OPINION: Yesterday Today with Alan McRae

IN THE HOOD: A sulky with hood, constructed by G. Fish and Sons of Bathurst, that was exhibited at several district shows.
IN THE HOOD: A sulky with hood, constructed by G. Fish and Sons of Bathurst, that was exhibited at several district shows.

THE Reliance Bank Royal Bathurst Show will take place from Friday, April 28 to Sunday, April 30. Our historic photo this week from the archives of the Bathurst District Historical Society shows a sulky with hood that was exhibited at several district shows, including Bathurst.

The sulky was constructed by G. Fish and Sons of Bathurst around 1910. I would appreciate it if anyone recognises the gentleman in the photo.

This photo was taken by Evan Antoni Johann (E.A.J.) Lumme, a photographer from the Blayney-Carcoar district, and was probably taken at Blayney. Lumme, born in Estonia, had a great interest in recording country scenes and how life evolved in the bush.

Lumme’s photographer’s horsedrawn wagon was fitted out with his painted backdrops, cameras and equipment, as well as chemicals needed to ply his trade. While he took plenty of portraits, he had a flair for recording rural life at the time and how people lived and worked on the land.

The best shaft sulky without hood and first prize for sulky with hood was taken out by Mr W.J. Maddy at the two-day Blayney Show in mid-March 1910. While G. Fish and Sons had an exhibit of four horsedrawn vehicles, they were not entered in the competitive vehicles section at that show. Mr W. Dwyer of Wollongong brought at least seven horsedrawn vehicles to the show that year to enter and display. George Fish and Sons regularly exhibited such examples of their craftsmanship at the annual Bathurst Show.

George Frederick Fish started business in Bathurst when he opened his foundry in Russell Street in 1860. Steel made in their foundry was dispatched throughout the country, including to H.V. McKay’s Sunshine Harvesters in Melbourne. Over time, the business evolved to incorporate a blacksmith shop, farrier services and coachworks, manufacturing a range of horsedrawn vehicles, including coaches for Cobb and Co to their specifications.

At the A.H. and P. ploughing match in August 1885, every one of the ploughs used on the ground was of Mr Fish’s manufacture. The business at one time employed 125 men.

George Frederick died in 1901 and his son Joseph took over the business. Terry succeeded him in 1925. George Frederick Fish and son Terry both spent time on Bathurst City Council. Some five generations have operated the business in Russell Street, though these days the business is in Lambert Street. Today, the business concentrates on rural supplies, in addition to the Bathurst Petfood Warehouse.

A week out from the 1910 Bathurst Show, it was being mentioned in the Dubbo LiberalandMacquarie Advocate newspaper: “The Bathurst Show next week will be worth travelling a long way to see. The splendid half-mile track on which “Fritz” made his record eight years ago, has been specially prepared, as an attempt will be made to lower the Australian record. With trotting champions like Emulator and Denver Huon (late C.W.) and many other splendid horses, and a fine array of the best jumpers, the ring events will be memorable. Judd’s string of horses, Eroni Bros’ team, Weir’s grand mare Lady Betty, Shea’s Signal, Hart and Moore’s Highland Laddie, etc., will make a brave show. Special entertainments are being arranged for each evening, without extra charge, and Bathurst Show should not be missed.”

The 1910 show took place from Wednesday, April 6 to Friday, April 8 with the committee organising a number of concerts to entertain patrons of an evening. The committee organised a concert for the Wednesday night and a packed house was greeted with a program brimming with hilarious comedy. The audience’s spirits were kept at a high pitch throughout the evening and the success of the opening concert was said to augur well for attendances throughout the show. The performers were said to be clever and versatile, and there was not a dull moment during the evening.

Alan McRae is with the Bathurst District Historical Society