10 ISSUE 17 | SEPTEMBER 2011 Hawkesbury history
uge celebrations were held in Richmond on Friday 20 June 1902 when the Hawkesbury rejoiced with
a peace demonstration to welcome the returned soldiers who had participated in the Boer War in South Africa. Late in 1899 war broke out in South Africa
HAWKESBURY DISTRICT INDEPENDENT NEWS | www.hdinews.com.au
by Michelle Nichols & Jonathan Auld Photos courtesy of Hawkesbury Library Service.
Boer War celebrations H
between the British and the Boer republics. Te outbreak of war resulted in enthusiastic volunteering throughout the British Empire with the Australian colonies raising approximately 16,000 troops. Te Australians quickly earned a reputation
for their adaptation to the conditions and their ability on horseback. Of the Australian soldiers who were sent to South Africa, over 600 deaths were recorded and over half of these deaths were a result of disease. When the war broke out, many young men of the Hawkesbury volunteered their services to the British Empire and the Hawkesbury Squadron of the NSW Lancers was formed. It was a long drawn out conflict which ended
when a peace treaty was signed in May 1902 and the remaining troops despatched home. Te first of the Hawkesbury troops arrived home in early June and with a few hours’ notice, about 400 inhabitants welcomed six soldiers at the Windsor Railway Station. A few weeks later a larger event was held in
Richmond. Festivities included a school sports day, grand procession through the streets of Richmond, followed by speeches, fireworks and culminating with an official dinner for the returned soldiers. Over 800 people
assembled at the Richmond Royal Hotel. Cobcroft’s Commercial Hotel adorned with flags and banners.
Grand procession moving up Windsor Street with the original Richmond Post Office on the right hand side.
Park to view the school sports day. Events included races for the boys and girls, tug of war, sack races, skipping competitions and high jump followed by refreshments in the park for the children and their family and friends. A grand procession was conducted
throughout the town. It was a quarter of a mile in length and included local dignitaries, mounted police, Hawkesbury Squadron of the NSW Lancers, members of the fire brigade, several bands providing music, Hawkesbury Agricultural College students with some of their farm animals who provided the entertaining element of the parade plus the twenty of the returned soldiers. A number of the local masonic lodges also
marched under their colourful banners. Te route wound its way around the town from Bourke Street down March, up West Market onto Windsor Street to St. Peter’s Church and then back to the park. A series of
photographs, taken by H. A. Stevens and skilfully illustrate the momentous occasion. Local businesses also
set the scene decorating their premises with flags and bunting being strung across the main business area in Windsor Street. Other businesses including the
Commercial and Royal Hotels plus Woodhill’s and Horn’s Fancy Goods store were festooned with banners and signs. Later in the evening Chinese lanterns and lime- lights created a picturesque vista. By the light of a near full moon, a
J.C.Horn’s Fancy Goods store decorated with Peace sign.
splendid display of fireworks and a huge bonfire in the park topped off the evening for the majority of local residents.
View along Windsor Street with Woodhill’s & Co. store on the right and Richmond Park on the left.
At 9pm that evening, 200 people celebrated
with a dinner for the returned soldiers held in the School of Arts building. Many speeches were made including the Mayor of Richmond, Mr E. Campbell, Rev J. Howell-Price and Captain Hall and various dignitaries whilst a toast was made to both the King and the soldiers. Mr Allison sang ‘A soldier and a man’ accompanied by Eunice Myers. It was noted that the Australian soldiers were “the best in the world.” Lieutenant Greenwell responded on behalf of the soldiers and was “grateful for the splendid reception given to the returned soldiers.” On a more sombre note, the residents of
Windsor established a memorial to honour the memory of soldiers from the district that died whilst serving in the Boer War in South Africa 1899-1902 with money raised by a public subscription. Monumental mason, George Robertson
was appointed to design the obelisk shaped memorial, which was erected in McQuade Park in Windsor. Four names are commemorated on the monument, George Jennings Dickson, Charles John Gosper, Tomas Moore Mitchell and George Archie Montgomery. Edward Sullivan another casualty apparently died of wounds in 1900 and a memorial service was held in Richmond.
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