Memories of Gawler 1906

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“The Gawler of Today” In: The Critic Souvenir (“Special Number”) Page 3 of Wednesday 26 September 1906

The Gawler of Today

To really do justice to the pretty, progressive, well-laid-out, excellently controlled Gawler of to-day, one would need to write a complete book; and as space forbids in The Critic Souvenir, by touching on the most interesting institutions and the more important subjects concerning the town and environs, will, it is hoped, prove to be "multum in parvo."

The visitor, on arriving at the Gawler Railway Station, will naturally look around for the town, and perhaps feels slightly disappointed at the outlook. However, there are plenty of conveyances awaiting to drop him in the business centre, and on arriving in Murray-street per medium of 'bus or tram, a busy thoroughfare, especially on Saturday afternoons, will be laid bare before them.

The business premises will be found to have been solidly constructed, and in many cases the architectural designs are distinctly creditable. One does not need to be in Gawler many days before they realise the soundness and healthy tone of business, and it is only fair to say that the gigantic iron foundry works of Messrs James Martin and Son are in a great degree responsible for the prosperity of Gawler. The fact that wages are paid fortnightly to some 800 to 1,000 men brings a great deal of ready money into circulation; also to a very much smaller degree another iron foundry firm pay wages to a considerable number of hands.

Still, after all, the farming community are a strong factor in the present welfare of Gawler. They are all more or less in a sound financial position, and there is little doubt that the farmers of South Australia do spend freely when they have had a good season. To thoroughly understand and appreciate to the full the grandeur and beauty of the scenery surrounding the town, one should ascend some of the higher levels. An excellent view can be obtained from the rise at the rear of Messrs Martin and Sons' foundry. A magnificent panorama lays before one's gaze. For miles and miles on every side lies rich dark soil equal to any in South Australia, carrying magnificent crops of oats, &c., and, where not cultivated, beautiful grassy downs. Truly, farmers should be well satisfied with their lot. The roads throughout the municipality are well metalled, as, indeed, throughout the country routes, and the footpaths excellently curbed and laid down, in certain places with asphalt.

Still, where Gawler stands far ahead of most important towns is in the lovely natural scenery. The “Willerden River” North Para and South Para Rivers run on an uneventful course almost in a circle round the town, and adds greatly to the enjoyment of those visitors who visit in considerable numbers this hitherto none-too-well-advertised town. Almost every variety of trees adds its lordly grace to the many acres of Park Lands. Of course, Gawlerites were fortunate in having had originally 140 acres presented to them by the original owners of the land Gawler to-day stands on. Hence the great number of parks that exist. A few complimentary remarks might be passed in slight recognition of the efforts past Councillors and Mayors have during their different terms of office done towards pushing ahead the welfare and interests of Gawler. The present Mayor is Mr J.F. Ferguson, and there is little doubt that he is proving a very useful and hardworking one. In spite of the heavy call made on him in connection with private business, yet he manages to find time to carry out with courtesy and brilliancy his public duties. He receives able assistance from the present Councillors, with whom probably on occasions one does not totally agree with, yet can easily appreciate that they are doing their duty as felt best for the ratepayers.

The following are the members of the present Council: Mr James Ferguson (Mayor), Messrs William Antwis, WM Bassett, A Forgie, M Lynch, Arthur Smith, and A Waters. Mr SB Rudall has ably carried out the duties of town clerk since 1881. Previous to that year the present town clerk's father, Mr John Rudall, held the position. However, he retired in 1881, accepting the position of Magistrate. The past Mayors since 1857, when the municipality was proclaimed, have been in the order given: Messrs RJ Turner, J Martin, Dr George Nott, John Mitchell, TF Loutit, E Clements, TO Jones, WF Wincey, John Jones, James Dawson, HE Bright, H Dean, JC Wilkinson, LS Burton, B Deland, WH Cox, Edward Lucas, FD Harris, RK Thompson, CJ Rebbeck, and George Bright.

The Town Hall is situated in Murray-street, a central position and a handsome building, which compares favorably with other halls in towns of similar size to Gawler. The stage is a fine large one and the scenery up to date. Generally the interior gives one a very favorable opinion. The Council Chambers and Mayor's Parlor are elegantly furnished, commodious, and comfortable. On the basement there are several well-appointed offices, which are generally tenanted. Beneath the stage will be found lavatory and dressing accommodation which fulfils all the requirements of concert and theatrical parties. Adjoining the Town Hall is the Institute, under the able charge of Mr J Beasley. The range of books one has to choose from is a large one, and all the latest quickly find their way into the well-kept and arranged shelves.

Also the stock of South Australian and interstate newspapers and periodicals is a comprehensive one, so generally the Gawler Institute can be highly praised for its up-to-dateness and the manner in which Mr Beasley, the librarian, keeps same. The post-office is also in Murray-street, adjoining the School of Mines. It is an up-to-date building, and the Postmaster, Mr JWB Croft, is popular. The Sergeant of Police is Sergeant Bushell. He is assisted in his duties by two constables —one mounted and one foot. The market allotment adjoining Mr Crosby's property at the top of Murray-street has lately been laid out artistically, and in time, when the shrubs and flowering plants have grown, will give an additionally pleasing appearance to the main street. The Show Grounds, which are known familiarly as the "Oval," is a particularly well laid out and much improved place.

Trees have been planted of many species liberally, with the beneficial result that to-day one can now view football and cricket matches or other favorite recreations with a great degree of comfort. The ground or oval is easily accessible from the town, and is well worth visiting, for it is indeed a charming spot. A fine grand stand has been erected, also all necessary fences, pens, and rings for shows, which, by-the-way, are well equal to those held in other parts of South Australia.

Gawler is a great racing place, or, at least, an important town for the training of racehorses, and naturally one would expect a well-laid-out course. They will not be disappointed, for the Gawler Course is quite equal to the city ones in every respect. The ground is fairly spongy, and in every way suitable for training purposes. It seems rather unfortunate that more race meetings cannot be held during each year. The writer doesn't know why, but guesses there is some unsatisfactory reason.

There is also a well-manned Fire Brigade, and many friendly society clubs, which all boast a large membership.

"The Bunyip" newspaper, which is a creditable country production, still echoes the popular feeling of Gawlerites. The paper was founded some fifty years ago, and the original copy, which the writer had the pleasure of glancing over, was quite as interesting as the modern "Bunyip" of to-day. Mr W Barnett is the manager.

There are two banks—the Union and National. They are both solid, business-like looking structures, and do considerable business from day to day, no doubt. Manager of former is Mr D Livingstone and the latter Mr W Stanton.

The churches are, as usual, well represented, and as the same remarks will apply to every one it might be written that each is well worthy of the admiration of its own adherents—that is, architecturally. The positions chosen have been excellent, and all are well supported. The vicar of the Church of England is Rev CE Doudney, but at the present time the Rev J Colville is acting as locum tenens. The latter is a remarkably strong, interesting, and cultured speaker, and his sermons show a remarkable insight into the different subjects he deals with before a usually large congregation.

The Methodist Church is just as powerful in Gawler as elsewhere, and two excellent ministers in the Revs T Geddes White and WH Robinson are in charge of a devout and enthusiastic body of worshippers.

The Roman Catholic Church is well supported, those in charge of the flock being the Revs TP O'Neill and E Phelan.

The Rev Foster H Bardwell, MA, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in South Australia, is in charge at Gawler. The valuable qualities possessed by that gentleman are well appreciated by his followers, and the teachings of Christ per medium of the Presbyterian Church in Gawler continue to make satisfactory advancement.

The Baptist Church is under the charge of the Rev JH Lenton. His hearers number many. The glorious and great Salvation Army flourishes in Gawler and elsewhere throughout the world's hemisphere. Enthusiastic meetings are held nightly with great success, and although one is not a Salvationist by name (yet, peculiarly, all should be in act), feels it his duty to assist in some small monetary way to help on the great and good work of this body, whose work, after all, when applied to the helping of the sick and poor, is really a very practicable religion.

Gawler is well lighted by the Mozart system of patent acetylene lamps, and in this respect is a long way ahead of other towns. The Mozart system is an inexpensive one, and has given entire satisfaction to the Council and ratepayers. Gawler covers a large area, or, rather, the Gawler municipality. There is a portion of the town known as Gawler West, another portion Gawler South, and a third, “Willerden” Willaston, which, of course, is on the other side of the well-constructed “Willerden” Willaston Bridge. The population of the places above mentioned is probably between 4,000 and 5,000. From the above brief description, a slight idea can be gained of the resources of the town; but the article would hardly be complete without reference to the many fine drives and walks along the numerous roads which lead to the town. The lovely scenery and fresh country air greatly buoys one up, and Gawler should be an excellent place to aid in the recovery of invalids.

The private hospital of Gawler, under the charge of Miss Marion Greenslade, is a charming home, situate in a delightful position on the banks of the “Willerden” North Para River. The hospital is up to date and exceedingly comfortable. The staff are just like the hospital —up to date—and really the only danger one needs to fear is being killed — killed with kindness and attention.

The hotels—and there are many—are conducted on commendable lines. The favorite ones are "The Old Spot," in charge of the popular Flannagan Brothers, and the "Prince Albert Hotel," whose hostess is Mrs Wood. Also the following hotels can be recommended, all of which are well managed and conducted. The Gawler Arms, Globe Hotel, and Exchange Hotel, where there is a saloon bar in addition to the public one.

At “Willerden” Willaston, there are several business premises, which chiefly supply that portion of the district. There are also two hotels.

Gawler has undoubtedly a fine future before and a creditable past behind it. With such high-grade land surrounding it on every side for many miles, owned by up-to-date and business-like farmers, who year by year bring into use improved methods, and go in for cultivating larger areas of grain, and all this must considerably affect the growth and prosperity of Gawler. Then, in addition, Messrs James Martin and Sons' works have never been in a more feverish state of anxiety, and even in only one branch—harvesters— now that the increased duty is on machinery for harvesting purposes—the output from this firm should be far greater, and consequently result in the number of hands being increased. Also as the output of harvesting machines increases the cost should decrease, for any firm in Australia can manufacture a thousand machines at less money than one hundred. One only earnestly wishes that there were more industries in the district. The position the town stands in only a few miles from the city and from seaboard, surrounded by a wealth of land, a fine river to draw supplies of water from, good average seasons unbeaten climate, and—well, surely these attributes should encourage moneyed men to commence industries of different kinds.

There are few general stores in South Australia that can boast of greater pretensions, more elaborately fitted up, finer position, more handsome building, and carrying a larger general stock than that of Mr HB Crosby's in Murray-street, Gawler. A brief description of the premises might be of interest to the general public. The building itself is two storied, constructed of brick, and covers a whole block. There are five distinct departments: boots, grocery, drapery, millinery showroom, and a big clothing store. The former is heavily stocked with boots of every description, and some fine lines, really cheap, considering the high quality of the goods offered, were noticed. The public are strongly recommended to try this boot department. The visit will well repay them. Passing from the boot department, one comes to the grocery, and beyond a statement that a varied and large stock of the best brands of groceries and delicacies was noticed, further comment is probably unnecessary. Mr HB Crosby probably excels in his drapery department, which contains many up-to-date dainty creations, which all bear the indelible mark of "fashion." Of course, it is well known that "Crosby's," by holding regular genuine season sales at very much reduced prices clear out the old stock, and thus can always offer to the public everything up to date and seasonable. The firm is a large buyer direct from the manufacturers and the prices charged are very fair. Mr Crosby established his business many years ago, and has worked up his large important trade by sheer merit and merit alone. Mr Crosby has recently acquired large business premises in a growing centre of Adelaide, and in partnership with Mr CW Jacka (also well known in Gawler), opened, on August 25, a big drapery establishment. The increased buying power of these two businesses will enable Mr Crosby to give even still better value at his Gawler store. He is popular with every one, and has at all times lent his services to push ahead and hold, up the prestige of Gawler.

The firm of Taylor & Forgie, builders, carpenters, and furnishing undertakers, is an old and well known one. It is the oldest established business of its kind in the town. In the building line the firm has always endeavored to merit a reputation for good, honest work, and that they have succeeded is proved by the large connection they have made, and also by the fact that at the present time they have work in hand for some with whom the firm did business nearly forty years ago.

The splendid premises of Mr A Sheard and the two shops of Mr Graue opposite were erected by them last year. At the present time they have several contracts in hand. The undertaking branch of the business is too well known to need comment. For a very long period it has been the leading one in the town and district, and has always had a reputation for carrying out all engagements entrusted to it in a manner giving every satisfaction regarding carefulness, punctuality, and attention, and all the details necessary for successful work. The unsolicited testimonials the firm have for the conducting of the most important work in this branch are a guarantee of the excellence of their system, and that all work placed in their hand will give equal satisfaction in the future.

Mr HS Mozart, plumber, tinsmith, patentee, and manufacturer of acetylene lampposts and generators, is a very busy and ingenious businessman. He does a great trade in the building of generators, and has laid many important public and private acetylene installations in Gawler and surrounding towns, in all cases the work having given entire satisfaction. Also the "Mozart" acetylene gas lampposts, which have been supplied for street lighting in Gawler, have given the utmost satisfaction. Other towns have followed Gawler's example with this economic system. Quotations, which will be found extremely reasonable, can be obtained from Mr Mozart. His shop is a well-stocked one in general tinware, and repairs are carried out well and expeditiously. The workshops where generators and lampposts are made is a fine large factory, and no doubt, judging by the success which is attending Mr Mozart's energy, it will be found all too small for future requirements.

John Stephenson 2017-08-11

Obvious spelling errors have been incorporated within inverted commas, and the correct name inserted.

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