EARLY DAYS OF THE POST OFFICE (AND AUSTRALASIA'S FIRST SAWMAKER) AT RED HILL NEAR DROMANA, VIC., AUST.
Many tales in family folklore never made it into newspapers or documents. They could be true, just like I distinctly remembered reading an article a year or so ago about a letter sent from the Red Hill post office
by the postmistress. The descendant of Australasia's first sawmaker, who is writing a family history, wanted to document an aspect of this folklore regarding the Red Hill post office and sent me a private message through FAMILY TREE CIRCLES. At the time I knew exactly where his land at Red Hill was, when he was first assessed and that he was a saw maker,all from rate records. I had already read about his connection with the post office at Red Hill. But I didn't know he was Australasia's first saw maker!
Unfortunately I can't find the webpage re "Australasia" and it's nearly 1 a.m. so I'll go with one from the museum about his waistcoat.
Waistcoat - W.H. Blakeley, circa 1850-1900 - Museum Victoria
Off-white waistcoat that once belonged to William Henry Blakeley. His name is stamped inside the neckline. It is likely to date to the mid to late 19th century, although men's clothing of this period can be hard to date precisely and was often worn for many years.
Part of a collection of (word left out) and other material relating to the life of William Henry Blakeley and the Blakeley family donated to Museum Victoria. William Blakeley was the first saw manufacturer in Australia. He was born in England in 1839 and was indentured as a saw maker. In 1867 he set up his own saw shop in Little Bourke Street - soon to become a successful manufacturing business, W.H. Blakeley and Co (which became W.H. and Company Proprietary Limited in 1922), with several locations in inner Melbourne. The Blakeley business has continued into the 21st century. The donor and her sisters are the daughters of William and Annie's son William Gillott Blakeley and his wife Ada Henrietta.
The firm that the Red Hill pioneer started is still going strong. I deliberately have not corrected the mistake near the end. See if you can spot it. I left the next sentence out because the lady writing the family history ran the firm for some time afterwards before retiring.
WH BLAKELEY INDUSTRIAL KNIVES
William Henry Blakeley established his saw and knife manufacturing company in Melbourne in 1867. Born in Sheffield, England, in 1839 he was indentured as a saw maker and 1865 was commissioned to journey to New Zealand to install the then world's longest continuous bandsaw in a mill in in Tairu on Comomandel Peninsula. This installation completed he travelled to Melbourne and worked as a sub-contractor at a large mill on the bank Yarra River where the Arts Centre is now located.
In 1967, he set up his own saw shop in Lt Bourke Street.
In THE RED HILL, Sheila Skidmore wrote that William Henry Blakely had come from Sheffield in England,had made the world's largest bandsaw and taken it to New Zealand where he had stayed for two years to maintain it. This accords with the Industrial Knives website, which brings me to the Dromana Pioneer Pathway. It has a plaque stating WILLIAM HENRY AND MARTHA BLAKELEY 1865. The trouble with family folklore is that facts are there but get tangled up. William Henry Blakeley certainly arrived in 1865- in New Zealand!
When I read the saw maker's death notice and saw that his wife's name was Annie, I thought the plaque had a second error. When I mentioned this to the aforesaid author, she pointed out that Martha had died after bearing four living children and William had remarried in 1886 to Annie who also gave birth to four children who survived. Later I came across Tonkin's F.T.C. journal about the SHACKLOCK family and discovered Annie's maiden name, which tickled my sense of stupidity. Remembering the log cabin (probably built by Edward Barker, who was completely unrelated to the Barkers of Cape Scanck and Boneo and certainly related to William Henry Blakeley) that was moved from the Outlook Paddock to Blakeley's 140 acre block, I penned this product of too many late nights.
While grieving still for Martha
On the seat reserved for Arthur
His hut door slammed-what a shock!
He got himself a shack lock.
CONTINUE-SHEILA'S P.O. DETAILS (INCL. MISSES BAKER) AND RATE INFORMATION (MARSHALL TO WHEELER.)
On page 23 of THE RED HILL, Sheila Skidmore discusses the early days of the settlement's post office. It opened in August 1871 with Alexander Marshall appointed postmaster at 10 pounds per annum. He was succeeded by Charles Davies in 1873. Emma Maloney (see below)was appointed as postmistress in 1876 at 15 pounds per annum. About this time the property was purchased by W.H.Blakeley for his son-in-law George Cousins*. Blakeley extended the buildings to build the present post office and a small store. He also added an oven and bakery which was probably never used.
P.24. Elizabeth Wheeler took over in 1878 and continued until Ethel M.Wheeler took over on 11-11-1925, continuing until 1936.Next to fun the post office was Miss A.Liversidge, followed by F.Molloy in 1954, L.H.Dawson in 1955 and R.Kinder in 1966.
* Rate records lack detail. The two Dromana Hotels, post offices, stores and dwellings at this time were described as "buildings" and in most cases the OWNER column was blank so it could not be determined whether the occupier owned the property or was leasing (and from whom.) William Henry Blakeley was assessed on 173 acres (no buildings)which I believe was Robert Caldwell's grant, crown allotment 10B Kangerong, across Arthurs Seat Rd from the eastern part of Blakeley's 72A Balnarring. This land fronted Sheehans Rd (the original south end of White Hill Rd until Wiseman's Deviation was made)with its northern boundary being Tumbywood Rd,near the post office. There is no proof that the sawmaker had not bought the post office and also no proof that he had.
However, George Cussons was certainly not William's son-in-law in 1876 and for a long time afterwards.
CUSSONS, BLAKELEY -[Silver wedding ] - On the 15th June, 1892, at Methodist Church, Kew, by Rev.J.J.Brown, George F.Cussons, only son of George Cussons, Stockport, England, to Martha, third daughter of W.H.Blakeley,(Redesall", Elphin grove, Glenferrie Melbourne. Present address, Commercial Bank of Aust. Ltd., Wycheproof.
(P.11, Argus, 23-6-1917.)
WILLIAM HENRY BLAKELEY'S LAND.
Any old residents of Red Hill would know exactly where "Blakeley's" was. It was crown allotment 72A in the parish of Balnarring,consisting of exactly 140 acres, and on the eastern corner of Mornington-Flinders and Arthurs Seat Roads,with frontages, respectively, of 921 and 807 metres. This land was granted to R.H.Holding on 20-2-1865. The south west corner is indicated by the F in Melway 190 D5 and the north east corner was just east of the Sheehans Rd corner.
173 ACRE, KANGERONG.
775 ACRES, WANNAEUE (WEST RIDING)
This is the article that I remembered from one or two years ago that I have been trying to find for two weeks. Would you believe that I found it by entering "post mistress, red hill" after wasting hours searching "Red Hill post office", "post mistress, Mahoney", "letter, postmistress", Red Hill,Mahoney" (all in The Argus 1870-1879)? I could not correct the text in trove so I've done it here apart from the postmistress's name.
A respectable-looking married woman named Annie Simpson was charged at the Emerald-hill Police Court on Saturday with unlawfully obtaining by means of false pretences a letter, the property of the Postmaster-General, and addressed to Mrs.Anna Maria Nicholson, Clarke-street, on the 10th December last. It appeared that the letter was written and posted at Red-hill, near Dromana, by Mrs. Mahony (sic), the postmistress, and addressed to " Mrs. Nicholson, Clarke,street, Emerald-hill." It contained 2s 6d worth of postage stamps. The letter-carrier at Emerald-hill called at the house of the prisoner in Clarke-street thinking that Mrs. Nicholson,to whom the letter was addressed, resided there. Mrs. Simpson, in reply to the letter-carrier, said she was Mrs. Nicholson, and took the letter, which, after the postman had left, she opened and read in the presence of a woman named M'Kendrick. She told Mrs M'Kendrick at the time that she took the letter because she knew the handwriting.
Mrs. Mahony and the prisoner were acquainted, and it appeared were not on good terms, and the latter justified her detention of the letter and stamps to Mrs. M'Kendrick by saying that Mrs, Nicholson had had many a pound that she should have had.
Prisoner afterwards returned the letter to the person from whom it had been sent, but without the stamps. The prisoner was arrested on the 23rd inst. at Fitzroy by Detective Lomax, when she admitted having taken the letter. The Bench considered that the prisoner had deliberately imposed upon the postman,and fined her 5 with
10s. costs; or, in default of payment, one month's imprisonment.(P.5, Argus, 29-1-1877.)
on 2013-08-19 12:20:38
Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.