SHG&HSI Newsletter Page 3 May 2001

Genealogical &
Historical Society Inc.
No. A17295X
Inaugural Member Society of Genealogical Society of Victoria Inc

Quarterly Newsletter
 Number 66
May 2001
Page 3

Swan Hill at the time of Federation    From  Arthur Feldtmann’s “Swan Hill”

Charles Campbell and Alfred Felton purchased Murray Downs Station in partnership  and took possession on 14 
February 1884. The property consisted of 77,725 acres of freehold land and 20,000 acres of Crown Land. The Station prospered under their partnership. On 30 October 1892 the Swan Hill Guardian reported that 81,000 sheep had been shorn on the property. In 1900 the partnership was dissolved and Charles Campbell  became the sole owner. When Campbell died in 1905, the estate came under the control of the Trustee Executors Agency of Melbourne. 

When  the Swan Hill  Bridge over the Murray River was built in 1896, a customs house was built on the Victorian 
side of the River. The building was occupied by both the Victorian and New South Wales Customs Officers and 
remained there for years after Federation.  Before it was destroyed by fire in 1905, the building was leased as a private cottage. 

Thomas Pye is recorded  in the 1862 Swan Hill rate book as having a butcher shop in the township, which was 
constructed of pine logs with a roof made of cumbungi reeds to keep the structure cool. The building was lost to fire in 
1902 and replaced by a brick construction. Thomas Pye was still in business in 1904. 

Between 1876 and 1898 Swan Hill's population increased from 200 to 950. This led to difficulties with overcrowding 
at the school, which had been built to accommodate 100 students and now there was 150. The overflow of students was marched daily to the Wesleyan Church. 1896 saw accommodation at the school stretched to the limit and some students were catered for at the Church of England hall. While alterations were made to the school,  junior students were housed at the skating rink at a weekly rental of £1.00. Disaster struck in 1900 when at 3.00 am on 6 March 1900 the wooden building of the school was found by the Reverend Father Goidanich to be on fire. On reaching the scene firemen found that the fire had leapt 20 feet to the brick building before it could be controlled. Cause of the fire was unknown. 
Some committee members fought to have the brick building repaired, and won their case. The erection of a new school
commenced immediately, the contract being let to Messrs. Moore & Sons of Echuca on 1 June 1901. The official 
opening took place on 31 January 1902, and was celebrated with a picnic organised by Cr. Gray, Shire President. During the re-building and construction phase, students were housed at the skating rink after an application to use the shire hall had been refused. 

The first local Methodist Preacher, Mr. Robert Murdoch, came to Swan Hill in 1880. In the 1890’s Pastor Edmund Baker left Swan Hill after seven years as Home Missionary. When a parsonage was built in 1894 the Reverend Robert Harris was appointed. As worshippers were widely scattered, preachers worked hard to take the message to every community. Churches were built at Lake Boga in 1898 and 1901 at Goschen, Yassam and Fish Point. The Reverend John Reid was appointed Swan Hill’s first Presbyterian Minister in 1871 and until a church could be built, services were held in the drawing room of the Officers’ Murray Downs Homestead, the old hall at the north end of the Commercial Hotel, and in the Court House. In 1872 Suetonius Officer's wife laid the foundation stone of a new brick church on the north-east corner of Campbell and McCrae Streets. It was named "the John Knox Church" and was completed in December of the same year. Reverend Reid was formally inducted at a special service to celebrate the opening of the Church. Its pulpit and harmonium organ had been donated by Suetonius Officer. This church was used until 1910 when a site and building committee could be set up. Plans were made to move the church and it was literally relocated to another site in Campbell Street. 

Swan Hill Irrigation & Water Supply Trust was formed and officially opened on 30 May 1890. A special train came from Kerang. The opening ceremony was performed by John Taverner in his first appearance following his election to the Legislative Assembly. The day was interrupted by a typical Swan Hill dust storm, but despite this it was a great day for the town. Celebrations were rounded off with a banquet for seventy people well catered for by Mr. F.G. Boys

The Murray Flats were laid out under the control of the Swan Hill Irrigation & Water Supply Trust and soon the 
channels were full of life-giving water. The Irrigation scheme however quickly consumed a large amount of money. 
Farmers and dairymen on their allotments of 320 acres (½ square mile) faced problems in financing their holdings and 
meeting imposing rates. The Trust eventually abandoned the disproportionate struggle, was dissolved and control passed on to the State Rivers & Water Supply Commission. On take-over the Commission sited their pumps and engines a few chains (about 50-100 ft.) downstream at the next river bend, These two pumps lifted water from close to the centre of the river. Two three-feet pipes carried it to the channel. These pumps were utilised until 1915 when the gravitation scheme from the Little Murray Weir commenced operation. 

Australian Rules Football commenced under the formation of the Swan Hill and District Football Association, and was made up of three teams: Swan Hill, Lake Boga and Goschen (the land towards the south-west of Swan Hill opened for selection in 1890 with blocks of 320 acres, and the Goschen District was densely populated). The playing field, also used as the Show Ground, was situated on the racecourse (also the present day racecourse) immediately in front of the old grandstand, however it had a number of yellow clay patches and was abandoned after a few years. The Football Club then moved to a site in Splatt Street, south-west of the concrete tower. This previously untouched ground had to be cleared of spinifex and graded before it could be played on. In 1907 the Agricultural & Pastoral Society was granted ten acres for use as a Show Ground on the High Street side of the present football ground. The A & P Society erected a boundary fence around the arena and the Swan Hill Football club moved in immediately. The arena was covered with marble-sized limestone pebbles and was the source of the footballers suffering  gravel rash. 

Bowling is another of Australia's firmly established sports, and commenced in Swan Hill well before 1910 when a 
meeting was called to revive the game. The move was successful, and the new greens which were in the centre plantation of McCallum Street between Campbell & Curlewis Streets, officially opened in 1910. 

Swan Hill Creamery was first mentioned in the Bendigo Advertiser on 7 September 1892, announcing that a meeting was being called in the town of Swan Hill to establish a creamery in the district. Patrick A. Kelly was appointed manager and although the initial intake of 150 gallons of milk soon increased and the creamery became an important industry, the business closed due to few farmers taking up dairying, the low price paid for milk (only 2½d.
per gallon), and inadequate green feed, made it impossible to produce a supply of milk through the summer months. In the 1890's lucerne was practically unknown in the Swan Hill District and the creamery finally closed down in 1904 and afterwards used as a Post Office and dwelling. It was demolished in 1970, after being a landmark for almost eighty years.   (Swan Hill Creamery/Butter Factory was comprehensively covered in Mallee Roots Issue No.60, November 1999, which is held at our Library, or those of you Internet connected can find it  at  ) 

In 1890 a complete flour mill was transported to Swan Hill from Nathalia by bullock wagon and erected on the bend of the Little Murray River at the southern end of Marraboor Street by its owner Thomas Blake. When a few friends gathered to "wet' the new mill, a Miss Wood officially opened the mill by breaking a bottle of champagne over the fly-wheel. With a Mr. Bowen as his miller, Blake carried on his milling business for some years. 
The second flour mill was established in 1895 and remained in operation until 1967, was established by the Gillespie
brothers, trading under the name Eclipse Roller Milling Co. It was located on a site purchased from the Presbyterian church and was just north of Pritchard Street, east of Curlewis Street. The site was adjacent to the railway area, and a spur line was laid to service the mill. Just prior to the mill opening, an advertisement in the Swan Hill Guardian stated that to company required 20,000 bags of wheat for the milling season. Poor harvests over the next few years lead to a serious shortage of wheat, much less than that required to keep the mill going. Gillespie Bros. closed in 1902.

Swan Hill in 1901
 Postmaster: .... Mr. Pallett 
Doctor H. St. John Mitchell
Shire President 1900 1901 J.H. Stewart
Shire President 1901 1902 G. Jeans
Master of Murray LodgeFreemasons William Moore 

End Of An Era 
H.R.H. Queen Victoria died, 22 January 1901. Victoria was born 24 May 1819 and reigned for 64 Years.

Australian Prime Ministers 1901-1923
Prime Minister Party Time in Office
Edmund Barton Protectionist 1 Jan 901 to 24 Sep 1903
Alfred Deakin Protectionist 24 Sep 1903 to  27 Apr 1904 
John Watson Commonwealth Labor 27 Apr 1904 to 17 Aug 1904
George Reid Free Trade 18 Aug 1904 to 5 Jul 1905
Alfred Deakin Protectionist 5 Jul 1905 to 13 Nov 1908
Andrew Fisher Commonwealth Labor 13 Nov 1908 to 2 Jun 1909 
Alfred Deakin Protectionist 2 Jun 1909 to 29 Apr 1910
Andrew Fisher Commonwealth Labor 29 Apr 1910 to 24 Jun 1913
Joseph Cook Liberal 24 Jun 1913 to 17 Sep 1914
Andrew Fisher Commonwealth Labor 17 Sep 1914 to 27 Oct 1915
William Hughes.... Aust. Labor, National Labor, National.... 27 Oct 1915 to 9 Feb 1923 
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Updated: 10 May 2001