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1888, Narrabri Courthouse - Unfit For Publication
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The Narrabri Herald and Northern Districts’ Advertiser, Tue 2 Mar 1888 1


A COMMITTEE meeting was held on Friday evening to consider the most advisable means of opening the New Court House. The meeting was held at Shanahan’s Hotel. The Mayor was in the Chair. The minutes of the previous meeting having been read and confirmed, the Mayor made a few introductory remarks. He said he had written Mr Clarke, asking him to fix the date for the opening, and to bring any other Ministers with him. He (the Mayor) had also written to Mr Dangar MP, asking him to get a public holiday for the town upon the day named by the Minister. As the public of Narrabri often seemed inclined to help any public cause, he thought they would assist at the opening of the new Court House, and that the date should be fixed to suit the Minister’s convenience; that would probably be about the 19th instant. A discussion ensued, the general feeling being that the Minister should if possible be induced to attend. The Mayor thought that the Minister should be met and deputationised on a big scale. He would like to see the volunteers, oddfellows, schoolchildren, etc, turn out, and escort the Minister into town in procession, and that addresses should be presented at the Court House; and that a banquet should be given in the evening. The meeting fell in with the view of the Mayor in this matter, and a resolution to the above effect was put and carried. The Mayor was requested to write to the local magistrates and principal residents of the town, inviting their support in the movement. Agreed to. An executive committee was then appointed, including following names:—Messrs Dale, C Collins, Druitt, C Smith, Stubbs, Morath, JM McDonald. And the Hon Sec (M Lewis.)

    The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks to the Chair. Subsequently the Executive committee had a meeting. Their arrangements will be made public at the next general committee meeting.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 2 Mar 1888 2

(By Telegraph.)
(From Our Own Correspondent.)

Narrabri, Thursday.

    At a meeting in the Mechanics Institute last night, the mayor presiding, it was decided to hold a public demonstration at the formal opening of the courthouse, about 19th March. The Minister for Justice and other members of the Cabinet have been invited to attend, as also were the members of Parliament for the Namoi, Moree, Tamworth, Gunnedah, and other districts. Mr M Lewis was appointed secretary, and Mr CJ Druitt, treasurer. The mayor and other gentlemen were appointed a committee to make all necessary arrangements.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 14 Mar 1888 3

(By Telegraph.)
(From Our Own Correspondent.)

    The Mayor received a telegram to-day from the Minister for Justice definitely accepting the invitation to the celebration of the formal opening of the courthouse on the 26th Instant. A public holiday will probably be proclaimed. There will be a procession, consisting of the Volunteers, Oddfellows, and municipal council. All the public bodies will receive the Minister, and escort him to the town. A banquet in the Mechanics’ Institute will follow the opening ceremony. Other members of the Ministry have been invited, and it is expected that at least two will attend.

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The Narrabri Herald and Northern Districts’ Advertiser, Wed 21 Mar 1888 4


Narrabri new courthouse, opened 26 Mar 1888. Photo ID: SRNSW 4346_ a020_ a020000089.jpg
Narrabri new courthouse, opened 26 Mar 1888.
Photo ID: SRNSW 4346_ a020_ a020000089.jpg

A MEETING was conveyed by the Mayor in the Council Chambers on Monday night to consider whether or no the 26th inst, should be the day upon which to invite the Minister for Justice to visit Narrabri. There was a very good attendance, nearly all the principal and most influential men in town being present, besides a considerable number of citizens who had congregated in the street outside the doors. The Mayor in a short speech reviewed the facts of the case, and stated that it was for the meeting to decide whether the Minister should be asked to come up on the 26th of this month or not. For himself he disclaimed any personal responsibility in the matter—the question lay with the meeting. The Mayor added that he understood from, private sources that the day fixed would be an extremely inconvenient one for the Minister, and in consequence that a postponement had been suggested. He asked the opinion of the meeting on the question.

Narrabri old courthouse, built 1866. Photo ID: SRNSW 4346_a020_ a020000090.jpg
Narrabri old courthouse, built 1866.
Photo ID: SRNSW 4346_a020_ a020000090.jpg

    Mr McDonald said that, having just come up from Sydney, he was in a position to state that the Minister would prefer to visit the town at the Show time, but yet he would not disappoint the public, if they wished him to stand by the original agreement. He (the speaker) thought that the Minister should be asked to visit Narrabri when there was something for him to look at. The products of the district would speak for the district, but at ordinary times the appearance of Narrabri was not calculated to impress Ministers with an adequate sense of the real importance of the district. He wanted to see a Circuit Court established at Narrabri, and he also wanted to get the headquarters of the local Land Board transferred from Tamworth, where it never should have been established. Narrabri would then be the centre of operations for the whole district including Tamworth, Walgett, and Moree. He thought that both these objects would be attained shortly, but the presence of Ministers upon an occasion when they could see for themselves what the district was capable of producing, would be in his opinion the surest way of convincing that Narrabri and not Tamworth should be treated as the centre of this large district.

    Mr Collins supported Mr McDonald’s views and thought that the Minister should be asked for the3 Show time, instead of the 26th instant.

    Mr McDonald then moved “That the Ministers be asked to visit Narrabri on the 24th May, vice the 26th inst. He added that he had reason to believe that the Minister for Lands would come up provided that the Land Bill was put through committee by that time.

    Mr Jas Lillyman seconded, and Mr J Shanahan supported the motion.

    Mr Druitt moved ass an amendment that the banquet be abandoned for the 26th. Seconded by Mr Morath, and supported by Messrs Hinds and Lewis.

    The amendment was put and carried unanimously, and then the original motion was also treated in the same way.

    A general reception committee was then formed consisting of the Mayor and Aldermen, the local Magistrates, Messrs L Malone, H Stubbs, W Thurlow, CJ Druitt, M Lewis, GD Upjohn, R Spencer, T Lovelee, and WH Gordon, with power to add to their number. Mr M Lewis was appointed Hon Sec. The price of tickets for the banquet was again fixed at one guinea, and the meeting closed with a vote of thanks to the Chair.

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Australian Town and Country Journal, Sat 24 Mar 1888 5


March 17.

    NEW COURTHOUSE.—On the 26th instant we will receive an official visit from the Minister of Justice, with our members and other representatives, to formally open the new courthouse. A programme has been drawn up as follows:—The justices of the peace, with our PM, will receive them at the railway station, the Mayor and aldermen at the river bridge (which is the entrance to the borough), the volunteers and friendly societies in Dangar Village, and the school and town children at the creek bridge. They will then march to the new courthouse, where addresses will be presented, and the courthouse formally opened. A part will be railed off for ladies to witness the opening; and thanks are due to our worthy PM for allowing the courthouse to be placed at the disposal of the ladies as a waiting-room. The Mayor intends to give a cold luncheon to the visitors and aldermen. In the evening a public banquet will be held in the School of Arts.

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The Narrabri Herald and Northern Districts’ Advertiser, Wed 23 May 1888 6

    CIRCUIT COURT.—James Fletcher, MLA, accompanied by other members of Parliament, will meet the Protection League this evening at Narrabri. This would be an excellent opportunity to introduce the subject of a Circuit Court being held here, instead of Tamworth, owing to the central position of the former, and the business which goes from this immediate district to the latter place. The late Attorney-General, (Mr Foster) promised that such a sitting should be held here soon as a suitable Court House was erected, and this being now an accomplished fact it is high time the Minister for Justice gave effect to this promise if on no other ground but that of economy, the claim to have such a Court so established here should have weight, seeing the Judge could by rail be landed almost at its very door. We trust some action will be taken in the matter, as it is too bad to have to travel to Maitland, or Tamworth, incurring expenses of witnesses, and loss to business, when the same matter could be as effectually, and more satisfactorily dealt with at Narrabri, owing to its central position.

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Australian Town and Country Journal, Sat 14 Sep 1901 7

(By “Beri.”)

    A little more than midway between the terminal points of the north western railway, which runs between Werris Creek to Moree, there stands, amidst surroundings of great sheep-walks, a town of no mean dimensions and importance, whose history is associated with those early and stirring times when the pioneer work of opening up and stocking the enormous stretches of rich pastoral country extending into the Beyond was in progress. Narrabri is the place to which I refer. It is 353 miles from Sydney, 99 miles from Werris Creek, and 60 miles from Moree, and has a population of over 2000 souls, with two municipalities—Narrabri and Narrabri West. The former is much the larger and more important of the two, containing, as it does, the Government offices and leading business houses.

    Situated on the east bank of the Namoi Creek, the town spreads itself asprawl over the level plains, but owing to the monotonously flat character of the country there is not a perceptible rise on the plains as far as the eyes can see in any directions, it suffers in point of picturesqueness. The Namoi Creek is a tributary of the river of that same name, which also intervenes between the town and its distant suburb, Narrabri West being built on the west side of the river, a little over a couple of miles from Narrabri. Substantial wooden bridges span each of the narrow streams, and a good body of water gently flows between their low, tree-lined, fertile banks. Along the road connecting the Narrabris there is a small village, forming Dangar Ward of the older borough; but beyond this there are only a few places, including the inevitable blacksmith’s shop and a hotel, by the roadside.

    Narrabri West was the terminus of the railway for several years, and whilst it remained so it was a different place indeed to what it is to-day. The railway depot not only for its own district, but for Wee Waa, Pilliga, Walgett, Collarendabri, [sic] Moree, Mungindi, and other big pastoral centres, one can imagine that it was a pretty busy place. Wool and stock were trucked there in large quantities, goods and merchandise at the rate of hundreds of tons per week were brought hither, and then transhipped by train, and there was a constant stream of travellers passing through the town. But the extension of the railway across the river to Narrabri, and thence on to Moree, effected a material change as the continuation of railways mostly does. It transferred a lot of business to other centres, and consequently reduced the importance of Narrabri West as a railway station. The branch line to Walgett and Collarendabri, which is now in course of construction, junctions with the north-western railway at Narrabri West, and people are now searching in their mind’s eye for the advantages that will be conferred on it. It must be confessed that, so far, very many are not enraptured with the prospects. They realise that it will cut off a lot of carrying and coaching trade which now comes to Narrabri from those places., but the compensating benefits they cannot so easily discern.

    Narrabri was incorporated in 1883, the first Mayor being the late Charles Collins, brother of Mr AE Collins, the present member for the district, and ex-Mayor of the town. The area embraced within the borough is 2560 acres, and there are 19 miles of streets, and property of the assessed value for rating purposes of £14,078. The council administering affairs consists of: Aldermen JJ Piper (Mayor), TD Barry, John Doyle, EV Coleman, EO Morath, HV Mumford, JT O’Neill, and Gue Williams; the ninth seat being vacant at the time of writing. Mr Edward Guest is the obliging council clerk. He is a brother of the well-known and popular secretary of the old Hawksbury Race Club, and also of that fine institution the Hawkesbury P, A, and H Association (Mr Charlie Guest). The council seems to have devoted much attention to sanitation and the securing of a good water supply. This question was discussed for many years, but it was only recently that the aldermen made up their minds in favor of a scheme for an artesian supply, which is to cost, approximately, £11,000. The Government is carrying out the work, and boring operations were begun a short time ago, on the vacant land adjoining the Town Hall.

    The advantages of municipal government have only been experienced by Narrabri West for the past six years, and during the whole of that term Mr John Gately, an enterprising and respected citizen, has occupied the Mayoral chair. The most noticeable thing to a passing stranger accomplished by the council is the planting of trees in the various streets. A very liberal system has been adopted, indeed, and in the course of a few years admirable results will be afforded of the wisdom of the aldermen in pursuing this policy, with a view to improving and beautifying the town. In addition to the Mayor, the council is composed of five aldermen; the present holders of office being: Messrs J Langby, MJ Maher, JJ Morris, GP Morris, and A Craig. The council clerk is Mr Walker the council prides itself on the fact that it has never ran into debt, and has always been able to pay its way. At the end of the last half-year it had a credit balance of £168. There are but few municipalities in the same enviable position, financially.

    And Narrabri West is not a large place by any means. It is little better than a wayside village, having only one small business thoroughfare, lined on one side by three hotels, a couple of stores, and not more than half a dozen little shops and offices. The railway yards face the street on the opposite side, and it is practically due to the trade which arises from the traffic that flows to these yards that West Narrabri remains even what it is to-day. The Government have placed it in possession of a public school of its own, and have also given it a recreation ground, and if only for decency sake the Commonwealth ought to replace the dingy-looking structure which serves as the post and telegraph office with a building more suitable to requirements. In both cases, the respective duties are performed by efficient and reliable officers.

    Speaking of the larger town, Narrabri appears to be progressing, even though business men complain that business is falling off, and that the town is duller now than they ever knew it to be before. The district has experienced a severe time during the past six years, yet the town has advanced, and in appearance is a better place to-day than it was six years ago, not withstanding that its commerce is not so great. The wonderful change which has taken place in its aspect is attributed to a large degree to the disastrous fire which some back swept to the ground the central block of buildings. It was a sad thing at the time, but out of the evil good has come; at any rate, the town has materially benefited through it. The rage for innovation in the direction of improved architecture followed conflagration, and invited and commodious buildings have been erected on the sites of the demolished places. Their character bespeaks much for the enterprise of the owners, and evidences a deep faith on their parts in Narrabri’s future. In the course of my perambulations around the town, I noticed several neat and modern private dwellings (mostly build of wood, because it is best suited in this land of bad foundations), and they stand out in prominent contrast to the humble old tenements erected by the earlier inhabitants. The town is well laid out in rectangular streets, and several of them are formed, kerbed, guttered.

    Maitland-street is named after the business and official capital of the Hunter River district, and is the chief thoroughfare. Standing near where the railway line crosses it, and looking north-westerly, we have a fine vista along it for over a mile. A wide, fine street it is, straight and flat, and a fairly busy thoroughfare, with many substantial houses bordering it on each side. Ornamental trees, in various stages of growth, some lopped, some leafless, and others green and bunchy, are planted a few feet from both footways, and add beauty to the scene. Trees are growing in other thoroughfares, and many private dwellings are nestling beneath the thick foliage of ubiquitous peppers; but there is no street of interest beyond Maitland-street. It is the George-street of Sydney to Narrabri.

Narrabri courthouse built 1888. Image: Australian Town and Country Journal, Sat 14 Sep 1901, p. 32. Reproduction: Peter de Waal
Narrabri courthouse built 1888. Image: Australian Town and Country
Journal, Sat 14 Sep 1901, p. 32. Reproduction: Peter de Waal

    Nearly all the business places of importance are confined within a couple of blocks, and some of them are fine and imposing buildings. The palm of magnificence must be given to Everingham’s Club House Hotel, which is unquestionable the finest edifice in the town. The ornate premises of Messrs Barry and Stafford, general storekeepers, and McNamara’s Hotel are also deserving of special mention. These three places face one another, each standing on a corner at the intersection of Maitland and Dewhurst streets, and the noble character of their designs gives an air of solidity and importance to the town. The courthouse a substantial and not unsightly structure, which wants height to give it better effect, likewise stands in the main thoroughfare, and so also do the antiquated-looking offices of the clerk of petty sessions and Crown lands agent, and the old police station. Bowen-street is graced by the gaol and keeper’s residence which are conveniently situated to the Crown Law offices. The banks are in the principal street, and of the three local branches—the Commercial, Australasia, and the Bank of New South Wales—the Commercial is far the finest building. The beauty of the post and telegraph office is of a modest character, but in connection with these important offices it is worthy to mention that one of the hardest worked, most efficient, and obliging staffs in the State is associated with them, the official head being Mr Williams.

    From Maitland-street I make a detour into Doyle-street, to inspect the Town Hall. It is a structure of which the Narrabri folk are as proud as the Sydney people are of their “beautiful harbor,” and a stranger is not many hours in town before the question is put to him “Have you seen our Town Hall?” this handsome brick edifice stands on an unenclosed corner block of land, and will be worthy of the town when it becomes a much bigger place. The general effect of the design of the building is imposing, and it is a pity that such a splendid structure was not erected on a central site in the main street, instead of planted in a back corner. It was built in 1892, and cost £3000. There are offices on the ground floor, and a large hall, with gallery and stage accommodation, capable of seating something like 500 people. The council chambers are on the second storey, the meeting-room being spacious, well ventilated, and nicely furnished. Portraits of past councillors cover the wall of the chamber, which is also used by the Masonic body for holding the monthly meetings of the lodge.

    The public school which ranks as superior, stands across the street from the Town Hall, and though the buildings have outwardly a plain, unpretentious appearance, they are nevertheless well suited for their purpose, being large and well ventilated. They consist of a boys’ room (measuring 30ft by 25ft), girls’ room (6ft by 20ft), and infants’ room (55ft by 23ft), spacious playgrounds surrounding the whole. The total enrolment for the half-year ended June last was 500. It is noteworthy that the schools bears a high reputation, and its pupils always hold their own, whether in departmental or public examinations, a fact highly creditable to the teaching staff, which consists of ten teachers. The principal is Mr RJ Taylor, who during his nine-teen years’ residence in Narrabri, has, through his many estimable personal qualities as a citizen, friend, and teacher, ingrafted himself into the hearts of people, embracing all sections of the community. The other members of the staff are Mrs E Taylor (who has charge of the girls’ department), Mr BJ Bowmaker, Mrs Law, Masters Manning, Williams, and Taylor, Misses Richardson, Lillyman, and Riddle.

    The School of Arts is adjacent to the public school. I was shown over it by the secretary, Mr FC Smith, and during a desultory conversation with him I gleaned that the institution has been established over thirty years. It has experienced “ups and downs,” but just now everything, I believe, is going along merrily. The members’ roll totals 160 names, the yearly revenue is upwards of £180, and there is a substantial credit balance in the bank. There are also an up-to-date library of over 2000 volumes, reading, cards, smoking, and billiard rooms, and commodious hall for entertainments. A debating society is an important and attractive adjunct, in which, I understand, creditable interest is taken. Mr Smith has acted as secretary for many years, and his persistent and praiseworthy efforts have prevented the institution from being numbered amongst the things of bygone days. At the recent annual meeting the members voted him an honorarium of £10 10s, in recognition of his zealous services. The librarian and custodian (Mr and Mrs Field) are capable and obliging officers; whilst the executive body is composed of men of action and progressive ideas, the president being Mr T Morath; vice-president, Mr CA Ross; treasurer, Mr LD Witts; committee, Messrs LS McDougall, HC Denham, WG Denham, EO Morath, H Logan, H Ware, CW McPherson,, H Freeman, G Telfer, A Hulbert, M Collins, and TG Leece.

    I also, for the first time, had a look at the splendid accommodation which Narrabri provides for its poor and suffering humanity—the local hospital, a building containing three main wards of six beds each, two private wards, with sitting-rooms, operation and fever wards, comfortable quarters for the nursing staff, a well-equipped dispensary, a large dinning-room for patients, and other necessary accommodation and offices. It stands on the outskirts of the town, near the railway station, and in close proximity to the combined pretty show ground and racecourse. The main building is of brick, on concrete foundations, and is of chaste design. The front of the centre (through which is the principal entrance) is a small open portico, above which an inscribed marble tablet is inlaid. The inscription conveys the intelligence that the building was erected in 1896, and that Mr James Lillyman, jun, was then president, and Messrs JF Kenyon and Richard Spencer vice-presidents. But the worthy secretary (Mr CA Ross), who manifests a parental interest in the affairs of the institution, informs me that this building is a new one, and that for over thirty years previously a wooden structure, standing at one end of the principal street of the town, formed the haven of refuge for the sick and suffering of the district. Like other ancient edifices, the venerable cottage was not equal to present day requirements, and, thanks to the energy of the executive of the institution, and the liberality of the citizens, the present structure was erected on a more suitable site, the cost amounting to something over £3000. At the time of my unexpected visit everything in and around the place betokened cleanliness, comfort, and efficiency, and the usually hard-working nursing staff were enjoying a welcome respite, having but an uncommonly small number of patients to attend to. “We had a very busy time last year,” remarked the cheery, lady-like matron, who handed me a copy of the official report for last year. I gather therefrom that 233 cases were admitted during that period. This number establishes a record for Narrabri up to date. The institution is mainly supported by voluntary subscriptions and Government subsidy, and is in a sound financial position. Its nursing staff (comprising Miss F Ross-Fraser, matron, Mrs F McAllister, nurse, and Miss Sherwood, probationer) is highly spoken of as being competent, kind, and considerate, whilst Dr AJ Park, the skilful medical officer, is credited with much of the hospital’s success. A good citizen in the person of Mr HR Thurlow, occupies the position of president, having done so now for nearly two years, and Messrs JW McDonald and John Gately are the respected vice-presidents. The responsible duties of the treasurer are honorably performed by the genial townsman, Mr HV Mumford, the trusted auditors being Messrs PJ Levey and MH O’Connor. Messrs James Moseley, Luke Malone, Richard Spencer, and EH Wall are the trustees, and the committee is composed of Messrs Jno Whiteman, Thos Smith, GSE Dale, HC Lyons, Chas Martyn, HT Williams, Gue Williams, HSM Hutchinson, Sep Faulkner, R Spencer, Bishop Lyne, H Stubbs, WG Denman, M Saunders, EV Coleman, Chas Wall, Thos Wyatt, LD Witts, Saml Bennett. Returning from the hospital by way of Bowen-street, the Roman Catholic Church is passed, and standing out conspicuously as it does amongst the humbler buildings in its vicinity, it cannot fail to attract the notice of the passing visitor. It is a brick edifice, which is architecturally an ornament to the town, and only needs the erection of a graceful spire from its little square tower to give it a finished appearance. The Rev Father Hearn is in charge of the church, near which is located the Convent School and the Presbytery. Of the other churches, the Anglican and Presbyterian are modern structures—the former a pretty wooden building, and the latter a neat brick edifice—whilst the Wesleyan Church puts forth no outward pretensions to beauty. The rector of the Church of England is the Rev Canon King, the Presbyterian minister is the Rev W Taylor, and the Rev JS Thomas is pastor of the Methodist Church.

    Narrabri is the residential centre of a police magistrate (Mr CE Oslear), and sub-inspector of police (Mr Day), both gentlemen being much respected citizens, and efficient officers. The CPS and lands office are under the control of another worthy official in Mr Walter Scott, whilst the duties of stock inspector, which are no sinecure in so large a pastoral centre, are entrusted to the capable hands of Mr Farrand.

    The business establishments of the town will compare favorably with those of places of greater pretensions. Almost every class of trade seems to be represented, and the tremendous stocks carried by some of the stores give one an idea that a large business must be done at them. A soap factory, flour mill, and saw-mills are in operation. Of hotels, there are fifteen. Four are lighted by electricity, and so also are the spacious premises of Messrs Barry and Stafford. The installation of electric light in Narrabri was due to the enterprise of the latter gentleman, who purchased and erected a plant, and now supplies the light to the hotels referred to. Narrabri has no street lighting system. Neither has it a fire brigade.

    One would have thought that the big fire of a few years ago would have taught the property-owners a lesson, and that a well-organised fire brigade would have been the outcome of it. True, they have erected a less flammable class of buildings than those which were destroyed, but still the people there are living in a town which, if it were once to catch ablaze, would go in one fell swoop without any organised method of coping with an outbreak. They should remember this, and be prepared for contingencies.

    Sports and pastimes have their full meed of attention in Narrabri. A nice recreation reserve, on which stands a spacious pavilion, is conveniently situated on the east bank of the Namoi Creek. It comprises several acres, and is partly enclosed by a picket fence. The annual show is a big attraction every year, and so are the various meetings of the jockey club. I made a tour of inspection of the fine grounds which these two associations use. They are well appointed and a credit to the district. The late president of the P and A Society was the genial squire of Killarney (Mr WF Buchanan, JP), but at the late election of officers for the current term he stood down, and Mr HC Taylor, who has ever taken a lively and commendable interest in the society, was elected. Dr De Lepervance and Mr GR Watson are the vice-presidents, and Mr Riddle the energetic secretary. The committee is composed of Messrs HR Thurlow, JB Brodie, L Malone, John Whiteman, EH Hall, JB Brake, TA McGill, John Arndell, JW Macdonald, L Brennan, JW Eckford, RF Eckford, Bishop Lyne, Richard Spencer, RD Barton, AM Cruickshank, Chas Parker, H Lillyman, G Williams, EO Morath, B Meppem, JJ Piper, Andrew Knight, and W Maxwell. The affairs of the jockey club are in the hands of enthusiastic sportsmen, the president being Mr Luke Malone, vice-presidents, Messrs JW McDonald, and HSM Hutchinson, and secretary, Mr W Godbold.


    Among the many business establishments I visited during my stay in Narrabri was that of Messrs AE Collins, Limited, general merchants, of Maitland-street, a splendid illustration of which accompanies this article. A few remarks thereon will be of interest, as showing how a comparatively small business, started only twenty-nine years ago, has developed into one of the leading mercantile institutions in the north-western district. The business was first established in 1872 by the late Mr Charles Collins, afterwards member for the district, who carried it on until 1889,when he retired, handing it over to his brother, Mr Albert E Collins, who, in conjunction with Mr Alfred M Cansdell, under the fire name of Collins and Cansdell, took charge. On July 1, 1896, the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent, Mr Cansdell retiring, leaving Mr AE Collins, who continued to carry on the business. On May 1, 1901, on the eve of the election of Mr AE Collins to the Legislative Assembly as member for the Narrabri electorate, the business was converted into a limited liability company under the management of Messrs PJ Levey (who had been the trusted accountant of the firm for twelve years previously), and Mr R Collins, a brother of Mr AE Collins. From its commencement, in 1872, up to its conversion into a company, in 1901, during the several changes that had taken place within that time, the career of the business had been one long, continuous, and unvaried success, having developed into such mammoth proportions that the firm may now justly be styled universal providers for the north–western district. The expansion of the business has, of course, necessitated the extension of their premises, owing to the magnitude of the stock carried in their numerous departments—ironmongery, drapery, clothing, grocery, farming implements, station requirements, etc, until now they have been enlarged to more than quadruple the extent to what it was originally. In addition to improvements and alterations in the main building, a large and commodious bulk store has been added at the back, the whole being lighted by acetylene gas. The ramifications of the business of the firm extend throughout the district up to the very borders of Queensland, and everywhere the name “Collins” is accepted as a guarantee for integrity and straight dealing which have ever characterised them in the conduct of their business, and which have been the main factors of their success. The present company, not content with what has been achieved in the past, are seeking, like Alexander the Great, for “fresh worlds to conquer,” and are pushing out the business further afield into the back country, where Mr Mark Collins is constantly travelling, while his co-manager, Mr Levey, remains at Narrabri in charge of the business. Under their joint, able, and experienced management and executive ability, there is no doubt that the reputation of their establishment will be fully sustained.


    This is one of the earliest and most favorably known hostelries in the north-western districts, having been established as far back as 1868 by Mrs M Thurlow, one of the pioneers of the Namoi, and mother of the present proprietor, Mr Harry Thurlow. The old buildings in which the business was carried on in the sixties have been almost entirely demolished, and a handsome two-storeyed structure, with a splendid balcony running round the full length of the building, has been erected in its stead. There are upwards of forty rooms in the hotel, including three commodious sample-rooms for the use of commercial travellers. An inexhaustible supply of water, raised by one Alston’s windmills into large overhead tanks, which have a capacity of 5000 gallons, is laid on throughout the premises, whilst a large supply of rain-water is conserved in tanks. The position of the hotel is a good one, facing, as it does, the Post Office and Town Hall, and occupying a central corner at the intersection of Maitland and Doyle streets. The proprietor, Mr Thurlow—or, as he is more familiarly known to his numerous friends, Harry Thurlow—is a prominent citizen, being identified with the interests of the hospital, of which he is president, the Namoi PA and H Show, the Jockey Club, and every movement calculated to benefit the town.


    By reason of the length of time the business now carried on by Mr HV Mumford has been in existence, he is one of the best-known establishments in the town. It is situated in the heart of Maitland-street, and the premises are stocked with an extensive assortment of stationery, school requisites, fancy goods, tobacconists’ wares, and sporting material; whilst all the leading New South Wales daily newspapers and Australian weeklies are covering the counter. The magnitude of the stock is, indeed, so considerable, that the proprietor claims it to be the largest of its kind in the north and north-western districts. Mr Mumford is a thorough business man, and he runs his shop on business lines. He evidently makes it his chief aim to not only meet, but to forestall, the requirements of the public in the various departments of his business; and through his personal study of their needs, and the efficient manner in which they are catered for, he has succeeded in building up a trade connection of great importance. A well-appointed hairdressing saloon, in charge of a capable artist, is an important adjunct to the business. Mr Mumford is an alderman of the Narrabri Borough Council, treasurer of the hospital, and is generally associated with everything which appertains to the welfare of the town and his fellowman.


    Mr Maurice Saunders, the enterprising proprietor of this business, is a resident of Narrabri of some thirty years’ standing. Some seventeen years ago he started business as a produce dealer, fruiterer, and confectioner, and, working steadily on, by patience, perseverance, and sound business ability, he built up the flourishing concern which stands to-day an instance of what “sticking to a thing” will do. At the back of the premises, the subject of our illustration, stands Mr Saunders’s spacious grain stores. These are capable of storing at one time about 300 tons of produce, and during the season bullock and horse teams may be seen outside them daily, loading and unloading tons of grain and produce of all kinds. Most of this part of Mr Saunders’s business is carried on by means of teams, as his clientele live and grow their produce far from the track of railways. The business taps the districts as far out as Warialda, Coonabarabran, Collarendabri, and other far-back centres. Some idea of the work done by the teams coming and going from Mr Saunders’s stores may be grasped by the fact that during one season recently 2000 tons of grain and produce were handled. In fruit, some 1500 cases are put through annually. This apparently large quantity is accounted for by the fact that Mr Saunders is a big supplier of dealers and hawkers who trade out back.

    Between the grain stores and the front premises has been established a sort of Continental summer gardens. Here congregate the youths and maidens of Narrabri on sultry nights, and are regaled with vanilla ices, lemon squashes, and other insinuating refreshments. Under a trellised verandah little occasional tables and wicker chairs offer a charming invitation to that rest and refreshment which only the dweller in torrid Narrabri can throughly appreciate. Between this most up-to-date annexe of the establishment are private rooms for visitors, suitable for afternoon tea parties and the like, appropriate for either summer or winter use.

    Further on we come to the outer, or retail, shop. This is replete with ice fountains, squash machinery, and other paraphernalia necessary for the carrying on of a first-class “soft drink” trade. The metropolitan milk shake machine is also in evidence here, and the shop is stocked with almost every kind of sweetmeat made, and piles of fruit peculiar to every part of the Commonwealth. Then everything is so clean, fresh, and inviting that it is little wonder Mer Saunders’s place is so popular, and is thronged daily with the thirsty and tired, and resorted to nightly by all the fashion and bon ton of the neighbourhood. Mr Saunders is still a young man, being only 40 years of age. As a produce and grain merchant he looks forward hopefully to the advent of closer settlement in and around Narrabri to make of the town that prosperous centre he feels sure it will become.


1     The Narrabri Herald and Northern Districts’ Advertiser, Tue 2 Mar 1888, p. 2. Emphasis added.

2     The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 2 Mar 1888, p. 8.

3     The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 14 Mar 1888, p. 10.

4     The Narrabri Herald and Northern Districts’ Advertiser, Wed 21 Mar 1888, p. 2. Emphasis added.

5     Australian Town and Country Journal, Sat 24 Mar 1888, p. 687.

6     The Narrabri Herald and Northern Districts’ Advertiser, Wed 23 May 1888, p. 2. Emphasis added.

7     Australian Town and Country Journal, Sat 14 Sep 1901, pp. 30-3. Emphasis added.