The story of Narrogin in
Extract from the Narrogin Review published in 1936.
I have made every effort to be as accurate as possible. If you find any errors, please
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In the early sixties the
district surrounding Narrogin was practically unknown - except to a few
shepherds who occasionally
visited its more favored spots whilst tending small flocks of sheep
owned by the late Mr. W Shaddick, of Mourambine, near
Pingelly. It was at this distant period that the late Charles
Quartermaine, of Wagin, selected the first block of land, comprising
100 acres, situated about 1= miles distant, on the Yilliminning Road.
He was followed in 1876 by the late John Dodd, who selected a small
block on the Cuballing Road which is now the property of Mr. Jas.
Callan. Here Mr. Dodd planted a vineyard and subsequently established a
Statewide record as a maker of wine, which by virtue of its potency,
left lingering memories with all who drank it. Dodd eventually moved to
a fresh domicile, which stood near the foot of the present overhead
railway bridge, and later died at an advanced age about 20 years ago.
The balance of the surrounding country at this time—1876—
was held by Mr. Shaddick under pastoral lease. With the exception of
the aborigines it was practically unknown and in an entirely virgin
state. Prompted by instinct, Mr. Shaddick eventually concluded that
such a well-watered, picturesque locality was certain to attract
settlement sooner or later, and he therefore selected 100 acres of the
land on which Narrogin is built to-day. No doubt he was influenced in
his enterprise by the fact that the aborigines had established a
permanent home on the banks of the brook which at that time must have
presented a scene of sylvian beauty. Due to the plentiful supply of
water in this brook, the locality was given the native name of
"Gnargajin" (the place of water); an appelation which was later on
converted by the whites into the more euphonious title of "Narrogin."
We now approach a period
which foreshadowed vital changes in the surroundings of the hitherto
peaceful abode of the natives. The Great Southern Land Company, after
lengthy negotiation with the then-government, had secured an enormous
land concession in return for the building of a railway between Albany
and Beveley. It was decided to hasten the work of construction by
working from both ends of the line and this decision may be said to
have brought about the building of a town in this locality. It happened
in this manner. Mr Michael Brown, then farming a few miles out of
Wandering, was fairly familiar with the country hereabouts owing to its
excellent supplies of sandalwood and he foresaw the difficulties of the
engineers in respect of the construction work on the north end of the
line as compared with the easier gradients on the southern extremity.
This, he concluded, would result in both sections of the newly
constructed line meeting somewhere in this vicinity: and consequently
there was a good opportunity to establish a wayside hotel, which would
serve the requirements of the men. He immediately decided to put this
theory to the test by removing from Wandering to a block of 200 acres
which he secured alongside that owned by Mr. Dodd. Here he erected his
hotel in 1888—the first by the way to be established on the Great
Southern railway. The building is still standing on the other side of
the Municipal Sale yards and although much dilapidated is an object of
traditional interest to the older hands who are still living. It served
its purpose until the railway was completed and the tumult and shouting
of boisterous spirits had faded into the atmosphere of a silence which
was only punctuated at intervals by the shrill whistle of an
approaching engine. Soon after the Land Company decided that the
railway Station which had been established should be supported by a
township and accordingly decided to have the surrounding area surveyed
into suitable blocks. This survey was subsequently carried out by Mr.
Newton Moore later Sir Newton Moore and Premier of the State. Mr. Brown
was quick to take advantage of the opportunity to get in closer to the
railway station with the result that he secured the commanding site on
which the Hordern Hotel now stands. Added to this he also strengthened
his position for the future by buying a number of other blocks in the
vicinity. It may be stated that the late Anthony Hordern was the
contractor for the railway and it was after him that the hotel received
its name. Having established himself firmly, Mr. Brown proceeded to
attract as many people as he could to the new townsite, claiming that
it was destined to eventually become of considerable size and
influence. He lived long enough to see this belief crystallised into
fact, although at the time there was very little to justify his
optimism. Gradually the new centre began to enlarge with the addition
of buildings. The first store was erected by the late F. & C.
Piesse. who were then engaged in business at the Williams. This
occupied a site opposite the present railway station and had been
previously in use as a public hall at Williams. The manager was a Mr.
Morley. Subsequently the store was taken over by the late J. T. W.
Chipper, who later on moved into a brick building, since converted into
the huge establishment of Mannings. With the erection of a store, a
police officer (Constable Dellar), arrived and took up his abode in a
small batt building, now occupied by Mr. Tyers, the baker. There was no
lock-up and prisoners were subjected to the indignity of being chained
to a tree at the rear of the premises. The next arrival was the late
Alfred Larwood, whose abode was the batt premises at the rear of the
Duke of York Hotel now partly occupied by Mr. Colgin. Then followed a
black smith (Mr. Vagg), and a schoolmaster (Mr Carruthers) The first
school was opened in the small stone residence now standing alongside
Mr. Powell's garage and opposite Millars. This was erected by Mr. M.
Brown for the purpose and served until a larger building was provided
by the Government. This in turn was found too small for the growing
number of children and became the Court House, after the present State
School was built on Williams Road. Later the Court was removed to the
Agricultural Hall, where it still functions whilst the vacated premises
were given over to the Agricultural Bank authorities. This, of course,
is by the way.
At that period. interest in
town building was overshadowed by the glowing accounts of gold
discoveries and consequently there were very few if any who showed
anxiety as to the future development of the new town. Even Mr. Brown
himself had been attracted to the fields where he spent a number of
years in profitable business before returning to his home. From 1895
onwards interest was re-awakened by the periodical arrival of new
settlers, the majority of whom had left the uncongenial surroundings of
the goldfields to go on the land. These were followed by many others
after the year 1900, but in the meantime the then older settlers with
the strong support of the newcomers had developed Narrogin into a
self-supporting centre of some importance.
These older settlers were men
of definite character and the majority of them played a fairly active
part in the public affairs of the town and district which warrants the
inclusion of their names in this Review. They were:
J. Stephens (first settler in
district). J Barron Senr and son, E. L. Smith, J R Potts, Jesse Martin,
Joe White, Arthur Hammersley, Dr Roughan (First medical officer), J T.
Chipper, A. J Holdaway, J Fitt, J. Bushby, W Grout, A. McCrackan, GSF
Cowcher (first member for district ), R. Snow, T & WO O'Rourke, F W
Hardy, R Glasson, FC Fairhead, J Grainger, W Downs, M Quinn, J Giles, M
Brown, Dodd and others whose names are not readily available. These men
readily supported every public and private undertaking which was
considered beneficial to the town and district and were ably backed up
by the first newcomers, notably:- W Graham Snr., WL Graham, WH Ingram,
J Hollis, J Ashby, WF Wiese, EG Wiese, E Wiese, G Gould Senr., AH
Trefort, R John, McQueen Bros,. A Armstrong, J McCarthy, FW Rose, HJ
McDougal, Lange Senr and sons, W Lovelock, RV Uren, Rev W Kennedy
(first secretary, Progress Assoc), JE Clayton, H Rintoul, J Barley,
Davey Bros., Geo Gould, Jnr (first carrier), Rev Horsey, AE Robinson, W
Montgomery and Nock Drown (1st and 2nd SMs), Charlie Street, G Cornish
(1s PM), P Turvey, E Hart, J Fyfe, Percy Wickens (first manager
experimental farm), N Bushalla, TP O'Connor.
Whilst the earlier settlers
had marked out the plan of Narrogin's future, it is doubtful whether
they would have been wholly capable of bringing about its subsequent
remarkable development from the year 1900 onwards without the
assistance of numerous other men who arrived a few years later. From
1895 to 1900, there had been a slight advance in settlement with
corresponding improvements to the little town. An Agricultural Hall was
built, another hotel, the 'Duke of York came into being and sundry
small and unpretentious residences dotted the surroundings. There was
very little movement of a commercial or industrial nature to warrant
increase in the population, other than a certain degree of activity in
relation to mallet bark stripping which afforded a fair amount of
employment; and had it not been for the boom in land settlement which
ensued with the taking over of the railway from the Land Corporation by
the Government, it is certain that the future progress of this centre
would still have remained uncertain. However the Government of the time
had risen to the spirit of the moment with the result that land was
made available for the eager seekers who were then turning away from
the Goldfields in large numbers. It is to the credit of the older
settlers that they actively supported the Government in its land
devdopment policy and otherwise helped to bring new settlers into the
district. At that time there was a very virile organsation operating in
Narrogin known as 'The Agricultural Alliance" and, as the outcome of
its efforts, the town and district derived many advantages. It
eventually merged into the Agricultural Society and as such was
responsible for the erection of the old Agrcultural Hall, the
constructon of the Collie—Narrogin Railway, the Experimental Farm
(now School of Agriculturc) and many other public utilities prior to
the advent of a veritable legion of newcomers in the years 1903-4-5. No
hstorical record of the town and district's progress would be complete
without its measure of praise for these stalwarts who "blazed the
track." The work of these men will ever stand as a monument to their
energy, stamping them as worthy progenitors of the strong public spirit
which animated the following who arrived about this time: —-
ANDREWS W. F.—First Solicitor—Ex__Mayor. _
ALDOM . J.—Early Resident
BRADFORD, D.—Now President Agricultural Society.
BRAND~Builder and Contractor.
BROWN J. H.—Builder and Contractor.
BALDWIN B—Builder and Contractor.
BRUSASCHI P—Early Settler.
THE BLIGHTS.—Early Settlers.
BUTTLER, F.J —First Jeweller—Ex Councillor
BUXTON, F—Early Settler—Now Proprietor Amusu Pictures.
BAIRD. W.—First Principal School of Agriculture.
BOOTHEYS.— Early Settlers
BACON. H. Scnr. & Sons, H & F.—Early Settlers.
BROOKS, A—Early Settler.
BEDWELL. A~EarIy Settler.
BEYNON, W —Early Sett'er.
CARNELL F C - Early Settler
CARMODY J. and A—Early Settlers.
CULLEN, L. M.—Ex Councillor,
CANDY. F—Early Settler
CONNOR S - First Manager Flour Mill - Now General Manager
COWCHER G S F - First Member for District
DEVINE J - Early Settler
DUNN C - Early Settler
DONNELLY W - Early resident
ENGLISH. W.—Early Settler and Land Guide.
EDWARDS, R.—First Secretary Road Board.
FARRELL. H. - Early Settler
FALKINER, F. - Builder and Contractor.
FARRELLY, T.- Second Saddler.
FINNIGAN, Harry—Early Grower of Grasses.
GILLETT - First Rector Church of England.
HOWELL, E.—First Chemist.
HORSEY, Rev—First Baptist Minister.
HALL, E. S.—Ex Councillor, Ex Mayor.
HOSKING, F.- First Manager National Bank.
HARDACRE, T.~Assistant Surveyor—Now Settler.
HAWKSLEY BROS.—Early Settlers.
HILDER, L. J,—Early Settler.
HOLMES, Senr.—'EarIy Settler.
HENDERSON & RETALLICK—First Brickmakers.
HART. Eli.—Early Settler.
HOYLE, F.—Early Settler.
HOLMES & SONS.~, Fred, Walter and Cecil—Early Settlers.
HAMON, Captain and SONS—Early Settlers.
ISBISTER Bros.—Early Settlers.
JAMES, J. J.—Ex Councillor - Ex Mayor and Present Mayor.
JOHNS W. L.—First Town Clerk.
JOHNSTON, E. B.—First Government Land Agent—Second Member for District—Now Senator.
JOB, Bert.—Early Settler.
KEALLEY, Stan—Ex Counclllor—Now in Business at Willams.
KELLIHER BROS., W. and D.—Early Blacksmiths—Later Settlers at Noman's Lake.
KING, E.—Early Settler.
KELLY, M.—Early Settler.
KILPATRICK. J. Early Settler.
KEMP. V.—Foreman Municipal Council.
KILPATRICK, B.—Early Settler—Present Chairman Road Board.
LAVATER, G. G.—Ex Councilor—First Architect—Later Secretary Road Board.
LEWIS, J. B., Dr.—First Resident Magistrate—Medical Officer.
LEE, Harry—Early Settler and Orchardist.
THE LEES.—Early Settlers.
MODRA, E.—Early Settler.
MOSS. W. E. C.—Surveyor—First Mayor of Narrogin.
THE MENZIES.—Early Settlers.
McKINNELL, F.—First Auctioneer.
McGRATH, T. J.—First Manager W.A. Bank (now Bank of N.S.W.)
McBEATH, Jas.—Early Settler.
McLACHLAN. J. H.—First Manager of Union Bank.
McGAY, R.—Early Resident.
McGAY. Bruce.—Early Resident.
MARSH, H.—One of First Councillors—Present Councillor—Builder and- Contractor
MARSHALL, W. P.—Early Settler.
MEERS, Dave.—Early Resident.
NORTHWOOD, F.J - One of First Councillors.
NICHOLLS BROS.—Early Settlers.
NAPTHINE, C.—First Saddler.
OLDEN, A. C. N.—First Dentist—Ex Councillor—Later Colonel 10th Light Horse.
OXMAN, Alf—Early Resident.
O'ROURKE S.—Early Settlers.
PAULEY, T.—Early Settler.
PHELAN, Father—First RC. Priest in Nariogin.
PLANT, A. E.—Early Settler.
PETHYBRIDGE, J—Early Settler.
POTTLE, W.—Early Resident—First Painter.
PRICE. A. A—Early Settler.
PAYNTER,—J. Early Resident.
PUSTKUCHEN Family—Early Residents.
QUIRK.—Manager of Millars.
REWELL, A.—First Butcher.
ROUGHAN, Dr.—First Medical Officer
READ. M. L.—Early Settler.
ROWE, H—Early Settler.
RUBIE. E.—Early Resident.
RABBISH. W. 1.—Early Settler.
RICHARDSON, Geo.—Early Settler.
STONE, Ralph—Ex Councillor——Clothier.
SCOTT, D. C.—Ex Mayor—Early Solicitor.
SHILLING, J. H.—Early Resdent—Shop-keeper.
SMALLEY & GILHOOLEY—First Newspaper "The Advocate."
TOWNSEND. E—Early Resident—Ex Councillor.
TAYLOR BROS., H. M. and J.—Early Settler
WHITE, Barney and Mick.
WHITFORD & SONS, Harold and Lewis
WILSON. Geo—Early Resident.
WATTS F.-—Ex Councillor.
THE WARRENS.—Early Settlers.
WALD, F. W.—Ex Councillor.
WEDD, P—Early Resittent.
Still later these men were
followed by others who also demonstrated their abilities and skill in
town building, notably:- G May, J. P. Myers, J. A. Greig, Dr. D.W.H.
Mackie, W Mickle, G. F. Parsons, A P McCormick, W. H Skewes, Gottsch
Bros., T. Hogg, W. Clarke, M. Fox, C D Mitchell, T Brett, Hallett and
Glyde, T. and A Hardie, E Hennig. W. Hughes, E. P. Illingworth. H. Job,
Hislop, P. McCrostie, F. W. Bird, J.R. Ashworth, A. R Barratt (sic), J.
B. Higham, E. and I .Jenkins, S. Warne, N R Anderson, C. H, Hoffman,
H.C. Burkitt, J. Spouse M. Culleton, Bert Wharton. J. McGuire.
In 1905, Narrogin was a very
small place and it might be of interest to briefly comment on its
standing so far as buildings were concerned. The railway station stood
at the lower end of Fortune Street with a wide approach, since given
over to park purposes. Chipper's old store was then used as a dwelling,
the new store being on the corner of Fortune and Federal. Streets. The
corner now occupied by the A. M. P. was used as a fowl yard. The
Hordern was a one-storied building with the yard running to Federal
Street. Several small stone shops, still in existence, carried down to
the Road Board block on which there was a small stone office. On the
west side was the Agricultural Hall, a store, later occupied by Mr. J.
H. Shilling; a butcher's shop carried on by a Mr. Rewell; a baker's
shop and a newsagency carried on by a Mr. Newton; another shop, used
temporarily by the Union Bank, and a saddlery carried on by Mr.
Farrelly, who had a farm on the Cuballing road. Then came Bushalla's
store and Cornwall's Store with vacant land on the corne. The Duke of
York was a wooden one-storied building with a batt house at rear.
Further down was TP.O'Connor's smithy and the first school house. J.
Clayton and H. Rintoul had a livery and bait stables (still standing)
and Mr. Clayton lived in a small house close by, which is also still
intact. Their chaff house was the first office of the "Narrogin
Observer." Beyond was the Show ground and a few scattered, abodes. In
Fortune Street, the present Town Hall site was vacant wth a few
ramshackle shops further up. Then came a small 10 x 12 brick building
— the first Natonal Bank, the Post Office (now used by the
District Inspector), a few more wooden shops belonging to the Trading
and Agency Co., the Baptist Church, and two small batt buildings, one
on either (side) of the street. The present Police Station had just
been erected and was then also in use as a Court House. The school was
on the corner of Earl and Egerton Streets; across the road was F.
McKinnell, the Auctioneer, in the building now used by Mr. H. Marsh.
Then came a number of new shops, with the Land's Office still, as at
present, and the W. A. Bank. On the opposite side of the railway was
the Cornwall Hotel, Methodist Church, the residence of Mr. J. Dodd, the
office the first newspaper "The Advocate," run by Smalley and Gilhooley
(later burned to the ground). and a few residences nestling amidst the
dense scrub. There were several houses south of the town, whch at the
time were regarded with distinct favour; several others clustered
around the hill in the centre of yhe town including the Church of
England. Beyond Earl Street was the new school in building. but
otherwise the surrounding area was a dense scrub, penetrating to the
Williams road which, like other arterial communications with outlying
dstricts was very little better than an axe track. And so, briefly, did
the newecomers, round about 1903-4-5, find Narrogin. What they
subsequently did with it and for it is a story of its own which would.
require some telling, but in a Review of this nature it is unnecessary
to do more than skim the surface of the past, leaving it to some other
and more favourable opportunity to go deeper. Suffice to say thay the
period of activity and enterprise which ensued from that time and
continued for many years afterwards was fraught with the most momentous
consequences to the future of the town—not forgetting the fact
that in the work of their accomplishment, the atmosphere was
continually surcharged with the spirit of intense competition which
resulted in a perfect crescendo of fortissimo effort. It was a bare
knuckle Contest in which no apologies were solicited. Each man had a
mission of his own to fulfil in a field which was entirely favourable,
provided he could stay the distance: and back of it all was the
objective of making Narrogin a monument to his own individual skill and
enterprise. Under such conditions it was only reasonable to expect
continued progress, but it went beyond that in an achievement of town
buildings such as few, if any, localites had ever previously
The evidence of this is all
around us, mutely testifying to the superhuman efforts of the past
generation, whilst pointing out the way to those who are now called
upon to take up the responsibility of maintaining the town and
district's prestige. The call, no doubt, will be accepted. The spirit
of enterprise is still abroad and the community is obviously dominated
by a wish to do better things. Surrounded by the environment of a true
democracy the town has, figuratively speaking, reached a vigorous
manhood. Its people see before them the bright vista of a future
entwined with happy associations in which all shall join with the
object of still further uplifting the town until it will have reached a
position of the highest importance, inviting others of lesser degree to
bask in the shadow of its greatness, whilst benignly investing them
with its social, commercial, and political influence. Such a spirit has
been engendered in the breasts of the living present by the example so
gloriously set by those 'who laid the foundation of the splendid
edifice of the district's prosperity. The residents of to-day would be
recreant to the faith which animated these earlier pioneers were they
to deny the responsibilities or the trust so worthily laid down on
their behalf, and it is to some extent as an imprimatur of their will
to carry on the policy of the past that this Review is being issued.
"The Pride of work is theirs, the pride and lure of it,
The thing done well, so well that all stands fast;
The seeing what is far, the making sure of it,
The future conquered through a conquered past."
[In compiling the above, every effort has been made to render
it substantially correct within the limited time available for
examinaton of past records. In any case, it is to be regarded
merely as a cursory survey of the surface conditions which
prevailed during the period under review; written with the main
object of showing the tangible results of a fine co~operatve