The Manager, Col Mewett


Colin and Helen, newly-married.



Centre photo: The Mewett brothers 1983; Col (viewers left), Geoff, Alan, Max.

Photo below: Col with first-born, Graeme.

The Mansfield Courier of Friday, August 17, 1973, in the section, Business Of The Week, featured an article on Mansfield’s newest building, that of Bill Luck and Co., and it is partly quoted hereunder:

The Manager, Col Mewett, has had twenty-five years experience in the bulk petrol business. Col and his wife Helen came to Bonnie Doon more than twenty-five years ago. Both had family connections in the town. Col’s mother was a member of the Pollock family, and Helen’s mother was postmistress there.

Col was a North Riding patrolman with the Mansfield Shire Council and also ran a school bus between Bonnie Doon and Mansfield. He joined T. S. Powell and Co., as a driver and when this company was bought out by Mansfield Merchandising Agency Co. Ltd., he continued on with the new company.

In 1966 Bill Luck and Co., a Benalla company, bought the Mobil Agency from Mansfield Merchandising and appointed Col as their manager. His wife joined him in the office and worked there full time until some eighteen months ago, when she became a part-time employee.

Col was a foundation Flag Officer of the Mansfield Boat Club and has held many executive positions in that club. He is at present the Rear Commodore.  Col said that one of the highlights of his term as Commodore was to play host to the Governor of Victoria, Sir Rohan Delacombe and Lady Delacombe when they were guests of the Mansfield Boat Club. Col’s other interest, when not boating, is in Rotary where he is at present a Community Services Director.

The Mansfield Courier of Wednesday, September 2,1992, included the Obituary of Mr Colin D Mewett, and it is quoted hereunder:

Although a number of years have passed since Mr Colin David Mewett was forced by illness and failing eyesight to limit his public activities, it was evident that he was fondly remembered by innumerable friends at the service of thanksgiving following his death at the Mansfield District Hosptal on August 24. The service at St Andrews Uniting Church on Thursday was conducted by Rev. Jim Hazeldine.

Colin had a life-long association with the Bonnie Doon and Mansfield areas, although a little less than half his lifetime of 75 years was actually spent in this district. His earlier association was through his mother, Margaret, a member of the Pollock family of Woodfield.

Colin was born in Melbourne, the eldest of four sons of Perce and Margaret Mewett. Schooldays were spent at the Yarraville Primary and Footscray Technical Schools. For his first job he rode his bicycle to South Melbourne each day to work at Swallow & Ariell’s biscuit factory. From there he transferred to Warren & Browne Engineering at Footscray and settled in to learn his trade as an automobile mechanic (diesels). There he worked with his cousin, Bob Black, and together they never missed an opportunity to visit their Pollock relations at Ancona.

It was on one such visit that he met Miss Helen Snook, his future wife. They were married at the Congregational Church, Prahran, during World War II. Although Col had enlisted for service he failed to meet the eyesight standard required and so continued to work for Warren & Browne. Col and Helen came to Bonnie Doon in 1948, and moved to Mansfield three years later. Initially, Col  used his own truck, working for the shire council. For two years in those early days he also drove a school bus.

Employment with Mansfield Merchandising & Agency Co. brought him into contact with most residents of the district, who appreciated his unassuming and friendly approach. When Bill Luck & Co. took over the petrol depot the company recognised these qualities. The business developed considerably over the 25 years that it was managed by Col with the unfailing support of his wife.

The couple had three sons, Graham [Graeme] (dec.), Gary and Joe [Ian] and daughter Glenda [now deceased 2016]. Outside his daily activities Col loved the outdoor life, with nothing better than sailing, camping and fishing. One of the highlights occurred when, as commodore of the Mansfield Boat Club, he was called upon to host a visit from Sir Rohan Delacombe, then Governor of Victoria. Another memorable moment was attending a Rotary conference in South Australia, when he was seated next to and able to chat to his cricket hero, Sir Donald Bradman.

Jamieson naturally was a special place in which to engage in his favourite pastimes, and he retired there with his caravan to spend the last few years of his life.

– almewett

Published in: on December 27, 2016 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dreadful Railway Mishap

The young Perce Mewett                Buckrabanyule, Victoria

The Bendigo Advertiser (Victoria) carried the headline of – Dreadful Railway Mishap – in its issue dated Monday, 25 March 1912. The byline was from Charlton, 23 March:

A painful accident happened at the Buckrabanyule railway station this morning. A young man named Hewitt (sic), a cleaner, was employed at shunting operations, when he missed his footing. The wheels of the truck passed over both feet, badly crushing one and causing a compound of the ankle of the other foot. The sufferer, who was hurried to Charlton, was attended by Dr …….. and then ordered to the Wycheproof Hospital.

The Argus (Melbourne) of Wednesday, 3 April 1912, carried a paragraph headed WYCHEPROOF:

The young man, Percy Mewitt (sic), who was injured in a railway accident at Buckrabanyule, has had one foot amputated at the ankle, also several toes that were crushed to a pulp. He now lies in the Inglewood Hospital.

Buckrabanyule (population now app. 14) was a small town on the Bendigo-Charlton-Wycheproof railway line, approximately 40 km south-east of Wycheproof.

Alan’s comment: The unfortunate young man was 19-year-old Percy Edwin Mewett who became my father 17 years later. In our family circle his accident was never discussed but I do remember my mother saying that he was a fireman on a locomotive when he slipped on the wet steps as he climbed back after retrieving his cap from the track and fell under a wheel of the slowly moving steam engine. I now believe that her version to have been romanticised; it was possible that she was not aware of the full facts of the accident.

More light on the accident was given about 40 years ago when I visited Wycheproof, by Mrs Doye who had been a neighbour of the Mewett family in the town. She doubted that Perce had been a fireman on locomotives; she insisted that he had been a cleaner (of the locomotives stationed at Wycheproof). Her husband had been a guard there and they were recalled from their honeymoon for the newly-wed husband to take over from the injured Perce.

It appears to me that Perce was a cleaner at Wycheproof but was probably standing in for Mr Doye as guard on the train that had stopped at Buckrabanyule to leave or pick up a truck in a shunting manouevre. I can only guess that Perce was inexperienced in the procedure and as a result of a misunderstanding of the loco driver’s intention, found himself between trucks as the shunted truck bore down on him; my guess is that he missed his footing as he dashed to be clear.

Shunting of rolling stock (carriages or trucks) was always dangerous; the locomotive, with much chuffing and puffing, would push an uncoupled truck a short distance leaving it to roll unassisted and silently towards or away from the train. In the incident Perce would have been coupling or uncoupling trucks and anticipating the driver’s intentions. Little wonder that a railway company in England kept an ambulance wagon permanently stationed at a busy railway yard to give treatment to injured shunters.

Perce Mewett was rehabilitated to the Victorian Railways workshops at Newport, Victoria, as a telephone-switchboard operator. It was there that he met Margaret Pollock, employed at the  workshop canteen, when she came to order supplies by telephone. They were married in 1915 and their eldest son, Colin, was born at Footscray in 1917. Perce left the VR to become a private hire car driver with South Yarra Motors, and later in 1934 he drove for Harry Parker’s Chatsworth Motors in East Prahran. His amputated ankle and foot were replaced with a wooden prosthesis (with its straps and metal fittings) which had to be fitted daily, leaving him with a clumping gait, a far cry from the modern-day prostheses which allow wearers to engage in athletic sports.

My thanks to Darryl Mewett for drawing my attention to the two newspaper reports quoted above. Photo of the young Perce Mewett from Ruby Weaver scrapbook. Photo of Buckrabunyule railway from Google Earth.

Published in: on December 15, 2016 at 6:30 pm  Comments (1)  

Uncle Dave

In memory of David Hendry Pollock, “Uncle Dave” to the families of his sisters Lily Black, Margaret Mewett, Alice Boyd, Martha Brace, and his brother Robert Pollock. Dave joined the A.I.F. in July 1915 when he was 21 years old, after having served with the 15th Australian Light Horse (militia unit) Victorian Mounted Rifles at Mansfield for three years. His photograph shows the A.L.H. uniform of that time. In the A.I.F. he was enlisted as a rifleman in the 22rd Battalion, later transferred to 7th Battalion. In 1917 he was promoted to Lance-Corporal and later that year wounded, gassed (chlorine) on active service in France, then shipped to hospital at Norwich, England. After transfer to Australian Corps School in France in 1918, he embarked for Australia in 1919 and later was discharged in August. As a returned soldier he travelled down to Melbourne from Bonnie Doon and then Mansfield each year to march with his fellow Anzacs on 25 April. He died in 1979, aged 85, unmarried, and was buried with his sister Marion at Mansfield Cemetery. We remember him.

Uncle Dave956

David Hendry Pollock before joining 1st AIF. He fought in France

Published in: on April 25, 2016 at 12:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jesse and Rhoda Mewett’s Family Bible Entries

Jesse's family bible entries

Jesse’s family bible entries

Family Bible Entries 2 239

Published in: on September 25, 2015 at 12:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Trestrail Connection

The postings on this blog on August 28 included photos from Jesse and Rhoda Mewett’s photo album showing the wedding party of Martha (Matty) Mewett and Jonathan Dover at the Jesse Mewett farmhouse. What I had forgotten then and later remembered on a prompt from Sue Stevens (nee Trestrail) that the scene of the photos was the property known as “Trevale”. There is quite a connection between the Mewett and Trestrail families and includes Trevale.

For me, the story begins with the marriage of Jesse’s daughter Sarah Ann (born 1859 at Park Farm) to Albert Edwin Trestrail in 1881 at the Wesleyan Church, Williamstown S.A.  Jesse’s son David and Sarah Giddings, Rhoda’s youngest sister, signed the marriage certificate as witnesses.

In 1883 Jesse purchased from James Trestrail, storeman of Gawler, and Albert Edwin Trestrail, farmer of Williamstown, the 163-acre property known as “Trevale”. It comprised Sections 1529 and 1535 and was located to the left of the road on the way from Kersbrook before crossing the South Para river to Williamstown. Jesse paid 500 pounds cash and mortgaged the balance of 396.5 pounds with interest of 7.5%, paying 5.5 pounds per acre. When the writer visited the site about 35 years ago (circa 1980) the ruins of the house were situated in a pine forest in the vicinity of the South Para Dam.

In 1888 Jesse’s eldest son, David William, married Eva Emma Louisa Trestrail at the Wesleyan Parsonage at Gawler S.A. Albert Edwin Trestrail, beefarmer, and Martha (Matty) Mewett, clerk, were witnesses. There were six daughters and four sons born to David and Eva.

Sadly, Sarah Ann Trestrail died of tuberculosis at Wangolere in 1885. Her daughter Annie Mabel Trestrail was born in 1883.
Eff Trestrail354_2                                                                                       Effie Trestrail
From dates of birth certificates it would appear that Jesse and his family worked and lived on Wangolere up until the purchase of Trevale. It would also appear that the Trestrail family worked and lived on Wangolere after their sale of Trevale to Jesse.

In Jesse and Rhoda’s photo album there is only one photo identified as a Trestrail, that of “Effie”.  I do not know her relationship to the Trestrails described above but she was obviously a close friend or relative of the Mewetts to be included in the album. The photo is included in this post.

– almewett

Published in: on September 25, 2015 at 12:42 pm  Comments (1)  

The Jesse Mewett Photo Album – Wongalere or Wangolere?

Wangalere 20090
The labour force at Wangolere photographed along with three dogs, a horse, large barrels, and not forgetting the young lady at your left!  Jesse Mewett is said to be the man at the viewer’s left in the front row, still wearing his wide-awake hat, waistcoat and jacket. I had thought for years that the tall man at centre front was a Mewett, but …..?  A boy at the viewer’s right, at the back, could be a Mewett. I believe that members of the Trestrail family could be present in this photo. The Trestrails were residing at Wangolere later than the Mewetts. Lucy Trestrail was born here in 1890, Adeline in 1894. More about the Trestrails and their farm Trevale in another posting. Wangolere was situated on the South Para River and was flooded when the South Para Reservoir was built 1949 – 1958.

Published in: on September 4, 2015 at 3:42 pm  Comments (6)  

The Jesse Mewett Photo Album – Wongalere

This photo was not taken from the Jesse Mewett album but was obtained separately. It was taken on the wine-growing property known as Wongalere, owned by Joseph Gilbert. It was here that Gilbert married Anna Browne in 1848. Gilbert also owned the Pewsey Vale property which lent its name to a brand well known to wine lovers. It has been pointed out to me that Jesse Mewett is at the back of the group, wearing a wide-awake hat, that is, with upturned front brim; he is the only adult wearing a waistcoat and jacket and growing a grey beard. The appearance of the boy at the front centre wearing a cap and shoulder pads prompts me to suggest he could be a Mewett. It seems that the property name was spelled Wangolere when Jesse and Rhoda resided there. Birth certificates of Anne Marie (1868), Rhoda Ann (1874), Catherine May (1877), and death certificate of Anne Marie (1873), list Wangolere as the usual residence.

Published in: on September 4, 2015 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jesse and Rhoda Mewett’s Photo Album

Wedding Party 2 0120
This photo which follows on from the previous posting appears to have been taken as the bride, Martha Mewett, and the groom, Jonathan Dover, prepare to depart the scene: the bride wears a hat, Jesse and Rhoda and some of the guests have donned their hats. Kneeling in front of Jesse is a woman I now think might be another sister of the bride, Catherine May. The setting of the photo in 1902 was the Jesse Mewett farm near Williamstown, South Australia. I visited this site about 35 years ago and found the ruins of the farmhouse in what was at the time a pine plantation near the South Para Dam. A close study of the guests reveals rural fashions of the day.

Published in: on August 28, 2015 at 11:09 am  Comments (1)  

Jesse and Rhoda’s Photo Album

Wedding Party0119This photo was not included in the Jesse Mewett photo album originally but was found separately.

It shows the wedding party comprising Martha (Matty) Mewett as bride, Jonathan Dover as groom, parents Rhoda and Jesse seated, Rhoda Ann Mewett at Jesse’s shoulder, and possibly Catherine May Mewett to the viewer’s right. Unknown lady possibly groom’s mother. Taken at Mewett farmhouse near Williamstown, South Australia – 1902. Witnesses who signed the Marriage Certificate were Rhoda Ann and D.H.Parker; we cannot be sure that the best man shown in the photo was D.H.Parker. And the dog; we might suppose that he was called Spot?

– almewett

Published in: on August 28, 2015 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Photos: Meadowbank Farm, Bonnie Doon


Top: Upright/vertical timbers at Brooklands, probably those from the old Meadowbank farmhouse.

Third photo: It is thought that the farmhouse was once located to the left in the photo on patch of dry grass behind row of pines/callitris, near road entrance.

Fourth photo: Eastern boundary of the farm was located along road in cutting seen to the left of the photo

Fifth photo: Overall view includes Pollock Avenue off Maroondah Highway, giving access to properties. Brankeet Creek in foreground.

Sixth photo: Western boundary easily identified as fence line going uphill from middle right-hand of the photo.

Above are recent photos of the subdivided blocks, now hobby farms, that make up what was once Meadowbank, the Pollocks’ farm at Bonnie Doon, Victoria. The proliferation of mature trees planted during the past 40 years or more now give an appearance of good fertile soils and caring development of the area. These south-facing photos were taken last year (2014) from across the Brankeet Creek, also known as the Bonnie Doon backwater of Lake Eildon, after I had made my way past grazing cattle through well-maintained gates but having to climb gingerly and carefully the last, a locked gate not intended to allow 85-year-old trespassers to gain advantage points for better pictures.

Meadowbank was sold by the Pollocks after the death of my grandfather, William Pollock, in 1928 to the Anderson family who moved a nearby house in the town to the property to replace the old farmhouse. Verticle timbers of the old place were then relocated for sheds on the farm Brooklands on the Ancona Road at Woodfield where my aunt Lilian with her husband Robert Stanley Black raised my cousins: Bob, Marjorie, Betty, Gwen and Bill (twins), Rae and Neil. After Uncle Bob (R.S.Black) died, Neil took over management of the farm until his recent death.

Meadowbank was sold to the Mitchell family and it was subdivided in the 1970s.

– almewett

Published in: on April 8, 2015 at 2:29 pm  Comments (1)