Monday, 29 February 2016

"Billy Stutt and the Richmond Flyboys" by Neville F. Hayes.

This year will mark the centenary of a 1916 Richmond event that was hailed, at the time, as: "historically as memorable as the date of initiation of railway construction in NSW, away back in the early 1850s."

So what was this momentous happening?  - It was the foundation of the 'NSW State Aviation School' at Richmond, in the middle of the First World War. 

While this organisation has largely been forgotten today, its centenary is indeed worth commemorating.  This was the key moment when large amounts of Government funding began to be poured into the site of the future Richmond RAAF Base, which is today so important to the Hawkesbury economy and to the national operations of the RAAF.  It was also an opportunity for local boys to acquire undreamed-of skills, which would take them around the world in the wonderful new aviation industry.

On the 28th of August 1916, four hundred guests were invited to a lavish reception inside the State Aviation School's large, newly-constructed hangar on Richmond's "Ham Common" (right in the heart of today's RAAF Base).   The guests were there to celebrate the official opening of the School and to welcome the first intake of student-pilots.  It was indeed a big event.  The Premier, Mr. Holman, had taken a personal interest in "kick-starting" the aviation industry in NSW.  The State Governor and many other VIPs were also present. 

The months of preparations leading up to the School's opening had been well-covered by the (then) Richmond and Windsor Gazette.  However, in stark contrast, the Gazette gave the opening celebrations a rather sour review.  - It turns out that the the Government invitation-list for the nosh-up had not included the Gazette Editor!  

We now have access to such delightful historical insights thanks to the publication of a marvelously comprehensive book on the turbulent three-year tenure of the State Aviation School at Richmond, "Billy Stutt and the Richmond Flyboys" by Neville F. Hayes. 
There are many other fascinating quotes from the Gazette in this book, plus a cornucopia of other research from official sources and the family collections of the various "Flyboys". 

As with modern-day Government infrastructure projects, there was a heady mix of State Politics involved in the establishment of the School.  The Richmond hangar building was rather large for the needs of the School and suffered substantial cost over-runs.  (Nothing changes!)  - However this big hangar was to prove most useful when the RAAF took over the site in 1925.   It was the main reason that the RAAF selected Richmond for the first step of their national expansion.) 

Premier Holman had also been miffed by the fact that all of the Commonwealth's flight-training expenditure was focussed on Point Cook in Victoria.  Even worse, there was suspicion that NSW applicants for the Australian Flying Corps were not being accepted in the glorious numbers that the Premier would have anticipated!  (In fact, Point Cook was beset my many intractable problems with obtaining training aeroplanes, so its throughput of graduates from all states was tiny.)   The Richmond Aviation School was very obviously a 'Pet Project' for the Premier.  Equally obviously it caused great annoyance to Australian Military Authorities, and the Federal Government, in its clear attempt to barge-in on the centralised war-training efforts of the Commonwealth.

"Federal versus State" disputes figure continuously in the story of the Richmond School.  While the first Richmond graduates were able to gain commissions as officers in the Australian Flying Corps, this career path became increasingly closed to later graduates and many farcical situations resulted.  (This was a sad outcome, considering that there was a war on and that the training of war pilots was the sole priority of the School.) 

In total, 58 flying certificates were issued by the Richmond School before the cessation of hostilities and quite a few of the earliest graduates made it into action in France and Palestine. 

Nigel Love, a Kurrajong boy who graduated from the 1st Course, piloted RE8 two-seater aircraft over the Western Front, with the 3rd Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps.  His biggest impact on the war was made in the missions where he used Morse Code to guide Allied gunfire in destroying key targets, such as German artillery batteries.  Flying low and dodging bullets during major battles, Nigel also carefully mapped the progress of the infantry and dropped his reports directly at General Monash's headquarters.  After the Armistice, Nigel returned to Australia with big plans to establish the country's first commercial aeroplane manufacturing company.  This he did, although Government interference created many headwinds for him.  Nigel's factory was at a little airfield near Sydney that he had founded - called "Mascot"!

Wallace McDougall was a graduate of the 2nd Richmond course; he also flew with 3AFC in battle, but as a back-seat "Observer", manning the RE8's defensive machine-gun.  (Wallace had been unable to qualify as a combat pilot after being sent to England, due to the worsening bureaucratic constraints on the Richmond graduates.  He fell foul of a revised 'age limit'.)  Wallace wrote the following diary entry in the closing days of World War One:

Monday 4th November 1918.  Went up at 6am with Lt. McGilvery.  Got to the line in about 15 minutes.  Great sight with all the guns firing.  Big barrage going up, hundreds of guns taking part.  Just about daylight, a heavy ground-mist lit up by gun-flashes looked magnificent.  Could even notice the mist cut aside by the big shells.  We were flying at 2,200 feet.  Let go our bombs, the smoke helping to screen the infantry advance.  The opening stages of this 'stunt' was a sight from the air.  One never to be forgotten.

Sadly, seven of the graduates were killed in action in the war, or in European training accidents.  Remarkably for the time though, the Richmond School actually had no fatal crashes during any of its six courses.  This is a testament to the skill and personality of its Chief Instructor, Billy Stutt (a highly-experienced aviator who had been recruited from a test-pilot position in England) and the provision of a modern and reliable training aircraft, the Curtis 'Jenny'.  The book gives much interesting detail on the 'Jenny' and also on Stutt's life and his mysterious loss in a crash in North-Eastern Tasmania in 1920 whilst he was flying a search-and rescue mission.  His body has never been found.

Review by James Oglethorpe, 3 Squadron RAAF Association. 
This book is available from the publisher
Pacific Downunder for $34.50, including postage within Australia.
[Tragically, Neville Hayes did not live to see his 25 years of research make it into print.  He died of cancer in 2005 and his brother Barry finalised the publication in memory of Neville.]

Photo attached: 
Line-up of student pilots from the First Course of Richmond State Aviation School, during the Opening Day celebrations, 28 August 1916. 

Nigel Love, who flew 200 hours over the front with the 3rd Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps, is at the far left of the back row. 
Right of Nigel, along the back row, are students Garnsey Potts [briefly in 3AFC, invalided out due to sickness, thence instructing in England]; William L. King [joined 3AFC but crashed on a ferry flight with serious injuries, invalided to Australia]; Irving Sutherland [Royal Naval Air Service 10SQN, wounded in action]; Alan Weaver [joined 4AFC but soon seriously injured in a training accident]; Centre - Chief Instructor Billy Stutt [in profile, without cap]; then students Augustus Woodward-Gregory [flew with 52SQN RAF, wounded in action, French Croix de Guerre]; John Weingarth [flew 151 missions over the lines in 4AFC Sopwith Camels, thence instructing duties in England, died on a training flight 4 Feb 1919]; Jack Faviell [training and administration duties in England]; Edgar Coleman [joined RNAS, but dogged by illness and did not fly in combat]; Robert L Clark [two months' combat with 2AFC, injured in an SE5A landing accident, thence instructing in England];  Leslie Sampson [4AFC but suffered several accidents flying Camels and was grounded]; Roy Smallwood [combat with 4AFC for four months, shot down by German anti-aircraft fire, but survived]; Leonard Webber [left Richmond course but later saw action in Belgium]; and Charles Dagg [RNAS seaplane pilot, awarded Air Force Cross after he survived a wreck in the Mediterranean, died in WW2 serving in the RAF.]
The front row has students [l to r] Norman Clark [with 3AFC for 9 months, pilot and Signals Officer, thence instructor in England, promoted to Captain and Flight Commander]; Cecil R Burton [4AFC for two months, but invalided to England with illness]; Vernon Burgess [9SQN RFC and Flight Commander 7SQN RFC on RE8s, shot down and wounded after six months in action, thence instruction duties]; Michael Cleary [served with 62SQN RFC, killed in action flying a Bristol Fighter, 28 March 1918 near Villers-Bretonneaux, France]; Hector K Tiddy [killed on a practice flight in France, 1917, 7SQN RFC]; and D Reginald Williams [retained as an instructor at Richmond, then joined the AFC in England, but only employed ferrying new aircraft to France, due to medical restrictions.]
The 24 student-pilots in the 1st Course were selected from amongst 413 applicants. 
The roof of the Richmond hangar, bedecked with flags, can be seen behind the Curtis 'Jenny' two-seat training aircraft.
Photo credit:, Nigel Love Collection.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

"Like any speedway track, the Windsor RSL Speedway had its fair share of spectacular accidents, and one of the most spectacular involved speedcar driver Merv Ward back in 1956.
On the 13th of May, Ward was competing in the speedcar feature race when he clipped the car of Gwes Bowen in Turn 1, which resulted in Ward’s car starting a series of roll-overs, during which Ward was thrown from the car, and ended up against the safety fence after the car ended back up on its wheels. Here is a series of photos of the accident. The first is taken from a contemporary magazine article, while the rest were taken by a photographer on the infield
A very spectacular accident! Merv Ward’s head is just visible behind the ambulance officer in the final photo, and he is probably wondering how he is still in one piece and conscious. His injuries were a laceration to his lower right leg and ankle, and shock. He was taken to the Hawkesbury District Hospital and after observation, was allowed to leave.
Back in the 1950’s, speedcars did not have the range of safety measures that exist in modern cars. The only restraint that the drivers used was a lap belt which was fitted across their abdomen. Most of these belts were ex-military equipment, and they were not always reliable, as the Ward accident showed. It wasn’t until the early 1960’s that shoulder harnesses were fitted, and in the early 1970’s full roll-cages were fitted to cars.
Not all accidents at the Windsor RSL Speedway in 1956 had such a happy ending. On the 12th of August, Charlie Cam was competing in a speedcar race when his car rolled-over in a race. Like Ward, Cam’s safety belt broke, and he was thrown onto the track, suffering two depressed fractures of the skull, and died shortly afterwards – the first of two fatalities at the speedway between 1949 and 1968."
By Graham Clayton

Wednesday, 10 February 2016



Capture and Death of the notorious Bushranger, George Armstrong, alias Loughman, per ship 'Norfolk.' - This man, who for some months past, had been the terror of the Windsor district, and who evaded the most active and vigilant of the Police of these districts (both horse and foot), has at length been shot by a mounted trooper. On Wednesday, the 15th instant, it was strongly suspected that the Roman Catholic Clergyman was in the frequent habit of visiting this marauder. Accordingly, on Good Friday last, after an early mass, his Reverence mounted his white stead and directed his course to the Kurryjong, being quickly followed by the Police, who had ascertained that he was going towards Stinson's farm, where they lost sight of his Reverence, but still kept a sharp look out; the Priest had an interview with the bushranger for an hour, and used every persuasion to induce the unfortunate man to surrender himself and accompany him to Windsor. He also pointed out Good Friday as a remarkable day, being the day on which Our Saviour gave himself up to the Jews, who put him to death; and that should he resign himself into the hands of justice it might be better for him both here and hereafter, by repenting of his sins. These words having been spoken very impressively by his Reverence, they seemed to soften the hitherto callous disposition of this daring and desperate offender, that he even shed a flood of tears; he soon however recovered possession of himself up, and kept a good look-out all round him. The Priest again pressed him hard to give up his pistol, which he had in a belt round his person, and go with him to Windsor. He replied, "I will not give myself now, nor will I be taken alive; but I will meet you on Thursday next, and bring the Police Magistrate with you, and I will give myself up to him then." The Priest then became quite angry, and told him he was a most hardened and incouragable fellow, and told him the first policeman he fell in with on his returning home, he would tell where he was to be found, and have him apprehended: Armstrong, not suspecting his Reverence would put his threats into execution, kept his ground, and about half an hour afterwards the Priest fell in with the police, who were directed to the spot: they waited there about an hour, when they heard a man coughing repeatedly; they advanced a few paces and found him sitting behind a bush with his back towards them; they then challenged him, and ordered him to surrender, he replied "Yes". He got onto his legs, and drew his pistol from his belt, and was preparing to fire on the police; one of the policemen snapped his pistol at him, which burnt priming: he then attempted to run away, when another policeman fired at him and shot him through the back - he fell, and requested the police to finish him and put him out of pain. He was taken to Stinson's house and expired shortly after. The following day an inquest was held on the body and a verdict returned accordingly.

- From our Windsor Correspondent.

Two of the Windsor police being disguised on Thursday last, went out on an expedition towards the Kurryjong in search of Armstrong the notorious bushranger: when at the Kurryjong, they observed a man (as they thought) carrying a bundle; suspecting that he might be going to visit Armstrong, and on advancing towards and questioning him, and inspecting the contents of the bag, found it to contain woman's apparel, and the person with whom they were talking was no other than a female prisoner of the Crown, absent from the service of a man at Bathurst; she was immediately escorted to Windsor, and underwent examination there before the Police Magistrate, but nothing material was elicited. Jane confessing herself to be a runaway, and that she absconded, and that she was fully determined to see her husband, who she stated to be in the service of a person living near Kurryjong, and her master refused to give her a pass, she, to use her own expression, "determined to bolt". She had on at the time of capture a coarse blue jacket, and corduroy trowsers, a pair of old boots, and walked lame. a check shirt and straw hat was also worn by the prisoner; and when seen it was strongly suspected she was no less a person than the notorious Armstrong. After examination she was remanded to the gaol, where the very proper and necessary orders previously given by the Police Magistrate were carried into effect, by an entire change of wearing apparel.

- From our Windsor Correspondent.

The same issue of the Sydney Gazette carried the following stories:
A short time since the man Armstrong, alias Lukeman, who has been so long the terror of North Richmond, took a double barrelled gun from Mr. T. Bell, which he had the impudence to leave a day or two since at the residence of A. Bell, Esq. M.C.of Belmont. It appears that this man is to be permitted to roam at large, plundering travellers, without any effort being made to take him. The magistrate of the district wrote to Colonel Wilson, to request that a certain constable might be sent up, who was acquainted both with the man and the district, but this was, we learn, refused.

- Correspondent.

Colonel Wilson makes it a part of the duty of the constables to go to his house twice on every Sunday, for the purpose of being paraded, by which means the whole of Sydney is left without protection for some hours. Marauders have only to mark the time to levy contributions upon the public with impunity. Surely, if parading is necessary, it might take place in each district, and not withdraw the whole civil power at once from the streets.

(from the Sydney Gazette of 28th March, 1837)



"In the days of long ago", somewhere about the year 1876, some benevolently-inclined individual presented Mr. J.M. McQuade, J.P., with an Alpacca (sic), an American quadruped of the camel species. This animal was queer and uncanny-looking in the extreme, and there existed among the small boys, during the time of his rein in Windsor, a tradition to the effect that if, after being unduly tormented, he spat upon one of his assailants, that worthy would be doomed to instant extinction. With an extended camel-like head and neck, and long legs and body covered with coarse-looking wool, this particular alpaca was a source of such permanent annoyance to its proprietor that he, not to be outdone in generosity and large-heartedness, made a gift of it to the local Borough Council. For some time the animal wandered at will over the streets, terrifying all the small boys of the neighbourhood, and making even many of the adults quake with fear. Complaints came in very freely to the Council authorities of accidents caused to equestrians by the bobbing up serenely at unexpected corners of this queer-looking beast, and "unmerciful disaster followed fast and followed faster," until at last the body corporate began to repent of their acceptance of the objectionable present, and at length decided to exercise a generous spirit and give the brute away to no less a person than the gentleman who presented it to them in the first instance. The result was that Mr. J.M. McQuade, the next victim, received the following communication, dated March 17, 1876:-
I have the honour by direction of the Mayor, to inform you that a meeting of the Borough
Council held on Wednesday, March 15, 1876, it was resolved that a letter be addressed to you,
respectfully requesting that you would be pleased to take charge of the alpace (sic).
I am, yours obediently,
Council Clerk.
Ultimately Mr. Alpaca was taken charge of by Mr. Mc Quade, and for years it browsed on the sweet and succulent herbage which grew in the police paddock and in the enclosure at the rear of the court-house. Its repeated freaks and vagaries, productive of a series of mishaps, rendered it such a permanent nuisance, however, that at length flesh and bone could stand it no longer, and the animal was handed over to Mr. Richard Ridge, who had it executed through the medium of a gun-shot one fine morning and while he resided in Windsor its skin decorated part of his pretty residence in Macquarie-street. Thus ended the career of the first and only Alpaca brought to this town, a beast of which most of those who resided in town at the time have vivid recollection, by reason of the circumstance that few of them failed at some period or other to suffer in some way from.

(Windsor and Richmond Gazette 7th December, 1890)

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Smugglers Tunnels


There have long been stories in the Hawkesbury that the Macquarie Arms Hotel at Windsor, which dates from 1815 in Governor Lachlan Macquarie's time, is reputed to have a tunnel to the Hawkesbury River built for the purpose of smuggling.
R. M. Arndell, in his book Pioneers of Portland Head, first published in 1976, recounted that a rumour of an 8ft. x 10ft. brick tunnel was built from the river to Andrew Thompson's store to deliver the casks of "illicitly brewed" rum from Thompson's and Solomon Wiseman's still on Scotland Island into the stores cellars. Arndell reported a similar tunnel, which led from another hotel opposite the foot of Baker Street, on the south side of Macquarie Street, to South Creek.
Tales of such tunnels seem to abound for there is also reputed the be a tunnel linking the Macquarie Arms Inn, previously known as the Blighton Arms, at Pitt Town to the Bird in Hand Inn, according to some members of the Johnston family. It should be remembered that the Bird in Hand was actually on the opposite side of Bathurst Street to the hotel currently bearing that name, which was actually the Maid of Australia. The exact location of the supposed tunnel, and its purpose, remain a mystery.
Tales of the "Rum Smugglers' Tunnel" can be traced back to the early days of the Hawkesbury. It was discussed by George Reeve in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette of 18th January, 1924:
Come we now to John Howe's being the trusted clerk for Emancipist Andrew Thompson. I will go back to a period of about 10 months before Thompson's death. It would appear that Thompson's many ventures and interests were growing too fast for himself alone to handle. For in the 'Sydney Gazette' of December 3rd, 1809, appears the following advertisement:
'John Howe begs leave to inform the public that he keeps and carries on the extension house and business of Mr. Andrew Thompson, at the Green Hills, Hawkesbury, with every respectful attention, and now has on sale a valuable assortment of Woollen and Linen Drapery, Haberdashery, Hosiery, Stationery, Grocery, Drugs, Cutlery, Ironmongery, Saddlery, Chaise, Cart and other harness in sets or otherwise, Men and Women's Shoes, Shoemaker's Tools, Dressed Leather of all kinds, Salt Pitch and Tar, Large Brass Locks, Copper, Copper Pump Works, Leadon Pipes and other Brewing Utensils, with a variety of other Goods of the best quality and at the most reduced prices for ready payment only. All persons indebted to Mr. A. Thompson are once more requested to make good their payments without delay.'
From the foregoing it will be conceded that Thompson, aided and joined by Howe, must have had very large stores, and also had a very large turnover in stores stock. Thompson himself appears to have conducted the sales of and manufacture of spirits, especially rum and whisky. Andrew Thompson was known to have a distillery for rum at Scotland Island, at the mouth of the Hawkesbury. There is no doubt whatever in the writer's mind that the large bricked 8 x 10 conduit or tunnel leading from where Thompson's store site was to the river, parts of which can still be seen by an observant eye was constructed specially to draw up the barrels containing the rum which was illicitly manufactured on a wholesale scale, Thompson's vessels bringing the grog to the foot of Thompson Square, near the old Windsor wharf. An old Hawkesbury native, by name William Smith, has said to the writer, that when he was a boy in the "twenties" of the last century, he distinctly remembers the long, shingled structures that used to go down to the river bank from where the remains of Thompson's large store once stood. The time of which he spoke would be the "twenties". We can now quite understand the reason for the construction of the underground brick tunnel, which most people erroneously think was a drain to carry away waste water from the old gaol..
Let us now examine the facts as they can best be determined.

ANDREW THOMPSON ( 1773-1810) :

Born in Yetholme, Scotland, Andrew Thompson was transported for fourteen years in 1792 after being convicted of being in possession of stolen goods. Having spent a year in the men's provision store, he joined the police force, serving at Toongabbie. In 1796 he moved to Green Hills and was made constable. He was pardoned in 1798 and rapidly rose to the rank of chief constable.
Thompson purchased 120 acres fronting South Creek and named the property "West Hill Farm". It was here that he built the Red House. Governor Hunter granted a lease of one acre at Green Hills in 1799. This was situated on what is now the northeastern side of Thompson Square. Here he constructed a house and a general store and later an inn. In 1802, he constructed the first toll bridge over South Creek.
Salt was a rare necessity in the colony as it was required both for preservation of meat and in the sealskin trade. Thompson established a salt manufacturing plant initially at Mullet Island and later at Scotland Island at Broken Bay. Governor King permitted him to establish a brewery on South Creek in 1806. Thompson controlled a barge for ferrying passengers across the river. He also established a tannery at the Red House.
Thompson built four ships, the 'Nancy', 'Hope', 'Hawkesbury' and 'Governor Bligh'. He also bought the 'Speedwell' from Captain Grono.
On Bligh's arrival in 1806, Thompson was the largest grain grower and wealthiest settler in the colony. He had acquired in 1804 a grant of 278 acres of fertile riverbank land which he named Agnes Banks and a further 260 acres adjoining Nelson Common, which he named "Killarney". Over the next two years he added another 30 acres to West Hill. He purchased Baxter's 50 acre farm upstream from Agnes Banks, naming it "Wardel Bank", and Bayliss' 150 acre farm nearby, naming it "Glascow".
Bligh purchased two farms at what is now Pitt Town and appointed Thompson to manage them as model farms.
Following the removal of Bligh from office in the "Rum Rebellion" on 26th January, 1808, Thompson was dismissed as chief constable at the Hawkesbury. As reward for his efforts in rescuing victims of the devastating 1809 floods, Thompson was granted 1,000 acres at Minto. His previous leases at the Green Hills and Scotland Island were converted into grants.
When Macquarie arrived in 1810, Thompson was ill as a result of immersion in the 1809 floods. Macquarie appointed him Magistrate at the Green Hills and as a trustee on the new turnpike road between Parramatta and the Hawkesbury. However, Thompson's health deteriorated rapidly and he died of tuberculosis on 23rd October, 1810. His was the first burial in what would become St. Matthews churchyard. He left an estate estimated at the time to be worth 20,000 Pounds.


The Windsor and Richmond Gazette of 26th December, 1924, reported:
It was in the spacious days when England was at death's grip with Napoleon that Solomon Wiseman first became notorious. He was captain of a small sloop cruising in the English Channel, and he and his vessel had a romantic career. He was employed by the British Government to carry spies to the French coast - a highly dangerous occupation - but he added to the adventure of his life by carrying other dangerous cargo in the shape of casks of rum and brandy on his return to the shores of England ...
But in 1806 he was chased and caught by revenue officers off the Isle of Wight, and when they boarded his sloop they found not only contraband spirits and cigars, but certain passengers who turned out to be French spies making their way to England.
For this business Solomon Wiseman was convicted and sentenced to death, but in consideration of his services to his country in connection with the secret intelligence department the sentence was commuted to that of transportation...
The basis of this story would appear to from Reminiscences of New South Wales, by Judge Therry, who had been a guest of Wiseman at Cobham Hall.
In reality, Wiseman had been convicted on 30th October, 1805, at the Old Bailey for feloniously stealing 704 pounds weight of Brazil wood, of the value of 24 Pounds, from a lighter in the Thames. His death sentence was commuted to transportation for life, and he arrived in the colony on the Alexander in 1806. (Details can be found in the J.R.A.H.S. - vol. 17 - p350 - James Jervis - Solomon Wiseman and his Ferry.)
Wiseman received his ticket-of-leave in June, 1810, and his absolute pardon in February, 1812. Following difficulties in the shipping trade, Wiseman was granted 200 acres on the Hawkesbury near Benjamin Singleton's property. By 1828 he had increased his holdings to 1100 acres. He established his ferry in 1827, having built his residence a year earlier. He died at Wisemans Ferry on 29th October, 1838.


During the years up to 1795, the colony was under martial law. The officers obtained a virtual monopoly of all spirits entering the colony. They were able to dispose of these in barter with the settlers at enormous profit. By 1806 rum had become the only currency. Mrs. Elizabeth Macarthur wrote: The officers in the colony, with a few others possessed of money or credit in England, unite together and purchase the cargoes of such vessels as repair to this country from various quarters. Two or more are chosen to bargain for the cargo offered for sale, which is then divided amongst them in proportion to their subscriptions. This arrangement prevents monopoly, and the imposition that would be otherwise practiced by the masters of ships. (Early records of the Macarthurs of Camden p. 51)


Bligh was born at Plymouth, England, on 9th September, 1754. He joined the navy on 27th July,1770.
Having been given command of the Bounty in order to procure breadfruit for the West Indies, he sailed on 28th November,1787 and reached Tahiti eleven months later. Soon after leaving, the crew mutinied. Bligh was able to use his seamanship to navigate the 23 feet long open boat across the 3618 miles to Timor.
As the result of Joseph Banks assistance, Bligh was appointed Governor of New South Wales. He reached Sydney on 6th August, 1806, but did not assume office for a week. In the interval he received a grant from Governor King of 240 acres at Camperdown, 105 acres near Parramatta and 1,000 acres near Rouse Hill on the Parramatta - Hawkesbury Road. Bligh, in January ,1807, granted Mrs. King 790 acres, which she called "Thanks". There was no mention of these grants in despatches, despite instructions that the approbation of the Secretary of State was required for grants of that size. (H.R.A. ser. 1, vol. 4, p. xv)
Upon Bligh's arrival he was presented with an address of welcome on behalf of the free men by John Macarthur. The Hawkesbury settlers took umbrage and drew up their own address of welcome, pointing out "the invasion of their rights and privileges as British subjects" by "John McArthur Esq."
Governor Bligh received the following request :
We look upon your Excellency in wisdom to put in practice such means as may be for the salvation, honour, and interest of the colony, and for averting the approach of famine and distress to its inhabitants -
    By restoring the freedom of trade.
    By permitting commodities to be bought and sold at a fair open market (by all the inhabitants).
    By preventing that painful monopoly and extortion heretofore practiced.
    By protecting the merchant and trader in their properties, and the people in general in their rights, privileges, liberties, and professions, as by law established.
    By suffering the laws of the realm to take their due course in matters of property without controul.(sic)
    That justice be administered by the Courts authorized by His Majesty, according to the known law of the land.
    By causing payment to be made in such money or Government orders as will pass current in the purchase of every article of merchandize without drawback or discount.
(H.R.N.S.W. vol. 6, p. 190-92)
Soon after his arrival Bligh purchased three farms at what would become Pitt Town. These comprised three grants, viz., one of 110 acres to James Simpson (made by Governor King on 31st March, 1802) and two to Thomas Tyler, one of 60 acres (granted by Governor Hunter on 1st May, 1797) and one of 110 acres (granted by Governor King on 12th April, 1803). All were purchased by Governor Bligh from the original grantees. (HRNSW vol. 6, p. 262) [ It should be noted that most of this property was above what is now the one in a hundred year flood level.]
He appointed Andrew Thompson to manage the farms as "model farms" to demonstrate what could be achieved by "good management and persevering industry". These farms benefited considerably from the Government flock and stores. For example, Andrew Thompson wrote to Bligh on 16th October, 1807, stating:
I beg leave to inform your Excellency that I went into the Toongabby yards and exchanged eight of the inferior cows, with the bull, and obtained good and sufficient ones in their room, which will fully answer the purpose and make a great difference and advantage in your Excellency's flock, which, from pasturage and attention, will be one of the best in the colony to their number, the cows now being again all in calf.; also, all the other stock is in a prosperous state, as per the returns inclosed. I did not get up your Excellency's pigs from Castle Hill, as one of them had just farrowed and could not travel, but I will on Monday next. We are planting the maize to the best advantage by manuring all the upper lands, &c., which will be done in a day or two, when we will turn our prompt attention towards the buildings and inclosures until harvest, that will shortly come on, as all your Excellency's wheat in the upper lands is now in ear, which, with the general crops in this extensive settlement, has every appearance of giving a plentuous and joyful harvest to make the people happy under your Excellency's auspicious and benign government, the beauty and gratification of which would be highly enhanced should your Excellency, amidst your many and important duties, be pleased to visit our ample plains in the full fruition of harvest.
( H.R.N.S.W. vol. 6, p. 307-8)
Andrew Thompson again wrote to Bligh on 19th December, 1807. He advised that the Governor's expected total profit for the following year would be 1,065 Pounds. Included was an estimate for "The house and improvements intended and set on foot for this year will be worth and enhance the value of the estate to 400 Pounds." Thompson concluded with "N.B. - But it may be observed that a common farmer who has to pay for everything would by no means have such profits."
(HRNSW Vol. 6, p. 389-392)
Promissory notes served as currency and were generally expressed in bushels of wheat. One such note was held by John Macarthur from Andrew Thompson. Following the flood of 1806, the price of wheat rose from 7 shillings per bushel to 30 shillings. Macarthur demanded payment in wheat. Bligh issued a proclamation on 1st November, 1806, stating that all promissory notes were to be "payable in sterling money":


1st November, 1806.

...Whereas the term currency made use of in this colony seems not to have carried its proper signification in the small notes generally circulated, it is hereby declared that its meaning is only applicable to money, and not barter in goods; so that if any note is made payable in copper coin or the currency of the colony, it is to be inferred that money only is the means by which it is to be liquidated.
And whereas the good faith of individuals is not to be perverted, it is hereby declared, that on or about the first day of January, 1807, all checks and promissory notes issued shall by public proclamation be drawn payable in sterling money; and that after the proclamation is publicly declared, all outstanding notes payable in copper coin or Colonial currency shall or may be sued for as if the term "copper coin or Colonial currency" had not been expressed. The value of coins already established to be in full force.
(HRNSW vol. 6, p. 198)
Following the floods of 1806, Bligh provided supplies from the Government stores to the Hawkesbury settlers (HRNSW vol. 6, pp.. 176 & 186) and offered to take wheat from the next crop into the Government stores at 15 shillings per bushel (Sydney Gazette 21st December, 1806). This delighted the settlers, resulting in strong loyalty to Bligh even after the events of 1808.
Bligh was determined to stamp out the barter of spirits for goods or labour, commenting on 7th February, 1807:
It is absolutely necessary to be done to bring labour to a true value and support the farming interest... In addition to the reasons already given to prohibit the barter of spirits, is the strong temptation it holds out to the settlers and other inhabitants to erect private stills, which tend to destroy not only the grain but the industry and morals of the people. The practice of distillation has been so general that the late Governor found it necessary to prohibit it under certain fines and penalties, and to offer emancipations, free pardons, and pecuniary remunerations to those who would give information of persons employed in this ruinous work ; but the effect has not yet been produced, as this practice still continues in violation of every order and vigilance of the police.
(H.R.N.S.W. vol. 6, pp. 246-52)
This was followed on 14th February, 1807, by the following proclamation:
His Excellency the Governor laments at finding, by his late visits through the colony, that the most calamitous evils have been produced by persons bartering or paying in spirits for grain of all kinds, the necessaries of life, and the labourers for their hire, such precedings depressing the industrious and depriving the settlers of their comforts and wants. In order to remedy these grievous complaints, and to relieve the inhabitants who have suffered by this traffic, he feels it his duty to put a total stop to this barter in future, and to prohibit the exchange of spirits or other liquors as payment for grain, animal food, labour, wearing apparel, or any other commodity whatever, to all descriptions of persons in the colony and its dependencies.
(ibid, pp. 253-4)
Bligh was removed from office by Johnston on 26th January, 1808. After Johnston's trial, Bligh was promoted to rear-admiral, and then to vice-admiral in June, 1814. He died on 7th December, 1817.
The following memorial from John Blaxland was sent to Stephen Rolleston on 7th November,1809, by Blaxland's brother Charles, in preparation for his defence against charges arising out of the Rum Rebellion:
That the Governor took from him ( your memorialist) upward of 500 gallons of spirits, and fixed a price much below its value, which your memorialist was forced to take, whereby his immediate favourites would clear from 2 to 3 Pounds per gallon, amongst whom Andrew Thompson, the Governor's bailiff, no doubt came in for a share, as upwards of 400 gallons have been traced into his possession during twelve months, some of which was given to him at 8s. to 12s. per gallon, which he afterwards sold at 20s. per q. bottle, which, on a moderate calculation, gives him a profit of 1,200 Pounds, a sum which, from its magnitude, no person will suppose that Governor Bligh suffered to go into his servant's pocket, when it comes to be known that Governor Bligh was a peculator and his bailiff one of his subordinate agents.
(H.R.N.S.W. vol. 7. pp. 224-5)
Andrew Thompson undoubtedly had access to the grain, shipping, a large store at Green Hills with the necessary equipment to construct a still,and an isolated site at Scotland Island on which to locate it. In addition it should be remembered that he held position of Chief Constable at the Hawkesbury and was the manager of Bligh's profitable farms at Pitt Town. However, when rumours reached Bligh in 1807 that he was involved in distiling, Thompson vigorously defended his position, writing to Bligh on 27th May, 1807:-
I am greatfully thankful to your Excellency for your justice and goodness respecting the insinuations made against my character in telling you that I was concerned in distilling, to which I again beg leave to pledge my life and property is false, defying any person in existence to prove that I ever spoke or acted against your Excellency's order on this head since the day it was published up to the present moment. But your Excellency is or would no doubt be convinced that the slander of this country would deprive you of the services of honest men if your Excellency's just wisdom and penetration did not counteract such destructive
plans. (H.R.N.S.W.- vol 6 - page 268)


Governor Macquarie commissioned many public works at Windsor. The architect for many of these was Francis Greenway. The Australian Almanac and General Directory, 1835 (p. 227) states :
When the Wharf at Windsor, built by contract, by Mr. James Howe was washed away, and Howe's bridge (over South Creek) in danger from the same cause, Mr. Greenway was directed by the Governor to survey the place, and to furnish the plan of a wharf on a more secure principle, and also a plan whereby the bridge might be secured. The new wharf was built; and though not by any means on so efficient a plan as the one proposed, yet it has since stood the effects of some of the greatest floods that have happened in that part of the country. The Government, however, neglected to secure the bridge according to the architects instructions, and the result has been that it was carried away by a flood. Plans were also furnished for a church and parsonage-house, a court house, a barrack, a store, and many other improvements, several of which have since been carried into effect. Many of the windings of the rivers were also surveyed, and places suggested where communications by bridges and other communications might be made, to afford greater security, and to prevent the effects of future inundations by floods. Mr. Greenway's various duties would not allow him time to survey the windings of the River Hawkesbury towards the sea, so as to give a positive opinion as to its capability for improvement.
Macquarie entered into contracts to build a bridge over South Creek, a road to Sydney and a wharf at Thompson Square. The wharf contract included the making of a slope from the wharf to the Government Stores, the filling of Thompson Square, and a sewer for drainage of the centre of the square. Part of the sewer was uncovered during roadwork to realign Bridge Street during the 1930's and this helped promote the local legend that it was a smugglers' tunnel running from the Maccquarie Arms to the wharf.
Copies of the contracts are held in the Mitchell Library. They are dated 8th August, 1814, (M.L. MSS 106, article 37), and 24th April, 1815, (M.L. MSS 106, article 88). The first contract contains the words: To Sink and Erect one Sewer in the middle of the Square with channels leading thereto or to Sink and Erect two sewers one on each side of the Square as laid down in the Plan in the possession of his Excellency Governor Macquarie.
Both contracts were signed by John Howe and James McGrath. Payment for the first contract was to be 350 Pounds and 350 gallons of Bengal rum, and 600 Pounds for the second contract.
The contractors were permitted to make between 120,000 and 150,000 bricks at the new Government brickfields at Windsor.
Payments were made from the Police Fund for 100 Pounds for the quarter ending 30-9-1814, 75 Pounds for the quarter ending 31-12-1814, and 100 Pounds for the quarter ending 30-6-1815. The first payment of the second contract was made from the Police Fund for the quarter ending for the amount of 200 Pounds.
On 14th November, 1816,Governor Macquarie wrote :
In consideration of the greater part of the Govt. Quay or Wharf already erected by the contractors having been carried away or destroyed by the late Floods of the Hawkesbury, I have this day agreed on an estimate made out and submitted to me by Mr. Greenway the Govt. Civil Architect of the additional Expense of repairing and Completing the same in solid and durable material (agreeably to a Plan thereof made out by Mr. Greenway), to allow and pay unto Messrs. Howe and McGrath the additional sum of Two Hundred and Twenty (including Twenty Pounds for Mr. Greenway's trouble in planning and directing the Work) Pounds Sterling; allowing them also for payment such Iron and Spike Nails from the stores as can be spared - with a carpenter and Pair of Sawyers off the store; the Contractors now engaging to complete the said Quay or Wharf in Eight months from this date.
(A773, p. 64, Mitchell Library)
Howe was required to make good the damage caused by the flood. Works were completed by 1820.
Payment of 150 Pounds was made from the Police Fund for the quarter ending 31-12-1816. Final payment was not received until the quarter ending 31-3-1820 for the sum of 316 Pounds 10s.
The wharf constructed by Howe and McGrath replaced the wharf which had been constructed by February, 1795, and referred to by David Collins in An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales (pages 340 and 348) as "the store-wharf".
Howe's wharf was used well into the Twentieth Century and can be clearly seen on a number of photographs taken in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century.
The present Windsor wharf was constructed during the 1980's. Remnants of the old wharf still exist and were examined during an archeological investigation of Thompson Square undertaken by Edward Higginbotham.
Brickwork was discovered under the old Boat Club building in Thompson Square in April, 1985. An archeologist, Edward Higginbotham, was commissioned by Hawkesbury Shire Council to investigate the site. Mr Higginbotham advised that the structure located was a brick barrel drain, dated c.1815, similar to one recently excavated at Parramatta. Mr Higginbotham was referring to the brick barrel drain excavated by himself in June, 1981 (Australian Journal of Historical Archeology. Vol. 1, January 1983, page 35-39). The Parramatta drain had been constructed in the 1820's during the Governorship of Macquarie for the purpose of disposing of stormwater rather than sewerage. The Windsor sewer / drain, as can be verified by the contracts and dates of payment, clearly predates it.
Of the Parramatta drain Mr. Higginbotham has stated :
Along its whole course the drain was constructed of a cylinder of brickwork, two courses of c.200mm brick, with an internal diameter ranging from 1200 to 1300mm. The courses of sandstock brick, bonded with lime mortar, were laid parallel with the length of the drain, the sides of the bricks facing the interior of the cylinder. (Australian Journal of Historical Archeology.
Vol. 1, 1983, p. 36)


In 1815 a "spacious and commodious inn" was constructed by Richard Fitzgerald adjoining Thompson Square and was known as the Macquarie Arms. In order to save Government the cost of providing such a structure, Macquarie had given "Mr. Fitzgerald a large allotment in the square on the expressed condition of his building immediately thereon a handsome commodious inn of brick or stone and to be at least two stories high." ( Macquarie's Journal of his tours- 12th Jan. 1811) The Sydney Gazette of 29th July, 1815, reported:
That spacious and commodious new Inn at Windsor, called The Macquarie Arms, was opened by the GOVERNOR, on Wednesday the 26th instant, when HIS EXCELLENCY entertained at dinner the Magistrates and other principal Gentlemen residing at Windsor, and in that neighbourhood. Mr. Ransom, who has taken on himself the duties of Innkeeper, is, from his experience in the avocation, thoroughly competent to the undertaking, which we are convinced will be conducted on a liberal footing. Its necessity has long been manifest as there was no house of public reception at Windsor capable of accommodating large and genteel companies, whereas the Macquarie Arms from its extent, plan of building, and adequate number of apartments will be doubtless found worthy of the most liberal patronage and support.
The Windsor and Richmond Gazette of 5th November, 1980, commented on the tunnel / drain in an article headed :


It has often been said that some journalists (certainly not those associated with this paper) never let the facts spoil a good story.
That could well be true, but when it comes to not letting the facts spoil a good historical attraction, said scribblers could learn a thing or two from Windsor Council aldermen.
Now it came about that there was some grant money available from the Heritage Council for a high sounding project known as the National Estate Programme, 1980-81.
With town planners, project officers, and sundry other experts in the grant-getting field on the staff, council is never last in the line when it comes to getting government handouts, so quick as a flash, it digs up no less than nine historic projects, all badly in need of an injection of money.
They ranged from the reinstatement of the balcony on Toxana at Richmond, to a picket fence around Mrs Cope's cottage at Windsor.
All up the cost of the projects was some $94,000, but by far the most fascinating item was $4,500 to investigate and locate a former rum tunnel from the Hawkesbury River to the Macquarie Arms Hotel and "assess present structural condition".
That was how things stood up to the last gathering of aldermen when a wet blanket was thrown on the whole idea by the history pundit Doug Bowd. Doug has been the nemesis of fanciful Oxboro legend-tellers for years and he wasted few words in administering the chop to this tale. He told the aldermen that the tunnel, in fact, was built as a sewer for drainage from Thompson Square to the river by John Howe and James McGrath, and had never been used for smuggling rum or anything else.
The council's reaction to this was akin to a small boy who's had his lollipop taken away. Ald. Sullivan, somewhat hopefully, said he couldn't imagine the tunnel being a sewer on the top of a hill and the Mayor (Ald. Dunn) said it was a pity that there wasn't something factual in such a romantic story.
Ald. Benson said the tunnel created impressions of dark deeds of the past, the Mayor adding that it certainly wouldn't have been the first sewer to be used for other purposes. With visions of another tourist attraction for Windsor, Ald. Sullivan went a step further by suggesting that another sort of spirit might be found in the tunnel.
"After all there is the Fisher's Ghost Festival," he said.
The town planner had suggested that council might delete the 'rum tunnel' item from its submission, but the aldermen decided to give it a fly and leave it in.
And so, another legend is in the making.

Whatever accusations have been made against Andrew Thompson in relation to the illicit distillation of spirits, there can be no doubt that he never smuggled rum into the Macquarie Arms Hotel. Thompson died in 1810, and the Macquarie Arms was not built until 1815.