Tuncurry Afforestation Camp

I’ve been researching the great-uncle of a client. We started off with a notice in the NSW Police Gazette that he had been arrested for stealing money from the Government Savings Bank. A Sydney Morning Herald report of the trial at the Sydney Quarter Sessions showed that he had worked for the bank for 17 years and was sentenced to two years hard labour in Goulburn Gaol ‘to be made an example of’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Aug 1925, p.12).

For more information I needed a trip out to State Records NSW at Kingswood.

The Goulburn Gaol Entrance Book [7/13506] is an enormous volume requiring three pillows to support it. The Entrance Book gives:

  • Entrance date
  • Entrance number
  • Name
  • Gaol Number
  • When, where and by whom committed
  • Offence
  • Sentence
  • Where born (with date of birth in this case)
  • Ship and Year if born out of the colonies (it’s an old book)
  • Religion
  • Trade
  • Age
  • Height in feet and inches
  • Colour of hair and eyes
  • Education
  • Remarks, which appeared to indicate whether this was a first imprisonment
  • How and when disposed.

Our former bank employee was admitted to the prison on 10 September, along with some other prisoners. He’d been a bank manager, aged 36, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was disposed ‘To Tuncurry’ on 4 November 1925.

Tuncurry? I hadn’t realised there was a gaol at Tuncurry.

It turns out that Tuncurry hosted the first ‘Afforestation Camp’ in New South Wales. Tuncurry Afforestation Camp was a 6,000 acre property where prisoners were provided with ‘a modified form of prison life and the opportunity to acquire skills which could be used on release’. It makes sense – he was never going to be a bank manager again.

There are a number of volumes generated by the camp in its history from 1913 to 1938. The Entrance book shows some of the same information as the Goulburn book, without the physical description or birth date, and the final column shows that he was disposed ‘On license’ on Christmas Eve 1926. I imagine this was an early release for good behaviour, since his two years wasn’t up yet.

Entrance book [Tuncurry Afforestation Camp] 1913-1937, [5/1617]
Entrance book [Tuncurry Afforestation Camp] 1913-1937, [5/1617]

I had high hopes for the Visitors Book [5/1620] but I guess Tuncurry is a long way for family members to travel. Visitors weren’t as common as they are now. Few of the pages were actually used and the visitors were usually chaplains and surgeons, although there was a visit from the Governor of New South Wales and his entourage during my bank manager’s inprisonment. What a day that must have been!

[5/1620]
Visitors book [Tuncurry Afforestation Camp] 1913-1938 [5/1620]

I would love to know how this ex-bank manager got on after his year of planting trees. I do, however, know what happened to the prison camp:

Sydney Morning Herald Tue 29 March 1938, p.8
Sydney Morning Herald Tue 29 March 1938, p.8

 

Tim Sheens visits a great-uncle’s pub while on tour in Leeds

Glass of beer close-upTim Sheens, coach of the Australian Rugby League team, recently had a drink in the pub that had been run in the 1890s by his great-great-great-great-uncle in Leeds.

We’ve been researching Tim’s ancestry over the last few months, and he has some very colourful ancestors, with 14 convicts (at last count), and some publicans. We were hoping that, with Tim’s imminent visit to England with the Australian team, we could find an existing pub run by one of his ancestors that he could go and have a drink in while he was there.

His great-grandmother Emily Mann, who married George Sheens in 1902 in Sydney, was born at “The Dover Castle” in Lambeth, Surrey, the pub run by her father Robert Mann. Robert’s father, also named Robert, ran pubs around London, as shown by census records and birth registrations of children.

Unfortunately all of the pubs run by both Roberts, junior and senior, were gone – closed or demolished.

We had a breakthrough with the will of Robert senior, written in 1902. One of the executors of Robert’s will was a licensed victualler, and another was his brother Henry, described in the will as ‘a gentleman’.  Tracing Henry through the censuses found him in 1881 in the Albion Hotel at 142 Briggate in Leeds, and in 1891 in The Oak Inn on Otley Road, Headingley, in Leeds.

A Google search found that the Oak Inn, now known as the Original Oak Inn, is still in business. In fact, it’s one of the most successful pubs in England, with ‘the biggest beer garden in Headingly‘, a centre for the student and sporting venue trade in the area. You can see from the satellite image on Google (below) how big the place is, with the rows and rows of outdoor tables. Tim was told that there used to be a bowling green there that had been used for championships at the time Henry was publican.

Tim was given a copy of a document tracing the history of the Original Oak Inn during his visit, and hopes to get back there on the team’s return visit to Leeds for the final of the Four Nations Championship to find out more about the history of the pub.

Tim was interviewed by the Yorkshire Evening Post during his visit to Leeds – you can see the article here: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/Aussie-rugby-coach-finds-his.5801926.jp

The Original Oak Inn, Headingley, Leeds

Postscript:

The Sydney Morning Herald has picked up the story and expanded on it.

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