Old news from Armidale and New England

Local news from newspaper archives

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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Motor Car Smash.

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The Armidale Chronicle, Wednesday, April 29, 1914


A motor car came to grief on the Hillgrove road on Monday morning under circumstances which render the escape from serious injury by the passengers a matter for wonder. Early in the morning, Mr. A. Kiefer’s Napier car, driven by Mr. W. Smythe, set out for Hillgrove, with a full load of passengers. With the exception of Mr. Thos. Faint, of Long Point, Hillgrove, we were unable to obtain the names of the occupants. All went well until the first culvert after crossing the Commissioners’ Water, where the road takes a bend. For some reason hitherto unknown, the car failed to take the turn, and, continuing in a straight line, shot into a gully, over seven feet deep, the passengers being scattered in all directions. Strange to relate, the car did not overturn, but settled down as if it had been lifted bodily off the roadway. The near side wheels came to rest on the bank of the gully, and the off-side ones hung in air without any support. The front axle was twisted, the windscreen broken, the back axle and two wheels damaged. The passengers were considerably knocked about, and sustained some superficial injuries. It was reported that Mr. Faint had some ribs broken, but this has not been verified. The whole party was picked up by Mr. A. Kiefer and taken on to their destination by his Studebaker car.

When the car was inspected after the accident, it was found that the boot of one of the passengers must have caught in the car, for the heel of his boot was wrenched off, and remained in the car.

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November 23, 2017 at 6:39 pm

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How to treat a flesh wound

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The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Saturday 28 February 1874

Flesh Wounds.— Every person should understand how to treat a flesh wound, because one is liable to be placed in circumstances, away from surgical and veterinary aid, where he may save his own life, the life of a friend, or of a beast, simply by the exercise of a little common sense. In the first place, close the lips of the wound with the hand, and hold them firmly together to check the flow of blood until several stitches can be taken, and a bandage applied. Then bathe the wound for a long time in cold water. Should it be painful, a correspondent says, take a panful of burning coals and sprinkle upon them common brown sugar, and hold the wounded part in the smoke. In a few minutes the pain will be allayed, and recovery proceeds rapidly. In my case a rusty nail had made a bad wound in the bottom of my foot. The pain and nervous irritation was severe. This was all removed by holding it in the smoke for fifteen minutes, and I was able to resume my residing in comfort. We have often recommended it to others with like results. Last week one of my men had a finger nail torn out by a pair of ice tongs. It became very painful, as was to be expected. Held in sugar smoke for twenty minutes the pain ceased, and promised speedy recovery.

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November 22, 2017 at 8:39 pm

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Wanted: Road and postal service for Metz

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The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Tue 22 Oct 1889

West Hillgrove Mines.

The population of Hillgrove West, or what is known as the Gara side of the Falls, is steadily on the increase, and now numbers between 150 and 200 persons. On this side are the famous Sunlight mine, Root Hog, Hack’s C.P., Princess Midas, and other well known mining properties, while one hotel has already been opened. Yet, so far as speedy postal communication is concerned, the residents of West Hillgrove might as well be separated by a greater distance from Hillgrove Mines proper. At present the mails are delivered at the Mines at the township of Hillgrove, and to get their letters, the residents of West Hillgrove have either to risk climbing up and down the Falls, or else to make a detour of 12 miles before arriving at the township of Hillgrove, while Armidale is only distant 16 miles. A daily mail runs past Mulligan’s, three and a half miles from West Hillgrove, and a bag for West Hillgrove might easily be left, if a small branch contract were arranged. A township has been laid out at West Hillgrove, and a road has been surveyed, and tenders called for the work of making it from Mulligan’s, Cooney Creek, to West Hillgrove, a distance of 3¾ miles. Since tenders were called for, however, nothing more has been heard of the road. We trust that these matters will not be allowed to lapse, as both the road in question and the establishment of a Post Office at West Hillgrove are urgently needed.

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November 13, 2017 at 10:01 am

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A Bush Murder

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The Armidale Chronicle (NSW), Wednesday, January 31, 1912


(By our Special Reporter).

The inquest concerning the death of Samuel Watson, who was found murdered near his home in the vicinity of Hillgrove on Monday, January 22, was held at the Hillgrove Police Court on Monday last, before the Coroner (Mr. Wm. Morgan).

Herbert Skinner, aged 19, was present in custody, and Mr. D. P. Claverie, of Armidale, watched the case in his interests.

Detective John Fullerton conducted the inquiry on behalf of the police.

Esther Amelia Watson, daughter of deceased, residing at Curran’s, in Brackin-street, stated that on the day of the murder she saw her father —he came before dusk and left between 7 p.m. and 7.50. Bert Skinner was sitting under the verandah when her father left, but she did not notice him leave. After the case, Purcell v. Skinner, her father came to Curran’s and said, “What does Bertie want?” and witness replied, “He has a glove of Eva’s.” When her father passed into the shop she heard Skinner say, “I’ll do for you yet, you old —— ” A few days before that case she had had a conversation with Skinner, who admitted hitting Purcell, and added, “Old Sam (meaning father) thought he was pretty clever. Jack and Sam raced into Hillgrove on their horses, and yet I was there before them.” He also said that when they came to his house he was in bed, and “gammoned” to be asleep. Her father looked upon young Skinner as an enemy.

To Mr. Claverie: Skinner was “courting” her sister. Witness was friendly with him, and liked him. She had frequently heard Skinner and her father wrangling.

Annie Show Yin, wife of a local storekeeper, deposed that she had known Skinner for 2½ years. On the fatal day Watson called at the store between 5 and 5.30 and bought a bag of chaff. On the way down town, at about 7.45 p.m., she noticed Sam Watson going in the direction of his home, and a little further on she saw Skinner walking in the same direction. Skinner bought about 800 cartridges in November last—his sister had since returned half of them.

To Mr. Claverie: Skinner was not carrying any firearms at the time she saw him.

Show Yin, storekeeper, stated that deceased Watson was at his shop on the night of the murder at about eight o’clock, when he took delivery of a bag of chaff he had ordered earlier in the day. In the course of a conversation, witness said to deceased, “You are getting too old to work, Sam—you ought to get the pension,” and Watson replied, “Bertie Skinner is going to shoot me some day.” Witness had never seen Skinner with a rifle, though he had frequently bought cartridges.

To the Coroner: It was after the Court case with Purcell that Watson told him about Skinner going to shoot him.

Debora Maria Cross, residing in Ryan-street, off Brackin-street, said that on the night of the murder she saw Bertie Skinner pass along Ryan-street at about a quarter past eight.

Patrick Doyle, laborer, residing at Swamp Creek, deposed that on Monday, 22nd January, he came to Hillgrove just after dark, and met deceased in Curran’s store. About 10 minutes later deceased was in his cart, and witness said to him, “Hold on, Sam ; I’ll be going out with you.” Witness thereupon got in the cart and went as far as Show Yin’s store. Subsequently witness went with deceased to his camp. Upon arrival there, witness heard deceased call out to a man named Walsh, ‘”Who’s carting wood down the paddock?” and the reply came, “Joe Prisk.” Deceased was perfectly sober. Witness then went to bed, but not to sleep. He heard no reports of firearms, nor did he hear anyone scream. Some time after he had been in bed, Jack Watson (a son of deceased) came running to the camp, calling out, “Paddy! Bill! Come quick!” Witness replied, “Bill’s not here.” Young Watson said, “Never mind about Bill; come quick; father’s shot along the road.” Witness said, “Never—I just left him.” Witness said, “I will not go on my own, but if you call back I’ll go with you.” Witness was a bit nervous, and did not like going. Young Watson then said he would go for the police and the doctor, and call back later. Witness then heard Watson ride away. Soon afterwards witness got up and saw a man named Walsh with a lantern, trying to catch a horse, and, together, they went to where the body was lying, and Senior-Constable Dobbie rode up almost immediately. About six weeks before the tragedy, witness had gone home with deceased, and on the way, deceased said, “I am afraid to-night; I think I’ll borrow Bill Vauple’s gun.” Witness replied, “No one would touch you, Sam,” to which deceased replied, “You never know, Paddy, the way Bert Skinner has threatened me.” Deceased got Vauple’s gun that night. Deceased kept the gun between four and five days. After a Court case in November, Bert Skinner said to deceased, “I’ll soon get you, ‘doggy.’ ” Deceased was known by the name of ”Doggy .” Deceased was well liked, and had no enemies other than Bert Skinner.

Amelia Watson, wife of deceased, stated that on the evening of the tragedy she was at home. Mrs. Mowle, three children, and a man named Wm. Doyle were also in the house. After tea, when she was waiting for deceased to return from town, Doyle called out, “Here’s the dray coming.” Suddenly the sound of the cart stopped, and almost immediately Mrs. Mowle said, “What’s that rumbling noise?” The dogs commenced to bark, and run in the direction of the sounds. The noise she referred to resembled someone quarrelling. They all ran outside, and just as they did so, a terrible scream rent the air—it was a long piercing scream, as of a man in great pain. Witness recognised the voice as that of her husband. Before the scream had died away, a rifle shot rang out. On hearing these reports, Mrs. Mowle called out, “That’s poor dad—I know it’s poor dad.”. Witness and Doyle then went to the spot where the scream came from, and found her husband lying on the roadside, quite dead, with the horse and cart standing close by. Blood was flowing from a wound in the face. Witness lifted up one arm, and said, “Sam! Sam!” but received no answer. The whip was between his arms. They returned to the house to get a light, and, on returning, met the horse galloping with the cart towards home. Witness then went to her son Nathan’s house, and on meeting her son, informed him of the tragedy. Subsequently her son went for the police. Bert Skinner had visited her house for a number of years—he used to keep company with one of her daughters. She objected to his visitation, which led to several quarrels. She had an idea that Bertie Skinner was an enemy of her husband’s. In December, witness, her husband, and two daughters went to Sydney, and while in Sydney her husband purchased two revolvers. Skinner was constantly prowling about their house by night, and she and her husband had often tried to prevent him from coming near the place. Witness had never seen Skinner carrying firearms.

Wm. John Doyle, laborer, residing in the vicinity of deceased’s home, stated that he was with Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Mowle, and other members of the family on the night of the tragedy. Witness corroborated the evidence of Mrs. Watson in regard to hearing the “row,” the scream, and the report of the rifle. After sending Jack Watson for the police, and returning to the body, witness picked up the two pieces of rifle stock (produced). Bertie Skinner was an enemy of the murdered man. Watson had once told witness that he was frightened of Skinner, and carried a gun in case of meeting him.

To Mr. Claverie: Witness worked for deceased at one time, and lived with him in the house. He denied ever having had a “rough-and-tumble” with Watson, but admitted having a few “words” with him. The result of those “words” was that he left deceased’s employ. Witness denied ever having a rifle. He started to work for Watson the second time on January 9th. When witness first saw the body, it was about 8.40 p.m. From the time that he heard the rumbling of the cart until the shots were fired, would be about two minutes.

Nathan John Watson, laborer, residing on Bora farm, deposed that on Monday, 22nd inst., after tea, Doyle and Mrs. Watson came over, and informed him of the murder, whereupon he saddled a horse and proceeded to Hillgrove. He first called at accused Skinner’s place, and sang out, “Is anybody at home?” Mrs. Skinner replied, “Is that you, Jack Watson?” Mrs. Skinner then came out, and witness said, “Is Bertie at home?” to which she replied, “No; I don’t know where he is.” Witness said, “Do you think he’s down town?” and she replied, “I don’t know.” Witness then asked her when she had seen him last, but could not remember what reply was made. Mrs. Skinner then said, “What do you want Bertie, for?” to which witness replied, “My father’s been shot dead.” Witness then went to look for the police and the doctor. Outside William’s hotel he met a number of young fellows, whom he also asked if they had seen Skinner, to which they answered in the negative. He afterwards saw Mr. Witherdin, and asked him the same question, and he said, “Yes ; there he is, standing under Williams.” Accused Skinner was standing under the hotel verandah. Witness then said, “Is this the first time you have seen Skinner to-night?” to which witness replied, “No; I saw him about half past nine.” After informing the police, witness rode out to the scene of the tragedy. On the way he called at Matson’s residence, and asked for a loan of some cartridges or a revolver. Matson, however, declined to accede to the request. Just before having tea, witness heard a loud scream, which he took to be his father’s voice. Witness said to his wife,” “I wonder if the house is on fire?” Seeing no glow in the sky, witness cooeed, but received no answer. Skinner was an acknowledged enemy of his father. Witness made his inquiries concerning Skinner, because he had his suspicion as to who did the deed.

Eva Winnifred Watson, daughter of deceased, stated that the night before her father went to Sydney (December 15th), she heard two persons prowling about the house—one of them was Bertie Skinner. Her mother went out with the candle, but she said to her, “Come inside, mother, or you’ll get hit.” While her mother was outside, a stone was thrown, which came into the house—a paling also followed. On the way in, when going to Sydney, they met Skinner and another boy at Cooney Creek. Skinner had either a gun or a rifle with him. While in Sydney her father purchased a small revolver, giving as his reason that he was frightened of his life of Bertie Skinner. Skinner was an enemy of her father’s. She was at the house when Skinner assaulted Purcell. He sprang out of the darkness, without warning, and knocked Purcell down. As a result of the punch, Purcell was taken ill, and witness’s father went to town, on horseback, for the police. Skinner was in town before her father. Witness and Skinner had previous to this assault been on friendly terms, but her father did not approve of the match. This was what she attributed the bitter feeling between Skinner and her father, too.

To Mr. Claverie: She considered Skinner as her “boy,” and, although he had a row with her father, she did not think he would do him any harm. Skinner never made any threat to her about shooting her father.

To the Coroner : She did not “stick” to Bertie Skinner after he assaulted Purcell. Skinner had said, “If I don’t get you, nobody else will.”

Mr. Claverie: That was a compliment to you.

Annie Emily Ellenden, residing with her husband, about 1½ miles from Hillgrove, deposed that on the night in question she heard a loud scream, which appeared to come from the direction of Watsons. Did not hear any report. Witness had seen Skinner once before in her paddock, not far from Watsons. It was some months ago, in the daytime. She asked him what he was doing, and he said he was doing a bit of detective work. Witness told him he’d better leave the paddock, and he said he wasn’t doing any harm.

Edith Watson, wife of Nathan Watson, stated that on the night of 22nd January she was preparing tea, just at dark when she heard a long scream from the direction of Sam Watson’s. Recognised the voice, and said to Jack (her husband), “What’s your father calling out like that for?” Her husband said, “That’s somebody screaming,” and added, ” I will jump on the pony and have a look—there might be a fire. Did not hear any report of firearms, and then went into tea. Mrs. Watson, sen., and Jack Doyle came up, and said, “Sam’s shot.” Her husband immediately got his horse and went to town for the doctor and police, and witness went back with her mother-in-law and Jack Doyle to where deceased was lying. There was blood all over deceased’s breast and down to his boot tops. The bridge of his nose was shot away. Before tea, witness heard voices—it was some time before the scream—about 10 minutes or a quarter of an-hour. Had seen Bert Skinner with a magazine rifle. Deceased was afraid of Bertie Skinner —witness had heard him say so. Had never heard Skinner threaten deceased.

Henry William Witherdin, baker, residing at Hillgrove, stated that on Monday, 22nd January, he attended the Municipal Council meeting, leaving at about 9 p.m. Was at Sullings’ hotel for about 20 minutes with Messrs. Teague, Snow, Morrow, and others. Witness afterwards sat on the stool. Mr. Sullings and Bert Skinner were also there. This was about 9.30 p.m. Skinner said “Good night, Harry,” and witness returned the compliment. Witness then crossed over to Robinson’s where an argument was going on, and remained there about half an hour. He looked at the time in Robinson’s hotel—it was a quarter to ten. After looking at the time, he stayed another ten minutes, and just after starting for home met Mr. Packer, who asked him if he had heard of Watson being shot. Witness had borrowed a pea-rifle from Mr. J. Baker on several occasions—it was a 22 Colt’s repeater. [The broken pieces of rifle were handed to witness, who said they were similar to those in Mr. Baker’s rifle]. Witness said he had never seen a similar rifle to this one in the town. He seen a Colt’s rifle at Boundy’s shooting gallery. It was different to Baker’s. Was sure Baker’s was a Colt’s.

To Mr. Claverie: Did not notice on Sullings’ seat anything peculiar about Skinner.

To the Police: Saw Jack Watson at about ten minutes past ten o’clock. He made reference to Bert Skinner, but did not ask straight out if anyone had seen Skinner. Witness said to him, “Why I saw him at 9.30 under Sullings’ verandah. When Watson spoke, Skinner was about twenty yards away.

John Thomas Baker, storekeeper, of Brackin-street, Hillgrove, stated that he remembered some 12 years ago buying a pea-rifle in Sydney—a Colt’s repeater. Had handled it continuously, and had a good knowledge of its appearance or any part of it. Recently sold the rifle to Bert Skinner, between the 1st and 20th of November last year—he gave 25/-for it. [The pieces of wood off the rifle were then shown to witness. One piece was the block for the ejector]. Witness said he honestly believed the pieces were off the rifle he sold to Skinner. There was a little bolt through it, which, as well as another smaller piece of wood, were missing. The only thing he saw wrong was that the constant use had worn the retractor, and it wouldn’t always act.

To Mr. Claverie: He would not swear positively that the pieces were off the rifle, but believed they were. Only the proper cartridges could be used in the magazine of the rifle, as long cartridges would have to be pushed in from top. Did not know the difference between Colt’s and Winchester rifle.

Detective Fullerton at this stage asked for an adjournment till Wednesday morning. The medical officer was not yet home. He had also sent some exhibits to Sydney, and had received no information re same yet. He had several other witnesses to call.

Mr. Claverie didn’t think it fair to his client, but afterwards agreed, and the Coroner adjourned the Court till 10 o’clock on Wednesday morning.

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August 20, 2017 at 7:51 pm

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Hillgrove and Metz Visitor Returns to Old Mining Centres

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The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser (NSW), Wednesday, 11 Jan, 1939


Hillgrove and Metz Visitor Returns to Old Mining Centres

“Hillgrove and Metz are now nothing but a sad memory of what they once were. It almost makes you wish you hadn’t gone back,” said Mr. John Lewis, who has returned to the Armidale district after an absence of 32 years in New Zealand.

Mr. Lewis, whose home is in Rotorua, returned this summer to visit his parents, Mr. and Mrs John Lewis, of Metz, as the latter had been seriously ill.

He remarked to-day on the amazing change that has taken place in the district with the decline of Hillgrove and the growth of Armidale.

Mr. Lewis recalled the “good old days” of the metal boom, when Hillgrove was a borough with several thousand citizens and Metz a thriving community with 1500 to 1600 in habitants, and spoke of the keen rivalry that existed between the two settlements, particularly in sport.

Football and cricket were given enthusiastic support, but it was in racing that the people found their greatest enjoyment. He could remember when footraces were held up the main street of Metz, from Crough’s Hotel to the Post Office, in the light of acetylene lamps.

In those days there were race-tracks on both sides of the gorge. The Metz track of over four furlongs was first located where the Anglican and Wesleyan churches afterwards stood, and a second course was later marked off in a paddock owned by O’Neil, the hotelkeeper.

The Hillgrove course was situated between the recreation ground and the springs. The actual tracks were marked by posts set up at intervals, without the afterthought of rails to keep horses outside the posts.

“Of course,” said Mr. Lewis, “The stakes were not very high—but the bets were.”

(His words evoked a picture of bearded miners taking the odds in handfuls of gold-dust. “I’ll lay a quartpotful to a tobacco-tinful,” yells a bookie, while his clerk pays out bets from a sackful of nuggets. Rich times!)

“Dangerous Times”

They were dangerous times, too, and horse or rider often met death on the rough tracks. At Metz, said Mr. Lewis, an Armidale horse, Cogwheel, was crowded to the inside of the course and staked on one of the posts marking the track. At Cooney Creek, where a four-furlong course ran parallel to the Armidale road, finishing near the old hotel, a jockey was killed when his horse ran him against a tree.

Horse teams travelled the road between Armidale and Hillgrove, with the slower-moving bullocks carting heavier loads. To the east was the wild bush. The road through Wollomombi to Kempsey had been made, but it was a difficult journey and took about a week to cover. Four or five days was considered a very fast trip.

Hillgrove and Metz at that time supported a great number of prospectors, as well as the men working for the big mines, such as the Sunlight and Baker’s Creek. There were practically no Chinese mining there, so that many of the troubles of other goldfields were avoided.

Tramways ran down each side of the gorge, and Metz was at that time known as West Hillgrove. Owing to confusion arising from the two names the western section was later renamed Metz.

Mr. Lewis remembered the celebrations that attended the “christening.” There was a grand procession and at night a fancy dress ball. Metz at that time boasted one of the best dance halls in the district. It had been built for a skating rink and later transformed.

“When I went back,” said Mr. Lewis, “I found it difficult to locate the place where it used to stand.”

When the Bands Played!

There were two bands at Hillgrove, and one at Metz. They were all of high standard, one of them, Hughie McMahon’s band, winning the championship of Australia, at South-street, Ballarat.

“It has altered so much now,” he said, “that you almost wish you hadn’t gone back.”

In New Zealand he had seen the same thing happen in a large mining centre, and he considered that nothing save a fresh discovery of gold could restore to such towns any of their former vitality.

“Country like Hillgrove is no good for farming,” commented Mr. Lewis, “although in New Zealand our mining country is similar to what is considered good pastoral country here. At Rotorua we seldom get temperatures above 80 degrees, and there is little variation during the year”.

Mr. Lewis added that besides its thermal wonderland, Rotorua boasted excellent trout-fishing, deer-stalking, pig-hunting, and duck, pheasant and quail shooting, besides the pursuit of the more humble hare and rabbit. It was recognised as a great sporting centre.

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August 18, 2017 at 4:15 pm

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Department of Lands,
Sydney, 16th July, 1898.


Land District of Armidale.

IT is hereby notified, for public information, that the name
of the village of Sunlight has been altered, under the
provisions of the 107th section of the Crown Lands Act of
1884, to “Metz.”

[Ms. 98-2,658 Dep.] J. H. CARRUTHERS.

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August 18, 2017 at 1:19 pm

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Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), Sat 27 Jan 1883

GRIFFITHS and WEAVER are instructed by
Mr. John Gill, who is retiring from business, to sell
by auction at the Exchange, Sydney, at noon
His very Valuable, and Highly Improved
Brookstead Estate,
Situated within four miles of Armidale Railway
Station, and of which the area is about 1000 acres.

Of the Estate 800 acres are very substantially fenced, and subdivided into Grazing, Cultivation, and Lucerne paddocks, all well and permanently watered.

The buildings include comfortable 10-room Cottage, on Stone foundations, with out-buildings attached, surrounded by good gardens, orchard, &c., of which the area is 4½ acres enclosed in paling fences.

Also, four commodious men’s Cottages, Engine-house, Wool Stores, &c.

The Wool-washing and Fellmongery Establishments, which are extensive, complete, and in full going, are located on Commissioner’s Water, whence an ample and unfailing supply of pood soft water is obtained, which is raised as required by an eight-horse power engine and a Gwynne centrifugal pump.

The Working Sheds, Buildings,Engine, Pumps, &c., are all in first-class repair, and fully sixty (60) bales of wool per week can be scoured, and 1000 skins fellmongered.

The Property is very favourably situated for the business being in the midst of a number of graziers and selectors, and it has been in full work for many years under the management of the late Mr. Garthwaite, and Mr. John Gill, and now has the advantage of connection with the sea board by the recently erected railway line.

With the valuable Freehold Estate will be sold all the Buildings, Engine, Pumps, Wool Press, Plant, and the Goodwill of the business. Buyer taking the stock in hand at valuation.

Inspection is Invited as the sale is Peremptory.

For Plans and full Specifications, apply to GRIFFITHS and WEAVER, Sydney.

Written by macalba

May 9, 2017 at 12:44 pm

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