Monday, January 27, 2014

Smithfield Farmers Club

On Friday afternoon, September 18 1863, a public meeting was held at the Smithfield Hotel, Smithfield, to consider establishing a Farmers' Club. There were about 20 persons present.
Peter Rowland was voted to the chair. He explained the object of the meeting, and asked Thomas Hogarth to address them.    The object or the Club was to take cognizance of their political and commercial rights. Their political rights were a very important question, inasmuch as at the present time the agricultural interest had but few supporters in the Legislature. He believed that there was only one gentleman who represented them, and he could not see why the agricultural interest of the colony should be of such low interest.

One of the main objects of the Society would be to select those who would best represent them, and thus gain them many advantages.   Should the society be formed they would hold regular meetings, in order to discuss agricultural questions, and obtain information as to the best means of disposing of their produce with financial benefit.  The farmers of the district suffer heavy losses without such information.   For instance, they sent their wheat from the Smithfield Station to Port Adelaide for sale.  After being stored some time, they were informed that the wheat was of a poor quality and must be sold at a considerable loss.  The result was, that rather than submit to such information, they ordered their wheat to be returned.  This caused them considerable loss.  What they required was to establish a market at Smithfield.  Socially, the Club would provide many benefits.  The farmers led a monotonous kind of life, but they might combine musical and intellectual meetings which would enhance the intellectual and moral welfare of their children.
Periodical lectures might also be established.  By discussing agricultural questions they would be able to obtain each individual's opinions, and draw their own conclusions.  He would move "That a Club be established, to be called the Smithfield Farmers'' Club." The Chairman put the motion, and declared it carried unanimously.

The object of the Club should be to diffuse information on all agricultural topics; to establish a market-day for the sale of produce of all kinds; and secondly, to conserve the political and commercial interests to the cultivators of the soil.

The idea of establishing a market day was an excellent one.  In England such meetings progressed exceedingly well.  Cattle as included in the sale meetings and all kinds of property connected with agriculture. A Committee was appointed to draw up rules for the guidance of the Club, and that be submitted to a general meeting for confirmation.
The Club, held its first monthly meeting at the Smithfield Hotel.   The Club, which already numbers 15 members.  

Then there was the market-day, of which the very name was pleasant to the ear—the flocks and herds entering the market on the morning of the market day. The diffusion of knowledge among the members will take first place. It is not necessary that all men should be philosophers, but all should have common sense and honesty of purpose. There would be no' excuse for ignorance, for this club would diffuse knowledge amongst the most independent class of the community.  South Australia was the best place in the world to make a living in, but was behind in social comforts. They had all duties to perform, and if they shrunk from those duties they were unworthy the respect of their fellow men.
Talks were given on;
·       Railways and common roads
·       Self help
·       Disease in wheat

In 1866, meetings were changed from the first Friday of the month to a moonlight evening meal.  At times low attendance numbers were recorded.
In 1867 the group made arrangements for a huge bonfire to be lit on Pattersons Hill when the Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh arrives in Adelaide.  Kelly of Gould Creek will do the same on the hill at Captains Chase.  The bonfires were visible from the Gulf and Gawler.
In 1868 a committee was formed to assist in securing the return of two politicians, Mr Glyde and Cavanagh who represented the district of Yatala. 

A special meeting of the Club was convened in 14 February 1868 to discuss the political position of the Club.   The Club had decided upon free trade.  In 1869 the Club passed a resolution to refuse the Government any further statistics in regards to their crops especially in regards to wheat.
The Club appears to have been popular when it existed and many influenced other similar clubs to form around the country.  Reprints of articles about their talks went as far as papers in Tasmania and Victoria.  No references to the Club’s existence can be found after 1870.

No comments:

Post a Comment