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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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August 7, 2018 at 6:17 pm

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

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

19171204-armidaleExpress-advert-savage-and-sons.png

YOUR XMAS SUIT!
HAVE IT MADE BY
TIP-TOP CRAFTSMEN.
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.
C. SAVAGE & SONS,
BEARDY-ST, ARMIDALE. PHONE-213.

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December 4, 2017 at 2:05 pm

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Motor Car Smash.

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The Armidale Chronicle, Wednesday, April 29, 1914

PASSENGERS ESCAPE.

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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Grocery prices: Regulations contravened

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The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Fri 17 Apr 1942

Three Firms Prosecuted

In Armidale Court of Petty Sessions yesterday convictions were recorded against three Armidale business firms for breaches of the prices regulations.

The firms concerned were Moran and Cato Pty., Ltd., Joseph M. Hanna and Wright, Heaton, Ltd.

The evidence showed that in the case of Moran and Cato and J. M. Hanna the breach was caused by defendants raising the price of rice and tea to the level being charged by other Armidale stores. In the case of Wright, Heaton Ltd., the manager stated that the total overcharge was 7/5.

Hanna pleaded guilty to one charge concerning tea and was fined £10, with 8/ court costs, and £2/2/ professional costs.

Moran and Cato Pty., Ltd., pleaded guilty to a charge involving the price of rice, and was fined £15, with 8/ costs, and £2/2/ professional costs.

Wright, Heaton, Ltd., admitted four breaches concerning sales of sago, fish paste and soap, but denied two charges involving sales of bicarbonate of soda and tapioca. Convictions were recorded in all cases, excepting that involving tapioca, which was dismissed, and fines and costs totalling £49/0/10 were imposed.

Mr. A. E. Gentle (Weaver, Gentle and Harrison) appeared for Wright Heaton, and Mr. Q. A. Biddulph (Mackenzie and Biddulph) for Hanna and Moran and Cato. The Crown was represented by Mr. S. Snelson, of the Crown Solicitor’s Office, and Hector McDonald Ross, inspector under the price fixing regulations, gave evidence for. the prosecution.

Inspector’s Visit

In the cases against Wright, Heaton, Ross said he visited the Armidale premises of this firm on May 21, 1941, had seen the manager, Mr. Irwin, and had asked to check on buying and selling costs of 20 grocery items. He had asked for landed-into-store costs and wholesale and retail selling prices, as at August 31, 1939, and similar particulars as at May 17, 1941.

Later, continued Ross, he had received the landed-at-store costs and wholesale prices, Irwin explaining that the firm sold only on a wholesale basis. A check on the list revealed that, in respect of bicarbonate of soda, the company had increased its percentage of profit.

Proceeding, Ross said he had told Irwin that he would have to reduce the selling price of this commodity so that the margin: of profit would be reduced to that prevailing at August 31, 1939. Irwin had replied that he would do anything that witness advised.

Ross said he had advised that figures be checked and that refunds be made to those who had been overcharged. Irwin had promised to do this and, later, he had handed witness a list.

Continuing, Ross said that on November 19, he had returned to Armidale to cheek on prices at Wright Heaton’s, and together with Irwin, he had searched through bundles of documents. Eventually he had been handed certified documents.

One of these, a invoice dated January 24, 1930, showed 12/ per cwt. for bicarbonate of soda. Another, dated August 19, 1939, showed that bicarbonate of soda had been sold to J. Burraston at 2½d per lb. That indicated a margin of profit of 38.12 per cent.

Witness produced a copy of a purchase invoice, dated January 9, 1941, for one sack of bicarbonate of soda at 16/ per cwt. He also produced copy of a sales docket, dated May 8, 1941, showing that 6lb. bicarbonate of soda had been sold to C. Burraston at 3¼d per lb.

This disclosed a margin of profit of 47.73 per cent., an increase of 9.5 per cent.,” said witness. During Ross’s evidence Mr. Gentle asked the Magistrate if it were possible for him to give a direction. to the Press not to publish figures re-j vealing margins of profit. “These are things not usually disclosed to the public,” he said.

The Magistrate stated that the court was open, and that such a matter was for the Press to decide. He added that he was concerned only with the differences in the margins of profit.

Answering Mr. Gentle, Ross said that the first sale to Burraston had been 28lb. and the second 6lb., but he did not think that different quantities made any difference in the margin of profit for wholesale dealers.

Ross further stated, in cross-examination, that the firm was entitled only to a profit of 38.12 on 16/. “He might have made a hundred sales and not exceeded the margin, but he did on this one, and other sales were not produced to me.” he said.

Mr. Gentle: You compared a 6lb. lot with a 28lb.? — That was the only docket available.

How many prices did you discover which you considered to be breaches of the regulations? — I checked 90 and found six wrong.

Did Mr. Irwin give you any explanation? — No, only that he said he was not watching costs properly. You asked Mr. Irwin to make adjustments? — Yes.

How much did these adjustments amount to? — About 12/.

Are you sure it was not 7/3? — It may have been. No check was made.

This concluded the evidence for the prosecution.

L. J. Irwin, manager for Wright, Heaton, stated that Ross had been given certain information, but he did not know at the time that it had to be in decimal points of the costs. He had thought that the amount to a fraction was sufficient. He did not remember Ross asking him how the mistakes occurred. On the sale to Burraston of 28lb. he had since worked out the profit at 33 1/3 of landed cost, and this was nearly 5d under the maximum price allowed. The difference in the charge for a later amount was due to the quantity being under 14lb. He had endeavoured to fix the price according to the regulations.

The total of errors he had discovered in checking up over six months was 7/5, and this had been refunded in discounts. The turnover in that period would be in the vicinity of £25,000.

Cross-examined by Mr. Snelson, the witness said he had been told that an increase granted by the Commissioner applied to stocks in hand and stocks to come in. He did not agree with the statement that all of the articles in a list produced were on the averaging system, except tea, matches, sugar and rice. He had not been able to find a docket for sale of carbonate of soda under 14lb. prior to August. 1939.

The P.M.: I think I should find the offence proved.

Mr. Gentle pointed out that the amount involved was very small, and that a subsequent sale and the price showed that the practice of an increase was not being adopted regularly.

In the case of tapioca Ross stated that on May 21 last year, he visited the defendant’s premises, and after perusing the list of costs and selling, prices prepared by Irwin he asked for documents of costs in August, 1939, and selling prices at the present date.

These documents showed a rise in the percentage of profit on tapioca from 13.39 to 28.95.

Irwin, in evidence, said he had worked out the profit on a sale in 1939 as 29.1 per cent, and on a sale referred to in the evidence, made in 1941, at 28.1 per cent. He would have been entitled to charge more. The P.M.: I think I’ll give the benefit of the doubt in this particular information.

Apparently, in these two cases, if the information had been properly supplied in the first place, there would hot have been a prosecution.

Mr. Sneison said the price in 1939 for soap was 7.72 per cent, as against 12.76 at the date of the offence.

In the case of anchovette the price in the period had risen from 10.84 per cent, to 19.54 per cent; for sago from 22.67 to 28.36 per cent.

Mr. Gentle said he did not agree with these figures.

Mr. Gentle said there had been a clerical error in the invoice for some items.

The P.M.: My experience is that they are never under — they are always on the right side.

Mr. Gentle: There was only 7/5.

The P.M.: That was all that was discovered. There wasn’t an audit.

In fixing the penalties, the P.M. said: “I am allowing for the errors made in the averaging. In the other cases the prices were fixed, and there should not be any difficulty. There was no room for any error.”

The Magistrate imposed the following fines: Soap, anchovy and sago, 17/10/ each case: fish paste, £5; and soda £12/10/. Professional fees £2/2/, witness’s expenses £1/6/2, and court costs 8/ were imposed in each case.

Price of Tea

Outlining the case against Hanna, Mr. Sneison said Mr. Ross had visited Hanna’s shop on May 21, 1941, and asked for certain details of buying and selling prices.

Prices for tea, Mr. Sneison said, had been fixed at that prevailing on December 31, 1940, plus 5d. This meant that Hanna should have been selling tea at 3/1, but he was selling at 3/2.

Mr. Biddulph said the breach had occurred at a time when the commercial public was not as fully appreciative of the National Security Regulations as they are now.

Goldenia tea, said Mr. Biddulph, had been a catch line at Hanna’s and had been selling at 1d below that charged by other stores at Armidale when prices were fixed, Hanna had continued to sell at the reduced price until approached by other storekeepers, who pointed out that he was underselling them in this line. He then increased the price to that at which other stores were legally able to sell, but in doing so he had committed a breach of the regulations.

The Magistrate said Hanna should have got other Armidale stores to reduce their prices. He knew of some storekeepers who sold commodities at a much lower price than other stores in the same town for the reason that these low-priced commodities had been catch lines when the regulations had been imposed.

Mr. Biddulph stated that the breach was a technical one and that no injury had been done to the public. He said it was significant that, in such a large business, a careful probe had revealed only one breach.

The Magistrate: Where a price is fixed a storekeeper can be under no doubt as to the price he should charge. “I have noted that prices are generally put up, and that they never come back,” he added.

Mr. Biddulph: This happened at a time when the regulations were new. your Worship.

Mr. Snelson; Tea was declared in September, 1939, and prices were fixed under this particular order in December, 1940.

Pegged Price of Rice

The case against Moran and Cato Pty., Ltd., concerned rice, the price of which had been pegged as at August 31, 1939, said Mr. Snelson.

On August. 31, 1939, Moran and Cato’s Armidale branch had been selling rice at 3½d per pound, but when the inspector visited there in May. 1940, the price was 4d per pound.

Mr. Biddulph said this was another case of a catch line. Moran and Cato’s had been selling rice at 4d, but just before the price was pegged they had reduced it to 3½d. Before the inspector’s visit, the price had been raised again to 4d.

The firm had 28 other branches in country towns and all had been selling rice at 4d per pound and were legally entitled to do so. said Mr. Biddulph. The metropolitan price was 3½d and cost of transport to Armidale was approximately ½d. Moreover, the ruling rate for rice at Armidale at the time of the offence was 4d, and all other shops were entitled to charge that price. “This firm has 78 branches, and this is the first offence,” he added.

The Magistrate: The prices regulations had been in operation for nearly two years. One would think that the firm would have had time to be come acquainted with them.

Mr. Biddulph: The local manager might make a mistake, especially as other branches of the same firm and other Armidale stores could charge the higher price.

The Magistrate: But 3½d was a fair price.

Mr. Biddulph: The Sydney price was 3½d. and it cost ½d to bring it to Armidale.

The Magistrate: Some country places farther out than this are selling rice at under 3d per lb. Isn’t that so, Mr. Ross?

Mr. Ross: Under 2½d.

Mr. Biddulph: They are losing money on it.

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April 25, 2016 at 9:25 pm

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New England University College – Claim of North

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Tweed Daily (Murwillumbah, NSW : 1914 – 1949), Friday 17 August 1934

DEPUTATION RECEIVES SYMPATHETIC REPLY

A deputation, representing practically the whole of Northern New South Wales, and organised by the New England University College Provisional Council, waited on the Minister for Education (Mr. D. H. Drummond) at Armidale on Saturday last and presented the case for the establishment of a University College at Armidale affiliated with the University of Sydney.

In reply the Minister said there were two possibilities of launching a University course — either through the Government or apart from the Government. He felt the force of the claim of the deputation, but he believed that it would be far better for the North if it could manage to achieve its object without relying wholly on the Government.

The legal aspect was bound up in finance. The Sydney University Act provided that the Senate of the University may set up a college within the University where the promoters provide £10,000. The Government was then pledged to provide a like amount, and £ for £ up to £20,000 and contribute £500 a year tor the upkeep of the principal. In the case of the North the buildings were already in Armidale. The Teachers College was perfect architecturally, and since the depression the full accommodation had not been utilised. The accommodation, therefore, would be sufficient for at least a decade.

PROVIDE £10,000

“It should be no unsuperable task to ask the people of the rich northern parts of the State to provide £10,000,” declared Mr. Drummond. ” When I go before Cabinet with this proposal within the next six weeks I feel that my position would be greatly improved if I could tell my colleagues that I had £10,000 towards the cost. It would immeasurably strengthen my case. I really believe that the Teachers’ College and the University College work could be dove-tailed very well. The University College at Canberra costs about £3000 a year. I have closely examined the reports and financial statements, and I have no hesitation in saying that a College in the north could be run economically, without impairing its efficiency.” Continuing, the Minister said that this movement might induce the Sydney University to do something in the matter of correspondence courses. He believed, however, that it was far better for the student if he could be brought into close personal contact with the lecturers, and that was certainly more likely in a University College than in one big central institution.

In conclusion, Mr. Drummond said that he had already communicated with Professor Wallace, Vice-Chancellor of the Sydney University, asking him to bring the matter before the Senate, and advise him of the decisions arrived at. The gathering would be pleased to know that Mr. Ross Thomas, Director of Education, was a member of the Senate by virtue of his position in the Department, and he was present that day as an observer.

PROVISIONAL COUNCIL

The personnel of the New England University College Provisional Council is as follows:— Right Rev. J. S. Moyes (Anglican Bishop of Armidale), Right Rev. Dr. John Coleman (R.C. Bishop of Armidale), Messrs. E. Simpson (Armidale), A. E. Sweaney (Inverell), P. A. Wright (Wallamumbi), W. S. Seaward (Scone), H. H. Hungerford (Murwillumbah), S. C. Wilson (Armidale), H. Regan (Tamworth), J. P. Abott (Wingen), C. McKenzie (Lismore), W. E. Waterford (Quirindi), Dr. Banks-Smith (Tamworth), Dr. D. J. Crossin (Armidale), Dr. R. B. Austin (Armidale), Principal C. B. Newling (Armidale), Mrs. A. G. Bryden (Armidale), Miss Mary White (Armidale), Dr. Earle Page, M.H.R. (Grafton), Col. H. F. White (Guyra), honorary secretaries, Messrs. R. L. Blake and J. Laurence.

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June 21, 2015 at 9:54 am

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