Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Buildings and Residents at Muswellbrook


Below are notes written by Muswellbrook resident George W. Phillips in 1930 recalling the layout of Muswellbrook as it was in the 1850s when he was a child. George W. Phillips was born in Muswellbrook in March 1846 and included many anecdotal notes about early Muswellbrook people.

Click on map below to go to the enlarged map .

Extracts from the articles by George W. Phillips published in the Muswellbrook Chronicle in 1930 are below:
Muswellbrook Chronicle 17 January 1930
Muswellbrook Chronicle 24 January 1930
Muswellbrook Chronicle 31 January 1930
Muswellbrook Chronicle 7 February 1930
Muswellbrook Chronicle 14 February 1930
Muswellbrook Chronicle 21 February 1930
Muswellbrook Chronicle 28 February 1930

Map of the township of Muswellbrook c. 1850s

The Map corresponds to numbers in the list below. No 1 begins in the right upper section in Bridge Street:

1. A small wooden hotel on the bank of Sandy Creek, 'The Bull's Head,' kept by Martin Donohue and family . A favourite camping place for carriers and drovers.

2. About mid-way between Donohue's and the 'Brook, a comfortable wooden residence. Doctor West and his son John lived here. His first residence at Hill-street was burnt down. He was an old English sport, and kept a pack of hounds and frequently went through the town in scarlet coat with his hounds. He was superseded in residence by, the Rev. Duncan Ross, Presbyterian minister at the 'Brook for years.

3. A wooden cottage, with small farm attached occupied by T. McMahon. Farmer and carrier. Afterwards he took a farm at Scone and later joined in the '61 rush for land in the district.

4 and 5. Two small wooden cottages just above where the bridge crosses the Hunter for the west, tenanted by widow Ward and family.

6. The first house in Bridge-street (wooden), joining the 'Dog Trap Lane,' so called after the 'Dog Trap Crossing,'' which it leads to. The lane has since been known as Wilkins' lane. This store was owned by Mr. Lipman, managed by Isaac Moses. The Wilkins family succeeded the above.

7. Charles Howell, a bootmaker (no family). A small cottage.

8. A small cottage occupied by William Hodges, bushman and shearer, and large family. Fencing by contract was his forte.

9. A small hut used by deadbeats and tramps. It was also used as a morgue for the homeless.

10. Hotel, kept by Richard ('Dicky') Ward, the 'White Hart Hotel,' a very low wooden building, but in the late forties had a two-storey brick addition, with sundry brick additions, to the back premises. This hotel was acknowledged to have been one of the first erected in the town, as was also the 'Blue Bell,' at the lower end of Bridge-street. They were the first houses that required repairing (roofing). The White Hart was the first house in the north to be repaired with galvanised iron, not the corrugated iron of the present, but small flat sheets, about 2ft. by 3ft., with a rib each side. (I understand that a few of the sheets are still in evidence among the curios). The first circus, about '55 (Ashton's) to come north performed at the back of this hotel. The house was very much used by the sports, races being held very often and the stock yards being immediately opposite on the hill. The eldest daughter was later married to John West, only son of Dr. West. W. Eaton succeeded Richard Ward about 1856, and it became Eaton's Hotel, and later H. R. Flanders acquired it. The hotel became one of the best houses in the north. The license has been continued since this hotel was built.

Ashton's Circus
Ashtons circus at Hanging Rock Diggings

11. A brick store, carried on by Cockraim Bros, (two) and managed by Stephen Bowl, who later married Sarah, eldest daughter of Fred Hooper, and at her decease married into the Spencer family from the Rouchel, and kept a store opposite the court house.

12. A two-storey residence of stone and brick, and butcher's shop of wood, kept by John Maddy, dealer and butcher. He married a daughter of the numerous Budden family. He was killed by a fall from his horse at Singleton.

13. A small three-roomed cottage (wood), kept by John Holland, baker and lolly-pop shop.

14. The 'White Horse Hotel,' of wood, with an addition of one room (stone) at the back, at the corner of Bridge and Hill-streets, kept by David Graham. He was in the first rush to acquire land under the Robertson Land Act and took up land at Muscle Creek. Elijah Budden, saddler, succeeded him at the hotel. One feature of this hotel was the spacious verandah, floored with cobble stones, i.e., the water-worn stones from the bed of the Hunter. It was customary in the early period, until the advent of the railway, for the signboard, with the name of the licensee and the name of the hotel, to be hung on hinges between two posts, which, in windy weather, swung backwards and forwards, giving an ominous sound. The posts were a favourite lolling place for the visitors. These ornamental posts were in front of all hotels.

15. This was in '56 the largest brick building in town, of three storeys at the rear, with brick walls round the yard. A general store, kept by R. Beams. A large balance scale was hung on a tripod in front of the store, with weights, totalling 8 cwt. At night time these weights of 56 lb. each would have a chain passed through the hand bolts and locked. A number of smaller weights were kept inside. These scales were very much used by the towns people in the course of dealing. On the entrance door was painted 'Open, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.'' This was still in evidence in 1863. There was a stair way on the south end, which led up to the top storey where the goods were hoisted with block and tackle. George Munday was an employee. The Beams' family later acquired grazing property down the Talbragar. Lockton followed Beams in the store.

16 and 17. Stone store, two-storey, and residence, kept by Wingrave and McAlpin. One son and daughter. The daughter married Elijah Budden, a saddler, who superseded McAlpin in a saddler's shop, and who some years after built a stone shop almost opposite, and later superseded David Graham in 'The White Horse Hotel.'

18. A two storey brick house, occupied by Charles Fox, chief constable, who had charge of the town, having three or four foot-constables under him. He was accidentally shot while handling firearms His wife at the time was school mistress at St. Alban's School.

19 and 20. Residence, blacksmith and wheelwright shop, kept by W. Austin, and W. Morrison and Jabex Skelton.

21. A small cottage back from Bridge-street. Mrs. Hegarty and sons (Pierce and Edward). Relatives of H. Nowland lived here. She was superseded by P. S. Luscombe (chemist), the first chemist shop opened in the 'Brook. He later built a shop and residence at the corner of Brook and Bridge-streets. The stocks used in the 'early days as a, punishment for minor offences wore almost opposite.

22. The Royal Hotel, of wood, with an attic of one room at the top, and a number of buildings (brick) behind, kept by Henry Nowland. Among the numerous buildings of the sons of Henry Nowland were a weatherboard cottage on wheels which had evidently been brought some distance. In the early days, Nowlands were Muswellbrook on the northern end, having so many vested interests. They, were continually breaking in horses for mail purposes, H.N. being a noted brand.

23. A dwelling house of wood, used in connection with the hotel.

24. Butcher's shop, with latticed windows, kept by Nowland.

25. A cottage, wood, tenanted by Stringall, a carpenter.

26. A store room, wood, used for sales and later on a cordial making shop.

27. A low building, wood, 'The Blue Bell Inn' kept by Mrs. M. A. Bellow. It was reported to be one of the first buildings, and was a facsimile of the 'White Hart' Hotel (probably built by the same builder). Mrs. Bellew also had a vineyard at the time at 'Piercefield.' This was a favorite camping place of the carriers, the traffic of the north turning of here and going across by Market street, and the top end of the show ground, except in flood time. Mrs Bellow had two sons, Fred and Harry Watt, by her first husband. The hotel was later called 'The Shamrock Hotel' and kept by Mr. Gleeson, who later built an hotel up William-street, and transferred the license to it. Mrs. Bellew was the first to make wine. A feature of this vineyard was the number of alloes that were around it.

28-29. Hut, two rooms and yard, used in connection with the hotel.

30. Two roomed cottage, used by employees and farm hands.

31. Two roomed cottage, tenanted by James Phillips (carpenter) and family, Jane and George. It was here that George, the writer of these memoirs, was born in March 18th., 1846. Jane later married W. Davidson, a late Mayor of Muswellbrook. She was born on a small farm close to Black Hill, about 1 1/2 miles from Muswellbrook, on January 20, 1844. Their parents entered into the services of Rev. R. G. Boodle, in 1848, at the St Alban 's Parsonage, where James Phillips died in 1851. His last work was in assisting in the shingling of the newly erected chancel in the old St. Alban's Church. The mother remained as housekeeper for some time.

32. A small cottage, tenanted by McAuley, a tailor, and family.

33. The public pound on the bank of Muscle Creek, between Demnan and the north railroads. A very large signboard was there, stating the cost of each animal, and giving all particulars, showing how methodically they did things in the early days. These were signed, L. A. Sibthorp, Clerk of Petty Sessions.

34. A small barn, roofed by shade rick.

35. A small cottage, W. Fuz, farm hand, and family

36. A small cottage, tenanted by W. Morrison and family (blacksmith). He worked in company with W. Austin, and Jack Mason lived with him.

37 and 38. Two small cottages, occupied by Frederick Hooper, storekeeper and carrier. Three daughters, viz., Sarah, Rebecca and Emily. The only 1 son, Joseph, was killed when a child, by falling off a quiet old horse, going to water at the old "Dog Trap Crossing."

39. A small cottage (wood), occupied by James Imrie, carpenter and builder, and family. This was directly in front of St. Alban's Parsonage St. Alban's Church occupies the site.

40. A small cottage. W., Cannon and family (farmer), general employee of W. Nowland. William, the eldest, had charge of Nowland's sheep, which ran anywhere over the. hills.

41. A small one-roomed cottage, used as a workshop by J. Imrie, carpenter and builder (at 39).

42. A small. cottage, tenanted by T. Williams., (stonemason) and family

43. Very old blacksmith's shop, used exclusively in connection with Nowland's interest in mails, coaches, horses, etc.

44. A small cottage, occupied by J Haywood, gardener (widower), one son.

45. A small cottage, J. Cavanagh and family (shearer and bushman); one son, Andy. J. Cavanagh was a renowned shearer, though short in stature, which is helpful in, shearing. They were superseded by John Mills and family.

46. A small cottage, E. Budden and family (farmers and carriers).

47. A small cottage, Ike Budden and family, farmers and carriers. The Budden families, of which there were three, were very numerous in the early history of Muswellbrook. Several of them became very prominent towns men, both at Muswellbrook and neighbouring towns.

48. A small cottage. A. A. Atkins, carpenter and builder.

49. A small wooden cottage. Dr. West lived here for a while after his house (55a) was burnt down in 1853, before removing to No. 3, which was being built for him.

50. Corner of Hill and Ford-streets. A small cottage, occupied by Johnny Boyd, a noted bullock driver and carrier .

51. A small cottage. J. Clark, commonly called "Long Clark," who had married into the Fibbon family. They had, previously farmed over the river on Cox's Flat.

52. A cottage (wood). This was known as "The Dog Trap Crossing" and was occupied by. McCully and family, farmers and carriers.

53. A small cottage (wood). C. Robinson, bricklayer and family, Charles, Mary Ann, and Sarah;

54. A small and evidently old cottage, occupied by Jacob Weidman and. large family. They kept cows and supplied milk.

55. A saw pit and wood yard; no permanent residence. Upon the advent of the railway, about 1869, a hotel was built and opened here by,-Wigram, 55a. A wooden building, occupied by Dr. West and burnt down about '53.

56. A hut on the bank of the river. George Turner, farmer. He farmed the whole of the corner of Ford-street. Joe Baker superseded him.

57. The St. Alban's Church, of brick and stone, with tower and chancel. The church was erected about 1843 and the chancel was added about 1851 by the . Rev. R. G. Boodle.

58. Brick residence, the St. Alban's Parsonage, occupied by the Church of England clergy appointed to the parish. During the incumbency of the Rev. Canon Boodle, he had several students under his special charge in training for the ministry, notably Mr. W. E. White, who was one of the earliest and took a great interest in teaching and the supervision of St. Alban's School. The flower and fruit garden was well kept. The lawns and walks around the parsonage and church were a prominent feature at the time. A light lattice fence ran from the centre of the gate way leading into the church and from the gate entrance into the parsonage in a semi-circle around to the back of the tower; on either side of the fence, there was raised turf of couch grass, about four feet wide.

59. St. Alban's Denominational School (brick), erected in the early forties.

60. A brick cottage, joining the school; Mrs. Fox, wife of Constable Fox; one son, Alfred. She was the schoolmistress in charge. She was later superseded by the Askews (two brothers), one following the other. Later, the Misses McDermott took charge (Miss A. and Miss Annie). The elder later married - Kibble, postmaster at Denman ,and the younger married - Munro, also of Denman, and later re- sided at Quirindi.

61. A stone building (single storey); James Wren, carpenter, builder and shearer, who married Mrs. Phillips, mother of Jane and George Phillips (the writer of these memoirs). The family lived here until 1854 (see 6, east Bridge-street).

62. A stone building (single storey); J. Ashburn, ex-constable and family, three daughters and two sons, Charles and Joseph. The eldest daughter married Isaac Moses, storekeeper, and the next married J. Margery, road contractor, and the youngest (Dorothy) married -Wigram, who was in business in Muswellbrook.

63. A stone and brick dwelling (large, but single-storey); Beams and family, storekeeper, of (15) Bridge-street. The largest business house in town. A large young family, three of them attending school. They also had two relatives residing with them, Helen Heartly, who later married J. Ferguson, storekeeper, and Jessie Kerman.

64. A hut on the bank of the river, skirting the recreation ground; Shadrick Beckehan, bushman, and family, James and Susan. A large apple tree stood close to this hut, but one of the many floods in the river washed the whole of the earth from one-half of the tree from the top of the surface to the water, leaving the roots exposed. The tree was an object of curiosity for a short time, the next flood causing the tree (the hut had been previously removed) to fall outwardly across the stream, the immense head getting half buried in the silt and gravel and almost blocking the current proper. The immense roots below the water were still growing. This was the commencement of the erosion that has since taken the whole of the recreation ground up to Ford-street. Some years after, in 1863, when I left the 'Brook, the tree was still alive, though almost submerged many chains from the bank. The large number of apple trees dotted about in full bloom about Easter, covered with bees, were a picture, and they gave off a beautiful perfume.

65. A small, but compact, brick cottage, adjoining the "boiling down;" J. Blackman, bricklayer and family, two daughters. One daughter, Fanny, married Tommy Clausing, bushman and shearer. Blackman assisted in building the new chancel of St. Alban's Church.

66. A brick, two-storey "boiling down." This was put up at the time when the production of stock was great ed than the demand to convert the surplus stock into tallow. It was said that large legs of mutton could be had for a shilling, and fleshy beef for a "song." There were three large vats (iron) built in, supplemented with wooden tops, to increase their capacity. Soap was also made there. The water was pumped out of a well by hand, a few feet from the south-east corner of the building. The bricks were made a short distance from the building. Later, Nowland used the yard for butchering purposes.

67. A small two-roomed cottage, formerly used in connection with the boiling downs, but later T. Clausing, bush man and shearer, lived there. 68. A small cottage (wood), quite recently built; Nathan Burrows, farmer and carrier, and family. One daughter, Mary. Some years after his death, his wife and daughter resided at Cassilis, in the service of Rev. W. S. Wilson, when his daughter Mary was married to John, eldest son of A. T. Jones,of Talbragar, and later lived at Gulgong.