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

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Werris Creek Railway Timeline

As a child travelling by train, I knew Werris Creek station as a very big station for an apparently very small town.

In fact, Werris Creek was a major New England Railway centre. According to the Railcorp site:

The Railway Station at Werris Creek has been a major rail junction in northern NSW for well over a century. Anyone who has ever travelled through NSW to Tamworth or Narrabri will know Werris Creek. It's where the combined train from Central separates to take travellers both north or north-west. Travellers and smokers will know it best as the breathing spot on a long journey where they can witness train shunting in action. Just forty minutes to Tamworth in the North and about twenty minutes from the agricultural centre Quirindi, Werris Creek is situated within the Parry Shire in New England, in the Heart of NSW Big Sky Country.

The decision to build a line from Werris Creek to Gunnedah was made by the New South Wales Parliament on the evening of the 26th April 1877. This decision marked the overturning of long standing policy not to build branch lines before the completion of the three mail lines; the Great Northern, Great Western and Great Southern lines. It signalled a boom in Australian branch lines and in the significant increase in the productivity and popularity of the railway. The line reached Gunnedah (the home of Dorothea McKeller) in September 1879.

At Werris Creek, the former Department of Railways (now StateRail) not only gave rise to the physical fabric of the town, but also provided its psychological framework and instilled a set of moral values that affected everyday life. Werris Creek has the distinction of being both the first and the last railway town in northern NSW and epitomises all aspects of the rail industry, including the sometimes dangerous aspects of railway work in the past. A number of former railway workers, killed through railway operations, are buried at Werris Creek. The railway institutions in Australia helped to form a working class culture and, as a one-industry town, Werris Creek has been identified as a centre where the railway working culture has flourished.

Railway timelines for Werris Creek follow:

1877 Work on branch line from Werris Creek commenced
Sept 1879 Line reaches Gunnedah
Oct 1879 Platform finished
1884 Railway Refreshment Room (RRR) tender awarded
Nov 1884 RRR Opened
March 1885 Adjacent platform built
Jan 1886 'Great Northern Railway Junction' operational
1893 Footbridge built
1889 Gas works operational
1892 Verandah on eastern side extended
1896 Timetable altered
1897 Moree branch line operational
1899 Manila branch line operational
1902 Inverell branch line operational
1906 Pokataroo branch line operational
1908 Walgett branch line operational
1911 Second story added to RRR
1917 Decision to make Werris Creek the Northern Headquarters of Mechanical Branch signals boom years
1923 Binnaway to Werris Creek line opened
1923 Second story added to Station building
1939 Additional sleeping quarters added
1958 Explosion in Single Street kills two people and breaks every window in the Station building
1960 Diesel takes over from steam
1972 RRR closed after 88 years of service
2001 NSW Minister for Transport Carl Scully announces a grant of $1.3 million towards the Australian Railway Monument (ARM) at Werris Creek
2002 Appointment of Project facilitators, commencement of Australian Railway Monument Project.
2005 Monument opens

Back to Timelines Entry Page

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kamilaroi Entry Page

This is one of a number of entry pages established to provide a central point for posts and references dealing with specific Aboriginal language groups within New England. You can find a list of all the entry pages here.

The Kamilaroi, also known as the Gamilaroi or Gamilaraay were a large and powerful language group occuping territory extending from as far south as Murrurundi on the Great Dividing Range, to Tamworth, Narrabri, Moree, Boggabilla, Mungindi, Collarenebri, Walgett and Gunnedah into what is now Southern Queensland. Sub-groups are recorded as including the Kwiambal, Weraerai, Jukambal, Pigambul/Bigambul and Coonbri. See New England's Aboriginal Languages for a map.

There is a degree of confusion about the meaning of the language. The on-line Gamilaraay dictionary states:

The name Gamilaraay consists of two parts: gamil meaning 'no' and araay meaning 'having', that is 'the people who have gamil for no'. This method of naming people after their word for 'no' is widespread throughout New South Wales and Victoria; for example, the western neighbours of the Gamilaraay, the Yuwaalaraay, say waal for 'no'.

By contrast, the Northern Regional Libary based at Moree suggests that name comes from the word Kamil or Kumil meaning main soul.

The Library site also records on language:

Some languages are very similar when the boundaries are close. For example, the Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay language have similar words because the boundaries defining their land were very close. After settlement Aboriginal people were instructed not to speak their own language, they were forced to learn and speak English, and their language was suppressed for many years.

Today, Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay language programs have been introduced into schools to re-introduce and learn the language to Aboriginal children. Children from throughout the North West at Walgett, Boggabilla and Goodooga are now learning their language.

Kamilaroi Posts

3 November 2006, New England Australia - Introducing Mining. Includes material on the Moore Creek Axe factory that supplied stone tools across Kamilaroi lands.

21 June 2007, Gambu Ganuurru, or Cumbo Gunnerah of the Gunn-e-darr tribe. Information about a Kamilaroi leader who pre-dated Euopean colonisation.

12 August 2008, New England's Kamilaroi people - web search August 08.

17 December 2008, New England's Aborigines - The work of Professor Peter Austin on linguistics contains links through to the history of research into the Kamilaroi language. Professor Austin's work also provides details on Australian indigenous languages that sets a helpful context for thought about the New England scene.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

New England's Aborigines - Reference Page

I have established this page as an entry point for material on the life and history of New England's Aboriginal peoples. At this stage, there are two ways of accessing material.

New England's Aborigines - Stocktake on Posts provides a consolidated overview of posts written about New England's Aboriginal peoples. Note that as at 9 May 2009, this needs updating.

Then there are the entry pages that I have begun establishing for each of the language groups within New England. At present, they are:

  • the Awabakal who occupied the territory from the southern edge of the lower Hunter River and included Lake Macquarie.
  • the Anaiwan or Nganyaywana who occupied the southern part of the Tablelands
  • the Dainggatti, the Aboriginal peoples of the Macleay Valley
  • the Kamilaroi from the Western Slopes and Plains
  • the Ngarabal or Ngoorabul who occupied the northern part of the Tablelands

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

James Swan - New England Aviator

Photo source.

This post simply records material taken from Jim Swan's web site. Given Jim's age, I am recording it so that it can be found at another source. I note that some of the photo links no longer work.

Jim writes:

"I WAS Born 1922 in Parramatta NSW. For 73 years my official place of residence was Girraween, 5 Km west of Parramatta.
An extract from the opening paragraphs of my "memoirs" titled "Flight of a Swan" suggests that very early attraction to matters of the surrounding environment existed. I quote:

"On a grassy sward in a Sydney backyard, a five year old boy sprawled beneath the branches of a plum tree, with the first blossoms of an early spring just visible against the blue sky which was sprinkled with the pure white of bubbly fair weather cumulus clouds.

He rolled over and gazed in awe at the sheer beauty of that sky which seemed to spread forever. It was during those few minutes of peaceful bliss that he felt he had a place up there with those clouds, that was where he intended to be at home, free as the air he breathed and part of the beauty of it all... He was going to fly!!"

As the years passed, his interest was captured by the magic of radio, first hearing a "crystal set" and somewhat later a "portable" valve set, an Airzone which had four bright shiny valves and cost a fortune to run on batteries. Then at the age of 12 or so the household acquired a four valve "Strad" which ran off mains power but received only the broadcast band which was a little disappointing as at my Grandmothers home I had been introduced to "short wave" and had actually heard overseas stations. However, I did find at the very bottom of the dial a small group of stations called "amateurs", who broadcast music and talked about radio after the commercial stations had closed for the night. It was a great thrill in the late seventies when as a new Amateur, I had a QSO with one of those Old Timers (No music hi hi).

So my radio career began by first repairing the ancient crystal set and making it work!! Then a spell of making single valve regenerative receivers from the debris of the "Airzone" which had passed its use by date. A couple of small amplifiers and a whacking great high quality speaker box brought my practical experience up to the mid 1970s.

The intervening years had not been wasted - I joined the Royal Australian Air Force the day I turned 18 and before aged 19 had commenced training as a pilot. I contrived to remain in the service until the last day of the wartime Airforce and returned to my clerical work with the Department of Main Roads. However, by late 1946 I had joined Trans Australia Airlines as a Pilot (First Officer) becoming a Captain (Training Captain) by 1954. At that time I transferred to East West Airlines to assist them in their expansion program. Having progressed through the ranks as Training Captain, Check Captain to Chief Pilot and becoming responsible for the pilot standards on F27, DC3, and the number of other types operated by the company. I decided to retire in 1975. I had over 21,000 hours and had flown 18 types of aircraft.

The RAAF experience ranged from Coastal Search and Surveillance, through Test and Ferry to Operational Recce and Bombing Strikes in the East Indies area.

During the airline service there were standard scheduled passenger flights, freighters, Air tours around Australia, training aircrew, testing pilots and a few delivery flights of new aircraft from Holland to East West Airlines. A very varied existence!!! However, when I retired I found that despite doing some private flying for enjoyment and instructing in instrument flying on a synthetic trainer, I still missed a component of my flying days, and that was the continuous use of radio communications. As CB was just coming into its own in Australia, I started to run a small 4 watt A.M. rig, normal range was about 40 miles but I did make DX to Kingaroy Queensland.

The legalisation of CB ruined that form of radio as it was swamped by masses of yahoos or whatever, so I decided that I would join the ranks of Amateur Radio."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How fast do horses travel?

This post records some information from Wikipedia on the speed at which horses can travel. While there were horses around when I was growing up, we were not a horsey family. So I have only a rough idea as to transport times when horses were king.

As a rough guide, human beings walk at around two and half miles per hour. Yes, we can go faster, but this is still a reasonable approximation for long distance walking. So if we want to go, say, the fourteen miles from Uralla to Armidale, it might take us a bit over five hours.

Travelling with stock, speed is determined by the speed of the animal. From my limited experience with sheep, I haven't travelled with cattle, travel becomes a slow amble, less than a normal walking pace. Say eight hours to drove from Uralla to Armidale. I imagine a bullock dray would also have travelled at a slow walk.

But how fast might a horse go? Starting with a walk:

The walk is a four-beat gait that averages about 4 mph (6.4 km/h). When walking, a horse's legs follow this sequence: left hind leg, left front leg, right hind leg, right front leg, in a regular 1-2-3-4 beat. At the walk, the horse will always have one foot raised and the other three feet on the ground, save for a brief moment when weight is being transferred from one foot to another. A horse moves its head and neck in a slight up and down motion that helps maintain balance.

So on the basis of a walk, we are looking at about three and a half hours to ride from Uralla to Armidale. Now what about a trot?

The trot is a two-beat gait that has a wide variation in possible speeds, but averages about 8 mph (13 km/h), or, very roughly, about the same speed as a healthy adult human can run. A very slow trot is sometimes referred to as a jog. An extremely fast trot has no special name, but in harness racing, the trot of a Standardbred is faster than the gallop of the average non-racehorse....

The trot is the working gait for a horse. Despite what one sees in movies, horses can only canter and gallop for short periods at a time, after which they need time to rest and recover. Horses in good condition can maintain a working trot for hours. The trot is the main way horses travel quickly from one place to the next.

On the basis of a trot, we could ride from Uralla to Armidale in a bit under two hours. Presumably roughly the same speed equation would hold for something like a sulky.

Now for the gallop:

The gallop is very much like the canter, except that it is faster, more ground-covering, and the three-beat canter changes to a four-beat gait. It is the fastest gait of the horse, averaging about 25 to 30 miles per hour (40 to 50 km/h), and in the wild is used when the animal needs to flee from predators or simply cover short distances quickly. Horses seldom will gallop more than a mile or two before they need to rest, though horses can sustain a moderately-paced gallop for longer distances before they become winded and have to slow down.

So normally one would not be able to gallop from Uralla to Armidale. But what about stage coaches? We all have this vision of Cobb & Co galloping through the night.

The short answer is that I do not know, although it must have been devilishly uncomfortable travelling fast over rough roads with iron shod wheels! So something else that I must find out!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Information on New England railways

This post simply records the link to a great site I found on the NSW railway system including its history.

I originally posted it on the New England, Australia site, but then found when I was writing the Teaching in New England - Braefield 1916-1923 and wanted details on the Braefield railway station that I could not remember where it was!

I am posting it again so that I do not lose it. As I said in the first post, Rolfe Bozier should be congratulated for his work!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sunderland Flying Boats, Clarence River

One thing I noticed a little while ago when posting Clarence Valley timeline was the reference to the start of the Sunderland Flying Boat service in 1948.

This photo from the Clarence River Historical Society shows the planes on the River.

Until I saw this reference I had no idea that such a service had once existed, yet another thing that I did not know about New England's history.

Nor did I know that P G Taylor had used the river as a set down point. Quoting:

By 1951 the final ocean to be traversed for air travel was the South Pacific between Australia and South America. On 13 March 1951 Captain P.G. Taylor set off from the flying boat base at Rose Bay in Sydney with a crew of four. They made a shakedown flight to Grafton, NSW, landing on the Clarence River, and next morning headed east for South America. Stops were made at Noumea; Fiji; Samoa; Cook Islands; Tahiti; and Mangareva, French Oceania and then Easter Island before arriving in Valparaiso on 26th. March 1951.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Teaching in New England - Braefield 1916-1923

Photo: this is where the Braefield railway siding once stood.

The following material is drawn from Neil Whitfield's blog. I am including it because it provides a snapshot of the life of a teacher in a New England country school in the period 1916-1926.

The material was written by around 1968 by Neil's mother Jean (1911-1996). Her father, Roy Christison, began his career as a pupil teacher at Croydon Park Public School in 1902. Upon completion of his training , he was posted to Spencer on the Hawkesbury River and then in the early days of the war to Felled Timber Creek near Gunning.

From 1916 to 1923 he taught at Braefield, a locality just over six kilometres south of Quirindi on what is now the Kamilaroi Highway. From there he was posted to Dunolly, near Singleton in the Hunter Valley and then to Milton and then Shellharbour — where Neil's mother and father met — and finally to Caringbah in Sydney's Sutherland Shire, whence he retired in the late 1940s.

The material that follows describes the Braefield experience and is, I think, pretty typical of the life of a dedicated country school teacher at the time. It also provides a rather nice picture of life in a small farming community.

Later I will draw from this material to provide colour and feel when I come to write the story of education in New England.

Mrs Whitfield wrote:

It was January 1916, and he was to continue his career, this time in another small school, this one in the North West of NSW.

After puffing its way up the Liverpool Ranges and panting down the other side through the darkened night, the train paused for breath momentarily at a medium sized country town [Quirindi], and the young man, his wife and family climbed stiffly out. This town, built on a series of hills and flats and having a charm of its own, was to be home for the next two months as there was no government residence alongside [Braefield] school. An enterprising farmer was building a house on an acre and a half of land, just opposite the railway siding which bore the name of the school where he was to toil for seven years. With the cottage completed, the stage was set.

It was a tiny place, neither village nor hamlet, just a group of three Railway cottages where lived the men who tended the platform, a store, and a post office of sorts, the house for “Sir”, and down the road a piece (a dusty road in dry weather and a black soil bog in wet) on a narrow strip of land between the railway line and the road were two small buildings, the old slab school and the new building of weatherboard with cypress pine linings and the inevitabe tin roof. One could glimpse here and there small houses scattered far and wide, each on its own acreage, each representing pioneer folk who were farming this very prosperous wheat and sheep district. Here lived most of the 40 pupils who were to make up the enrolment of the six classes in the one teacher school. Some children came miles each day on foot, or on horseback, two or three to a horse, or very affluent ones in a sulky driven by the “eldest” in the family.

It was quite a challenging task to teach forty children in one room over six classes with ages ranging from 5 to 15. A deal of thought, of preparation, and great organising ability, were needed to keep each section actually engaged in quieter activities. Much has been said for and against the standard in these small schools, but I feel that given an earnest and sincere teacher the pupils gained much more than they lost, and the students of this particular school proved in the years to come that they could take their place in any field of commerce, profession, or industry, without apologising for their humbler beginnings.

In this building the younger children were taught to read, to write, to spell, to add, subtract, multiply, and all that is learned in any Kindergarten or Infants section of a modern school. To the older children in the upper classes the concept had to be more attractive and more challenging; their interest had to be aroused.

The worlds of History, Geography, and our spoken language, English, were wells of untapped splendour waiting to be opened. To these bush children it was a fascinating exerience to learn, and they were avid for knowledge. A lover of poetry himself, my father instilled in his pupils enough of the splendour of the written word to make them long to find more for themselves, which is so very necessary. He introduced them to Shakespeare, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Byron, Burns, the Brownings, Coleridge, Longfellow, Scott, Stevenson, Dickens… As for Australian poetry, it seemed to find an echo in the very hearts of the bush children, as Lawson, Kendall, Paterson, Adam Lindsay Gordon, Dorothea Mackellar, George Essex Evans, Bernard O’Dowd, and anyone else who had found a place in the Treasury of Australian Verse, wrote of things and places the children knew. Such was our heritage, to store in our minds for all times.

The old school building was the social centre of the community. It was used (with the permission of the Education Department) as meeting hall, church hall (all denominations), dance hall, and polling booth, so its walls echoed to much, and its floors were trodden by many feet.

In the year 1916 from this farming community so far removed from the centre of a world-shattering war farmers’ sons were fighting overseas and the busy farmers’ wives found time to meet, to knit, to sew, to send gifts and packages; the old school was the headquarters. Each boy going overseas was given a farewell and presented with a gold watch, and each gallant lad who returned was given a Welcome Home and an engraved gold medal. This typified the Australian spirit at its best.

There were other functions too. Breaking up at Xmas for the school itself, fund-raising affairs for the local Cricket team. Oh yes, the lads played a neat game of Cricket and “Sir” could bowl a mean ball. Most functions were held when the moon was full so that there would be more light for the merrymakers to get into the centre for these socials. They came on foot in family groups carrying the old friend of country folk, the hurricane lamp to light the way. They came by horse, in sulkies, on drays, and very occasionally by motor car. The old building would soon be filled to overflowing and long forms outside would seat the rest beneath the trees in the full moonlight, quite a romantic and beautifully peaceful setting.

Soon the “music men” would stand and the dancing feet would fly. I can see those “music men” now. Father leading with his silver toned harmonica, a poultry farmer with his fiddle, and a railway fettler with an accordion. Eyes closed, feet tapping, heads swaying, they would slip from waltz to Schottische to polka, anything that kept the throbbing, lifting lilt of the dance. Beautiful, tender, simple pleasures, earned by hard work and enjoyed to the utmost. From early evening to the wee sma’ hours the musicians played and when after a supper such as country women alone can provide, the tired feet walked lightly and happily homewards, it had been so worthwhile.

We came to know this district well, knew it in drought, in flood, in good seasons and bad, in spring when the good earth was covered in sweet green grass, and golden wattles bloomed in the distant hills and young wheat grew straight and tall, when parrots and parakeets wove gaily patterned circles in the sky above and the promise of the future was good and free and clean. We knew it at harvest time when the ripe golden wheat lying in sheaves filled the air with an aroma all its own, and the whirr of the harvester broke the stillness of hot languid days. We knew it in autumn when soft winds blew, giving welcome relief from summer’s intense blistering heat, and in winter when the snow caps of the Liverpool Ranges sent overnight temperatures to freezing point, and thick white frosts lay on the ground, to give way to more golden sun-filled glorious days with skies of deepest azure, the full circle back to spring again.

Tragedy was there too. Dry years when the dust was blinding, the water nonexistent, and the sheep moved slowly along the road as the drovers looked vainly for fresh feed, and the poor sheep lay dead and dying.

And, oh! it’s a terrible thing to die of thirst in the scrub Out Back. (“Out Back” — Henry Lawson)

This Australia of ours is a land of such contrasts!

Even in our semi-isolation the fingers of death came suddenly when the pneumonia flu raged in 1919. One by one the whole community was stricken. The schoolie was the only one of his family still on his feet. He nursed his loved ones tenderly, and as medical assistance was hard to come by, he was called in to many homes to advise, to help, to administer, to comfort when comfort was needed, and to sustain and strengthen flagging and saddened hearts — a friend indeed.

Came 1920 — January 26 1920 — and in the early hours of another hot summer morning “Sir” and his family alight at the siding which is home. They had been away six weeks by the sea. There were four of us now — had been since 1917 — and in the winter of the year the little Mother with the lovely brown eyes would give birth to her fifth child. But the unborn babe was born dead, and the lovely brown eyes were shadowed for many a long day.

The drought still held and that January day was hot. Father harnessed the horse and left for town to get much needed supplies; it was Anniversary Day, but public holidays mattered little then. The Mother had much to do — clothes to unpack, things to sort and ready for the year ahead. It was a funny day, everything so still, so breathless: Dorothea Mackellar’s “hot gold hush of noon.” Father returned about 2 pm. The sky to the west was frightening. Black rolling clouds, streaked with purple, rose high into the heavens obliterating the sun, covering the earth with a deep purple tinge. The sensation of time suspended, of threatening catastrophe, of the unknown more frightening always than the known. The clouds rolled closer, ever closer, uncannily closer. The soft west wind changed. The stillness changed to a gurgling sudden roar, as the wind rose to gale force bringing with it the dreaded enemy of the inland — the dust cyclone. Everything was dark as midnight as the cyclone struck.

The little house shook, as a quarter of a century later houses shook under Nazi onslaught. It rocked and swayed as Father guided his family to shelter under a stout oak table (Neil added: I well remember that table, which was in the home of my childhood in Sutherland; a matching bureau is in my living room to this day) in the dining room. Minutes passed, terrifying. Faintly through the wall came a tapping and a neighbour’s voice: “Are you all right in there?” He was a no account man, and yet medals have been given for less. He had run 200 yards from his home through dark and dust, falling iron from the roof, splintered, shattered branches of trees, and death and destruction at the shoulder, to give assistance if needed.

Twenty minutes later and the storm had passed leaving in its wake across the plains utter desolation — huge stout-trunked deep-rooted trees blown out of the earth and splintered as if by a mighty axe. The little house that had been a home was completely and utterly wrecked, except for one room — the dining room in which the family sheltered. God’s guiding hand? Perhaps.

The warmth and kindness of the folk who took the family in, gave them clothes and food, were a beacon of light, and the grazier who fixed and altered a disused farm house for this family which he had taken into his large heart, until the shattered home could be rebuilt — to them our everlasting gratitude and thanks.

The drought broke and the grass grew tall. Once again this loved country of ours was showing its softer side and became again a land of promise.

Father still laboured among his flock, respected by all who knew him for his unfailing devotion to his daily tasks of teaching not only during school hours. He coached older children for higher exams during evenings to help them to a better life. His was truly a labour of love, for he never accepted monetary pay for his efforts. Beside this the midnight oil burned as he studied for his own Grade Exams so he could obtain promotion for himself, his wife and family. To sit for his own exams he walked four miles to the town railhead to get the Night Mail — the mail trains did not stop at our siding — to the District Inspector’s Office over one hundred miles down the line, where from 9 am to 6 pm he tackled examination papers, then back on a northbound Night Mail to walk four miles again and arrive home in the early hours of another day, school as usual and the long anxious wait for results.

Another year slipped by so quickly, as years have the habit of doing. More young ones beginning their education, some older ones leaving, mostly to help on the farms, to become good solid citizens with kindly thoughts always of the man who had guided their thirst for knowledge so expertly.

In the summer of 1921 when the grass was waist high everywhere and dry as a tinderbox one of the Railway men was burning off some rubbish on a clear, still day. Suddenly there was one of those unexplained freaks of nature which happen on the stillest of days: the whirlwind lifted the rubbish fire and neatly deposited it in the middle of the paddock surrounding the house where she of the brown eyes was alone, apart for her sister who was on a rare visit from the city. The fire spread, and with smoke billowing across the road fettlers left their job, the night officers left the railway station unattended, and Father and the older boys from the school came running.

Mother packed everything she could into cases and carried them to safety, and Auntie, well she swung an axe like a veteran, cutting green saplings to beat out the fire, and beat it out they did, stopping it just as it scorched the foundations of that small house. Fate? I wonder.

About this time too one of the senior boys had gone home early to find his mother had been bitten by a deadly snake. He rode his bike back for “Sir” because he knew here he would get help. Sir did not fail him either, but taking the bike rode the two miles to the boy’s home, shouting instructions to the Railway officer on the way to contact the Doctor; the Railway had the only telephone. After applying first aid, he took the woman at breakneck speed in a sulky toward the distant town and hospital. Halfway to town they met the Doctor’s buggy — he too was on his way to give help — and the mother’s life was saved.

At the beginning of January 1923 word went round the District: “‘Sir’ was leaving.” He had been given his first Headmastership further down the line in a much more thickly populated area, and only a mile from a very prosperous and beautiful town. It was almost like going to Heaven for Sir and his family after nearly fifteen years of severe apprenticeship. However, they did not begrudge one year of it, because they felt they had achieved much.

On another hot January morning, exactly seven years after that first long night trip, the good folk of the District gathered at one of the bigger farm houses, where there was ample room for large gatherings, to say farewell to their beloved “Sir”. They came from the town four miles away, they came by sulky, by dray, on foot, and they came miles just to be there and sing “Auld Lang Syne”. So ended an era.