it is impossible to estimate the value until assayed.

Passing through Hunter and party’s 10-acre block, with reef on the cap showing gold, we come to the Louisa, where considerable work has been done. A tunnel has been driven 100ft. through blue slate country, with a view to cutting Houghton’s reef in the underlay. The country is good, and the gold, if struck, should live. The four men who are working the claim so industriously have evidently great faith in their property.

On Carter’s block of 10 acres a quantity of trenching and cutting has been done, and three shafts sunk. The influx of surface water has greatly hindered operations on this as on many other portions of the field. Two shafts the men were compelled to abandon on that account.

At Sunnyside, or Maid of the Valley, a gold bearing reef of about 6ft. wide has been struck. Here, too, the stone is heavily charged with pyrites.

At the Hand-in-Hand, a 20-acre block, a wide reef varying from 3-9ft. is being opened up, and the testings so far show promise of good results.

The Granville Gold-mining Company, recently floated for £40,000, has an area of 28 acres in two blocks, on one of which they have a strong reef 6ft. in width carrying gold. There is another shaft down 52ft., showing a body of stone 1ft. to 18in. wide. Economy of working will be a strong feature of this claim, there being little expense in landing large quantities at grass. The Granville North adjoins the above and contains an area of 36 acres, on which fine reefs have been opened on the caps. In driving the tunnel a reef was crossed showing width of 13ft, and carrying a little gold all through. A shaft is down about 14ft on the line of the Granville Reef, and gold is showing. The claim is, comparatively speaking, undeveloped.

Messrs. Walsh Brothers’ blocks adjoin the Junction claim near the Consolidated, and consist of two blocks, comprising nearly 14 acres. The reef is exposed for a distance of 5 chains in length, carrying gold in the caps all the way. There are also four other reefs on this land, but only opened on the cap. They all carry gold.

At Dangar and party’s claim a reef has been opened up, and at a depth of 14ft is shown to be 2ft. wide carrying gold.

At No. 1 North (McCrossin’s), adjoining the Enmore Consolidated, a considerable amount of work has been done. A tunnel of over 100ft. has been driven, with a view to cutting the reef on the line of the Consolidated ; but another 100ft. will probably have to be driven before the line be reached.

The Eureka, having an area of 12 acres, shows an outcrop in the open cutting, the reef being from 6ft. to 8ft. wide and bearing good indications. The cap of this reef may be seen the whole length of the 12 acres, and it is believed to be a true fissure lode. A company has been formed for its development, and it promises well.

The adjoining claim is the Lord Hopetoun No. 1, with an area of 20 acres, on the same line of reef. At the open cutting, where the reef is now exposed, there is a body of stone 6ft. 3in. wide. A shaft to cut the reef at 65ft. is now down 37ft., and in this a crosscut leader has been met with 3in. wide, carrying good gold, and going into the main reef. The Lord Hopetoun promises to be not far behind some of the best shows on the field. Last, but by no means least, is the latest find on the field, the ‘Sliprails,’ situated five miles on the Armidale side of Melrose. The prospectors’ area consists of a 10-acre lease application, and the outcrop of reef shows the great width of 17ft., having footwall in the granite and hanging wall in slate. Various samples have been taken from right across the reef, and have realised about 1oz. to the ton. A shaft is now down about 12ft. on the reef, and prospects even better than on the surface. It is believed and hoped that the reef will narrow as it goes down. The mine is in the hands of an energetic syndicate, amongst whom may be mentioned three of the prospectors of Enmore Consolidated, and also the manager of that mine. It may, therefore, confidently be said the best will be done to secure good results. In summing up the prospects of Melrose, it must be admitted that they are very encouraging. For the short period of its existence there is ample evidence of good work, begotten of faith in the field, having been done, and though all are anxiously waiting the result of the crushing at the Consolidated, even were this not as satisfactory as to all appearances it is going to be, there would still be good and sufficient reason for believing that sooner or later Melrose will be one of the paying goldfields of the colony.

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March 29, 2018 at 1:43 pm

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Testing the Railway Bridges and Viaducts.

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With the poor state of repair of the railway viaduct in Manilla threatening to end Manilla Shows being held there [ The Northern Daily Leader, Sunday, March 4 2018, The Northern Daily Leader, Tuesday, March 6 2018], here’s the original newspaper article describing how the viaduct in Tamworth was tested on November 16, 1881 …

The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Friday, December 2, 1881

Testing the Railway Bridges and Viaducts.

(From The News.)

On Wednesday, the 16th instant, an important step was taken towards the final acceptance by the Government of the contract for the Railway from Tamworth to Uralla. We refer to the testing of the long timber viaduct that crosses the valley of the Peel in Tamworth, and the two iron bridges which span the Peel River and adjoining Manilla Road. The Inspecting Engineer arrived from Sydney with the testing apparatus on Tuesday week last, when the final arrangements were made for the morrow’s work.

A few words will describe the instruments used. They consist of small round clock-like machines, about 8 inches in diameter, on the face of which are graduations representing inches and decimal parts of inches. The arm or index is short piece of steel, very like the large hand of an ordinary clock, to the end of which is attached a coil of spiral watch spring, a piece of cat-gut being used to the end of the spring. A chain consisting of links of fine wire, a few nails, and some short battens, are all besides the discs needed for the testing.

The testing was conducted as follows, the two iron bridges being first tried, the wooden viaduct afterwards :— A batten was driven into the ground under the centre of each bridge, and the wire chain having been fixed to it by a tack, the latter was passed up to the bridge, a hole for it having been bored in the planking; the end of the chain on the bridge was fixed in rigid tension to the end of the cat-gut in one of the discs, which was itself firmly fastened to the bridge by a thumb-screw.

The testing weight was composed of three locomotive engines coupled together —two Government and one (the “Murrumbidgee”) belonging to Messrs. A. and R. Amos contractors. Their total dead weight may be taken at 174 tons 8 cwt. At first they were brought slowly over the bridges and allowed to rest when the middle engine was about on the centre of the bridge, this was done once or twice, with the result that the deflection was found to be in the Peel River Bridge about 80 of an inch, and in the Street Bridge about 25 of an inch. The locomotives were then sent up the incline on the bank at the North end of the viaduct and were brought down at full speed, and the deflection was found to be about 85 in the large and 30 of an inch in the small bridge, and there was no permanent set at all observable. This was considered a good result, and the two Government engines were sent away ; the wooden viaduct being loaded with the “Murrumbidgee” only, which weights 56 tons or thereabouts.

The only attraction in the method adopted in testing the viaduct was that the discs instead of being fixed to the top were secured to battens placed in the ground under each bay, and the chains were nailed to the wooden beams in the centre of the bridge. The deflection was very slight in each case, the greatest being .55 and the least about .30 of an inch. The spans of the wooden viaduct are chiefly 29 feet 6 inches, although there are two bays of 30 feet and five of 25 feet in it. The length of the large iron girders over the Peel River is 160 feet, and over the streets 60 feet. The testing was conducted by Mr. Wade, Inspecting Engineer, Mr. J. G. Griffin, District Engineer, and Mr. T. Parkinson, Inspector of Works on the part of the Government, and by Mr. John Owen, Manager, and Mr. J. S. Bennett, Engineer on the part of Messrs. A. & R. Amos, the contractors.

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March 6, 2018 at 3:34 pm

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Your Xmas Suit! (From 100 years ago today).

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The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Tuesday, December 4, 1917


OUR SUITS raise you beyond the pale of criticism
and leave your appearance open to nothing but
praise. Our Craftsmen are Men sifted from the ordin-
ary, who take a genuine pride in Making Men look
their best.
Savage's Suits are Class
Suits in Every Way.
Perfect in Quality, Design, Finish, and in meeting
your particular needs. We suggest the present as
the right time to become acquainted with our Fine
Quality Work.
There is something Superb about our Large Stock
of Materials. Come and realise it.
Make SAVAGE your Tailor ; then you are sure of
Clothes Superiority.

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December 4, 2017 at 2:05 pm

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[Jon Burne commented on the “luscious language” used in the previous article. That reminded me of the lost art of describing wedding attire and accoutrements.]

The Armidale Chronicle, Saturday, October 1, 1927

At the Cameron Memorial Church, Glen Innes, on Saturday last, the marriage was celebrated of Anne, youngest daughter of Mrs. J. R. Munro, of Glen Innes, and the late Alexander Munro, of Perth, to Keith Jamieson, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. W. J. McLennan, Kilcoy, Armidale. The bride, who was given away by her brother-in-law, Mr. A. E. Pearson, wore a frock of ivory crepe nanette, trimmed with panels of French pleating and beautifully embroidered with pearls and crystal beads. Instead of the customary veil and train the bride wore tulle, with a coronet of orange blossom mounted on silver tissue, which was most effective. Her bouquet was composed of pink and white carnations and fern, with silver streamers.

The bride was attended by three bridesmaids, Miss Kitty Munro and the Misses Edna and Mary McLennan. The bridesmaids, who were daintily frocked in buttercup taffeta, wore turbans of tulle to tone, and carried bouquets of pink sweet peas, with gold streamers.

Dr. R. D. Davey, of Sydney, acted as best man. After the ceremony, Mrs. A. E. Pearson, sister of the bride, received the guests at Hunt’s, Grey-street. She wore a smart frock of navy georgette, with mauve hat, and carried a posy to harmonise.

Mrs. W. J. McLennan, mother of the bridegroom, was gowned in a pretty frock of bordered morocain, with hat to match, and a posy of violets completed her toilet.

The bride chose a mulberry shade of morocain for her travelling frock, with hat en suite. Mr. and Mrs. McLennan motored to the North Coast, where they intend spending their honeymoon.

They were the recipients of many handsome gifts and cheques.

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November 25, 2017 at 11:52 am

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