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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

THE HILLGROVE TRAGEDY.

(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

“SAD MEMORY”

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.

Written by macalba

August 18, 2017 at 4:15 pm

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ALTERATION OF NAME OF THE VILLAGE OF SUNLIGHT TO “METZ.”

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

ALTERATION OF NAME OF THE VILLAGE OF SUNLIGHT TO “METZ.”

EASTERN DIVISION.
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.

Written by macalba

August 18, 2017 at 1:19 pm

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Auction: LARGE WOOLWASHING ESTABLISHMENT, near ARMIDALE.

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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
On WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28,1883,
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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Jottings by the way.

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Empire (Sydney), Wed 4 Oct 1871

JOTTINGS BY THE WAY.

THE NEW ENGLAND DISTRICT (CONTINUED.)

THE neighbourhood of Armidale is annually increasing in the growth of cereals, for the quan- tity of good strong land suitable for agriculture is very extensive, and the climate exactly suits wheat, though the crop last season was but one-fifth of the ordinary yield owing to the abnormal weather that prevailed. Four flour mills have con- sequently been erected, only one of which, however, – Mr. John Moore’s – has been kept continually going for some time past, for the local supply of grain has been so insufficient that a considerable quantity of Adelaide flour has found its way into the town ; according to present prospects, however, such is not likely to be the case this season, for the young corn looks splendid. The mill is a good one as far as it goes, but is not large enough for the business, and £700 are about to be expended on additional accommodation. Two pair of stones are driven by a table-engine of 14 horse-power, capable of working up to 20 horse-power, with a boiler of similar power, and as showing to some extent the fallings off in the district, Mr. Moore bought 48,000 bushels of wheat in 1870, but from January 1st to July 31st the amount has only been 18,000, and this is but a poor sample of shrivelled grain plentifully mingled with rye, oats, and drake.

Last year Mr. Moore sent flour to Musselbrook, Singleton, Tamworth, Merriwa, the Mclntyre and Queensland ; this year he brings in Adelaide flour from Maitland.

What is now termed the Company’s Mill, is a substantial building of three stories with a fine engine of 20 horse-power, driving three pair of stones, two silk-dressers, smut machine, and eleva- tors complete ; it is the property of the enterprising farmers of Armidale, but as a speculation, does not, I believe, pay, which is a pity.

There are two ways to Armidale for goods – one by way of Grafton, and the other, by Newcastle and the railway. By the former route goods cost altogether for carriage £7 10s a ton, and are fourteen or fifteen days on the road in summer time, while by the railway line they cost £9 9s a ton, and are from two to four weeks on the road; consequently for every ton Mr. Moore gets by way of Newcastle he gets five by way of Grafton, having special teams on the road continually employed..

The remains of the first mill erected in the town are yet seen behind the one first mentioned; this was Kirkwood’s, subsequently removed to Bende- meer ; the next was Allingham’s, built by Mr. Green, of Maitland, and the third was McLean’s, which appears to be out of occupation.

It may be mentioned as a curiosity of the past, and a striking contrast to the present, that Mr. Pearson, of Violetdale, one of the most influential farmers about here, with 2000 acres of land purchased before selection was the law, refused 30s a bushel for wheat some fifteen years ago, but sub- sequently had to sell at the ruinously low figure of 20s.

Armidale has lived in municipal form for about seven years, and it is creditable to the Council that the streets and roads within its jurisdiction are in such excellent form, for, made with the splendid ironstone gravel so abundant in the neighbourhood, superior even to basalt, it is quite exhilerating to bowl along in Mr. Moses’s or Mr. Jackes’s buggy, to view some attraction in the neighbourhood.

Partly, perhaps, on account of good streets and roads and pleasant drives on the outskirts of the town, many neat cottages and pleasant residences have been built in various pleasant and healthy positions ; notably the nice cottage of the Crown Lands Commissioner – Harriott Esq., on a reserve of thirty- six acres; the neat residence of the Police Magistrate and Commissioner for the Northern Gold- fields, J. Buchanan, Esq., in Marsh-street, in which street are the handsome residences of Mr. J. Scholes and Mr. J. Tysoe, retired publicans ; Mr. Tysoe’s is perhaps the best private residence in the town. Dr. Turner, resides in a brick cottage in the midst of a pretty and well laid-out garden beyond the racecourse, and the head of the Romish communion is located in a neat brick building on the south side of Rusden-street. Bank Cottage, Jessie-street, is the residence of W. A. B. Greaves, Esq., district surveyor.

A local building society has been formed six years, and is in course of being wound up, and a permanent society formed in, I believe, 9000 shares, of which Mr. Bray. is secretary ; the prospects are said, to be very good. There is also a Masonic Lodge with a small hall of wood in Fawkner-street and an Oddfellows’ Lodge with a neat brick building near the St. Kilda Hotel. An Orange Lodge has also been inaugurated, and numbers 120 members, a hall for which has already been projected in Jessie-street to cost £400.

Among the sights worth seeing in the neighbour- hood of Armidale is Mr. F. Jackes’s fine orchard about four miles out of town, on the Great Northern Road. Here are nearly sixty acres of choice fruit trees, and among them are found the largest and most richly-flavoured peaches, plums, cherries, pears and apples, many of them of the latest invention, having French names. The soil is very good, not too stiff, well adapted for the purpose, and well drained for the most part ; three or four hands are kept pretty well employed in trenching, forking, ploughing, dressing, and pruning, and improvements are being constantly made: both in orchard, garden yards, and out-buildings.

There are in all 6000 trees planted in blocks still fully planned ; the early trees near the house and those ripening later at a remoter distance in squares of 100 of each sort, the rows being rectangular and twenty-five and twenty-one feet apart, admitting drays underneath to remove the fruit direct without the intervention of baskets and barrows, which involve shifting and consequently bruising and damaging the fruit. The trees are from two to six years old, of a clean and healthy appearance, and the great size and strength of the annual wood, shows how well the soil, climate, and mode of cul- ture agree with their constitutions. Among the varieties of the apple family and Irish peach; Early Margaret, Devonshire quarenden, Early Harvest, Ribston, Russet, French Crab, and Winter Green- ings – 3500. Among the cherries, which are said to reach an unusual size, are Waterloo, Elton, Bigeroon, Black and, White Heart. Most of the old familiar trees in the gardens of Old England, seem to flourish in this new garden of New England for here are found plums, pears, quinces, mulberries, walnuts, chestnuts, vines and bush fruits. Of vines there are an acre arid a quarter trellised. The avenue also up to the cottage is appropriately planted with varieties of the poplar pine and other border trees, and plants, and will in a few years form a feature in the view from the road.

The cottage is roomy, commodious, cool, and homelike, commanding a capital view to the south- west, and built on rising ground, in the midst of 200 acres of good ground, in process of being reclaimed from a state of nature. The barn at the back is seventy-five feet long, with open passage in the centre for drays to load or unload, as well as for threshing, which is done by the engine standing outside and operating upon the stack in centre of the yard. The drawback of the situation is the water, which has not yet been tapped, even at a depth of 140 feet, sinking in tough basalt.

Altogether this orchard is a credit to the district, and is one of the most extensive in the colony, but where Mr. Jackes is going to dispose of the fruit when it is in full bearing, I don’t clearly see ; how- ever a good and cheap fruit will make a market to a certain extent, and the “coming railway,” the out- laying to towns; and annual races will absorb much, the balance may perhaps become cider perry, wine and preserves. A visit to Mr. Jackes’s orchard is to a certain, extent a treat even in winter, it would pro- bably, be still more so in the month of December, when the bloom is on the peach, and bunches of big rosy cherries hang thick and tempting from the tree. The proprietor (who was a miner on the Rocky thirteen years ago) is to be congratulated for his enterprise, and it is devoutly to be hoped that his plantation will escape tho general scourge of fruit trees – the blight and bug.

Mr. J. S. Bray tells me that insect life is wonder- fully prolific in this district (indeed I am under a strong impression that this is not the only district where insect life is wonderfully prolific), and in the course of his entomological researches during the last eighteen months,he has discovered between ten and twenty specimens, unknown to science, especi- ally of the Biprestas and Longicorn families – which specimens have gone home for classification. There seems a good field open here both for the entomolo- gist and the conchologist, as the district is called rich in landshells also.

The tannery of our enterprising friend Mr. Moses, is just outside the town, where fifty hides are put down daily, the pits in operation numbering forty. The grinding of bark is at present done by horse- power, but an eight-horse engine is on the road to supplant animal labour in this business, and to work other branches of the trade besides, but the bark of the district I am told is somewhat inferior in strength and quality ; it may be owing to this and to the nature of the climate, that the period of tanning to perfection extends over five months. The tannery has been in operation six years, and supplies the country with leather as far south as Tamworth and as far north as Tenterfield.

The racecourse is a block of eighty-six acres, adjoining the town on the east, the whole of it being close fenced, and having appropriate entrance gates, as well as a stand; here also the home matches of the local cricket club are played.

Three miles east, a little off the Grafton-road and on a very fine deep permanent pool on Commis- sioner’s Water, is the fellmongery and wool washing establishment recently formed by Mr. Garthwaite, which he has named Brookstead. No site in the district could have been better selected for the busi- ness in point of natural advantages; and there seems every, prospect of the business steadily increasing under, Mr. Garthwaite’s management, and the suita- bility of the trade to the surrounding district.

Though the trade may be said to be in its infancy as yet, for it has not been in operation two years, a con- siderable amount of building and work has been done, and a considerable sum of money expended in sheds, tanks, fluming, and machinery. The pool into which the Commissioner’s Water expands at this point is permanent, for it is said to be no less than sixty feet deep, out of which water Ís pumped and flows by a flume to the tanks; 1200 skins are treated daily, passing through the various stages of first being stacked in the roof of the long shed, whence they are removed to the soak-tank, and thence to the drain stage ; from this they pass to the sweat-house, pulling shed, and washpool, after which the wool is spread out on the drying-ground ; then it is gathered and sorted in the press-room, and finally pressed and baled, the bales being branded “M. G. Brookstead.” The average result at present is two bales a day ; may they go on and increase to a dozen.

But the best district in the neighbourhood of Armidale is Kelly’s Plaíns, an extensive and fertile track of undulating trap country with a rich deep and generous soil, much occupied by farmers, selectors, and gentlemen resident on the said Plains. The Saamarez Creek waters the plains, and on the bank of this creek among several nice farms is that of R. I. Perrott, Esq., registrar of Armidale and the Northern district. Mr. Perrott has named his pro- perty “Haroldston” (claiming, I understand, lineal descent from the hero of Hastings), the farm consist- ing of 320 acres of land, seven acres of which are under fruit, and forest trees, as oaks and pines. Post and rail fences are being substituted by old English hawthorn, broom furze, and the osage orange. The site, is a good one upon rising ground and in true this plantation will be one of the ornaments of the Plains. These Plains are circumscribed by Gostwyck on the south; and by Mr. Thomas’s run of Saumarez, with about 15,000 acres of purchased land on the west, the farms being generally small with few exceptions, as, for instance, Mr. Faint, and Mr. Mense’s, on Gibbons’s Plains. A small chapel in wood, newly built, is used for divine worship by the Wesleyan and Presbyterian denominations con- jointly, and a school under the superintendence of Miss Adrian, has 150 scholars on the books ; but the attendance, as usual in farming districts, fluc- tuates in a wonderful manner. The climate and soil of those plains are not unlike those of Orange, and except that they are more sheltered by the undulating character of the surface, and not looked down upon by any lofty heights like the Canoblas, I should say the seasons and the temperature would be almost similar.

Dangar’s Falls are another sight worth seeing and sketching, and a great resort of the Armidalians in holiday time ; but as these falls have been be- sketched and described considerably already, we will let them fall on in peace.

The population of the police district, which, in this case is identical with the registration and electoral districts, is 9790 ; the population of the municipality being between 1300 and 1400.

The distances to the various towns around are to Glen Innes 60 miles, Tamworth 70 miles, Walcha 40 miles, Inverell 80 miles, Bundarra 60 miles, Uralla 14, and Grafton 130 miles,

Sydney, September 13, 1871.

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May 8, 2017 at 11:53 am

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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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