Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sepia Saturday: The Millaira stud

George Henry Alford, my husband's great-uncle, was a very complex person and his life was complex as well but I'm not attempting here to write his biography. This post is in response to the theme photo for Sepia Saturday this week, an advertisement  featuring a horse.


In the late 1800s George's father was a successful dairy farmer at Warragul in Gippsland, Victoria and George himself was a fine judge of cattle and horses. Throughout his life George committed to a diverse set of business opportunities - farming, real estate, a stable of trotting horses, a livery stable, a boarding house - as well as serving the community on any number of committees, judging at shows (including the Perth Show in 1918) and was a councillor of the Brighton council.

This is an advertisement for the boarding house he had at Warragul.


Gippsland Gazette
, 29 June 1909
But I think George's main interest in life was horses, trotting horses in particular. There are many, many newspaper articles mentioning the results of shows where George's horses gained prizes and trotting races where his horses placed well. The photo below is held by Museum Victoria and shows George with one of his trotters 'Alarm Bells'. In newspaper articles a lot of his horses have 'bells' in their names so I think the line must have been fine racing stock.

George Henry Alford and his champion trotter 'Alarm Bells' [Museum Victoria]
During World War 1 George and his family was living in the Brighton area near Melbourne. George worked as a real estate agent and had also built up a stable of horses that he called the Millaira stud. It was very well-known throughout Victoria and beyond. The family home was a substantial two-storied building and George was an elected member of the Brighton Council. But all was not well. Two of his sons were serving in France with the Australian Army (they returned in 1919), and his other son accidentally shot himself (dead) in 1916 and George himself was not well. So he put the Millaira stable of horses and the fittings on the market.

The sale was mentioned in newspapers in Hobart, Perth and Sydney as well as in Victoria and the results were very satisfactory.

The Australasian, 25 May 1918
Daily News (Perth), 30 May 1918
George must have held on to a few horses because there is another notice of a sale in 1926 and this time the reason given is that his son is not interested in carrying on the business. George was 64 years old and must have decided he couldn't keep it going himself but he lived until 1942 and I can't imagine he lost his interest in trotting and horses.

The Argus, 1926
I suggest you trot on over to Sepia Saturday to see what other bloggers have contributed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Trove Tuesday: The old garage

We've owned the farming property near Heywood for over 40 years but we no longer live there, just visit a few times a year. We were there several weeks ago and I just happened to look more closely at the internal walls of a garage on the property.
Old garage
The walls are vertical slabs of timber nearly an inch thick and when I looked more closely I could see that they appear to have been recycled from an earlier building as there are notches where there shouldn't be. There was a house on the property that would have been built late in the 1800s and I'm surmising that it was pulled down to use the timber for this garage when the present house was built in the 1920s. The timber was probably milled on the property from stringbark eucalyptus trees.




Evidence that the timber has been recycled from an earlier building.
This is what I found on the internal walls. Newspapers have been used to line the walls, several layers over time, and on top of that is a layer of a flowered wallpaper. There are remnants and fragments of all the layers still on the interior walls of the garage, one hundred years later.

I used the resources of Trove to date the newspapers and found a spread of nearly twenty years from 1901 through to 1921.

The article refers to a court case in July 1901 in Yackandandah
but I couldn't find the exact matching article.

Hamilton Spectator 25 September 1917 (See newspaper image below)
Hamilton Spectator 25 February 1917. (See photo above)


Hamilton Spectator, 24 February 1917. (See photo below.)



Hamilton Spectator 24 February 1917 covered by a layer of wallpaper. (See newspaper image above.)
Try to imagine what the original house would have been like. The only material used for the walls was this timber. The newspapers weren't there for decoration, they were there to keep the drafts out, and probably snakes, insects and mice as well. The floor could have been packed earth. It would have been a simple building of several rooms with the kitchen, toilet and wash-house separate. At one end here would have been an open fire with a chimney. We know from Alexander Graham's selection files at the Public Record Office of Victoria that there was a cottage on the property. It was erected in January 1874 and is described as being 18 feet by 10 feet  in size and constructed of sawn and split timber slabs with a shingle roof. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the same timber.

Maybe it looked something like this hut at Beaudesert in Queensland.
Slab hut, Beaudesert, Queensland.




Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sepia Saturday: Shirley's piano lessons

My mother-in-law, Shirley Alford, grew up in the small farming community of Mologa in Victoria and, like many of her generation, learned to play piano. Nearly 90 years later she is still playing piano and organ in church. For many years Shirley taught piano to students in Kerang, in her home and at the local Convent school, and has taken a keen interest in the local eisteddfod.

Shirley Alford
In the late 1930s, when she was a teenager, Shirley started work at Mitiamo, a bigger town nearby. She used to ride her bike there each Monday morning and home again on Friday evening. Sometimes she would ride home mid-week as well if her parents needed her to help milk the dairy cows- by hand in those days. She boarded with the Methodist minister and his wife at Mitiamo and taught at the Mitiamo school each afternoon (they were called 'sewing mistress' in those days but taught much more than sewing). For two hours each morning she practiced piano in the home of Annie and Roy Phelan who owned a general store in Mitiamo. She sat for the Associate London College of Music piano examination (scales and pieces) in Bendigo and passed. Diplomas are offered at four levels: Diploma of the London College of Music (DipLCM), Associate of the London College of Music (ALCM), Licentiate of the London College of Music (LLCM) and Fellowship of the London College of Music (FLCM). These qualifications permit the holder to append the qualification's letters after their name. So Shirley had an ALCM after her name. When she was 17, in 1942, she did the Licentiate exam so she was entitled to use the letters LLCM.

By that time Shirley was teaching full time at Mitiamo school. She was there five years altogether and then taught at several other schools in northern  Victoria (Kotta and Woorinen North). 

In 1948 she married and had to leave teaching because that was the rule then. And who did she marry? All the time she was practicing on Mrs Phelan's piano there was a photo of their son, Neil, in a frame on the piano. He was serving in the Air Force. Shirley says she was very taken by his wavy hair! So when Neil went home after the war they must have become better acquainted:)

This post is in response to Sepia Saturday's theme photo in which there are several barristers wearing their robes. I selected a photo of Shirley wearing her LLCM robe and I suggest you see what others have chosen to blog about.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sepia Saturday: Scout Corroborree

Christmas 1962 was done and dusted  Several days later my husband, who was 14 years old at the time, travelled with a couple of other lads from Kerang in northern Victoria down to Essendon airport in Melbourne. They flew to Hobart in Tasmania (the island State off the south coast of Australia) to attend the Scout Corroborree, a camp based at Lea. It was a big national camp so there were boys and leaders from all over Australia and beyond. (Coorroborree is an Aboriginal word that means gathering for ceremonies and dancing.)

This is a postcard Phil sent home with an x marking the location of the camp. It was probably a card produced for the occasion but unfortunately he must have put it in an envelope because it doesn't have a postmarked stamp. I say unfortunately because philatelists are interested now because there was a temporary post office established at the camp and the collectors want the postmark.


3-1-63Dear Mum DadI'm now at the post office writing this. The post card is over looking the camp I put an ink mark where we are camping but the hills a lot steeper than it looks. Yesterday Wed. we went to hastings caves had a marvellous time. Tomorrow Friday I'm going to hobart and Mt Wellington. Douglas Westland [met] the Tysons yesterday, I was on tour then missed out.
It was a very well organised camp. Phil took photos between the numerous scouting activities and excursions, and these are some of them. I don't know what camera he was using but his photography skills needed a bit of attention! (Maybe he should have done the photographers badge. If there was such a thing.) The photos aren't great but I've googled and I couldn't find any others on the web so they may be of historical interest.













This post is in response to Sepia Saturday's theme photo. My photos feature flags and tents and uniforms so it almost matches :0
Happy New Year.