A FINE FARMING DISTRICT.
The introduction of superphosphates in farming is the prime cause of the solid success that has been, and still is, so marked in the progress of Hamley Bridge and the surrounding district. The present season is far away the best known. The plains that surround the town have proved themselves to be among the best wheat-growing land in the State. In days gone by isolated farmers could boast of big crops, but this season it is necessary for one to look round, and sharply, too, in order to find a bad one. One farmer purchased his holding rather late in the seeding season, but pushed on and put in a good acreage. Being so late, he expected a light crop. The late rains, however, favored him, and he reaped an average of 20 bushels per acre. The late-sown this year has given the best results. It is evident, too, that farmers believe in the district. During the year farms have changed hands at £11 and £9 5/ per acre. About a fortnight ago 10 guineas was refused for a farm. Almost any of this land could have been purchased a few years ago at £2 per acre. During the year the district council has made some excellent improvements to cope with the floodwaters by taking them through large wrought iron pipes under the street, thus carrying the water to a lower level and emptying them in the river. It has also erected acetylene lamps at the street corners, and footpaths have received attention. Among the business places of the town deserving special notice is that of Mr. J. G. Traeger. A few years ago Mr. Traeger's shop, situated in another part of the town, was a small lean-to building, and he employed a wheel- wright and a boy or two. The premises are now in a central position, and extensive improvements have been carried out during the year. Recently the implement factory was lengthened, and is now 200 ft. long and about 80 it. wide. This shop is fitted up with, all the latest improved machinery Mr. Traeger's business has increased so much that he found that the engine he had was not powerful enough to drive all the machinery. He has now erected a 50-h.p. engine, which is doing the work admirably. The engine, generator, and tanks are enclosed in a strong stone building. At the rear of the engine-room is the chaffmill, for Mr. Traeger is also engaged in the chaff trade. The engine also works a wood saw. During the year a roomy paint and carriage shop has been erected, and a fine office has been built. New iron racks have been erected. Mr. Traeger employs about 35 hands. The Newcastle strike, if prolonged, will have a serious effect upon his business, as coal is running short. As a consequence the works will be almost, if not quite, closed down. Mr. Traeger, has large orders on hand, and is anxious to complete his contracts. Mr. J. T. Quinn, carpenter and builder, has made extensive additions to his business premises. He has lengthened his shop in the main street 54 ft., and it is now over 100 ft. long by 30, ft. wide. He has also erected a commodious stone stable, coach house, chaffmiil, and engine-room, in which he has an 18 or 20 horsepower gas engine. This engine is erected solely for cutting chaff and firewood. At the present time Mr. Quinn employs masons, carpenters, plumbers, in all about 40 hands. During the year Mr. Quinn has built a new dome brick kiln, in which 30,000 bricks can be burnt at once.
Messrs. Kleinig & Branston, of Freeling, took over the chaff mills known as Wilson's. They had been idle for some time. At present they have on their premises 1,000 tons of hay, and are still carting. They send away about 10 tons of chaff per day. There is a novel machine in the shed, a straw rope-making machine. When- ever chaff cutting is going on the machine is kept at work.
A little over a year ago the Railway Department installed an acetylene gas plant at the station. There are about 27 lamps erected along the whole length of the yard. The men who do the shunting declare after a year's experience that the light is a priceless boon. So clear is it that objects of quite a small size may be distinguished from one end of the yard to the other. The season has been an unprecedented one for wheat, and the railway staff work night and day. To show that the Hamley Bridge yard is capable of coping with the traffic there was not on Saturday last a single loaded truck in the yard that had been there two days.
The building trade has been fairly brisk. The houses that have been completed are all of a substantial character. During the year eight residences have been completed, each having from four to six rooms. All the houses have a pleasing appearance, the stone being almost white. Other buildings are being erected. Owing to scarcity of houses, rents are high. About a fortnight ago 9/ per week was offered for two rooms, but the offer was not accepted. Of course, this was an exception. The rents of small dwellings vary, however, from 8/ to 12/ per week. The Methodist connexion have begun to build a new church. Mr. J. T. Quinn is the contractor.
All the business places of the town share in the prosperity. Trade seems to be very active. Just now it may be said that an air of contentment pervades the whole district. The public school has benefited too. Last year was the record year for attendance. January this year was the record opening month after the Christmas holidays. During the year a school band has been appointed. There is a serious drawback to the greater progress of the town, and that is the delay in providing better railway accommodation at the station yard.