Ballina & Richmond River GenWeb

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Historic Buildings

Ballina and the Richmond River area are rich in heritage and still have some wonderful old buildings as a reminder of our heritage and early ancestors. We will endeavour to list as many as we can, complete details of the buildings and photo's where possible.

Ballina Council Chambers

The old Ballina Council Chambers was a weather board house located on the corner of Crane & Cherry Streets. It was relocated to provide adequate space for the new Ballina Council Chambers, which was opened in 1927. The new Council Chambers was constructed from brick which was made at the brickyard at the base of the Ballina cutting.
The new Council Chambers is now called the Old Council Chambers. A large New Council Chambers has been erected. The Old Council Chambers is now used as offices.

Ballina Post Office

The Richmond River Heads Post Office was established at Ballina on January 1st, 1856. William Clements was the first in charge. A weekly mail service operated by horseback between Ballina & Casino. Naturally mail services improved over the years, as shipping increased. Edmund Ross was appointed Post Master on 1st April 1858 & was assisted by Ellen Ross. The Post Office was located at the Ross home & store.  On 1st May 1868, the name of the Post Office was changed from Richmond River Heads to Ballina Post Office & 1872, a branch of the Government Savings Bank was opened at the Post Office. 

A petition, asking to move the Post Office to West Ballina, was presented by residents in 1879. The Postal Inspector informed the population that a site on the wharf reserve, next to the old & new Court Houses would be ideal for both Ballina & West Ballina people to access. The site was, in fact, on the corner of Martin & River Streets & was reserved for the erection of a Postal building.

A public meeting was held in 1880, pushing for the construction of a new Post & Telegraph building, for which funding (1 200 pounds) had been made available. In the same year, the Post Office was moved to the store of Thomas Mobbs, near the Court House. On April 20th of that year, Thomas Mobbs was appointed Post Master.

Mrs Elizabeth Hunter (wife of the telegraph station master) became Post Mistress on 1st May 1882. In July of the same year, a tender for the construction of the Post Office building (to cost 1 762 pounds) was accepted, from J. W. Burless. There must have been delays in the building of the Post Office. In 1885, the building contract changed hands. For some reason, new plans were prepared in 1886. Archibald Hunter was appointed Post & Telegraph Master on 1st January 1886. Occupation of the Post Office building did not take place until 16 June 1888. The Post Office Clock was provided by a Sydney watch maker named R. B. Smith. Mr Bousfield, previously Post Master of Woodburn, became Post Master on 1st August 1986.

This photo is of Fenwick house and the break walls in the background.

Break walls and bar as they appear today - photo taken July, 2002

Richmond River Bar and the Break Walls

The following information was written by Mrs Dorothy Southwell after taping Mrs Eileen Boorman's life experiences.

Richmond River Bar:

Boats would come to the mouth of the Richmond River, but they couldn't cross the bar & they would be bar bound for days on end & the town short of provisions. The river mouth entrance stretched from the lighthouse hill right up to Norton Street. People began talking about making a breakwall to control the bar. My father knew all of the country around the Richmond River. When two men came up from Sydney, Dad was asked to take them to what was called Riley's Hill. He knew there was a hill of good solid rock up there & it was decided it was good enough to build a breakwater at Ballina. They drew up plans & it was commenced when I was very young. [Eileen was born May 5th 1888 -- Eileen May Stone] My father had a farm which he had been living on, so he engaged a Norwegian couple to work the farm & brought his horse into Ballina. [Eileen's parents were Richard Stone & Martha Sonter]

The Ballina Breakwaters:

They started blasting for rock at Riley's Hill. They built a big wharf at Ballina over which was built a crane for the purpose of lifting the stone off the punt. The stone had been lifted from the quarry (Riley's Hill) on to punts. There was a steam boat in the middle & punts on each side laden with rock. The boat always came down the river when the tide was going out so that the force of water going over the bar would help her along. At the wharf the crane came down over the stone & lifted it onto the truck waiting there on the rails. As the breakwater grew, rails were laid further out. There came a time when a steam engine replaced the horses drawing the trucks.

There were two break walls built, the North Wall & the South Wall, but they were never completely finished. The South Wall was supposed to go round in an arc to the end of the North Wall. People said Ballina Bar would always be treacherous because the North Wall did not go out far enough & the South Wall did not go round in an arc.

When the breakwater was being built, it was both hard & arduous work. Those men who had control of the train & the loading of the stone had to be very careful there wasn't a crck in the stone. To my knowledge there were two incidents on the railway & quite a few on the breakwater.

The men who were hurt had to go into private homes. My father said to my mother one Sunday morning "we'll have to stir". From that day on he was untiring in his efforts to get a hospital built in Ballina. I can remember when the first load of timber was brought down for the hospital. Dad would go down & examine it to see if it was seasoned. He never ceased to look after the hospital until it was opened. After it was opened, all the men who were hurt on the breakwater were able to go to hospital.

Bartlett's Wharf

The photo opposite is of Bartlett's Wharf, at Wardell. Edwin Bartlett successfully ran a central store. It was a combined Post Office, Saddlery, agent for the North Coast Steam Navigation Company as well as the National Insurance Company of New Zealand.

The store was established in 1886. At that time, Wardell was a busy port, with two or three ships calling at Bartlett's private wharf every week. Included were the 'Tomki' and the 'City of Grafton. Teams of horses took cargo's from Wardell to Rous.
Please note: This photo was taken in July 2002, we are not sure if it is the original wharf.

The Ballina Manor in 1925!

The Ballina Manor in July, 2002



The History of Ballina Manor

Following the First World War and with Ballina’s population nearing 4000, the Methodist Church purchased land in Cherry Street and later in Crane Street, Ballina for the erection of a Church and Parsonage.

In 1921 Rev.F.McGowan wrote “*The most forward movement and one most urgently needed is the proposed establishment of a Girls College in Ballina. Plans were prepared for a late Edwardian building in Crane Street, Ballina, and a prospectus launched in 1923 when Rev.Hedley Parr, a man of dynamic personality, organised a concert party tour of the North Coast district for 3 months and solicited many for the venture”.

Hence the dream of the North Coast Girls College was born and built in 1924/25. It was officially opened by Mrs Earle Page, wife of the late Sir Earle Page (Federal Member of Parliament and the leader of the Country Party) on 16th September 1925. Regretfully, the North Coast College only remained operational until 1930. It was closed due to the lack of boarders. The building then became a guesthouse – known as the North Coast Guesthome. During and after the Second World War, its use changed to a boarding house and then later in the 1960’s to flats.

A conversion in the 1970’s saw a further reduction in grandeur when the building was converted to 16 flats with much use of gyprock and fibro and closing in of all verandahs. The name of “Sunnyhaven” was given to the building.

In 1999 the building was auctioned (on behalf of the estate of Mr Laundry) and Ballina Shire Council had given in principle approval for demolition of the building to enable the land to be used for new unit development.

However, it was not to be. The property was purchased by Jeff Champion (a former Mayor of Lismore) and his wife, Diana, who had a dream for the old North Coast Girls College. Ten months later, with much hard work, untold amounts of money and project managed by Jeff Champion himself, Ballina Manor became a reality.

On 4th March 2000, approximately 75 years after its original opening, Mr Don Page, State Member for Ballina, and grandson of the late Mrs Earle Page, officially opened Ballina Manor. In attendance were 6 of the original students from the North Coast Girls College (now in their late 80’s), Mayors from Ballina and Lismore, 1920’s cars from the Northern Rivers Car Club and some 1400 people who came to inspect the property.

We loved restoring Ballina Manor and we hope you enjoy your time here..

Kind regards,

Jeff and Diana Champion *Re: One Hundred Years of Methodism Ballina Methodist Church

The above information was kindly supplied by:
Michael Fellner

Ballina Manor (eMail)
25 Norton Street
Ballina NSW 2478
Tel 02 6681 5888 Fax 02 6681 1900

Queensland National Bank

The Queensland National Bank was opened in Wardell in 1922 & closed in 1949. For some time after this, the bank opened several times a week as a branch of the Ballina National Bank of Australia.

Copy of page originally transcribed by Mandy O'Neill (content remains unedited)
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