Lefroy, 1883

From A Visit to Lefroy, Examiner, 17 July 1883

It is by no means a compactly built township. On the contrary, it straggles in all directions, and consequently extends over a large area. The streets, too, are at all sorts of angles, and describe some very eccentric turns and curves. Nevertheless, scattered as the town is, it gives evidences of growing into shape; and from several points of view, surrounded as it is by wooded hills, and with a large sheet of water at its southern end which, though only a mining dam, might pass muster as a fairly sized lake – it presents a not unpicturesque appearance. … The population at present numbers about 1000 souls, and the people, notwithstanding the depression in mining matters caused by the falling off – temporarily it is believed – in the yields of gold, look well-to-do and contented. … The buildings are all of wood – I do not remember to have noticed during my necessarily hurried inspection any constructed of brick or stone. Though few of them can lay any claim to architectural beauty, still the majority are snug and comfortable in their way. The Government buildings are among some of the worst looking. For example the Post and Telegraphic Office at the south eastern end of the Main-street (Richards street) is a comfortless shabby structure unworthy of the township, and utterly unfitted for the purposes to which it is devoted. … The next building to it is the public school, of which I am glad I can speak in terms of commendation. It is situate in a dry, airy locality, and the playground is well drained. Originally it consisted of one room, 45 x 18ft., but the increase in the attendance-which now numbers 120 scholars – necessitated the addition of another room. … Passing the school-house we come to the Anglican Church, a very neat edifice, of which Mr. O. D. Sullivan, the under ground manager of the New Native Youth mine was the architect. It was erected at a cost of £650, the whole of which was raised in twenty-one months. It is nicely fitted up in the modern style, has a good cabinet organ, and will seat 160 or more persons comfortably a chancel and vestry are now being added. The building will be consecrated by Bishop Sandford, on the occasion of his first visit to this part of his diocese. The Wesleyans also have a neat church near the Chum tramway. Next to the Anglican Church is the Mechanics’ Institute, a small and unpretentious building. It contains a library of 600 volumes, and is well supplied with newspapers, periodicals, etc. There are two branch banks, viz., the Commercial and Van Diemen’s Land. The licensed hotels are five in number: The All Nations (W. H. Fletcher), Lefroy (J. Gamble), Excelsior (G. Clancy), Exchange (Mrs. Ward), and the Miners’ Arms at the northern end of the township (Mrs. Daniels). There is also a Coffee Palace conducted by Mr. Lee. The Good Templars use Mr. Lee’s large room (55ft. by 18ft.) for Lodge purposes. This temperance association is now about 100 strong in Lefroy. Mr. Fletcher, the enterprising landlord of the All Nations, is just completing a large two-storied building in close proximity to his hotel. This will be used for a variety of purposes. On the ground floor is an assembly-room, 60ft. by 30ft., fitted with a commodious stage, trap doors, and other accessories. On the upper floor is a room 30ft. by 30ft., which will be set apart as a Masonic Lodge room, with ante-room, cloak-room, and supper room, all very conveniently arranged. … Next to the Assembly Rooms, etc., is a billiard saloon, furnished with one of Alcock’s tables, presided over by Mr. John Hyrons.

Ten general stores, three butchers’, and four bakers’ shops, supply the ordinary wants of the good people of Lefroy. There is also a chemist’s and druggist’s establishment, a hair cutting saloon, and even a photographic studio, though the latter is a very temporary structure, consisting as it does of a large canvas tent; but the owner nevertheless turns out some good work. When I add that Lefroy can also boast of possessing an excellent brass band, a minstrel club, whose performances are said to be above the average, and that a dramatic club is talked of, it will be seen that apart from the excitement which is generally associated with mining operations and mining speculations, this goldfield township is by no means a dull or uninteresting place.

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