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Pioneer Nurseryman W G Lewcock

'Father' of the Clare Railway
Mr Lewcock Surveys The Past



Observer (Adelaide, SA)
Sat 2 Jul 1910
Page 40

Clare is a region of great natural beauty, enhanced by human skill and intelligence.

Smiling green valleys, brightened by the flash of sparkling water, and rich in coal black humus, are clad with orchards and vineyards up to the limit of cultivable land.

Above these the graceful wattle and dark forests of waving gums and shea-oak pick out the outlines of the hills.

The visitor (says a travelling corres-pondent) is naturally surprised when he finds that such a prosperous and picturesque district is practically shut off from the outside world, as BJyth, the nearest railway centre, is some eight miles distant, and the communication is over a steep, hilly road.

Further, after he has spent some days "looking around," he requires no argument to be convinced of the need for a railway.

His road carriage is more than the rail way tariff to Port Adelaide.

Northern Argus (Clare, SA) Fri 7 Feb 1913 Page 3


To the Editor.

Sir — If an additional argument were needed in support of our long hoped for

railway it could be supplied by traveling on the road from Clare to Farrell's Flat. The road is completely ruined with the season's wheat carting.

The teamsters assure me that it is worse than a fallow field. Readers may judge for themselves from the fact that it takes a team of eleven horses to take a load of wheat to the Flat.

Read more: 1 - Clare gets a Railway

A Splendid Orchard

Among the fine orchards, Messrs. Lewcock's property, Hartley Springs, may be singled out as typical of the results of intense culture, under favourable conditions.

Situated about one and a half miles east of Clare, on the Farrell's Flat road, it attracts the eyes of all passers-by.

A large kiln, with the temperature of a Turkish bath, is used for drying apples and other fruit.

A great storeroom is stacked from floor to ceiling with different varieties of apples, packed in straw.

In another building a great stack of currants, 12 ft. by 9 ft. 6 in., contains a small portion of this year's crop.

Still another shed contains the oil engine, and centrifugal pumps for irrigation and for operating the winnower for cleaning the currants.

Water is obtained by innumerable springs and streams and two wells.

The orchard comprises about 70 acres, and is planted mostly with apples and pears.

The apples include the export varieties.

The Rome Beauties are particularly fine, and many measuring more than 4 in. across.

The Rokewood possesses remarkable keeping properties, and is its best in October.

The Lord Wolseley is considered the premier cooking epple, and Newtown Pippin and Eusopus Spitzenberg are good culinary varieties.

The trees are well grown and vase-shaped, with fruit spurs up the stem from 18 in. above the ground, though they have not been summer pruned.

From some of the largest pear trees 14 cases have been gathered.

Two splendid winter varieties—Madame Cole and Winter Nelis—are good keeping pears.

Among others may be mentioned the Glou Morceau, Josephine, and Williams's Bon Chretien.

Different varieties of peaches supply fresh fruit from December to April, and include some choice kinds.


A conspicuous feature at this period of the year are two fine groves of  oranges, one on each side of the road.

The trees are growing vigorously, and laden with luscious fruit.

This is almost exceptional in the Clare district, where the climate is not favourable to the citrus family.

The success of the orangery is no doubt due to its well-protected situation, and the. perfect underground drainage.

Originally a useless swamp, the land was reclaimed by means of earthenware piping placed about 4 ft. underground.

A fine nursery of healthy trees contains from 8,000 to 10.000, chiefly apples.

Nor is the ornamental side over looked.

Rows of English oaks, Cootamundra wattles, and carobs border the road side, and when full grown will provide a shaded green alley for some distance along the Farrell's Flat track.


Some Interesting Notes.

Observer (Adelaide, SA) Sat 23 Feb 1918 Page 8

One of the best known names in the horticultural world of South Australia is

that of Mr. William George Lewcock, of Clare, who recently celebrated the golden jubilee of his arrival in the prettily situated northern township.

Mr. Lewcock landed in the State on September 17, 1867, from the ship Berar, and after having worked as a gardener— at 5/ a day of 10 hours, mind you—at Glenelg, he was engaged to proceed to Clare to enter the service of the late Dr. Bain.

A coach conveyed him from the Bay to Adelaide: thence he travelled by train to Kapunda, and the intervening country between that township and Clare was covered by means of a coach and four in charge of the late Mr. Sam Coleman.

"On arrival at Clare we were taken to Dr. Bains's home. . . . There was plenty to eat, a well of good water, beautiful ripe apricots with other fruits to follow—and this 100 miles from Gleneig, and the colony 30 years old. As the seasons came round we had our own grown vegetables.

Many gallons of water I drew by windlass from a well 60 ft. deep, and carried by hand for flowers and vegetables."


"Ploughing and digging matches were novelties.

Shows were held in March in the town hall (built before my arrival), Messrs. S. Lloyd, J. Ninnes, John Hunter, W. Seabury, and Inchiquin and Hill River having been the principal exhibitors.

The winner of the first prize for table bouquet appealed to me as a new chum. 'You cannot tell me the name of the flower comprising the foundation of the. bouquet.'"

"I soon settled that by telling him it was a Jerusalem artichoke. 'Don't tell any one,' he replied. 'Only you and me know this plant.' I think since this little episode, I never have missed attending and exhibiting at a Clare show."

Hot Contests.

"The late Mr. P. O'Neil and I had many a hot contest, but were always good


Auburn always had an attraction for me as an exhibitor, and meeting the late Mr. Joe Bleechmare, Mr. Castine, sen., and others.

Mintaro and Watervale also had their periodical shows.

The late honoured men (Seedsman Messrs. W. Hackett and W Kelly) and myself were judges in three separate classes.

Mr. Hackett got us all together, and said, 'Now, Mr. Lewcock, which is your choice for first prize out of this lot?' This was my initiation as a judge at shows.

"What changes and advances have taken place in flowers, fruits, and vegetables?

The late Hon. G. C. Hawker was judging when I exhibited a brace of cucumbers at Clare one November. He read the name 'Hamilton's Invincible,' and then remarked,

'The best cucumber grown in England; who's the grower?'

On being told that I had imported the seeds he gave the order, 'Get your vegetable needs for Bungaree from him.' They grew largely for the shearers in those days.

"On another occasion the late Mr. John Carter, of Boconnoc, was an exhibitor of tomatoes.

He fully believed that the first prize was his—he had immense fruits of a coarse nature.

I placed on the table a dish of Hathaway's Excelsior—at that time the best tomato England could produce, and it takes some beating today.

Needless to say, the prize was mine. That old favourite potato. Beauty of Hebron, Canadian Wonder French bean varieties, and Perfection peas, were among my early introductions.

"Fruits of various sorts I had the honour of introducing in the days that are past.

I planted the pines, &c., that are growing in the grounds now occupied by Mr. Tilbrook, the third week in August, 1870, the year of the Franco-German war.

Mr. W. G. B. Lewcock

Northern Argus (Clare, SA) Fri 23 May 1924 Page 5

One by one the pioneer businessmen of Clare have passed away, and Mr. W. G. B. Lewcock is the last to join the great majority.

He had been failing for some time, and a few weeks ago had to lay up, and becoming gradually weaker died on Monday last in his 81st year. Mr. Lewcock was one of Clare's best townsmen.

From a small beginning by energy and hard work he established a large and lucrative business as nurseryman, seedsman, and vigneron, the management of which he only relinquished a few years ago to his sons.

Mr. Lewcock was born in 1843 at Sandhurst, Berkshire, England, and received his education at a parish school in Hampshire.

In the grounds of this institution were several small garden plots, which were cultivated by the boys out of school hours, and here he gained his first experience in garden work (which was afterwards to stand him in such good stead), and was successful in carrying off the second prize.

Arrival in South Australia

In 1867 Mr. Lewcock decided to come to South Australia and embarked in the ship "Berar," and after arrival entered the employ of Mr. E. A. Wright at Glenelg.

A few months later he came to Clare under engagement to the late Dr. Bain, with whom he remained in the capacity of gardener for nine years.

In 1877 he determined to launch out on his own account in a modest way, and met with such success as to enable him to purchase 77 acres of land, now known as Hartley Springs, on the Farrell Flat road, where he laid out a nursery, vineyard, and orchard. His descendants still live there.

Success attended his efforts, and with the assistance of his sons he built up what is practically the best garden and vineyard in the district.

Mr. Lewcock took a keen interest in the public affairs of the town and district. He was responsible for the planting of trees along Lennon Street and along Victoria Road.

He was a councillor in the Clare Corporation for several years, afterwards occupied the mayoral chair for a term, doing excellent service in both positions.


Clare Railway

It was in connection with the Clare, railway, however, that he did the best work, and he has been styled "the father of the railway."

It was his peristency in pushing the movement amongst the residents of the town and district (who looked upon the effort to obtain a line as a forlorn hope) that finally assisted to bring the proposal to a successful issue, and there was no prouder man than he when the railway was opened.


  • The Minister of Railways (Sir Richard Butler) invited the Governor to open the line.

  • Ribbons of blue and old gold were held across the rails by his Excellency and Mr. W. B. G. Lewcock, a veteran identity of Clare, who is popularly spoken of as "the father of the railway," the successful agitation for which he initiated some years ago.

  • Cheers were given as a decorated engine, on the front of which the Royal Coat of Arms was emblazoned, steamed up and severed the silken barrier.

Barque Berar
Hot Contests
Among the Orchards
A Splendid Orchard
Mr W. G. B. Lewcock
W G B Lewcock, Clare_edited.jpg
Arrival in SA
Clare Railway
The barque Berar.jpg

Under charter to the Shaw Saville Shipping line, the BERAR, a vessel of 902 tons, was considered to be rather a small ship to board the number of immigrant passengers traveling on the long journeys to the South Seas.


Read more: Wikipedia

New Zealand Voyages

The second indenture ship to Fiji

Wrecked 1896

Vice-regal Opening of Clare Railway
The Vineyards
First and Foremost
The Vineyards

The currant vineyards, however, are the glory of the estate.

The vines are trellised along two wires, with posts about 6 ft. high.

Even the area cut out by the watercourses are utilized by training the vines across the water.

The vines flourish amazingly and produce extraordinary crops.

A vine seven years old measured some 24 ft. in length in the main arm, and a fully grown vine over 70 ft.

Seven acres in full bearing averaged 2 tons to the acre this season, and a little plot of 2¾ acres with an eastern aspect yielded over 5 tons in three successive years, notwithstanding the loss occasioned by the rain in March last.

About 38 acres are under currants.

An idea of the labour and expense involved may be gathered from the fact that for trellising 28 acres with two wires, 45 miles of wire are required.

About 5 acres are under sultanas and table grapes.

Wire netted trays are used for drying, and possess many advantages.

As they do not need to be shifted after being once stacked, much labour is saved.

The drying is practically independent of the weather, and can even take place under cover.

In this way damage from rain or dust is averted, and through not being scorched by the direct rays of the sun, the fruit is plumper and fuller.

Half an inch mesh is used, and to prevent waste a tray a foot wider, with a hessian floor, is placed under the stack for any berries that may fall through.

Each wire tray is 12 ft. by 4 ft., and holds about six cases, or 300 lb. of fruit.

Mrs. W. G. B. Lewcock

Chronicle (Adelaide, SA) Thu 30 Jan 1941 Page 2

Mrs. W. G. B. Lewcock, one of Clare's oldest residents, died recently, aged 87 years.

  • She was born at Burra June 2 1853, her parents being the late Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell, who came to South Australia from Cornwall.

  • In July 1858, her father bought Iand at Spring Farm, near CIare, and remained there until 1882; when they retired and came to live in Clare.

  • She married on November 29, 1889, Mr. W, G. B, Lewcock,

  • who was Mayor of Clare for several years, and they had one daughter, Miss Ethel Lewcock, who survives.

Mrs. Lewcock was for many years, with her late husband, a keen workeer for the Clare Methodist Church.

Mrs. W. G. B. Lewcock
Lewcock Family

Above: Mr Lewcock (right) was guest of honour at the opening of the Clare Railway


Mr. Lewcock was also connected with a great many of the public institutions of Clare.

He had been a member of the Clare Oddfellows, M.U., since his first arrival in the town, and a trustee of the lodge, for 40 years being chairman of trustees.

He took a keen interest in the British and Foreign Bible Society, and was also its president for many years.

Lewcock Family

In 1866 he married Mary Louisa, (daughter of the late Mr. William James, of Wiltshire, England), who died in 1887.

Later he married Eliza, (daughter of the late Mr. William Mitchell of Clare), who survives him.

The surviving family are

  • Mr. W. G. Lewcock and Mr. H. E. Lewcock, Clare;

  • Mrs. J. A. Ogilvie, Jamestown; and

  • Miss Ethel Lewcock, Clare.

The funeral took place at the Clare Cemetery on Thursday, a very large crowd assembling at the graveside.

The burial service was conducted by the Rev. J. McD. Forsyth and the Rev. H. W. Jew, and the Oddfellows' service was read by Mr. H. A. French. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Harder & Forsaith.

Mr. W. G. Lewcock.
(Son) Mr. W. G. Lewcock.

Blyth Agriculturist (SA) Fri 7 May 1943  Page 4

An elderly resident of Clare. Mr. William George Lewcock, aged 74 years, of Hartley Springs Gardens and Nurseries, about 1 mile East of

Clare, passed awav on Tuesdav, May 4th.

  • He was elder son of the late Mr. W. G. B. Lewcock. one of the early pioneers of Clare, and lived here all his life.

His wife predeceased him by several years and surviving members of his immediate family are

  • Mr. Hartley Lewcock, Clare,

  • and Professor Kingsley Lewcock, Brisbane, attached to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in connection with the activities of the Queensland Government.

  • Miss Ethel Lewcock, of Clare, is a sister.

The remains were interred in the Clare cemetery on Thursdav. May 6th, Mr. H. McDonald being the funeral director.


The gullies are eminently suited for the production of vegetables.

  • Potatoes of the up-to-date variety have frequently scaled upwards of 1 Ib.

  • A single rhubarb plant attained a diameter of. 7 ft. from leaf tip to opposite leaf tip.

  • This was planted in February, and by next spring should yield at least 12 lb. of beautiful ruby-coloured stalk.

  • A trombone weighed 62 lb.,

  • a watermelon 30 lb., and

  • a mangold (beet) 25 lb. Over 10,000 of the latter were planted to the acre.

The return was somewhere in the neighbour-hood of 100 tons—a convincing proof of the fertility of the soil.

(Son) Mr. H. E. Lewcock

Chronicle (Adelaide, SA) Thu 11 May 1939 Page 14

Mr. Henry E. Lewcock, who died at his home in Moseley street, Glenelg,

on March 21 at the age of 65, was the younger son of the late Mr. W. G. B. Lewcock.

Mr. Henry Lewcock, who had been in ill-health for some years, lived most of his life at Clare, moving to Glenelg two years ago.

While in Clare he strongly supported the successful move to buy the Neagle's Rock property for a flora and fauna reserve.



Blyth Agriculturist (SA) Fri 24 Mar 1939  Page 2

Expressions of profound regret were heard on all sides in Clare on

Tuesday afternoon, when it was learned that Mr. H. E. Lewcock, of Mosley Street, Glenelg, had passed on.

Mr. Lewcock lived practically the whole of his life in Clare, where his late father, Mr. W. G. B. Lewcock. his mother, and his brother. Mr. W. Lewcock, of Hartley Springs Garden and Nurseries, and Miss Ethel Lewcock, have always had extensive business interests.

Among the older generation of Clare identities and business people

the late Mr. (Harry) Lewcock as he was affectionately known, had a host

of genuine friends who regret his demise.

It was not until a few years ago that failing health led him to seek the seaside air at Glenelg; but the new surroundings and the relinquishing of old ties and interests did not serve to bring him the health he hoped for.

For a long term of years he bore extreme ill-health with a remarkable

fortitude that impressed not only his many friends, but his medical advisers also.

He was known for his steadfastness of purpose and high business integrity, and Clare has lost one who, in a life-long association, found much time to help in various ways all movements of interest.

In the world of flowers and the garden, the late Mr. Lewcock was a noted authority, and his services as a judge, and also as an exhibitor of rare and beautiful flowers, shrubs and plants, were much sought after.

One of his last acts before leaving Clare was to organise and solicit subscriptions towards the buying of Neagles Rock property, to perpetuate in its extensive natural beauty, a place where the native flora and fauna could in the years to come, flourish untouched, and this has now become an accomplished fact.

In many other ways, such as

  • President of the Institute and Chess Club,

  • a member of the Flower Society,

  • Methodist Church, Mark Lodge and

  • Clare Masonic Lodge No. 12, of which he was a former Worshipful Master,

  • actively associated with the committee of the Clare Show, both as a steward and exhibitor, and

  • in numerous other ways the deceased gentleman identified himself with the interests identified of the town of Clare.

He leaves a widow, formerly Miss Elsie Trelaggan. of Mintaro, who was

at one time Matron of the BIyth Hospital.

His remains were interred in the Clare Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon, when a large cortege followed to the graveside, the funeral arrangements being carried out by Messrs. J. T. Hoare & Sons, of Kilkenny.

The Rev. John H. Peters officiated at the graveside, and four past Worshipful Masters of the Clare Masonic Lodge acted as pall bearers. in

Messrs. I. S. Scott, G. Bails. J. W.Ohlmeyei, and A. J. Bowley.


  • He has left a widow, formerly Miss Elsie Tralaggan, of Mintaro,

  • one brother, Mr. W. G. Lewcock, of Hartley Springs, Clare;

  • and two sisters, Mrs. .J. A. Ogilvie (Brighton), and Miss Ethel Lewcock (Clare).

Below: The new Northern Argus printing machine c 1956 in the old Argus office with (Left) Miss Ethel Lewcock next to Eric Tilbrook (editor) and Miss Barbara Darmody (at right).

Mr. H. E. Lewcock
Show Prizes
View from the Neagles Rock lookout.jpg
Show Prizes

This article in the Northern Argus lists all the Show Prize Winners in October 1910

(Lewcock & Sons feature prominently)

The the new printing machine c 1956 in t
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