Windsor, Richmond and surrounding Hawkesbury Villages 1871
WINDSOR claims to be one of the oldest towns in Australia, and some of
its venerable buildings appear to justify the assertion. There are upwards
of 2000 inhabitants in the town, or rather borough as it ought now to be
called. The two principal streets run parallel to each other, they are George
and Macquarie streets, and in these the greater part of the business is transacted.
Religion and education are well represented as to buildings ; for I noticed
five churches and about the same number of school-houses.
For many years, in the early days of the colony, Windsor was a most flourishing place :
and the glorious fertility of the soil in the immediate neighbourhood was a source of
almost unlimited wealth; but the floods and rust came, and their consequent miseries
followed, so that the struggle of the surrounding settlers has been very great for
the past ten years. They are now beginning, although but slowly, to raise their heads
again, and it is to be hoped that years will pass away before such another series of
disasters affects them.
To begin with the places of worship : The Church of England is a large brick structure
of considerable antiquity, as colonial antiquity is reckoned. It is by no means an
inelegant structure and has a tower and belfry. The first objects which strike the eye
on entering it are the very beautiful stained glass windows, erected by the Rouse family
and others. They are objects generally admired by all visitors. The Rev. C. F. Garnsey is
The Roman Catholic Church is also of brick, but stuccoed ; the architecture is gothic,
and the shape cruciform. The building is evidently capable of holding a very large
congregation; Dean Hallinan is the resident clergyman.
The Wesleyans are pretty strong in the district, and their church, like all others in
Windsor, is of brick. The Rev. Mr. Brentnall conducts the services.
The newest and prettiest place of worship is the Congregational Church, of which the
Rev. F. H. Browne is the pastor. An ornamental gallery has been lately added to the
structure, it is the work of Mr. Thomasa Collison, of Windsor, and was designed by
Mr. T. Rowe, architect, Sydney.
The Presbyterian Church is really going to decay, and requires renovating. These are
all thc churches, and it will be seen that all the leading denominations are represented.
The pleasure I experience in visiting educational establiaments induced me to have a look
at almost every school in Windsor.
The Public School is a really fine building, and cost nearly 1000. The length of the
principal class-room is 54 feet, by 20 feet wide. It is entered by a castellated porch.
Off this class-room there is another room 15 feet by 15 feet, with a verandah
6 feet wide, to give entrance to an infant's schoolroom 21 feet by 11 feet-making
the school accommodation sufficient for 236 pupils. There is also a teacher's
residence attached, containing four rooms.
The following gentlemen comprise the local board :-Mr. Ascough, J.P., Mr. Beard,
Mr. Dean, Messrs. J. and R. Dick, Mr. J. H. Mills, Mr. Richards, J.P., and
Mr. W. Walker, chairman.
The head-master is Mr. C. Anderson, assisted by Mrs. Anderson ; Miss Thornton
over the infants, and Miss Goldsmith. Two hundred scholars are now on the roll,
and the average attendance is 170.
I was particularly struck on entering with the very attractive look of the rooms,
and the well-dressed appearance, and l was almost going to say polished deportment
of the pupils in attendance.
I was favoured with a general examination of the scholars ; and their proficiency
in arithmetic, grammar (including analysis and parsing) is of the highest order.
Their writing is also very good, and their drawing and scroll-work show that much
attention must have been paid to their instruction in that branch. I might also
state that, in discipline as well as general attainments, it is my opinion that
the school will compare favourably with any in the colony.
The Church of England school has an average attendance of about eighty, there
being 115 on the roll. The teacher is Mr. W. H. Bailey, assisted by Miss Fairland.
The children were tolerably clean and orderly; the copy-books shown us were,
on the whole, well written, and the elementary drawings very fair.
The Roman Catholio school is under the care of Mr. and Mrs. Langton, and had
148 children on the roll, and 110 in attendance. The school-room is well
ventilated, and the children were moderately clean and tidy in appearance.
They were writing and taking drawing lessons from the blackboard on
the occasion of my visit, but my time being limited, I could not examine
very fully their performances.
There is a private school, in a very fine building, the property of Dr. Dowe,
and kept by Mrs. Nealds as a ladies boarding school. This establishment is very
highly-spoken of ; but I had no opportunity of visiting it, and so must refrain
from entering into details.
There is a very substantial bridge crossing the South Creek, called the Fitzroy Bridge,
and just on the western side is the old military barracks, now used as a police station.
The care of the town is in the hands of a jolly good follow, in the person of
Among the relics of the past, or "Macquarie's time," is the Hospital and Benevolent
It is an old building, bearing the inscription "G. R, 1820. L. Macquarie, Esq., Governor."
It appears to have been a faithfully built structure. It is ninety-six feet long,
and twenty-five feet wide, two stories high, and though fifty-one years have
elapsed since it was erected, it is still in good condition. Mr. T. Paul is the
superintendent; There were forty-seven patients or infirm inmates at the time of
Another ancient building is the old Government House. It is in a most
dilapidated condition, and the premises appear to be in the last stages of
ruin and decay.
The next place pointed out to me was a large pile of buildings in which half
the ale drunk in the country was once manufactured. It is known as Cadell's brewery,
and the demand twenty-five or thirty years ago was very expansive ; but the plant
and machinery are now lying idle, except that the engine pumps up water for
the supply of the town.
There was one flour mill at work ; it is known as the "Old Endeavour," and was
built many years ago by Mr. Teale, and is now in the hands of an old resident,
Mr.Hoskisson, more generally and kindly known as old grandfather."
The School of Arts and library (of 700 volumes), are located in a very nice
looking building, and I believe the institution is popular.
The branch Bank of New South Wales (N. Nugent,Esq., manager) is the only institution
of the kind in Windsor. Mr. James Dick is post and telegraph master.
In private residences, I noticed that of B. Richards, Esq.,J.P., which looks
very attractive amidst the trees; that of Richard Ridge, Esq., J.P., also a
very neat structure ; and in the distance, the residence of Mr, Tebbutt, the
well-known astronomer, who has an observatory attached,
I might add, to the benefit and honour of the colony. I regret that I had no
opportunity of visiting so interesting a place.
There are some good hotels in Windsor, and the principal are Holmes's Fitzroy,
Harris's Commercial, and Bushell's Sir John Young.
In general stores, Messrs. R. Dick, Robinson and Grenwell, Moses, Beard, Dawson,
Dean, and Jones take the lead.
I was much surprised on visiting Mr. J. H. Mills's boot store, to find all the
machinery and appliances of a first-class boot factory. Mr. Lane also does a
good boot trade.
I must wind up this short sketch with a notice of two grievances of the town.
The first is the crying want of a bridge over the Hawkesbury. Many efforts
have been made to remedy this defect, but without success as yet ; and the punt,
and a boat, when in repair (the Latter is now lying bottom
out on the sand), conveys passengers and produce across.
The second complaint is the state of the streets, which are almost impassable
in wet weather, and the side streets so neglected that a good crop of grass is
growing in the middle of them.
The municipal council just formed will find more than they can well do for
some time to come in dealing with these matters.
Forgive ! I have been ungallant enough to have left to the last the most
important and pleasurable portion of my information-viz , that I noticed many
very pretty, nay, beautiful, young ladies in the good old town of Windsor.
In this the inhabitants have something at all events to boast of.
Richmond is a small, though attractive-looking little township, containing
about 1000 inhabitants.
It is four miles from Windsor, and by train thirty eight miles from Sydney.
Many of the buildings are old, although in good repair ; and there are a few
There are three principal streets, but most business is transacted in that known
as the Windsor road.
Among the institutions they have three or four schools, four churches, a school
of arts and library, a mutual improvement society, a volunteer company,
a cricket club, and last, though not least, a bank (branch Bank of New South Wales,
C. Hole, Esq , manager).
There is no court-house, and but two policeman stationed in the town,
senior-constable Tiernan being in charge.
The Public School is a compact and neat structure of the gothic style of architecture.
It is of brick with slated roof, and has recently received additions
costing 240, making it now about fifty-four feet long and twenty feet broad,
besides an infant class-room eighteen feet by fourteen. The number of pupils on
the roll is 120, with an average daily attendance of 100.
The head master is Mr. W. H. Wilson, assisted by Miss Brown and Miss Douglas,
the former in charge of the infants, and the latter a pupil teacher.
I have had occasion to visit this school before, and the examination the
children underwent during my visit only confirmed my opinion that
it is one of the best conducted in the colony. The children presented a
clean and pleasing appearance, and were remarkably well behaved-the
discipline being excellent.
The pupils evidenced considerable proficiency in reading, parsing, and analysis,
and the copy-books shown were neat and clean. Several of the elder pupils
exhibited remarkable skill in landscape drawing and scroll-work. Several songs
were sung by the children with a sweetness of expression and harmony of
voice gratifying to the ear.
Without doubt the Richmond public school is a credit to the town.
From the Public School I proceeded to the Church of England Denominational school,
which is held in an upstairs room of a brick structure, built, I am informed,
fifty years ago.
The room is much too small, besides being otherwise quite unsuitable, and
the furniture is bad.
There were seventy-four children in attendance. The discipline and method of
instruction were as good as could be expected under the circumstances.
The odour from dinner, rising from the rooms beneath, prevailed, while an
examination in arithmetic and geography was going on, in which latter moderate
attainments were manifested. The dictation was indifferent, but the
writing very fair. In simple justice I may state that the present master,
Mr. C. M. Chapman had only been a few days in charge of the school.
The Roman Catholic school is held in a small brick building, and is conducted
by Miss. Purcell and her sister, who have had charge for over six years.
The children to the number of forty in attendance are mostly very young.
They seemed to be well conducted and orderly during my short stay.
The girls were doing some plain and some fancy work in wool, such as belts,
slippers, &c, in a very creditable manner.
The Church of England congregation, under the pastorship of a venerable
clergyman the Rev. J. Elder is a fine large brick building at the west
end of the town.
The Presbyterian Church is nearly opposite the public school, and is a neat
stone structure. The Rev. Mr. Cameron officiates.
The Wesleyan Church is in Windsor-road, built of brick in a plain manner,
and is almost concealed by trees. A minister from Windsor conducts service
in the Wesleyan Church; and in the Roman Catholic Church a very small building,
Dean Hallinan officiates.
Opposite the Church of England is the Richmond cemetery, containing many
beautiful monuments of departed members of the leading families, such as
the Bowmans, Coxs, Towns, Bensons, Rouses, Pitts, &c.
In private residences, that of Mr. William Bowman, near the railway station,
is worthy of more than a passing notice. It is a splendid structure,
surrounded by fine trees. The residence of his brother. Mr. George Bowman
(the Peabody of Richmond), is on the opposite side of the street,
lower down, and though not so fine, has an air of comfort, and, if I
may use the term, countenence, very pleasing to look at.
The residences of Mr. Andrew Town, Mrs. Benson, and Mr. Onus are also worthy
The volunteer rifle corps, under the command of Captain Holborow, now
numbers fifty-eight members. There are some crack shots among them,
and it is made a boast that the Richmond rifles have never yet been beaten
in any of the numerous contests they have been engaged in.
Among the Richmond cricketers there are many good bats, but they have
not done much this season.
In hotels, the principal are Mrs. Seymour's Black Horse, Reid's Royal,
Eather'a Union Inn, and Bate's Old House at Home.
The principal stores are Holborow's, King's, Ducker's, Harris's,
Turner's, and Price's (chemist) ;
and among the saddlers. Mr. G. Mills does a good business.
There is a fine park, six acres in extent, in the centre of the town,
around which are planted some fine trees, which will afford shade to the
inhabitants in a few years,
I may take the liberty of adding, that the Richmondites are an exceedingly
social and hospitable people. As in most small towns, there are, of course,
occasionally local jealousies and heart-burnings which, though often arising
from over zeal, occasionally prevent good being done.
The great drawback of Richmond, like Windsor, is the want of a bridge over
The method of crossing at present is very novel half punt and half bridge,
one half of the latter having been washed away some time since.
For days and days together traffic is entirely suspended, causing serious
inconvenience to the inhabitants across the river.
Petitions have been repeatedly sent in without avail. It is to be hoped
that the matter will no longer be allowed to rest in abeyance.
THE HAWKESBURY VILLAGES.
Leaving Windsor I crossed the Hawkesbury by old punt, which was, as usual,
The afternoon being fine, and the road good, I cantered pleasantly along
past farm-houses and corn-fields. The side-fences were in places covered
with monthly-roses and sweet-briars, giving a pleasing appearance to the road.
At the end of four miles I came to the little village of Wilberforce,
containing about one hundred houses, two churches, one school-house,
a store and post-office, and a solitary policeman.
Wilberforce is a very old place, and, I believe I am correct in stating,
that so far back as the time of Governor King that is about the commencement
of the present century two-acre grants of land were given in the village
to the settlers who wished to avoid the floods. The Church of
England is a nice stone building on the brow of the hill, and is under
the care of an energetic pastor, the Rev. W. Wood. At the service, which I
attended, I was very much pleased with the singing of the choir, assisted by
a well-toned' harmonium, the gift of Mrs. Burdekin.
The Church of England schoolhouse is a brick building, and has an attendance
of about sixty, the number on the roll being seventy four. Mr. J. F. Nash,
assisted by Mm. Nash, are in charge.
The children presented in clean appearance, and tolerable discipline was maintained.
The copy-books exhibited were creditably written, and the whole were neat and clean.
The singing of the children was really good, showing that much pains were taken with them.
The aspect of the village is very pleasing. To almost every house in the
village a garden is attached, and some of them are nicely kept. There is a
vast common, 6,000 acres in extent, adjoining the township, for the use of
the farmers, and it is well supplied with timber.
A canter of a couple of miles further along a capital road, or I should rather
be inclined to call it an avenue (the country in most places resembling a park),
brought me to the country residence of Mrs. Burdekin, called Stonehouse. It is
an elegant structure, and has a tower at one end. The grounds comprise about
400 acres, having a frontage of nearly half-a-mile to the noble and
winding Hawkesbury. The house is about 300 yards from the river. A large
flower-garden, luxuriant with-camellias, chrysanthemums, and other choice
flowers surrounds the house ; and among the trees I noticed a large and
flourishing Spanish chestnut. A hedge of the Osage orange is in course of
formation, and promises great things. The view from the verandah of Stonehouse
is one of the finest on the river, embracing miles of country on three sides,
including views of Windsor and Pitt Town. Thousands upon thousands of bushels
of corn were growing within sight, and hopes were entertained that the
weather would keep up a few weeks longer to give the struggling farmers an
opportunity of getting in this season's harvest.
One acquainted with the district could not help recalling to mind the fact
that the whole of the country on which the eye was then resting had been
the scene of direful floods, which had brought ruin to many a home ;
and that for the past ten years scarcely a full crop had been obtained.
Without repeating an oft-told story, it must strike one as extraordinary
that the affection of the people for their dear old homes acts so powerfully
as an incentive to their remaining that they again begin to cultivate so
soon as the waters subside.
It speaks volumes in favour of the large number of poor farmers on the river,
that, not withstanding their privations and their sufferings, not a single act
of dishonesty can be laid to their charge.
It is but seldom that the Windsor court is troubled with their presence, at
least so far as relates to criminal matters.
On the day after my arrival at Mrs. Burdekin's, I accompanied Mr. Marshall Burdekin
down the river to Ebenezer, &c., about four miles from Wilberforce.
The reason for giving a name so strange to such a place I could not ascertain.
The village has a stone building used as a Presbyterian Church and schoolhouse.
The Rev. Mr. Moore conducts service ; and a teacher of some ability, Mr. M'Fetridge,
has charge of the school, numbering thirty-five pupils. A good view of the
river was obtained a little lower down, and I was pointed out the ruins of
an old mill on the opposite side ; and on the Ebenezer side the well-kept farms
of Messrs. Cross and Davidson.
Sackville Reach is about three miles from Ebenezer, and contains a pretty
little Church of England, in which the Rev. W. Wood officiates ; and a
schoolhouse. Mr. Chatterton being the teacher.
The Wesleyans have also a church on the opposite side. All these are attended
and supported by the farmers in the vicinity.
On my return I passed by Pitt Town, in place of going through Wilberforce,
crossing at the punt lower down. Pitt Town may be described as a village, of one
long street or lane, and to nearly all the houses are attached small farms.
The first place pointed out to me was the residence of Mr. Chaseling, who may
be remembered for the active measures he adopts and the risk he runs in
saving life and property during flood-times. We rode past many pretty
homesteads and cottages, also a few orangeries as we continued.
The Church of England in Pitt Town is of stone, and at the one side is
the residence of the incumbent, the Rev. W. Wood ; and at the other, the
brick schoolhouse, which has an average attendance of about
sixty pupils; Mr. Lambert is the head-master.
The Presbyterian Church on the opposite side is constructed of stone,
and is a neat building. The Rev. W. Moore conducts the services.
"The Maid of Australia" was the title given to the only inn I could see
in Pitt Town.
After leaving the village, the residences of Mr. McDonald and Mrs. Sewell,
and the Killarney Racecourse were pointed out, along the good road and charming
scenery which led back to Windsor.
April 18 1871
(Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875)
Tuesday 9 May 1871
Transcription, janilye 2014
Australia’s oldest church, est. 1809 at Ebenezer, NSW
Was the first non-conformist then Presbyterian Church in Australia, amd a
pioneer in education in the colony, beginning a school in 1810.
he church is the oldest extant school building in Australia.
The boys are with the Rural Camp School.
Photograph taken in 1909