Saturday, 1 December 2012

A town named Hamley Bridge - part 2

This is an article that I wrote for the Adelaide and Districts Family History Group's magazine, Compass in 2012.   read part 1 here

he story of Hamley Bridge continues in this edition with the subject being the town and it’s industrious residents. This town was not only a railway town and farming district, but was also known for it’s various other industries.

Mr J G Traeger

Mr Traeger’s Stump-Jump Plough Cultivator
Source -  Trove
Mr Johann Gottlieb Traeger was one of the most successful businessmen in his time. He started off with a blacksmith shop and expanded it into several industries on his site in Gilbert Street. There was a cool drink factory, implement factory, wheel wright & trolley builders, chaff mill and an electricity station. It was a hive of activity in it’s heyday with just over 40 workmen, working in shifts. The town profited much by his activities. His implement factory was very well known in the north as he manufactured the very latest in agricultural implements, the most recognised being the 5 furrow stump-jump plough and an adjustable stump-jump cultivator. Many prizes were won for his plough and it gained distinction in field trials. Mr Traeger had a motto at his factory it was ‘introduce the best article at the lowest price’.

The cordial factory produced many types of drink, some being, Kola Beer, Creaming Soda, Ginger Beer, American Cream Strawberry, Orange Champagne, Orange Kraze, Raspberry Cream Soda, Fruity Lemonade. I have heard many stories from the ‘older’ residents, mostly the men, on how they used to sneak out to the back of the factory where the bottles were held, smash them to get the marbles out, then run for their lives! The marbles were an important part of the bottle as they kept the gases in. I have not seen a fully intact bottle in real life, but have seen some on the internet.

  Cordial labels
Source - My collection

Hamley Bridge was one of the first country towns in South Australia to enjoy the convenience of the electric light, thanks to Mr Traeger. On the 14th June 1913 the electric light was introduced with a ceremony to ‘turn on’ the electric light on July 25th. Mr J T Quinn the former chairman of the Alma Plains District Council had the duty of switching on the lights. After a few words of praise to Mr J G Traeger for his enterprise in installing the new light, he switched the current and the streets and buildings at Mr Traeger’s foundry were brilliantly lit up. The front of the paint shop which was used as the banquet room for the occasion, was a ‘festoon’ of incandescent lamps.

Mr J G Traeger’s complex
Source – My collection
The electrical department of the Australasian Implement Company, under the guidance of Mr C E Vormeister designed and carried out the work. It was run by a Hornsby 50 brake horsepower engine (gas suction type), which drove a Cromnton direct current dynamo at a pressure of 250 volts. The distribution cables arc on the two wire system, carried on poles, a third wire being to run to control the street lighting. The initial street lighting consisted of nine 50 candlepower lamps. The installation of the plant was done in record time, it was only three weeks from when the order was given, to the opening ceremony. Mr Traeger provided the council with the light and then the council supplied the people. During the beginning of the Depression years, Mr Traeger spend a huge amount of money buying a new generator for his electricity plant, I think this was a Black Stone Caude Oil Engine, but not long after it’s arrival, the state government centralised all the states’ power and sadly Mr Traegers business struggled. It finally took it’s toll and the businesses and closed sometime around the 1940’s .

The Hamley Bridge Flour Mill

Deland and Black Flour Mill circa 1904
Source – Trove

The Hamley Bridge flour mill was built around 1879 and was fitted with the most up-to-date machinery. The original proprietors were Messrs B E Deland & J Black, they commenced their partnership in 1881, this continued until the death of Mr. Deland in 1906. It was one of the largest buildings in Hamley Bridge and was built along the railway line across from the Railway Station it had a large shed adjoining the the main building that housed the thousands of bags of wheat and flour. The mill was first worked on a small scale using the stone system but with the rapid increase in business this method became obsolete. It was then converted into a roller mill using the most up-to-date principals. Joseph Black erected a suction gas engine of 60 horsepower to help to cope with the increase in trade. 

Source – My collection
They also owned a mill in Blyth, but after Mr Delands death these were split up, Mr Delands family took over the Blyth mill and Mr Black taking over the Hamley Bridge mill. There were many times in is existence that the mill was forced to close down for one reason or another, on one occasion it was closed for 3 years.

The mill was eventually sold to J H Robins & sons and after many renovations they re-opened in mid 1945. It closed down in the 1970’s.

Circa 1909
Source – My collection
The Brick Kiln

The Brick Stack and surrounding rubble are Heritage Listed and are a significant industrial archaeological site. This is one of only a few remaining brick kiln relics in the Region. The brick kiln was established on the bank of the River light by H.J. Charlton and Co. in 1877, it was taken over by a prominent businessman John T Quinn, who ‘literally built early Hamley Bridge’. In 1910 Mr Quinn built a new dome brick kiln, in which 30,000 bricks can be burnt at once. In 1916 the brick-kiln was bought out by W. H. Durdin who operated the kiln until it was closed down in 1938. The clay deposits were limited and a small number of sand stock bricks were fired in a single down-draught kiln. The bricks were used in the construction of a large number of buildings in the town and surrounding districts.

Chaff Mills

Haystack circa unknown
Source – My collection
Hamley Bridge had three chaff mills, sending products throughout South Australia and the Eastern States. Pioneers in this field were Messrs John Ridgeway and Edmund Ayliffe. Traegers operated one of the chaff mills until 1930 at the the same complex as all his other businesses.
John Barclay started his chaff mill business in 1922 and was sold in 1929 to James (Jim) Stott. He operated until 1952, employing from four to nine men at a time, depending on the demand for chaff. The peak season saw the demand for cutting grow, in which it accompanied the production of 2000 tons a year. Les Stott obtained the business in 1952, replacing the Black-stone oil engine with an electric motor. The no.8 Cliff and Bunting cutter, and also the two No.6 cutters previously used, were replaced. The trade in Adelaide via Fodder Stores became excellent outlets for chaff, the trade became consistent, in which it cut 40 to 50 tons per week, employing seven to eight men. The mill was sold in 1978 but only operated for a short period after.  Another Chaff Mill was operated by the Hutton family. It closed down in 1963.

Circa 1887
Source – My collection

Hamley Bridge had two Butcher/Bakers one was run by the Hill family then the Dyer family, the other was the Meaney family. I always find it fascinating how much has changed in this industry. The deliveries were made to customers with the raw meat sitting next to the bread and bakery goods, only covered by a cloth, if that, and then there are the meat carcasses that hung freely outside the shop for days. Flies and maggots were not an issue as these simply were ‘cut out’, I am glad times have changed!

Circa 1930
Source – My collection
The Hill brothers, Frank and George, began their butcher and baking business in 1881. They worked together until around 1900, it was then that Frank took over as George moved away. Frank and his wife Eva had eight children. One of their daughters Mabel, married Louis Dyer and in the mid thirties they took over the business from father Frank. The Dyer family continued with the business until 1972 when ill-health forced the sale. It had continued as a butchers under various owners until 2005. It is now a private residence.
When Frank and Eva died their home was converted into the Hamley Bridge Memorial Hospital, which is still used as the local hospital today.

The crowd at the 1904 show
Source – Trove
Hamley Bridge Agricultural Show

I am not sure when the first show started. There is mention of a country show being held in Hamley Bridge in 1882 in the South Australian Advertiser, but the first official annual Hamley Bridge Show run by the Hamley Bridge Agricultural, Horticultural and Floricultural Society, was held in 1903.

The HBS became a very popular country show attracting around 2,000 people each year. The Society purchased 13 acres of land for the show to be held on, and was the only show at the time to be self-funded and not receive tax-payers money in Government grants. After the 1913 HBS, the show was halted during the war years and the depression years. It resumed again in 1946, after a 33 year break, and was opened by The Premier, Thomas Playford and was attended by over 2,000 people. During the 1930’s, a Flower and Handicraft Show, was run instead. The last Hamley Bridge show was held in 1968.

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