One year since the centenary celebrations

Last year, this day was marked by a large gathering at Lock 1 at Blanchetown to re-enact the laying of the Foundation Stone signalling the start of locking the river. Just as had happened 100 years before, the PS Marion arrived carrying guests, a band played, children formed a guard of honour and speeches were made. Also my book, Harnessing the River Murray, stories of the people who built Locks 1 to 9, 1915-1935, was officially launched.

The centenary plaque, Blanchetown.

The centenary plaque, Blanchetown.

The Murray Pioneer wrote of the Foundation Stone event back in 1915, as follows:1915 06 03:
A stone to mark the site of the first lock in South Australian territory will be laid by the Governor (Sir Henry Galway) next Saturday afternoon (June 5th). A large Parliamentary party will leave Adelaide on Friday evening for Murray Bridge, where they will go aboard the S.S. “Marion”, which is being especially fitted up for the occasion under the supervision of the Chief Engineer of the Gem Navigation Company (Mr. Fuller). Including the crew, there will be over 120 passengers on the boat, which will be the home of the party till the following Monday morning, when a special train for the city will be boarded at Goolwa. The Prime Minister (Mr. Fisher) and Mr. Holman (Premier of New South Wales) are expected to be members of the party and to speak at the stone laying function. This is timed to take place at 2 p.m., but a glance at the timetable indicates that it may possibly be later. Parties from Renmark and Loxton will probably motor to Blanchetown to witness the ceremony. As the first lock is to be called the William R. Randell lock, it is fitting that Captain Randell [W. R’s son, who was chief engineer and water master for the Renmark Irrigation Trust] should be among those going from Renmark.

The Marion steams into Lock 1, June 5, 2015

The Marion steams into Lock 1, June 5, 2015

Modern book publishing

What a great innovation Print On Demand is for modern-day writers. With digital printing, customers can order 1 or 100 copies of many self-published books. Harnessing the River Murray: stories of the people who built Locks 1 to 9, 1915-1935 by Helen Stagg is one such example. Click here to order your copy now! Print on Demand: Harnessing the River MurrayWP_20150819_005

Great summer holiday reading.


Author and historian Helen Stagg signing a copy of her newly released social history of the Lock construction workers at one of the Book Launches in 2015.

Retail outlets: Harnessing the River Murray, Stories of the people who built Locks 1-9. 1915 to 1935, by Helen Stagg. (RRP $44.95)

Adelaide: Digital Print, Print on Demand, 135 Gilles St Adelaide, 08 82323404 Order here!

Mildura: Book City, 58 Langtree Avenue Mildura Mildura Visitor Information Centre.

Echuca: Murray River Paddlesteamers, 57 Murray Esplanade, Port of Echuca
Mannum: Mannum Dock Museum and Information Centre, 6 Randell Street.

Renmark: T H Books 173 Murray Street Renmark & Olivewood Museum

Swan Reach: Swan Reach Museum, 22 Nildottie Road, Swan Reach, SA. Phone 08 85702019

Wentworth: Clarkes Newsagency, 55 Darling Street, Wentworth

Harnessing the River Murray

Christmas 1924 at Lock 9 camp

lock 7 Christmas tree from dawn glenn collection

This tree at Lock 7 depicts a similar one to what the community would have put up at Lock 9 years earlier.

On December 13, a heatwave of above 100 degrees F came to an end when about an inch of rain fell, a steady soaking rain.
On Monday December 8, the Georgian vaudeville company visited the camp and a reasonable attendance enjoyed the entertainment. On Wednesday December 10, a concert organised by Tom Irvine was given before a crowded house, the proceeds being in aid of the children’s Christmas tree and sports. A varied and entertaining program consisted of an overture by Connie Reed, songs by Mrs Florence Reed and Mrs Mary Grosse, duets by the Gorman and Reed girls, quartets by Misses Gorman and Messrs Gorman and Bowell, songs by the schoolchildren and comic items by Bertie Pearson and Bertie Bowell, violin and mandolin numbers by Albert Charlton and songs by Arthur Gorman. A dance followed.

On Christmas Eve, a wonderful Christmas tree was arranged for the children. The tree was erected on the lawns adjacent to the men’s quarters and it was decorated with toys, balloons and Christmas stockings. The many little electric bulbs illuminated the tree amid the surrounding darkness. Father Christmas, (Oliver Edwards) arrived by car and the children excitedly greeted him as he proceeded to distribute the toys. 122 children received a toy and stocking each. A plentiful supply of fruit, lollies, and cool drinks was provided. Mr. and Mrs. Albert Charlton provided music with piano and violin and there was plenty of dancing and games.

Come to the Fair: Lock 6 School, 1929

On September 6, 1929 1100 children from many regional schools converged in Renmark for River Region Education Week. Each school was allocated colours and Lock 6 children looked resplendent in their pink and silver grey as they participated in a day of sporting activity followed by an evening concert. Some of the scholars who acquitted themselves very well from Lock 6 included Gladys Fitzpatrick, Dorothy McKinnon, Stan Underwood, Gwen Westley and Roy McCully,
At the Renmark area concert that evening the children of the Lock Six School sang ‘Come to the Fair’ which was reportedly the most outstanding item of the evening with their preparation noted as exemplary. They received vigorous applause and shouts of “encore, encore!” filled the hall.

This is the marvellous song they sang, rendered here by the The National Children’s Choir Ireland in a 2003 Concert.

Teacher T A Joraslafsky

Teacher T A Joraslafsky