John Coleridge Blackmore also known as JC or Jack was born on the 17th May 1888 in Adelaide, the youngest of eight children (6 sons and 2 daughters) of Edwin Gordon Blackmore and Eleanora Elizabeth (nee Farr). The children were:-
Gordon Patteson (1872 – 1941) m Ethel Mona Finlayson. George Edward (1874 – 1945) m Martha Fourie – went to South Africa. James “Jim” Gairdner (1876 – 1963?) m Lillian Williams – went to South Africa. Edwin “Edd” Ord (1879 – 1956) m Ada Louise Wooding – went to South Africa. Jane “Janie” Drummond Gordon (1881 – 1942) m Dr Granville Sharp. Eleanora Mary (1884 – 1891) died of Diptherea only 7 years old. Lewis “Loo” Gordon (1886 – 1916) saw service at Gallipoli, killed in action Pozieres, France. John “Jack” Coleridge (1888 – 1971) m Edith Alexa Kinleside (1886 – 1982).
Jack attended St. Peters College, Adelaide and after the family moved to Melbourne in 1902, the Melbourne Church of England Grammar School. A distinguished student in classics, modern languages and mathematics, he was also a winner of the Osborne Modern Language Prize in 1906. He was a good tennis player and a keen cricketer and played in the 1st Eleven for Melbourne Grammar.
Jack then attended Melbourne University for one year, in 1907, in the faculty of Medicine but had to leave when his father became ill. His brother, Lewis had also attended the same schools and then commenced studies in a Mining Course before also having to give that up.
Jack’s father, Edwin, had became the Chief Clerk of the first Federal Parliament in 1901. Six years later, in 1907, he suffered a stroke and had to resign his position as Chief Clerk of the Parliament.
His health did not improve and he moved with his eldest son, Gordon, daughter Jane and younger sons, Lewis and Jack to the property “Landsdowne” at Wattamondara, near Cowra, NSW, which he and the boys had purchased in April 1908 for 3 pounds per acre. He later died there on 20 February 1909.
“Landsdowne”, and no doubt, his horse by the same name, were named after Landsdown Crescent in Bath, Devon in the UK, where they had come from.
Following their father’s stroke, Jack and Lewis gave up their studies and the family decided to pool their financial resources, buy a property and move there.
The change from life centred in Toorak, then, as now, a very pleasant part of Melbourne – to the dust, heat, flies and drought of the Cowra district of NSW in 1908, must have been extreme and certainly imposed considerable hardship on those concerned.
At the time of Edwin Gordon Blackmore’s stroke in 1907 at the age of 70, and his subsequent resignation from the position of Chief Clerk of the Federal Parliament, his daughter Jane, aged 26 had been acting as his housekeeper and hostess, since her mother’s death in 1901.
Gordon, aged 35, the eldest brother, and Jack moved first with Lewis and Janie remaining to finalise things in Melbourne and nurse their father until he was considered well enough to travel.
Other brothers, George, Jim and Edwin had already moved to South Africa to live.
Conditions were rough and ready, water very short and hours of work very long. There was a sense of great loneliness in Jack’s letters to Lewis at this time, yet, here and there his humour came through:- “Ask Sis did she see the answer made by a jockey who was asked why he called his horse Caruso. He said it was because he got him for a tenner”
The house had to be built, and, in a letter dated 7th-8th January, 1908, Jack wrote:-
“Gordon talked to me last night about the house he says he is going to arrange with the builder on Thursday for a 4 room house ie Dining room; Sis; Father and Servant and also a tin place outside in two rooms, one for kitchen and one for us three”. Jack was not happy about these two rooms at all. He finished the letter with the brotherly message:- “Tell Sis to stamp her envelopes”.
The highlights of life became a four mile trip in the Sulky to get “half a case of peaches – about 18 dozen – for 3 shillings” and eat you fill as well. “About ¼ inche of rain saved the grass which is very hot wind in the morning had started to curl up like burnt hair.”
All provisions had to be fetched by Sulky from Cowra or Wattamondarra. Jack did most of the cooking and wrote proudly:- “I made a good hot curry for tea tonight; my last batch of bread was a success as usual. Butter at ¼ per lb is a luxury and we have only had 1 lb since being here. My cooking is not too bad and I have made four real good batches of bread and this with only rough materials.”
In a letter dated the 26th February, 1908, Jack wrote:- “I will die of joy when you all reach here and I hope that will be in a months time…..Gordon now has about 60 acres ploughed but the ground is getting very hard…..I have been up since 4 am and working at a job – burning off – for which at least two men and a horse are deemed necessary. My health has never been better…..burning off is a very slow process by oneself and I shall be glad of your company, it will be quite enjoyable then….as regards the place…..I cannot but regard it as a very nice property and when improved, it should turn us in a nice bit of money and make a very pleasant home for us. The rabbits, I think we shall have comparatively little difficulty in exterminating in time….The back house is nearly finished and most of the blocks are in for the front one. We shall most likely shift in there next week.”
Apparently, Jim and Edwin, in South Africa, had written offering to help cover expenses for Jack to return to the University, as he wrote:- “I won’t go back to the Varsity if there is any necessity for me here, much as I would like to….The kitchen is getting along fast. All the frame up and half one wall, we should move into it Sunday week, tho’ the fireplace and chimney won’t be ready then. The ploughing is proceeding and I am burning off. My word it is a hot game these hot days but it is more interesting than other work. We have very long days now as we have to feed the horses at 4 o’clock – this morning at 3 o’clock, and they don’t finish their evening feed until after nine so we don’t get much spell in a 17 hours day….I do long for a bit of music. Sis will get her finger tips worn off when she comes here….and if one of those Simmonds girls can milk a cow, for goodness sake trap her and fetch her here with her boodle…”
In due course, their father, Lewis and Jane (but not the Simmonds girl) joined them.Again Jane kept house for the men and nursed Edwin Gordon until his death. It was physically and emotionally a very sad time for all.
Unfortunately differences of opinion crept in, aggravated, no doubt, by the differences in age and temperament of all those concerned. On the 11th July, 1908, Gordon’s share in the property was bought out by his father and the others remained. Gordon left to manage Wilpeena in South Australia having been cut out of his father’s will.
Much of their relaxation at “Landsdowne” came in the pleasure they had in their own company and in the piano playing and singing of their sister Jane.
Edwin died on the 20th February, 1909. Now only Lewis, Jack and Jane remained at “Landsdowne”.
In January, 1911, Jane became engaged to her first cousin, Dr Granville Sharp. He was then 32 and she 30 years old. They were married on 29th June, 1911 at St James Church, Sydney, the reception was at Pettys Hotel – just a small group for a sit down “wedding breakfast”. Granville’s parents had sailed for England a few days before the wedding. As they left for their honeymoon in Granville’s motor car (Janie complete with driving veil and dust coat) Lewis pressed 5 pounds into her hand “ so you will have something of your own for postage stamps.” There was just no money available for any of the three of them then.
On the 23rd September, 1914, Lewis enlisted as a Private in the Australian Imperial Forces, at Rosebery NSW, as a member of the 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment, A Troop, A Squadron. (Regimental Number 79)
On the 3rd December, 1914, Jack tells of his engagement to Edith Alexa Kinleside from “Uppingham” at nearby Koorawatha – “…but owing to be bad harvest, only 6 bushels to the acre, we won’t be able to get married till we get another harvest in…”
Edith was born to Andrew and Alexa (nee Watson) Kinleside on the 21st June 1886 in Young, NSW and was educated at Bedford College, Strathfield, (which was, at one time the Blind Society). She was also an accomplished water colour painter of flowers.
On the 19th December, 1914:- “…its weary waiting, but I can’t possibly marry her till we get another harvest in as this one has been so poor, and it does seem such a waste of time. Loo came up yesterday week and stayed till Tuesday. They are supposed to embark today and sail tomorrow….he is a Lance Corporal so far and expects to be a Corporal before long….Well tomorrow will be mid winter day in Europe and there doesn’t appear to be much slackening off in the fighting. I fear Germany will be in a very bad way by the same day next year.”
Lewis was wounded in June 1915 at Gallipoli and was invalided to England.
Jack and Edith were married in Sydney on the 23rd August 1915. Jack was 27 years old and Edith was 29 years old.
On the 8th August, 1916:- A cable arrives stating that Lieutenant Lewis Gordon Blackmore had been killed in action on the 23rd of July at Pozieres. He was 30 years old.
A year later, Jack and Edith’s only child, a son, Lewis Kinleside Blackmore was born on the 15th February 1917 at Summer Hill, NSW, and named after his uncle Lewis who had died at Pozieres.
A year later, Jack is trying to enlist and Aunt Ju and Uncle Cole, in New Zealand, have offered a home for Edith and little Loo. ( Uncle Cole was Dr Clinton Coleridge Farr, a brother of Jack’s mother, Eleanora, and Aunt Ju was Julia Coleridge Farr, a sister of Jack’s mother. Uncle Cole lived in New Zealand and Aunt Ju spent some time on Norfolk Island)
On the 14th January, 1918 he writes to Aunt Ju:- ““The Angel of Mons” cutting is curious isn’t it. I don’t see that one can disbelieve it in view of all the evidence….we can’t arrange anything yet till the harvest is all over….the harvest is not turning out too well after all, late rains spoilt the wheat a bit, and caused such a growth of thistles and other tall weeds in the crop that a lot of wheat is lost in the harvesting. It’s not much of a game growing wheat in these times for 3 shillings a bushel, but it is the least we can do if we don’t fight. Well my ideas about enlisting are these:- The overdraft is big – about 2,000 pounds besides what I owe Janie, but I think if I could lease the farm for about 400 pounds – retaining the house and a small horse paddocks for Edith – to a reliable tenant, this would pay interest and leave Edit about 200 pounds in addition to what I could save out of my pay – a Private, if married has his pay up to 10 shillings a day, but I would battle to get a commission if possible. Then if the worst happened, the sale of the place and plant would bring in about 3,000 pounds after paying off everything. I am insured for 500 pounds and then there would be the pension as well….I hate the thought of leaving Edith and the nipper and I do want a hand in seeing him through, but one can’t feel he is doing his share by growing wheat, when he sees it all stacked on sidings and proving a godsend only to the mice and weevil. In these affairs the easiest job is with the man and Edith would be left with the load to carry and that is all that makes me hesitate….The disgrace of this referendum falls on all of us who are not at the front, though perhaps it is not much the fault of the people as the leaders – Hughes, is not straight I’m sure and this dodging his pledge and sticking to office is not the square thing….The little man is getting on splendidly. Don’t you think he’s like Loo? 11 months old tomorrow…..The war does not seem much better and I’m afraid the Germans mean to do big things before the American help comes. It will mean stiff fighting very soon I think.”
On the 15th January, 1918, Edith writes:- “ I don’t know what to say about Jack going, the only thing I think he ought to go for, would be to ease his mind. There seem to be many reasons why he shouldn’t….he would be leaving Loo and me in a pretty rocky position if anything happened, I wouldn’t mind for myself but I want Loo to have a good education and chances in life if it can be managed….If Jack thinks it’s right to go….I won’t say a word to stop him, I’ll hate every day till he comes back I think, as I can’t bear to think of losing him.”
On the 17th March, 1918, Jack writes:- “….my bank manager…..put it before headquarters and they are very much against it. Evidently they don’t mind lending a fair lump as long as I am here to run the show, but it would be otherwise if I had someone else to manage for me or leased it to someone who might let the security depreciate by neglecting fencing etc. Also in their opinion married farmers ought not to enlist so they don’t seem to go out of their wat to encourage them….that’s how things are and I suppose I will have to fall in with it… my feeling is anyway that I ought to be in it now. Things do seem to be so serious at present and it looks as if every able bodied man should be taking his share….I can’t feel happy while all those poor beggars are battling away for us and we just sit back and rely on Old England….There are rumours that the coal miners are organising another big strike. Hughes’ ship building scheme seems to be all talk and no progress, and the recent report on the Defence Department has revealed a most disgraceful state of mismanagement and waste; still no alterations are made….The little chap is very well now and is bright and happy and getting interesting and mimics everything we do.”
On the 5th May, 1918, he writes:- “….They seem to have definitely given up Conscription….There is much more chance of domestic peace now Hughes has gone to England, his old party will never forgive him, and whatever he does is wrong. Personally I don’t hink much of him, no doubt his speeches are most eloquent and patriotic, but he loves his own light to shine before men, and tries bullying instead of persuasion…..no matter how one tries to do his share here it doesn’t seem the same. Its something that will always be on one’s mind….” (Jack is still hoping to enlist)
In May 1925, Jack participated in pasture improvement trials at “Landsdowne”, planting Wimmera Rye grass, Tall Oats (Fescue), Hookers Fescue, Phalaris Bulbosa and Subterranean Clover into fallowed wheat ground, along with the application of 60 lb per acre of Superphosphate. After the grasses set new seed in November, it was then stocked with sheep from December to March. It was found that the pastures were be able to carry and fatten 6 sheep per acre. In April 1926 a further 60 ln per acre of Superphosphate was applied and the paddock re-stocked with fattening lambs in April.
“Mt View” Clandulla.
Some time around 1929 Jack and Edith and their son Lew moved to the property “Mt View” at Clandulla, (near Rylstone/Kandos) as Jack was more interested in growing Merino sheep for fine wool than farming wheat at “Landsdowne”. The property was named for it’s view of Haystack Mountain on the northern boundary.
“Mt View” was part of a land grant to the Nevell family, known as “The Flatlands”, that was settled by John Nevell (1823-1897), of Deridgeree, in the late 1880s. John and his youngest son Joseph Edward Nevell lived in a cave while they built the house, which still exists on land not part of “Mt View”. John and Joseph lived by providing meat for the men who were working on building the railway line through the area at the time.
“Mt View” was about 4,203 acres. At a later date they also purchased adjoining “Edenvale” in the south west corner, bringing the area up to around 6,500 acres and eventually capable of running 5,000 sheep and 350 head of cattle. A spring ran through the property, however the water contained Alum which was no good for stock. A ropeway ran through the property that carried limestone in buckets from the Brogans Creek Quarry to the Charbon Cement Works, near Kandos. The first Ropeway was built in 1915 and then duplicated in 1921.
Electricity was later brought to the property by an exchange for easement agreement with the Cement Works. There was a halfway house on the ropeway due to a 25 degree bend in the line, that employed 8 men over 2 shifts, day and night. Water was piped to the halfway house from the Great Western Dam and this was also connected to the “Mt View” homestead and cottage.
The early days on “Mt View” were hard. Rabbits were a big problem and on weekends there would be hunting trips on horseback with the dogs tagging along. Some farmers helped pay for their farms from their earnings catching rabbits. Rabbits were delivered to cold rail wagons at Clandulla.
Jack and Edith would drive into the village known as Clandulla and get the Sunday papers.
The bank manager’s wife would come down from Mudgee and Edith and Mrs Morrison would go horse riding. The little horse Edith rode was called “Pongo”. When they went riding, Edith would take a salt cannister with her, which was full of grass seeds, to sow through the paddocks as she rode. Lew would ride his pony in the local shows at Rylstone and Mudgee, competing in the flag and bending races.
Their son, Lew, attended the Kings School at Parramatta from 5th June 1929 to 11th May 1932 and then worked at “Mt View” until joining the RAAF on the 9th September, 1940. After active service in Darwin and Daly Waters, he was discharged on the 25th February, 1943 to take over the ownership and management of Gregory Downs, after the death of his great uncle Robert McGregor Watson, who, together with his brothers Harry and Sydney, had taken up Gregory Downs in 1877.
In 1942, Jack and his brother George in Africa inherited a half share interest each in the estate of Percy Williams who farmed in New Zealand. George was noted as saying, “What the hell am I going to do with half a sheep farm in New Zealand in the middle of a war? ” Jack and George decided to sell the farm and share the proceeds. Percy Williams was the last living descendant of Mary Anne Blackmore, the youngest child of Doctor Edward Blackmore (Jack’s Grandfather), who had migrated to Nelson. We believe that the New Zealand branch of the family died out when Percy died.
From 1928 to 1950, Edith’s sister Lucy Crossley and husband Oliver owned “Fernside” at nearby Rylstone. This may have encouraged Jack and Edith to move to the area.
On the 25th May 1945, Lew married Louie Bathurst Suttor from “Myola”, Tabrabucca, near Ilford. Louie was the daughter of Dudley Colin and Elizabeth Bathurst (nee Palmer) Suttor. They were married in All Saints Cathedral at Bathurst.
Initially, Lew and Louie lived a “Rosedale” near Charbon Cement Works and Kandos and in 1952 moved to “Chester”, a property at Clandulla adjoining “Mt View” to the west, across a railway line constructed in 1881-1884. Lew used to cross the railway line with sheep to have them shorn at the “Mt View” shearing shed. Of course a good lookout had to be had for trains. Their sons Gregory and Robert (Bret) were born in 1946 and 1951. Greg and Bret attended Primary School at Clandulla, riding their bikes to school and later boarded at the Kings School in Parramatta.
Greg remembers:- “As we now lived so close to my grand parents, we often visited their property. Dad used to say “we will go over and visit the people”. I am not sure where that saying came from or whether Bret or I started it. My grandparents invariably went out every day in their grey Land Rover Station Wagon with tropical roof to pick up sticks and burn logs”.
“My grandmother also had a 410 Gauge Hollis shot gun which she used regularly to get rid of marauding birds from her orchard and garden. She also kept most of everything she had ever bought and sometimes never used and these items were stored in special room. When that room was full she built another special building called “56” and at least one more room after that. I can remember her having a spring she had picked up from the floor of the Boeing factory in Seattle with a small piece of paper attached to it stating that fact. Many of the items would have a note on them “for Greg” or “for Bret”, however when their property was sold around 1972 and the goods and chattels sold at auction, by my father, nothing was delivered except an 1890’s Hollis & Sons Spitfire 12G shotgun that had belonged to my grandfather. Bret received a 410 G shotgun of the same make. I can remember that there were regularly bush fires in the mountains to the east.”
Edith was famous with Jack’s nieces for hording. Peg Sharp, was the closest to Jack of the three daughters of his sister Jane Sharp and often visited “Mt View”. She mentioned that Edith “Horded heaps of stuff in the shearing shed after her trips to Sydney”.
When “Mt View” was to be sold, Peg went to visit and returned with a milk pail as a keepsake for her happy times there.
Jack was very proud of the sheep and wool that he produced. He won a number of prizes at the local Rylstone Kandos Show and one year he took out the top prize at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney in the Super Fine Wool Category. Jack stayed at the Metropole Hotel on visits to Sydney.
Jack was foundation President of the Rylstone Kandos Show Society from 1937 to 1946 and the Rylstone Shire Council erected a Memorial plaque and stone to him, at the Rylstone Showgrounds in 1973.
On the 9th February, 1949, the Rylstone Kandos Rotary Club was formed with 26 members and Jack being elected foundation Vice President and later becoming President. Jack, along with other members attended Rotary conferences and conventions in Sydney, Dallas and Tokyo.
Jack and Edith liked to travel and regularly went on a cruise to places such as England and Japan. Edith would like to play Quoits on deck to pass the time.
One one trip away, their son Lew organised surprise renovations to the homestead, adding a new lounge and sunroom.
In later years Jack suffered a stroke and they moved to a unit at Bower Street, Manly, overlooking the ocean at Fairy Bower.
One day they observed a ship offshore with small boats bringing some cargo in to shore. A phone call to the Police to report on the activity was later confirmed to be a drug running operation.
Edith writes to Carl and Fay Reddish, who are managing “Mt View” – “JC wants to go home all the time, so we will have to sometime in February. He hates the thought of selling the place (“Mt View”) so we will have to think about it later, if a good offer comes would be silly to miss it but it’s all in Lew’s hands now. Manly full of people, girls with a string round middle, don’t know how they stop on. Going on the ship on the 2nd, I hope, as he is getting terribly restless and I want a spell”
Their son Lew and his family sold “Chester” in 1967 and moved to “Cootharaba” in near Noosa Heads, Queensland. Unfortunately, some years later the new owner of “Chester” was killed crossing the railway line with a dozer when hit by a train.
Jack passed away in Sydney on the 16th of July 1971, aged 83.
“Mount View” was sold to the Clandulla Pastoral Company (Kurrawen Pty Ltd) in 1972 for around $45 per acre. It was then 4,203 acres capable of running 6,000 sheep and 100 cattle. Maybe the “Edenvale” portion on the southern end of the property had been sold earlier.
In 1977, “Mt View”, totaling 4,638 acres was again listed for sale. The owners had developed an irrigation scheme over 5 years from 10 separate dams and 32 kms of catch drains, transfer drains, pipelines and irrigation channels and the property was to be offered in 4 lots if not sold as a whole.
The poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon used to ride race horses for great grandfather, Edwin Gordon Blackmore. Jack and Edith Blackmore had two sets of Gordon’s racing Colours for many years. In 1969 a jacket and 2 caps in a Gordon Tartan were donated to the Mudgee Museum. In 1972, another set, in a red and black, Rob Roy MacGregor Tartan, was donated to the South Australia Jockey Club. These Colours were carried south via a Pony Club relay to raise money for the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Edith passed away in Sydney on the 21st February 1982, aged 95.
For more information and back story, see Menu Item above “Story Links” and then click on the link to “Blackmores – Federation to “Landsdowne””
The early part of this story has been compiled with information mainly from the “Black Book” written between 1962 and 1968 by Jane Blackmore’s daughter, Nancy Watson (nee Sharp). A number of differing “Black Books” were produced by Nancy, specific to and for different branches of the family. The later years at “Mt View” also include information supplied by Mrs Lesley Pennell (nee Reddish) who’s father Carl worked for Jack and Edith at “Mt View” for 25 years, all his working life and until the property was sold.. Carl and his wife Fay (nee Montgomery) lived for the first 7 years in a little house at the back of Haystack Mountain and later in a house on the property up near the Woolshed. Carl was also Captain of the local Clandulla Bush Fire Brigade. Fay’s brother Les Montgomery worked for Lew Blackmore at “Chester” and later at “Cootharaba”.
Lesley tells the story that Mrs Blackmore had asked her father Carl if he would bring the girls down to clean out the “little shed” as she always called it. They pulled an old tin trunk out from under a bed and in this trunk were hand written poems by Henry Lawson. Carl’s eyes lit up, as poetry was his passion and he could recite poems of Henry’s right through. Mrs Blackmore then took the lid of the trunk out of his hands and said “Don’t worry about those Carly, I will take care of Henry’s stuff, this is where he slept when he stayed.” (Note:- Henry Lawson was born at Grenfell, not far from the “Landsdowne” property. As a boy of around 14, he was around the Clandulla area with his father, known as Peter, who was a contract builder, when the rail line was built in 1881-84. Peter’s actual name was Niels Hertzberg Larsen, and he helped build the timber Rylstone railway station. Henry died in 1922 so, to have slept there, it would have to have been before the Blackmores moved to “Mt View”. There may also have been poems from Adam Lindsay Gordon, who had ridden horses for Jack’s father Edwin. Adam Lindsay Gordon died in 1870. See another blog post on this site titled, “Poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon’s Racing Colours”.)