Snapshots in Time – 1862

Penrith

[From our correspondent]

March 3. – Our little village yesterday, for the first time, heard the solemn sound of the muffled drum, for our Rifles, in obedience to their Captain, fell in at a quarter past 10, and marched to Divine service, headed by the fifes and craped drums, each man also wearing crape on his left arm, as a mark of respect to, and condolence with, their beloved Queen – at this time of her sad bereavement – on the death of her Consort and the father of our future King. It certainly cannot be denied that the nation has at this particular era met with an irreparable loss, and New South Wales cannot also but feel for the unsettled state of European affairs, as by our last advices it is evident that, should there be war, we must be left in a great measure to our own military resources. This has stimulated our Volunteer corps to stick together, and prevented that catastrophy a disbandonment, so anxiously looked for, and desired by a few outsiders; but Captain Riley still exults, and long may he, in the proud position of senior Captain, which from his constant anxiety and zeal is evinced in the corps, he is fully entitled to.

Our railway is progressing favourably, and we do now flatter ourselves we will hear the shrill whistle, and see the iron-horse in Penrith by May Day; if so, a boon will be conferred not alone on Penrith and its neighbourhood, but the whole Western interior will feel the benefit. Buildings are being erected almost daily, and we ere long must have the Sydney houses of business men here on the spot, to transact orders from the interior so as to allow carriers to get clear away again with speed. It is fixed upon that the permanent station should be at the lower end of Penrith, but on the opening it is said that a temporary one will be erected at the end of the present cutting, and near to the termination of the existing contract. It matters little as to where the site is after the extension on to Emu Plains, which it is presumed will be in about five years hence; as the train passing by, any one is aware, does not contribute much benefit to a town: all, therefore, that is sought for is a station, temporary or permanent, somewhere on 1st May, and if the Government feel inclined to open the line as far as St. Mary’s when finished, it is reported, within a fortnight, so much more gratifying it will be to the Penrith people.

The crops of maize are really looking splendid and the grass in the paddocks and bush is most abundant, resembling spring time.

There are still complaints from carriers of the old dronish manner of getting across the river. We do trust the Government will bestir themselves and build us the ₤70,000 bridge, for it is tedious in the extreme the present mode of transport.

We have not heard very much of “free selection” here, but that is perhaps accounted for in having no good available land in this old settled district.

The District Court was held here last week, Mr. Justice Cheeke presided. There were eighty-five cases, but none of any consequence to report.

The police report has been very dull of late; and from what fell from a learned advocate to-day, we seem to be without police protection, a screw being somehow loose in no appointments being made under some recent Act. Prisoners were, therefore, fortunate in being liberated from durance vile, guilty or not guilty, I suppose.

The Rev. Mr. Stack, of Balmain, is doing duty here in the Episcopalian Church , a short exchange having been effected with the Rev. Elijah Smith for the benefit of each other’s health. A sermon was preached by the former, yesterday, on the uncertainty of life, and commenting most eloquently and touchingly on the sudden demise of his late Royal Highness Prince Albert.

By the way, I was nearly forgetting to mention that our Penny Bank is getting on well, and the youngsters seem to be saving their pence instead of spending them in lollies. These little savings, I think, learn the rising generation thrifty habits, and teach them the value of money.

The report of our school of arts is anything but cheering, and those for whom the institution was intended, it is to be feared, undervalue it, and are seemingly unaware of the benefits they might derive from it were they to spend their spare time in reading at the commodious rooms provided by the committee of management.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 5 March 1862, page 2 column 2