Albury’s First Blue Plaques
Albury has received one of the first 21 Blue Plaques to be installed across NSW. The plaque honours Betro Abicare, a Lebanese immigrant, builder and entrepreneur who made a major contribution to the development of Albury’s commercial centre. Betro was nominated for the plaque by Albury & District Historical Society.
The plaque also honours the significant contributions that early Lebanese migrants made to Albury. It was installed at 453 Dean St, Albury, one of two prominent buildings in Albury that Betro built. He migrated to Australia in the late 1800s and began his life in NSW as a hawker, later expanding into drapery, clothes, and eventually property.
His first venture in Albury was a store with cousin Saad in the Beehive building on the corner of Dean & Townsend streets
As Betro’s business prospered, he built ‘The Big Store’ (‘The Australian Building’) in 1912 and in 1927 he opened, the magnificent Regent Theatre on the opposite corner. Both buildings remain notable Albury landmarks to this day.
Unveiling the plaque were Justin Clancy MP Who represented the NSW Govertment who fund the program and Tim Farrah as a representative of Albury’s substantial Lebanese community.
More information at https://blueplaques.nsw.gov.au/blue-plaques
Click on image to enlarge
A&DHS Commissions Commemorative Plaques
In mid-2020 our Society committee discussed doing something to mark our 60th anniversary. A couple of options were considered before we decided to commission plaques on buildings, recognising that they had been sympathetically restored/renovated without destruction of the building’s heritage value.
There are many such buildings and we considered quite a few. Some buildings are already recognised with plaques (some of the plaques from A&DHS eg Carriageway and Kia Ora), with storyboards (eg the former Farmers & Graziers wool store) and with NBN box wraps (eg Bellevue in Kiewa St). An important consideration was we needed buildings with an appropriate fixing place so that the plaques could be securely installed where they could be easily seen and read from the street – that limited the field considerably.
Then we were held up by a few factors, especially Covid. The plaques are now in place on Adamshurst, Advance Australia (Soden’s) Hotel and the former Waterstreet’s Hotel. In mid-August 2022 we officially ‘commissioned’ the plaques in the presence of Albury Mayor Kylie King.
The text of the Adamshurst plaque:
With extensions built in 1908 for George Adams, proprietor of the Albury Banner, this building incorporated an earlier home.
The plaque was presented by the Albury & District Historical Society Inc in recognition of the preservation of this historic building.
Commemorating the Society’s 60th anniversary in November 2020.
Click here to watch a short 7News item from August 17, 2022
Albury Celebrates 75 Years as a City
In 2022, Albury & District Historical Society helped recognise 75 years since Albury was declared a city on December 18, 1946 and proclaimed a city on April 10, 1947.
Bruce Pennay has produced and narrated videos for our Society to track Albury becoming the city it now is in 2022:
Click on the links to view each of the three YouTube videos prepared to mark the 75th Anniversary
Declaring Albury a City (6 minutes)
Albury’s Greatest Day (12 minutes)
The New City of Albury (14 (minutes)
Albury Pioneer Cemetery Walk, April 2021
Our Society held a “cemetery walk” on Sunday April 18 at the Albury Pioneer Cemetery, the first day of Heritage Month 2021. The theme was “Distinguished, ordinary and forgotten women.” This event was twice postponed in 2020 due to Covid restrictions. Almost eighty people joined us on a lovely day to hear ten well researched and presented tributes to the ten women highlighted. There are many hundred such women, but we could only feature ten in the time available.
The ten women (in order of presentation on the day) were Elizabeth Romero (née Lee), Marthalena Selle (née Brumm), Annie, Lizzie & Jane Greenfield, Elizabetha Eberle (née Sommer), Margaret Mullavey (née Hickey), Catherine Scanlan (née Corley), Emeline Oakley (née Chubb), Emma Coom (née Dixon), Ingeborg Radevic (née Ramke) and Ivy Koschitzke (née Tomkins).
Over several months we will publish in our Bulletin an edited version of the talk presented on each of the women.
Click on image to enlarge
Good news for all who are interested in exploring our local past
The Albury Banner & Wodonga Express is now available on the Trove website back to when it was first published in July 1860 through to 1938. The Border Morning Mail is covered from its first copy in 1903 to 1920 and then from 1938 to 1949.
Extension of our coverage was made possible thanks to funding from the NSW Regional Cultural Grant, the Royal Australian Historical Society, the Public Records Office of Victoria and generous donations from local groups, businesses and individuals.
Our Society continues to explore ways to fund further local coverage on Trove.
To explore the Trove website click on the link Explore Trove
Celebrating 100 years since the start of the Hume Dam project
November 28, 2019 it was 100 years since Governor-General Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson turned the first sod to start construction of Hume Dam.
It was a project of huge regional significance not only in providing critical water storage, but attracting people to our region and helping shape our community. Locals continue to bring visitors here to admire the engineering achievement, and to swim, fish, ski and sail on Lake Hume – the dam is an iconic feature of our region.
This defining moment in the history of Albury-Wodonga and surrounds was commemorated with an exploration series ‘Living with the Hume Dam, 1919-2019.’ The event was presented by Charles Sturt University and organised by Society member Bruce Pennay in conjunction with La Trobe University and the Albury & District Historical Society. Nine short presentations covered a wide range of related themes from the significance to Aboriginal peoples, environmental and ecological issues, construction, impacts on fish populations and management of the river system.
WaterNSW, in partnership with Albury, Wodonga and Towong councils, commissioned two interpretative panels telling the story of the dam, unveiled at Hume Dam to commemorate the anniversary. A&DHS were consulted to help provide material for the panels.
Celebrations for 100th anniversary - click on image
The Albury/America connections of William & Mary Brickell
Miami historian and author, Cesar Alejandro Becerra, is researching the Albury/America connections of William Brickell and his wife Mary (née Bulmer).
William Barnwell Brickell, with his partner Adam Casner Kidd, arrived in Australia from San Francisco in 1852. They headed for Yackandandah hoping to find gold but soon established as businessmen in Albury. Amongst many other money-making ventures, Brickell and Kidd owned the Exchange Hotel on the south-east corner of Smollett & Townsend streets (the site in 2020 is the Quest Hotel), a general store providing for a growing population and they won the contract to build Albury’s first Union Bridge for £7500, opened in 1861,
William met Mary Bulmer in Albury. Her family had travelled from England as bounty immigrants and originally settled in Goulburn then later came to Albury. Joseph Bulmer was a carpenter who owned a bit of land and Joseph Jr later would own a timber yard in Albury.
William and Mary married in Melbourne in 1862 and the next day they headed for America. The fortune that William Brickell made in Albury financed the purchase of land in Florida and helped create a city that is now one of the world’s holiday meccas – Miami. While structures tied to the Brickells have gone from Albury, their name is prominent in Miami with a district bearing their moniker as well as a park, a shopping centre and an avenue.
In January 2020, Cesar presented the results of his research to the “Miama Pioneers and Natives of Dade” – you can watch and hear Cesar’s talk in full on YouTube (approx 58 minutes, with more than half relating to Albury) by following the link William Brickell’s Links to Albury
Brickell - click image to expand
Visit to Albury’s Historic Pump house, May 11, 2019
A small group of A&DHS members were privileged to get a look over the historic Albury pump house at the Waterworks, having a chance to see it in something close to its original state. We were met there by Albury’s Cultural Development Coordinator, Narelle Vogel, who explained for us the future of the building now that it has been decommissioned. AlburyCity has received funds to re-frame the pump house as a creative artists ‘maker space’. It will cater for artists, start-up businesses, do-it-yourself clients, family, school and community groups. It will offer equipment and skills training related to woodwork, metalwork, ceramics and jewellery making.
The pumps were first turned on in January 1886, supplying a reliable source of running water to Albury for the first time.
Albury Pump House - click image to expand
Armistice Day Centenary, November 11, 2018
Albury & District Historical Society member Chris McQuellin played a significant role in organising the commemoration service for the centenary of the end of World War I hostilities. Society members placed flags on the graves of 115 World War I servicemen buried and/or memorialised at the Albury’s Waugh Rd and Pioneer Cemeteries.
Hundreds gathered at Albury’s Pioneer Cemetery on Armistice Day, Sunday November 11 for the special centenary service, organised by the city’s RSL sub-branch.
Member for Farrer, Sussan Ley, told of the reaction on the Western Front to peace on November 11, 1918: “Once the news spread, all over the world, people were dancing in the streets and drinking champagne, but at the front there was no celebration … No words today or any day can do justice to the lives of the 61,721 Australians who were then dead, but from the magnitude of their sacrifice our young nation emerged more confident to take its place in the world.”
Albury mayor Kevin Mack payed tribute to the role of local people: “The volunteers, the nurses, the ladies’ auxiliaries and those people who raised money for much needed war bonds and food to be sent to the front, they are the people who are unheralded in a lot of ways.”
Member for Albury, Greg Aplin reflected on what can be learnt from the commemorative service: “This is a reminder that the wickedness that leads to war will pass, that evil philosophies and atrocities will end, that friendships can be rebuilt albeit over time and a reminder that war is the failure of diplomacy.”
The Albury City Band, Scots School Pipe Band, the Sing Australia Group and vocalist Dianne Prince provided a musical focus for much of the service.
Wreaths were laid in memory of two decorated soldiers buried in the pioneer and general cemeteries, one by Darcy Bishop, great grandson of Charles Bishop and the second by Rowan Chalmers-Borella, son of Albert Borella.
Armistice Day Albury, November 11, 2018 - click on image to expand
Lake Urana trip, October 2018
Tour Leader Chris de Vreeze gave this account of our bus trip to Lake Urana on Sunday October 21, 2018:
Our first point of interest was Billabong Creek at Walbundrie which enters a zone of very low gradient and so follows its meandering course to Deniliquin.
Not far beyond Walbundrie, we stopped at Bulgandry, on its right bank. Once a declared gold field, as was Walbundrie, and both are Wiradjuri place names. Doug Hunter’s family has a long connection with the village and Doug writes “Bulgandry was a thriving hamlet around the turn of the nineteenth century with churches, school, hotels, post office, and football and cricket teams. The township faced the Urana Road and extended back across what is now a bare paddock. Only two pise (rammed earth) ruins remain. The decline began with the positioning of the railway five kilometres to the north where the town of Rand grew up.”
Next, on the Billabong’s right bank, is Rand, named after a prominent early grazier Robert Rand. From there we proceeded further before climbing to the hillock known as Mahonga Travelling Stock Reserve, from which can be seen 360 degrees of flat country, punctuated by the flat hill, Goombargana (“The Turtle”) – a memorial marker to the Cudderford family was located before we moved on past Uranagong on the northern side of the back Urana Road, and, given the dry conditions, was filled to near capacity.
Thence to Urana (or ‘Aireena’, the sound of quail rising), once a great rural centre but still home to the Lake and the wondrous eastern lunette. Calostemma lillies still flourish here.
We moved on to the southern lunette burial site which dates back many thousands of years. It was barred to entry but antiquity of habitation has been well established.
Under severe time stress, the bus was flown over the western shoulder of Goombargana, through the hamlet of Balldale, the State Forest of Kentucky, past both Howlong’s hotels, Jingerra lagoon and so home to Albury.
No pensioners were harmed in the production of this tour. See our gallery of images below.
Lake Urana Trip October 2018 - click on image to expand
History of Homes & Other Buildings in Albury
The Albury property database was funded by a community grant of $500 from AlburyCity. The aim of the database is to have available a searchable history of as many buildings in Albury as possible. The housing files collected over many years have been transferred to the database and the next step is to enter housing details from local history books and to add photographs where possible. Photos have been taken of houses listed for demolition from the AlburyCity advertisements for some years.The task is huge and any help would be greatly appreciated.
To assist us in data collection, click on the link to download a blank form: Albury historic homes and buildings information form