Opinion | Yesterday Today

HOMECOMING: There was a lot of interest in the return of William Cutler, known locally as Billy, in November 1907.
HOMECOMING: There was a lot of interest in the return of William Cutler, known locally as Billy, in November 1907.

This week’s image is from a photographer who climbed on to the roof of the Bathurst Council Chambers and Town Hall in William Street in 1907. The spot was a good vantage point to record the return of William Cutler, known locally as Billy, in November that year.

Originally, William Cutler was to have arrived home the day before the British Rifle Team, but he arrived the following day with the British men. W.H. Gartrell’s bakery establishment in William Street baked a cake which he displayed in his front window that attracted a good deal of attention.

On the top, there was a photograph of William Cutler. Underneath, the words “Proud of the World’s Best” were worked into the icing. Mr Gartrell gave the cake to the committee to be given to the winners of the kangaroo and hare drive at Rock Forest.

The local triangular match against the British and the New Zealander shooters was over three ranges - 200, 300 and 600 yards, which were regarded in many quarters as ranges on which the British visitors would show their best. The following team was selected from eight natives of the city to represent the Bathurst Civilian Rifle Club in the match against Great Britain on the Bathurst range: W. Cutler, A. Cutler, E. Cutler, B. Cutler, S.A. Kefford, A. Kefford, H. Hansard and E.G. Webb.

A smoke concert in honour of the visiting riflemen and William Cutler was held in the Masonic Hall on the evening they arrived. There was a huge gathering of citizens, presided over by mayor E.T. Webb. There was an excellent program.

The public interest in the arrival of the British riflemen and the return home of William Cutler was widespread and there were several functions arranged in connection. A Citizens’ Committee had been established and had met the previous evening before they all arrived and transacted a good deal of business. 

The honorary secretary intimated that the sum of about £25 had been received in subscriptions towards the expense of entertaining the visitors. A strong desire was evinced to give not only the visitors, but Mr Cutler, who had achieved worldwide fame as a rifle shot, a right royal reception.

The District Band was to be stationed on the platform for the arrival of the train and would play Rule Britannia and See The Conquering Hero Comes, in honour of the British team and William Cutler respectively. The order of the procession was formalised – police, cadets, British riflemen in a horse-drawn vehicle, Civilian Rifle Club with W. Cutler, and followed up by B Company, Third A Infantry.

During the march to the Town Hall, the band played The British Grenadiers and Willie, We Have Missed You. On reaching the Town Hall, the team and the NSW ‘Kings’ prize winner would be received by the mayor. The Cadet Shield had been received in town and would be delivered to the mayor.

In view of the success of Arthur Cutler in the Empire match, he was also to participate in the public reception. A limited number of tickets were sold for the public to attend the reception. The British visitors were to visit Dickerson’s shearing shed at Osborne during their time in Bathurst.

Some of the British riflemen and the New Zealand team, with William Cutler, duly arrived and were met with an enthusiastic reception. The railway station platform was crowded, while thousands of people thronged the streets. Brigadier-General Gordon, accompanied by Colonel Irving, also arrived. The visitors were received by Major Machattie and Captain Pringle.

The military and school cadets were paraded in the street outside and inspected by Brigadier-General Gordon. A procession was formed, headed by the district band, and marched to the Town Hall. William Cutler was chaired through the streets. At the Town Hall, both teams were formally welcomed by mayor Alderman E.T. Webb, who expressed the hope that all would have an enjoyable time.

- Alan McRae is with the Bathurst District Historical Society