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Clare's Old Stepping Stones

Updated: Mar 20, 2020


By "Clarion" From: Blyth Agriculturist (SA : 1908 - 1954) Fri 19 Sep 1941 Page 4 CLARE CENTENARY OF 1942 WILL REVIVE MANY MEMORIES OF THE PAST.

The Old Stepping Stones across the river in Clare SA
Clare's old Stepping Stones (1941) from "Clare: A District History" p.133

In the first article a questioner asked for details regarding this famous spot (The Stepping Stones of Clare).

  • So far as I can find there is no record when it was built.

  • The number of Stones is 25.

  • According to Mr. George Hallett, of Clare, who is over 82 years of age, the stones were placed in position when Mr. E. B. Gleeson was Mayor.

  • The three Councillors responsible were Dr. J. W. Bain, Mr. Harry Crabb, a saddler, and a Mr. Bowley (Mr. A. J. Bowley's grandfather).

  • George Hallett's father, the late John Hallett, who was a stone carter for the building firms who erected most of the old homes and public buildings, had the stones quarried out of the old Police Station Quarry, and he it was who carted the stepping stones into position.

Doctor Bain was apparently the prime mover.

  • He used to walk down to the early post office and business houses

  • along a track from the home now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. R. H. Tilbrook

  • across a ford behind Ford's hostelry, actually where the steps are to-day.

When the stepping stones, were "placed in position the job (was) carried out by old Charley Baillinger Senior, and old Joe Walden, who were then in the employ of the first Corporation.

  • Mr. George Hallett says he saw the. stones placed in position and

  • he was one of the first to walk over them.

At that period, Mr. Hallett continues, there was no North or South bridge and the one in Lennon Street on the way to the Methodist Church was only made of big logs.

  • The Gleeson Street footbridge (now superseded by a modern structure at the end of Gillen Street) was built 25 years later.

  • Robert Noye reported that the stones were removed in 1959 ('Clare: A District History')

Early photograph of the Lennon St Bridge, Clare SA
The Lennon Street Bridge, Clare SA

About 100 yards South of this footbridge there was a ford since the earliest days of Clare where vehicles used to cross behind the old Stanley Hotel (see below *) (now McLean's Cafe) and the hotel was owned either firstly by a Mr. Lawson, and later by a Mr. Smith, Mrs. T. S. Stacy's late father.

  • In order to go back 70 years Mr. Hallett had to draw upon a retentive memory. The facts can be substantiated,

  • but if there be any discrepancy in narrative and (if) anyone else can throw further light on the history of the stepping stones

  • over which lovely willow trees and a magnificent plantation of gum trees, between 75 and 100 feet high, act as guardians,

  • please let the whole world know all about it.

The late Councillor Henry Bowley. who came to Clare in 1844, and was the first carpenter, had his shop in the building close to the stepping stones behind French's or Raymond's boot repair workshop.

  • Mr. Stan Scott's grandfather was the first mason in Clare, and he and Henry Bowley undertook contracts together.

  • It is probable they kept an oversight of the building of the stepping stones.

  • Mr. Bowley lived in what is still known as Jackass Gully in South Eastern Clare (Jackass Gully was where the railway line to the Clare station used to run)

  • and he erected there one of the first stone buildings in the district then considered a most palatial residence which was later on facetiously called "The Abbey."

  • This was erected by a man named McKenzie.

  • Subsequently it passed into the possession of "Sandy" Lawson, and was then called the Stanley Hotel. Eventually it was delicensed in 1925.

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