Busbridge (Cr) James Snr

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1836

Principal occupation Poundkeeper, Brickmaker
Date of death 1922
Place of decease Gawler

James Busbridge Snr was Councillor for North Ward in 1883 - 1884.


In the Mayor's Parlour on Monday evening ex-Councillor Busbridge sen. was honoured in commemoration of his jubilee as a businessman in Gawler. It was on February 2, 1857, that Mr Busbridge arrived in Gawler with his partner, the late Mr James Bright, and commenced business as brickmakers.

Ever since then Mr Busbridge has been actively engaged in business and is the only one now remaining of those who were inactive commercial pursuits half a century ago. The unique achievement having come to the ears of His Worship (Mr A. Smith) he invited Mr Busbridge to attend at the Mayor's Parlour on Monday evening and to allow the members of the Council to offer congratulations and good wishes to him.

The Mayor said that it was Mr Coombe, M.P., who had discovered that Mr Busbridge had been in business continuously for the last fifty years. Mr Busbridge, who was an ex Councillor, had achieved a unique distinction in having been one of Gawler’s businessmen during the whole of that time. He was glad to have the opportunity of proposing the health of Mr Busbridge and at the same time of congratulating him upon his achievement and expressing good wishes that he might in the future enjoy every happiness that so many years of labour justly entitled him to.

Referring to Mr Busbridge’s connection with the Council, His Worship thought that members of the Corporation at the present time recognised that their duties were comparatively light, and that was because of the excellent work that had been done by their predecessors. (Cheers.)

Mr E. H. Coombe, M.P., said he was pleased to have the opportunity of joining in congratulating Mr Busbridge upon having completed fifty years of continuous commercial life in Gawler and of wishing him and his family every success in the future. He had known Mr Busbridge ever since he (the speaker) was a boy, and had always regarded him as a man of integrity and industry, and a good citizen. Their guest had helped to build up an industry which was a source of considerable profit to Gawler, and he had taken his fair share of municipal work. His record was one of which they as townsmen had reason to be proud. He could, if he chose, entertain them with many reminiscences of the early days of the town and of the advance that had been made in regard to business and municipal matters. He (the speaker) had recently, been the means of securing the substitution of Gawler for Adelaide bricks in a large Government contract. The reason Gawler bricks were not at first specified was that the Superintendent of Public Buildings was under the impression that in connection with a contract previously undertaken by Mr Busbridge there was a delay in delivery.

Mr Busbridge denied point-blank that there was any cause of complaint so far as he was concerned, and although he could have secured a contract for 80,000 bricks by acknowledging that there was a delay and promising that it would not take place again he courageously declined to admit any blame and insisted that the Superintendent of Public Buildings was mistaken. The Government official afterwards admitted to the speaker that he “liked the old man” for sticking out in the way he did, and he afterwards gave him the contract. (Laughter.)

Councillor Lynch was glad to assist in doing honour to their guest, who formerly occupied the position which he (the speaker) held as a Councillor for South Ward. If the opinion of others were a true estimate of a man Mr Busbridge had every reason to be gratified, for the opinion of others concerning him was highly favourable. (Hear, hear.)

He (the speaker) had never heard their guest spoken of except in terms denoting the man of integrity. He did to others what he would want them to do to him. To have remained in business for fifty years was a big achievement, for undoubtedly, he had had difficulties to contend with. The fact that he had survived indicated that he had considerable grit, and also that he had unwavering confidence in Gawler and was loyal to the town. (Here, here.) He trusted Mr Busbridge would long be spared to bis family, and none more sincerely wished him happiness in the evening of his life than he. (Cheers.)

Councillor Waters endorsed the remarks of the previous speakers. It was over forty years since he (Councillor Waters) first carted bricks from Mr Busbridge’s yard. He always regarded him as a good neighbour and a straightforward, upright man. They ought to be proud of having such a man connected with the town. In Mr Busbridge’s capacity as a brickmaker, he had always turned out the best work. Their guest had worked hard in the interests of the town, and Gawler was proud of him. He wished him every happiness. (Cheers.) Councillor Dawkins thanked the Mayor for having given them the opportunity of meeting Mr Busbridge and congratulating him. Their guest was not only a brickmaker but a brick himself. (Laughter.)

Councillor Lynch had said he was possessed of grit. That, of course, was essential to his calling in life. (Laughter.) One of his (the speaker's) recollections of Mr Busbridge was that he was an ardent cricketer. He was the tutor of several of their young cricketers and was a good stonewaller. (Councillor Lynch — 'A good brick-waller you mean.' (Laughter.) He always regarded their guest as a man of straightforwardness and integrity. He went about his work with a fixed purpose. He (the speaker) had sometimes felt ashamed of himself to see Mr Busbridge out so early in the morning while he had not even had his breakfast. Their guest had always endeavoured to give good value for what be received. (Hear, hear.) He had not only been the means of helping in the erection of buildings but had done his part in the moral uplifting of the town. He had done good work in the Sunday School (Here, here.)

Councillor Bassett fully endorsed the remarks of the previous speakers. As a junior member of the Council, be could not go back as far as some of the speakers, but he could remember Mr Busbridge from his early days. It must be a source of much gratification to their guest to know that his work had been so much appreciated. (Hear, bear.) Councillor Antwis also joined the other speakers with pleasure in congratulating Mr Busbridge. His (the speaker's) father had, he believed, carted wood for their guest for about fifty years. Mr Busbridge was a thoroughly straightforward gentleman, and they tendered him all good wishes. (Hear, hear.)

Mr S. B. Rudall, M.P. was glad to be able to add his testimony to that already given. The unique character of Mr Busbridge's achievement was more evident when they knew that there was no one else in business in Gawler to-day who were in business when Mr Busbridge started. His impression of that gentleman had always been that of an industrious man. In his (the speaker's) early days his bedroom used to overlook Mr Busbridge's premises, and when he was dressing, he invariably saw their guest busy at work. This made a great impression on his mind. (Councillor Lynch — 'Did it make any get up earlier?') Yes, sometimes. (Laughter.) To him, it was a striking fact that Mr Busbridge after all these years of hard work, had been spared to look bask upon such a long period of honest labour, and during that time be had brought up a large family. (Here, here.)

Mr Busbridge was one of the numbers of colonists who had done a great deal for the State. (Hear, hear.) South Australia was subject to periodical droughts, and its progress Was due to those who, notwithstanding adverse circumstances, had been persevering and determined. Mr Busbridge was one of those. (Here, here.) One sometimes feared that there was not the same quality in the present generation as is the generation represented by Mr Busbridge. He felt that in those days they had to depend more upon then own exertions. They to-day were mush indebted to men of Mr Busbridge’s stamp. (Cheers.)

EX-Mayor Fergusson was very glad to be present and to join with them in doing honour to Mr Busbridge. It had been said that an honest man was the noblest citizen, and a good name worth more than riches. They knew that riches did not bring happiness. Mr Busbridge was one of those who laid the foundation of Gawler. Some of the good hard bricks that he had made would stand longer than what they would. Their guest had seen great changes in the town, and he had taken part in bringing about those changes. He had taken part in church work, in movements for charity, in the Bible Society, and in the general moral welfare of the young people of the town. (Cheers.)

The toast having been enthusiastically honoured, Mr Busbridge returned thanks. He said he was very surprised that he was asked to attend on that occasion, and he wondered how the fact that he had completed fifty years of business became known. He thanked the Mayor for having invited him to be present, and for giving him the privilege of meeting the Councillors. When he came to Gawler with his partner (the late Mr James Bright) on February 2, 1857, they hired a small piece of ground from Mr Duffield for brickmaking purposes and had to pay a stiff price for it. They, however, found in Mr Duffield a gentleman. (Hear, hear.) That old townsman was surprised when he (the speaker) went in to pay his first quarter's rent, as he did not think they would make a success of it. They had not even a stick, stone, or brick on the land at the time they started, and not even a drop of water. Mr Duffield kept a timber yard at the time and an ironmongery establishment and whenever a customer came in he brought him around and showed him where he could get bricks. That was a good help to them.

Before coming to Gawler he was strongly advised to settle at Salisbury. There was no railway to Gawler in those days, and people tried to impress him with the fact that Salisbury was the most promising place because that town was flourishing immensely. He had, however, made up his mind that Gawler was his destination. One builder told him that if he succeeded in Gawler he would do more than anyone else had done, but he took no notice of that. They found out that they could make good bricks and could succeed, and notwithstanding all these years he was still holding his own in spite of rivalry. They had never been beaten, and they had as good material here as was in Adelaide. (Cheers.)

He had been thinking of throwing off the harness and making the business over to his sons, but he had determined to finish the contracts in hand, and he was promised a large contract by the Superintendent of Public Buildings, so he intended to stick to work until those were finished. (Cheers.)

It might interest them to know that he had had fourteen children, and all registered in the Gawler registry office. There were grandchildren and great-grandchildren — he scarcely knew how many. (Laughter and cheers.) He had endeavoured to do his duty as a citizen, though, he had never stood for big honours. When he came to Gawler the town was in a poor state, in fact, the Corporation had not then started. It was started the same year. He had, therefore, been a ratepayer ever since Gawler had been a Corporation. He remembered that on one occasion after a big storm large boulders were washed down from the gully and the water and boulders washed through the houses.

Opposite the Globe Hotel, there was the South Australian bank, and the water on that occasion filled up the cellars and made a terrible mess. A German wagon was standing outside the Globe Hotel and the silt which came down from the hillside was so great that it blocked up the wagon so much that the horses were unable to pull it out. It seemed to him that we did not get such heavy storms nowadays. On another occasion, there was a pine place near the Institute occupied by a cooper, and the water came down to such an extent that the people had to get on the table.

The present Recreation Ground was to a large extent a lagoon, and when cricket was played it was on the southern portion, and the ball very often had to be fished out of the water. (Laughter.) The Corporation had done splendid work not only on the Recreation Ground, but elsewhere, and he did not begrudge a penny of the money be had paid in rates. (Cheers.) He again thanked them for the honour they had done him and for the kind words that had been spoken with regard to himself and family. (Cheers.)

The toast of 'The Mayor' having been drunk a pleasant evening terminated.1

[transcribed by Allen Tiller]

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