New England's History

Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

History revisited – NENCO, Newcastle & wool sales part 2

Continuing my story of the establishment of wool selling in Newcastle, with P A Wright now joining the small group of activists, a new company was formed, the New England, North and Northwest Producers’ Co Ltd, later to be known as NENCO to sell wool and wheat through Newcastle.

The problems facing the new venture were formidable. Lacking capital, it faced entrenched opposition from the Wool Buyers’ Association as well as the Wool Brokers’ Association. Both were protective of the existing system. Neither could see any advantage at all in wool selling at Newcastle, only increased costs.

Wright had expected to gain support in Newcastle, including capital. However, the venture was too far outside the normal interests of the southern city and, in any case, seemed risky. Later Newcastle would adopt wool selling as its own, but for the present this lay far in the future. wool classer, newcastle

Wright and his colleagues adopted a multi-pronged approach to the various barriers facing the venture.

They tried to establish relations with existing buyers and brokers. That move failed and perhaps as well. Had NENCO’s application to join the Brokers’ Association been accepted, the Association could have killed the concept by allocating Newcastle a sales quota that guaranteed commercial failure.

They also sought political and industry support. This did not give them immediate benefits, but provided a degree of protection against possible retaliation from existing interests.

Most importantly, they sought support and capital from major Northern wool growers. Accompanied by W E Tayler, Wright called on Colonel White at Bald Blair. In Wright’s words, White was widely regarded as one of the foremost men in the North. If he came in, the venture would gain immediate credibility.

White was not enthusiastic. To Wright’s dismay, White said that he would not take part; so far as he was concerned, they could sit on their own bottom. Thinking about it, White was to change his mind, to join NENCO as a shareholder and director. Other big graziers joined as well.

While it wasn’t clear at the time, this growing support gave NENCO the commercial edge to succeed. The grower members produced a substantial clip. They were prepared to sell this through Newcastle even if it meant lower prices, taking a lower return now to achieve their longer term objectives.

The first Newcastle sale took place on Thursday 1 November 1928. NENCO’s own premises were not ready, so the wool was displayed at the old Newcastle skating rink, with the auction held at the Church of England’s Tyrell Hall.

That sale was a disappointment. Of the 1,760 bales of wool on offer, only 25 per cent was sold, although 60 per cent was sold later. The scheme’s opponents crowed. It was a failure.

At this point, the support of the bigger growers became critical. They would sell their wool through Newcastle regardless. This was enough to guarantee ultimate success. The rest, as they say, is history.

Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 18 June 2014. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because the columns are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for2014.

The photo from the Newcastle Regional Library shows a wool classer inspecting wool for sale in 1950.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

History revisited – the shears stop in Newcastle

End of an Era. The Newcastle wool sales came to an end last year after more than ninety years in operation. Jim Belshaw explains how the sales began in the 1920s to help Northern farmers.

Tuesday 19 February 2013, Newcastle. The last wool sales had begun. For the last time, the buyers, brokers and graziers gathered together. Unlike other centres where selling had become remote, the mob of woolgrowers and buyers who relished travelling to Newcastle to see the collective clip had never wavered, propping up hotels, restaurants and business. It was their sale, a major social outing.One of the last bales

Barbara Morley had served the wool brokers and growers breakfast, lunch and dinner for 27 years. Now she was to don her apron for the last time, serving dinner for up to two hundred people, enjoying a last chardy or chat with all the familiar faces.

‘Country folk are just so unbelievable, real gentlemen and so respectful – I’ll miss them.’’

The story now ending had begun many years before. During the 1920s, Northern graziers experienced difficulties in selling their late cut wool because of congestion in the Sydney wool stores. Wool shorn in October or November could not be sold until the following March, creating a cash flow hole. The problem had become so bad that some growers were selling their wool from the shed, taking a lower price just to get the cash.

A small group (J J Price, A E Hunter and W E Tayler) decided that the solution was to open wool sales in Newcastle. Newcastle was a deep water port with a direct rail connection that finished on the water front. Tayler came to see P A Wright to seek his support and to ask him whether he was prepared to join the board of the new venture.

PA, everyone called him PA if not always to his face, was frustrated. He had sold his own large clip from the shed in 1927. A strong supporter of self government for Northern New South Wales, Wright believed that existing institutional structures impeded local development. He was also a supporter of direct action; those experiencing problems should act to fix them at once as best they could.

Wright listened to Tayler’s arguments. The need was clearly there. The concept was attractive. But would it work in a practical sense? There was a big gap between that embryo group and the practical realities involved in creating a new wool selling centre in the face of entrenched institutional and commercial barriers.

Wright was a methodical practical man. However, that was combined with curiosity, with a willingness to observe and experiment and the ability to see visions and to pursue causes with a dogged persistence.

As a practical man, he did his own investigation, visiting Sydney for talks with wool brokers. As a visionary, he became convinced that part of the solution to Northern problems lay in the development of Newcastle as an export port for Northern produce. It wasn’t just wool. Northern wheat growers were experiencing similar problems trying to export through Sydney.

After reflection and investigation, Wright decided to support the project and join the board. I will continue this story in my next column.

Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 11 June 2014. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because the columns are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

History revisited – Chinatown in Tingha

Most of New England’s small settlements have vanished in the great rural depopulation, leaving little behind beyond a few posts. This was especially true of our mining towns, for there the town survived just as long as the rush endured. Once the miners left, the town vanished, the buildings moved or decaying into the landscape. Now the few remains lie forgotten, ignored even by neighbours, their history lost.

This remains true even where the original physical presence was substantial. Tingha’s China Town is an example. Heard of it? I bet not.

China Town ran on the creek bank along Amethyst Street. However, the Chinese population was so big that it overflowed across the town. At the height of the tin boom, Chinese boarding houses, stores, cafes, peanut shops, wine shops, herbalists, opium dens and gambling shops competed for space in Tingha’s overcrowded town centre.winghinglongstore

How big was big? That’s difficult to estimate. At the height of the tin mining boom, 2,500 people packed into Tingha and its immediate surrounds. The population of the broader Tingha mining district was 7,000 of whom 2,000 were Chinese. My best guess, and it’s only a guess, is that Tingha had perhaps 500 Chinese residents; the remaining Chinese visited as needs demanded.

Chinese celebrations were both noisy and colourful. One year, a huge paper marquee was imported from China and erected in the vicinity of the main joss house. It housed displays of various gods and devils and of humans being punished for their sins.

The display remained open for a week. On the seventh day amidst much ceremony,

it was set alight. As it burned, fire crackers exploded; there was much gaiety until the whole structure was reduced to ash.

As the mines declined, people left, Chinese and non-Chinese alike. Yet many Chinese lingered, leaving their imprint. That is why stores in so many towns near the tin belt carried Chinese names, names that linger to this day; Hong Yuen (Inverell), Kwong Sing (Glen Innes and Bundarra), Hong Sing (Stanthorpe) and Wing Hing Long (Tingha).

When Harry Fay died in Inverell in August 2012, the Northern Daily Leader spoke of his connection with the iconic Hong Yuen department store. After taking over the store in 1970 that his grandfather had run for sixty years, the paper said, Mr Fay had carried on the family tradition of honesty, quality service and community spirit. That’s not a bad epitaph.

I wonder how many Chinese students at UNE know that their ancestors were a significant part of the history of the area in which they now study? Not many, I would guess.

Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 4 June 2014. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because the columns are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

History revisited – Tingha’s tin a golden find

Credit for the first discovery of tin on the Northern Tablelands belongs to Pennyweight Joe, Joseph Wills to give him his real name. The name Pennyweight Joe was the affectionate nickname given to him by his fellow workers and employers.

In her book Tin at Tingha, Helen Brown records that Pennyweight Joe was seen by those around him as a simple, likeable though quite eccentric shepherd who was perpetually short of money. He was, in fact, a little more than that.

Joseph Wills seems to have had a sound knowledge of geology, a love of rocks; this allowed him to identify metals and precious stones. He also had overseas connections to whom he sent samples and from whom he received information on prices. His role as shepherd gave him ample time and opportunity to prospect.

Around 1865, Wills sent a consignment of geological specimens to his brother-in-law Frederick Clar De V’ries in London. This included a sample of tin, along with agate, sapphires, rubies and amethysts, all of which De V’ries exhibited at a miner’s exhibition in Paris.

Wills did nothing about his find. Then in 1870, probably broke, he sold a bag of tin to a commercial traveler at an Inverell hotel. The traveler took the tin to C S McGlew in Sydney who had been searching for tin across a wide area of NSW.

McGlew had samples of the smelted to test its value, then hastened north to meet Wills who showed him where the tin had come from at Elmore. In June 1871, McGlew and his associated started test mining at Elmore for rich rewards. tin-mining Tingha

Around the same time, Wills found another deposit that he showed to his employer, Duncan Anderson. Anderson, in conjunction with Sydney merchant and early mining magnate Sir Saul Samuel, floated a company to exploit the discovery. Now there were two companies exploiting Wills’ discoveries.

Wills was the first to discover tin, but before anyone knew of the discovery, Messrs Millis and Fearby also discovered tin about sixteen kilometres south of Elmore on the banks of Cope’s Creek. They kept their discovery secret while they formed a new company, the Britannia Tin Mining Company. This also began mining in 1871.

Mills and Firby were far sighted men. As part of their plans, they applied for the conditional purchase of 240 acres (97.13 hectares) of land at the junction of Cope’s Creek and Darby’s Branch Creek. In 1870 in anticipation of the rush that would begin when news of their discovery became public, they had 100 acres (40.47 hectares) of their new selection surveyed into town streets and house allotments.

The two men called their new private town Tingha. Ten years later, it would have a population of over 2,000.

And Joseph Wills? His tombstone records “He paved the way for others’ gains, And dies neglected for his pains.”

It wasn’t quite as bad as that. The two Elmore mining companies each gave him a life time annuity, but he died in 1873 before he could enjoy the real benefits.

Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 28 May 2014. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because the columns are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014. The photo shows tin sluicing about the turn of the twentieth century.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

History revisited – remnants of a past era

Just outside one of the doors leading into Booloominbah from the courtyard is a very strange piece of brickwork. Built in an L shape, it has no discernible purpose.

When brother David and I were very young, Dad’s office was in Booloominbah just down the corridor and up the stairs from that doorway. We often played there, standing on and jumping off the raised L. However, we had no idea what it was for. It was just odd.

I finally found out what it’s purpose last year,. I had come up to Armidale for the gala seqesquicentenary production of Armidale – Our Town. A friend came with me, and on the Saturday morning we decided to do the Heritage tour. Our guide was Werner Schwarz.

At Booloominbah, Werner explained that the brickwork in question was a sidesaddle dismounting point for the ladies of the house and their female friends. They could slide of the horse in a modest fashion, then step down to ground level.

While there are depictions and descriptions of women riding aside on Greek vases and sculptures and in some of the Celtic stories, by the Medieval period in Europe all women rode aside. This was partly the nature of women’s clothing with its many skirts, more a matter of modesty.

This modesty was deeply ingrained. In the middle of the 19th century on the Macleay, Ellen Kemp and her sister were skilled bush riders, but it was always sidesaddle. “Not astride! No – we would not even let the gum trees see us in that position.”

The first sidesaddles did not allow women to control their horses, requiring them511px-STACE-Esther_M to be led. This was impractical. Women did ride and needed to control their own animals. However, progress was slow. According to Wikipedia, the first reasonably practical sidesaddle was not developed until the sixteenth century.

The modern sidesaddle was invented in the 1830s by Jules Pellier. This was revolutionary, for it allowed  women to ride at a gallop and to take part in equestrian events. At Sydney’s Royal Easter Show in 1915, Yarrowitch woman Mrs Esther Stace set a world record for a sidesaddle jump of 6’ 6” (1.98m).

Mrs Stace’s jump marked a high point in more ways than one.

As early as 1909, the Mullumbimby Show permitted women to ride astride for First Class events. Now in the turmoil of war and the social changes that marked the first decades of the twentieth century, astride riding swept the sidesaddle aside. With it went memory of the ladies’ dismount point at Booloominbah.

Today, sidesaddle riding has enjoyed a modest revival, keeping alive that feature of women’s life over so many centuries. We can still see for ourselves, to visualise what this part of life must have been like.

Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 21 May 2014. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because the columns are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

History revisited – college a capital idea

Most Armidale people would know, I think, that the city was the site of the first tertiary institution in Australia founded outside a capital city. However, I suspect that few would know that it was neither the Armidale Teacher’s College nor the New England University College. It was, in fact, St John’s College.

English born, Arthur Vincent Green was elected bishop of Grafton and Armidale in 1894. During his seven-year episcopate he doubled the staff of the clergy, dedicated over eighty new churches and built a registry office and bishop's house at Armidale.

In 1898 he established a theological college, St John’s, to train future Anglican clergy. The College began with just four students in a single cottage. However, architect Horbury Hunt in what would be his last Armidale commission was asked to draw up plans for a permanent building. On 8 June 1898, the foundation stone was laid with the inscription “To the Glory of God.”

At this point I do not know who the first Warden of the College was. The first Warden I have found reference to is Arthur Henry Garnsey. Born in 1872, Arthur was educated at Sydney Grammar School and Sydney University. There he graduated with first class honours in Greek, captained the university cricket team and also won a 'blue' for tennis. Garnsey’s sporting interests probably had an impact on the College, for among the few photos I have found of St John’s Armidale are shots of the College’s tennis and rugby teams!St John's College Armidale 1920s

Garnsey was appointed Warden of the College in 1906. In 1914 he was made canon of St Peter's Cathedral; he was also examining chaplain to the bishops of Armidale from 1916 to 29.

The College’s original aim was to become the training centre for all Anglican clergy in NSW and Queensland. This was not done, but Garnsey continued the College’s development, before leaving in June 1916 to become Warden of St John’s at the University of Sydney.

There is then another gap in my records. However, in 1918 the Reverend E H Burgman was appointed as Rector. The following year, A P Elkin was appointed as a full time teacher and Deputy Warden. Now we have two people in Armidale that would become major figures in the history of Australian thought.

Under Burgman’s leadership, the College expanded its influence. Then came events that I don’t properly understand. Perhaps Armidale was just too far away. Perhaps, as has happened so often, there was a loss of local vision. Whatever, the Bishop of Newcastle offered the College a new site and greater support. In May 1926, the College relocated from Armidale to Morpeth in the Hunter Valley.

From an Armidale perspective, the loss was significant, although the College’s presence had helped add to the city’s reputation as an education centre, aiding the foundation of the Teacher’s College in 1928.

From a national perspective, the College in its new location would play a major role in the intellectual debates of the 1920s and 1930s.

Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 14 May 2014. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because the columns are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014. The photo is a college group shot from the 1920s. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

History revisited – Hunter Valley historical tour 2: Dalwood

Continuing the story of my Hunter Valley history tour, Judith Wright’s Generations of Men (1959) chronicles the early story of her family. I wanted to visit some of the places described in the book and especially Dalwood House.

We set out on Easter Monday, detouring first to visit the Hunter Valley Gardens established by Bill and Imelda Roche. I had wanted to visit for a while, but had never found the time.

I enjoyed the gardens, but was struck again by the sheer scale of the tourist development. When I first visited Pokolbin, there were scattered vineyards but not much else. Now, fueled by proximity to Sydney, there are vineyards and resorts everywhere. All this began with George and Margaret Wyndham, Judith Wright’s great great grandfather.

George Wyndham was born at Dinton, Wiltshire in England in 1801. Educated at Harrow and Cambridge, Wyndham met Margaret, his wife to be, in Italy in 1825. They married in Brussels in 1827.

The couple decided to emigrate to NSW, sailing for Sydney on the George Horne in August 1827 along with several servants, cattle, sheep, horses, pigs, hounds, goods and chattels. The couple reached Sydney on Christmas Eve 1827. The following year, they settled near Branxton in the Hunter Valley, naming the property Dalwood after one of the Wyndham family farms at Dinton.

From Dalwood, George’s interests spread to include Collyblu on the Liverpool Plains, Bukkulla and Nullamanna near Inverell and Keelgyrah on the Richmond River, a total of some 200,000 acres or 80,937 hectares.

Importantly from the viewpoint of this story, George was interested in wine making. He quickly established a vineyard and began making wines. Both red and white varieties of grape wereP1010590 grown, principally hermitage, cabernet and shiraz. He also planted grapes on Bukkulla; thus establishing a Tablelands’ wine industry. Both Dalwood and Bukkulla wines won medals at European wine shows. 

Sometime in 1828 or 1829, George began construction of a new house for his family, Dalwood House. It was this house that I wanted to visit, a house brought vividly alive by Judith in her book.

The house was a partial ruin when I last visited it forty years ago. It still is, although restoration efforts have stabilized the main structure. It’s not a grand house by later standards, but with some imagination you can get a feel for the life that surrounded it.

We wandered around in the sun while I took pictures, talking with my companion about its special features. Later over a very nice lunch on the terrace at Wyndham Estate wines, I thought what a wonderful tapestry our history makes.

Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 7 May 2014. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because the columns are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for2014.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

History revisited – Easter tour in the Hunter

I spent Easter in the Hunter Valley. Most go for the wine. I like wine too, but in my case it was a history tour. I wanted to walk the ground to help me visualise things past. I don’t know about you, but I find that I can’t understand the history properly if I don’t understand theP1010447 geography.

The tour began on Easter Saturday. We started with a short tour of the Broke Fordwich area. Here my interest was in part the current conflict between mining and wine, between industrialisation and village life.  (Photo Caption: DEBATE: The mining industry is at loggerheads with many in the Hunter)

Mining has a long history in the North, beginning with coal in the Hunter. It is a story of national significance, although elements of that have been lost because of the way we write and research history. In the big picture focus that dominates so much history, the local and regional specifics are submerged. I find that sad, and fight against it as best I can.

A simple example to illustrate. Did you know that key elements of the Australian labor and union movements began in the North? I didn’t until I started researching and writing on Northern history.

From Broke Fordwich we drove to Singleton. Here I wanted to visit the Catholic Church and surrounding buildings. Why? Well, I had read the history of the Church in Singleton and of the Sisters of Mercy. Like the Ursulines in Armidale, they had become part of Northern history. P1010471

The visit did not disappoint. The Church was being prepared for Easter ceremonies, but we were allowed in. I stood there thinking of the past, before wandering around near the convent and school buildings,

From Singleton, the next stop was Morpeth on the Hunter. This was the big port for Northern New South Wales, the second largest port in the colony after Sydney, contending with Grafton for control of the vital Northern trade.

At Morpeth, the drays loaded with New England wool came in. From Morpeth, the drays went north, loaded with farm supplies.

The development of Newcastle as a port, the opening of the Great Northern Railway, would sideline Morpeth. Today it survives as a popular tourist centre, marked by its old buildings and its visitor thronged main street.

I will continue this story in my next column.

Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 30 April 2014. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because the columns are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

History revisited – how an era began

My father couldn’t swim. Born in New Zealand in the first decade of the twentieth twenty century, he grew up on the cool Canterbury Plains. There was no need, little incentive, less opportunity.

By the time David and I were born, things were very different. We joined the compulsory swimming classes at the Armidale Demonstration School, marched off to the local pool for our lessons. We gaily went swimming at the deep end, while Prof on his rare excursions to the pool paddled around the shallow end.

Like Dad, the great bulk of the first European settlers could not swim. By 1788, sea bathing had already become fashionable among the English upper classes. However, the early settlers did not swim for sport. Swimming described a physical activity, but most bathed. They went into the sea and especially the still waters for that purpose. The sea was, I suppose, the equivalent of the Roman baths.

Australia was very different. It was hot, very hot for a European population not yet acclimatised. The sea was attractive. However, the Australian coast with its surf was rough and dangerous for those who could not swim.

Worried about deaths from drowning at the Newcastle convict settlement, Governor Macquarie directed that people should avoid the surf and bath only in the sheltered waters. Quite quickly, the early settlers adopted the Aboriginal word bogie for sea bathing. The words bogey hole came to describe a place where it was safe to bath.

The Victorian age was a rigid and censorious period so far as morality was concerned. In an age practised in but worried about sin, rules were introduced to govern clothing, the mixing of the sexes and the hours during which it was permissible to sea bath.

This happened in Australia too. However, the heat, the need to cool, the attractions of the surf, were in constant conflict with the dictates of middle class prudishness. By the early 1900s, Ballina resident Herbert Peake was welcoming the arrival of popular surf bathing as “the first flush of a rosy dawn heralding the delights of a glorious day” and the end of “prudishness.”

Given that drownings were common at the beach, in river holes or dams, you would think that Australia would be a global leader in learn to swim programs. In fact, so far as the colonies were concerned, learn to swim began in England.

On 3 January 1891, the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) was founded in England to combat the high drowning toll. The first Australian branch was formed three years later in Sydney.

As part of the trend, surf lifesaving organisations emerged. Ballina traces its history to 1905, Newcastle to 1908. A new era had dawned.

The Australian Commonwealth was founded on 1 January 1901. The images used to illustrate the event were all land based, for Australia was its country. Now a new beach based image was to emerge, the bronzed and disciplined surf lifesaver.

Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 23 April 2014. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because the columns are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

History revisited – New England aviation, the final chapter

This column concludes my history of New England civil aviation with the story of the tumultuous air wars of the 1980s, air wars that were central to the reshaping of Australian civil aviation.

Under the Australian constitution, the states have legal control over civil aviation within state boundaries, the Commonwealth control over civil aviation between states.

In 1952, the Menzies Government passed the Civil Aviation Agreement Act establishing the two airline policy. The aim was to created a stable operating environment that would ensure services. In 1957, this policy was further strengthened. The aim, the Government said, was to ensure that there were two and not more than two operators on trunk line services.

It was this policy that set the scene for the Commonwealth Government’s unsuccessful attempt in 1961 to force East-West to merge with Ansett. Following the failure of the Ansett bid, East-West continued to expand, nibbling away at the edges of the two airline policy. By 1980, East-West was clearly the third largest carrier in Australia.

The growth of East-West encouraged new entrants during the 1970s, including Oxley Airlines (Port Macquarie) and Aeropelican (Newcastle). In Tamworth, Tamair/East Coast was expanding under the leadership of John Roworth.

East-West’s attempts to expand into the Northern Territory incurred losses that led to dissension on the Board. This opened the door in 1982 for Duke Minks and Brian Grey to acquire the airline with the assistance of a $7.5 million loan from the Nauru Phosphate Trust.

Three years later, the airline was sold for a substantial profit to Ric Stowe’s Perth based Sky West. Encouraged, Brian Grey would go on to found Compass with some what less than spectacular financial results.

Under both Grey and then Ric Stowe, East-West mounted an aggressive and ultimately successful campaign against the two airline policy. In 1987, the Commonwealth Government gave three year’s notice of the end of the policy, starting a scramble for aviation assets.

As part of this scramble, East-West was sold in July 1987 to a company jointly controlled by TNT and News Corp, the owners of Ansett. After twenty six years, Ansett had finally won.

Ansett’s takeover of East-West forced route divestiture. This opened the way for East Coast, later Eastern and then Eastern Australia, to expand. As part of this process, Australian Airlines acquired East-West’s 26% share of Eastern, gaining full ownership in1991.

The turmoil had major local impacts. Here I think of 18 September 1991 as a symbolic dividing line. Qantas linlk

On that date, the Ansett controlled East-West announced that it was closing its Tamworth maintenance facility with the loss of 220 jobs and terminating all connections with Tamworth and the North. Two years later, the name East-West vanished from the skies, removed as a consequence of corporate change.

Eastern or Eastern Australia lasted until 2002. Then owner QANTAS merged all its regional carriers into an entity called QantasLink. Another proud New England name vanished from the skies, removed as a consequence of corporate change,

Man proposes, the market disposes; an era had ended.

Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 16 April 2014. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because the columns are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for2014.

The first post in this series is History revisited – introducing a flying history. From there, you can follow the story though.