Newcastle Herald


Author: Chris Watson
Date: 24/06/2010
Words: 2308
Source: NCH
          Publication: Newcastle Herald
Section: Supplement
Page: 28

A MAN who at different times of his life was a miller,

boat builder, pioneer, explorer, grazier, farmer,

constable, builder, innkeeper and founder of the

town of Singleton, Benjamin Singleton arrived in Australia

as a three year old in 1792, with his father in chains for

stealing calico in England.

Married to Mary in 1811, Singleton tried to find an

overland route north from the Hawkesbury, fi nally joining

John Howes exploration that left Windsor in March,

1820, and 10 days later found the valley of the Coal River,

later named the Hunter. They named the area St Patricks

Plains. His wife and family joined Singleton at St Patricks

Plains in 1822 and a son, John, born in 1823, became the

fi rst white child born on the plains.

Singleton began farming on Minimbah Creek but later

relocated to 81 hectares that would eventually become part

of the town of Singleton, building a home near a Hunter

River ford and opening an inn, The Barley Mow, and then

a punt across the river.

In 1825 he was appointed district constable and later

built a station at Yarramanbah, followed by a fl our mill

near Singletons ford in 1829. In 1832 he and a son-inlaw

built a paddle wheeler worked by horses to move

goods from Morpeth to Maitland and Paterson, and then

another mill on the Williams River.

In 1836 lots were offered for sale in the intended town

of Singleton and he donated the land now known as

Burdekin Park as a market square, a few years

later personally erecting a court house

and lockup. He set out and named the

streets as they remain today.

In 1842 he went bankrupt,

returning to England for a

time. On his return he began

building a steam mill in

Singleton, but died in 1853

before it was completed.


An Irishman, Moore came

to NSW in 1838 and began a

business in Maitland before

moving to Singleton in 1844

where he opened a store on

the corner of John and Bourke


He took over the Farmers

Union and land near his store

became the main market for area

farmers. In 1891 the store became

known as Jas Moore and Co and a few years

later it purchased a fl our mill and converted it to

Singletons first butter factory.

Moore was an alderman on the towns first council and

became its second Mayor, was treasurer of the Northern

Agricultural Association for 20 years and gave land for the

Mechanics Institute. He died in 1904.


Willcox arrived in Australia from England in 1905 and

lived for 60 years in Singleton, beginning work as a fi lm

projectionist in a town hall and later at the Strand Theatre,

and also working at the railway refreshment rooms and

selling butter and ice.

He was elected to council in 1925 and for 15

years fought for a sewerage scheme for the

town, being successful in getting the

council to accept a government grant in

1937 in his first term as Mayor.

He built his own bowls green and

offered it to the Singleton Ladies

Bowling Club when it formed in

1937, coaching at what became

Werona Bowling Club while his

wife, Janet, became club patron.

Willcox was given life membership

to Singleton Bowling Club in


Willcox and his wife were

members of the towns original

ambulance committee where

she formed a ladies auxilliary, he

worked to establish Singleton baths,

was president of the swimming club,

president of the Boy Scouts, a member

of the hospital board, Masonic Lodge and

life member of the Northern Agricultural

Association, was associated with the town band,

treasurer of the operatic society, taught skating and

dancing  he taught the town to dance for sixpence on

Saturday afternoons  taught debutantes for balls and

played the drums in a local band.

He died at Singleton in 1965.


Read first arrived in Australia from Dublin in 1863,

returning to Ireland a few years later to begin medical


He returned to Australia as a doctor in 1872, married

and settled in Newcastle before starting a practice in

Singleton in 1876, later buying Carisbrook House to be his

home and surgery.

He established the Kelso vineyard, winery and brandy

distillery at South Singleton and in partnership with others

acquired coal seams at Rixs Creek in 1881 and later

built coke ovens there to supply the Great Cobar Copper

Mining and Smelting Co, which the partners eventually

bought. The mine became one of the largest copper

mining and smelting businesses in the nation, realising

more than one million pounds when it sold in 1907.

Read retired in 1898 and the family moved to Sydney,

but when the second All Saints Church was built in 1913

the oak choir stalls were his gift. Read died in 1920,

followed by his wife just 10 days later.


Born in Glasgow in 1822, White arrived in Australia

with his parents 10 years later, studying at the Australian

College of the Presbyterian Church before being ordained

and put in charge of St Andrews Presbyterian Church,

Singleton, in 1847, the start of 55 years of ministry in the


He visited scattered communities on horseback in

the days before roads and bridges and also managed

to continue his education, gaining his BA, MAa and

LLD. He taught at Singleton Grammar School in

1880 when he would conduct evening services

at Muswellbrook on Sunday and ride to

Singleton in time for Monday classes.

He was elected unanimously as

moderator of the Synod of Australia in

1859 and in 1893 moderator of the

Presbyterian Church of NSW. He was

the instigator behind Scots College,


Dr White fought for Aboriginal

rights, allowed them to camp on

his Gowrie property and set up a

mission at St Clair where a church

and school were built.

He died at Gowrie in 1902, and on

the day of his funeral every business

house in town closed.


Born in Sydney, when Singletons St Clair

Mission opened in 1904 Dixon became its

full-time resident missionary.

She established the Aboriginal Inland Mission

of Australia, and when an Aboriginal woman died

leaving two daughters, she founded a girls home in


She married Leonard Long in 1906 and afterwards they

extended their work into Queensland, but they stayed

in Singleton until 1910 when the mission headquarters

moved to Sydney, continuing to grow until in the 1930s it

had spiritual care of 11,000 Aboriginals.

A training institute was opened at Minimbah House in

1945, and many who trained with the mission became

Aboriginal leaders.

Long retired in 1953 and died in 1956.


Born in England in 1798, when only 19 years old Horne

received a life sentence and was transported to Australia, but

although he started as a convict he became Chief Constable

at Patricks Plains and Singleton from 1839 to 1862.

Originally a constable at Parramatta, he was involved in

the shooting and capture of bushrangers in 1830 which led

to him being given a land grant in the area now known as

Normanhurst (Hornsby Shire takes its name from him).

In 1839 he was appointed to Patricks Plains where he

was to remain for almost 50 years. Extra appointments for

him at Singleton included Inspector of Slaughter Houses,

Court of Petty Sessions and Court for the Recovery of

Small Debts bailiff, and Inspector of Distilleries. He was

behind the formation of a benevolent society for Singleton

and Patricks Plains and was on its fi rst committee.

Horne retired in 1862 through ill health but

>> 29 >>


Gould migrated from England in 1838 and in 1860 he

and his family moved to Singleton where, in 1874, he

began a sawmilling and logging business with Frederick

King, supplying hand-sawn timber to customers.

In 1882 the mill was moved nearer the town railway

station and it flourished until destroyed by fire in 1887,

when a new company was formed.

Gould was a member of the Christian Israelite Church

and had a chapel on the side of his home, and in 1894

donated land for a church, while in 1934 his daughter,

Eliza, gave the land where the original mill stood to the

church. Gould lost his wife in 1901 and took an overseas

trip, falling ill in England and never returning to Australia,

where his business was carried on by three sons and family

shareholders as Gould Bros.


Born at Lower Belford in 1848, Henry McFadden arrived

in Singleton around 1850 when his father opened a

coach-building and blacksmith business where

he learned his trade as a coach and buggy


He went on to work in Sydney,

Armidale, Richmond and Goulburn

before returning to Singleton with

a very successful coach and buggy

building business which only closed

with the advent of the motor car.

In Singleton he became known as

The Father of the Show as he

was a foundation member of the

Northern Agricultural Association

and later a life member, he was a

committee member, president and

trustee of the Mechanics Institute, a

committee member of the Hospital

and Benevolent Society, a member

of the Manchester Unity Order of

Oddfellows for 60 years, honorary

treasurer of Singleton Jockey Club, a

member of Singletons first polo club and

Singleton Bowling Club, was an alderman for

29 years and Mayor in 1899, 1900 and 1901 and

turned the first sod for Singletons water supply in 1910.

He died at 90 in Singleton in 1937.


William Longworth Jnrs grandfather came to Newcastle

from England as a miner for the Australian Agricultural

Company and worked the collieries around the city before

Longworth Jnr, his father and brother worked in coal

mining in the Singleton district from 1878 to 1883.

Longworth Snr was killed in 1884 while working a

colliery at Rixs Creek.

In 1893 Longworth Jnr and his partners leased the

Great Cobar Copper Mines which Longworth managed,

and then began an electrolytic works at Lithgow. After

selling Great Cobar and other mines for about one

million pounds in 1907, Longworth continued mining

at Nundah and he and his brother began Australian

Woollen Mills at Marrickville, before he moved to Karuah,

bought the Woodford and Buttai estates at Thornton,

built a timber mill and bought a brickyard there as well as

the Ashtonfield Colliery. Longworth supported hospitals

and institutions in Sydney and in the country at Cobar,

Lithgow, Singleton, Maitland, Newcastle and Waratah,

donating a building for children at the Mater.

Longworth died at his home, Glenroy, at Karuah, in

1928 and is buried at Whittingham.


The wife of Benjamin Singleton from the age of 15, Mary

Singleton had moved to his land at St Patricks Plains by

1823 and by 1829 there were 10 children in the family.

She supported Singleton in his various pursuits and after

he died in 1853 she continued to live in the town named

after him until around 1874, when she moved to live with

her daughter in West Maitland, where she died in 1877, a

mother of 10 and grandmother of nearly 70.

She was known to help anyone who needed

assistance and on her death her remains were

brought from Maitland and interred at




Born in Neotsfield in 1840, Dangar was

educated in Newcastle before going to

Truro Grammar School in Cornwell

and further education in Germany.

After three years in the British

Merchant Service he returned to

NSW to manage family properties,

becoming a noted breeder and

founding the Pastoralists Union

of NSW. In 1866 he married and

three years later bought a property at

Whittingham called Rosemount where,

a few years later, the family moved into

the home renamed Baroona.

Dangar had real estate interests in

Singleton, Maitland and Newcastle, was

a member of the Rixs Creek coal mine and

Great Cobar Syndicate. A generous benefactor,

after the Hunter fl ood of 1893 he sent a bag of gold to

Singletons All Saints Church to provide relief.

He and wife Mary bought the land and donated 8000

pounds for the building of Singleton Hospital, built the

second All Saints Church and donated the church organ,

although he died in 1913 before hearing it played. He

supported the Northern Agricultural Association and the

Singleton Cricket Club.


Singletons first Mayor, Munro was born in Scotland in

1812 and was transported to NSW in 1831 for theft from a

grocery store, and was assigned to John Browne of Patricks

Plains before being granted his freedom in 1836.

He began a carrying business before branching into other

lines of work, and in 1841 built the Sir Thomas Mitchell Inn

on the corner of George and Cambridge streets, continuing

to lease and run hotels and lease and purchase station

properties while also working in his coaching business.

In 1851 he built the Caledonia Hotel and in 1856 erected

Ness House in George St, still standing today although

altered and renamed. Munro established Bebeah Vineyard

and his wines won awards around the world, and he built

his new home, Ardersier, near the winery.

When Singleton was proclaimed a municipality in 1866

he was elected Mayor for four years and is credited with

making Singleton into a town, giving land and money to its


He built a gas-making plant when the council was not

interested and then turned it over to

council at its original cost, was a

founder of the Oddfellows Lodge,

donated land and money for

a Masonic hall, helped the

Presbyterian Church, gave

land for the cemetery at

Glennriding, assisted

Singleton Grammar School

and the Hunter River

Building Society, financed

the north wing of the

hospital in John St and gave

money to the hospital.

The townspeople of

Singleton had a life-size

marble bust of Munro

made to show their

appreciation, which

is now with the

Singleton Historical

Society. Munro

died in 1889

and is buried in




William Kelman

planted possibly the

first vineyard in the

area on his property

at Kirkton, between

Singleton and

Branxton, in 1831.

A Jerrys Plains farmer,

Sir John Robertson, later

a wheat grower near

Scone, dominated NSW

politics from the late

1850s and was Premier

of NSW five times

beginning from 1860.

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