Walcha's Scott the smithy

Different era: Derby Street is in the foreground of this old photo of Bill Scott’s smithy. A portion of Fitzroy Street can be seen on the left hand side. Landmark-Boulton’s now occupies the site.

Different era: Derby Street is in the foreground of this old photo of Bill Scott’s smithy. A portion of Fitzroy Street can be seen on the left hand side. Landmark-Boulton’s now occupies the site.

The Walcha News of July 25, 1952 said of the recently deceased W.R.H. “Bill” Scott: “He came to Walcha on July 6, 1881 and served a blacksmithing apprenticeship with Mr W. Davidson. Later on Mr Scott established a coach building and blacksmith business in which he employed a large number of tradesmen.”

Scott won prizes at district shows for his patented wool press and regularly exhibited the ploughs, harrows, chaff cutters and the like for which he was the Walcha agent.

In 1909, the Bank of NSW bought the land on which the smithy stood. Scott moved to a position on the southern side of Derby Street across the river from the present playing fields.

Scott won prizes at district shows for his patented wool press and regularly exhibited the ploughs, harrows, chaff cutters and the like for which he was the Walcha agent.

F. Thompson & Co. later acquired Scott’s second smithy and by the 1930s, Thompson and Ernie Partridge in Hamilton Street were the two remaining blacksmith and each, it seems, relied heavily on work coming from council as a consequence of depression era activities.

A significant amount of the council work was the sharpening of picks of which great numbers were used on various Food Relief Scheme activities, including the cutting away of the hill on the southern side of Derby Street. This work was a “work for the dole” arrangement for those seeking food relief payments.

R.H. West came to Walcha in the mid-1890s and, by 1897, had set up his forge in Fitzroy Street in the vicinity of the present-day Walcha Veterinary Clinic where he manufactured all forms of horse-drawn equipment, farming implements, colonial ovens and cemetery plot railings.

In July 1905, West announced he had sold the business to Messrs William Stringer Snr and George Melville Stringer Snr, one of Walcha’s best-known racehorse trainers. His increasing success in that endeavour saw him take up stables at Kensington in Sydney, causing his partnership with Melville to be dissolved in January 1907. Melville traded on his own behalf for some time afterwards.

The Woolbrook School Centenary booklet says that shopkeeper J.A. Morgan opened a smithy at Woolbrook in 1910, which is perhaps the smithy that was later occupied by J. Pickham for many years.

The gold mining villages of Glen Morrison, Nowendoc and Tia Diggings also supported blacksmith businesses and Thomas Dunn had a commercial smithy at his High Rent property near Tia, which he advertised in 1908 asking for “for a fair share of support from the public”.

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