Cobb & Co at Rose Inn

T. G. Markwell was the licensee of the Rose Inn and involved in a coaching service.  In 1864 Perry, Elliot, Markwell & Co took action to prevent Cobb & Co from interfering with their runs and inserted a large  notice in the local paper in July 30th  Coaches on Bathurst line not to be bought off!

 

Coach travel, fast and committed to mail delivery at nominated times, often became hazardous. A gripping description of such travel in 1870 serves to portray the situation:

“The coach starts ... with the passengers and mails over a road on which travelling in the daytime is wretched enough, but in the night is excruciating. The road has received very little attention in the way of making from anybody, and is just what a track over stony ground, cut up for a score of years, would be. For twenty or thirty miles it consists of sand and rocks intermingled, over which the coach is driven as fast as the horses can drag it. The result is a continuous series of jolts, which must be felt to be appreciated, and which in weak persons would likely cause internal injuries. During this period of suffering, if the wind follows the coach, there is a constant atmosphere of dust. The driver has shortcuts and paths of his own through the forest, and the passenger on the box seat is constantly engaged in a mental calculation of the odds in favour of running foul of innumberable stumps which he sees flying past, or dashing headlong against the trees through which he can see no road until in the midst of them. The leader of the team however, follows the twists and turns of the bush road with amazing accuracy and though we graze the very bark of the trees, still on we go, frequently at full gallop, and the driver is quite unconscious of doing anything wonderful”

 

 

 

 
     

A Cobb & Coach fully laden.

 

Cobb & Co      

                                                                                            

Rose Inn was used by Cobb & Co  as a coaching stop over for passengers on the way to Bathurst and the gold fields.    Cobb and Co was to become the greatest coaching company not only in Australia but held that position in the world.  The company was started by 4 Americans  from Wells Fargo  with the coaches  carrying the majority of the mail throughout Australia.

There once was a very large building at the rear used to service the coaches  coming in daily and a large hayshed for the feed as well as servicing the flour mill operating on the site.  The passengers would have been ushered into the large kitchen where the chimneys now stand and offered a drop of ale or tea . There were  9 small  travellers bedrooms,  a parlour,  a dining room and  a tap room, a separate large kitchen, a outside bathroom, servants quarters,  a dairy room, a slaughterhouse, a milking shed, and a piggery as ham and bacon was a favourite since it was easily salted for storage.  (See A taste of the Past)

The cost of travelling on the coach from Bathurst to Mt Victoria on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 4pm was £1 or to Sydney £2  Meals would cost 2s at the inns and often very salty meats were often served with each inn doing handsomely with passengers refreshment. Once their parched throats were soothed they would have been shown to their rooms, men in separate quarters to women for the cost £1 per night.

Women generally did not drink alcohol at the inns but were served a “tea”.

After 1862 Cobb & Co had all the Government mail contracts  and the contract time for the journey from Bathurst to Weatherboard  (Wentworth Falls) was fourteen hours. At the nine post offices it had to service,   two and half hours stoppage was  reserved with 15 minutes each stop to allow the postmaster to receive and deliver mails.  Passengers were allowed  thirty minutes  for supper and breakfast  and  ten and a half hours was allowed for travelling the  70 miles  which the average rate being seven miles an hour.

 James Rutherford who took the Cobb & Co  business to great heights  was born August 1827 at Erie, New York County  and came to Australia in 1852 aged 25... he started out as a horse dealer  travelling through NSW, QLD and VIC, during this time he survived a 8 day walk of 180 miles mostly without food.

He transferred the coaching operation to Bathurst from Melbourne on 28th June 1862.   In 1867 it was running a daily  line between Penrith and Orange via Bathurst after buying out Crane and Roberts who held the Government Mail Contracts up till 14th July 1862, the Mail contracts were worth £4606 a year.

Coaches left the Cobb & Co’s Booking office at Bathurst carrying Her Majesty’s Mail and Gold Escort

                for Penrith and Sydney on Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7am

for Penrith and Sydney on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday at 12 noon

for Paramatta Daily (Friday excepted) at 10pm.

T. G. Markwell was the licensee of the Rose Inn and involved in a coaching service.  In 1864 Perry, Elliot, Markwell & Co took action to prevent Cobb & Co from interfering with their runs and inserted a large  notice in the local paper in July 30th  “Coaches on Bathurst line not to be bought off!”

However  it was not a successful attempt to thwart the expansion of the Cobb & Co monopoly for just 2 years later in 1866 the NSW Gazetteer advised that passenger travelling with Cobb & Co would spend the night at Rose Inn.

 

Cobb & Co Operations

James Rutherford as well as the icon in the Cobb & Co coaching company is regarded as the Father of the Iron Industry in Australia after he invested in the first ironworks at  Lithgow.

The peak of Cobb and Co’s coaching operating was in 1870. In NSW  Cobb & Co coaches carried mail on 29 routes covering 2358 miles, horse drawn vehicles on another 22 routes an by horse back on 236 routes a total of 13,179 miles. Cobb & Co harnessed 6000 horses a day,

But by this stage the railway was pushed through to “One Tree Hill”  later known as Mt Victoria in Blue Mountains

The romance of coach travel today is remembered with nostalgia with the  clatter of hooves and the jingle of harness, the ramble of iron wheels  the shouts of the driver, the snorts of horses and the crack of the whip.  These sound for centuries  would beckon people to come out to hear the mail coach rumble by.

Cobb & Co. coach crossing a flooded river. Photo: National Library of Australia.

 

History of Cobb & Co

Freeman Cobb, an American, began Cobb & Co in Australia in 1853. In 1861, Cobb sold out to a syndicate: of  Rutherford, Whitney & Hall, Wagner, Robertson, and B & C Robertson & C.Pollock.  Rutherford was General Manager. In 1862 Cobb & Co arrived in Bathurst to a huge fanfare making it their base for the manufacture of their coaches. Basing their coach design on American Concord coaches, their factory in Bathurst built their vehicles with leather thoroughbraces, enabling swift travel in rugged Australian conditions. Blacksmiths and wheelwrights from Victoria were employed in the Bathurst factory. From this small beginning, Cobb & Co became the biggest and best transport system in the world, with branches in all states of Australia (except Tasmania); in New Zealand, South Africa and Japan. The coaches travelled 28,000 miles (44,800km) per week, harnessing 6,000 (out of their 30,000) horses per day. From Normanton on the Gulf of Carpentaria, or Port Douglas on the Coral sea, to Victoria or South Australia, Cobb & Co webbed their tracks. There was a continuous line of 2000 miles (3,200km) over eastern Australia from South to North, with a total of 7,000 miles (11,200km) of regular routes.

 

The move to Bathurst

Rutherford moved ten coaches from the Castlemaine Depot in Victoria to Bathurst in 1862, and re-established his headquarters there. He transported passengers from the railway station at Penrith, all the way to the new goldfields.Cobb & Co operated its lines after nightfall and its coaches were known for their triangular arrangement of lamps which were set on either side of the coach and a large central light was placed on the roof. This triangle of lights was visible for many miles across open country and is remembered in Henry Lawson’s poem, 'The Lights of Cobb & Co.

 

The Father of Iron in Australia

Cobb & Co also engaged in railway construction, pastoral properties, shipping Jarrah from WA to India, and the Eskbank Iron Works at Lithgow in 187.  Being such an astute businessman James Rutherford James invested in  the new iron industry  influenced by the high prices  with the construction initially of rolling mills to manufacture rails from scrap iron.. This was then added to, by building  in 1876 a blast-furnace adjacent to rolling mill and foundry. Raw material came from local sources but results  were poor with the iron-ore of uncertain quality, the freight charges high and competition from cheap imported iron. Rutherford dramatically decided the blast-furnaces was a loss-leader which imperilled the future of the rolling mills and foundry.  In 1884 he bought two carts of gun-powder and blew up the blast furnace, lest he be tempted to resume smelting in the future.   The ironworks  continued in operation using scrap iron instead of locally produced pig-iron.  The ironworks with its pioneering rolling equipment  the first cast in Australia to produce railway iron was very successful and did not close till the operations were transferred from Lithgow to Port Kembla.  In 1887 William Sandford leased the Lithgow Ironworks from Rutherford then bought it outright in 1892.

James Rutherford astutely  saw the future ahead with his investment in the iron age.

The employment of an era was about to end.   The motorized vehicles would soon replace the driver, the 4 to 5 grooms, all the employees of the halfway houses and change stations. Gone too was the fine art of coach builders, the fine painters, the harness makers.

The last Cobb & Co coach left Surat, Qld on 14th August, 1924 for a trip of 47 miles. The scheduled time for the trip was from 9am to 7pm and now this historic coach is located in the Australian  National Museum in Canberra.

 James Rutherford was a remarkable man.  He was able to continually retrieve poor performing business through droughts.  The last one he was to manage was in the Queensland drought from 1899 to 1902 with the worst droughts on record. His costs for horse feed cut earnings substantially  the company had accumulated great losses and monies were owed to banks and creditors. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy.  In 1903 a reconstructed company with Rutherford as the managing director came into being and created a turnaround in the companies finances with a dividend being paid in 1907.

But the writing was on the wall and in June 1911 Rutherford decided to purchase 3 motor cars for the firm. 

Within 25 years the ‘rein’  of  the horse drawn coach was over.  Once cheered as a  welcome relief from the drudgery of walking, the coaches allowed us to create a community-our Australian Society with its vast distances from each other.

One of the greatest business empires in Australia with is organizations structure of keeping 6000 horses on the road every day  came to an end when James Rutherford died on a trip to Queensland in 1911 driving a four in hand . Nothing ever daunted the man , at the age of 84 despite being ill he undertook what younger men would not even face.  He had an indomitable will and took on a trip of 600 miles with his team of four which twice bolted and it took two men to pull them down. His son wrote to his mother that during the trip his father was  a marvel for his age, full of energy and lively as  two-year old.-he would start out to do another 10 or 20 miles, leaving the comfort and good bed to camp out rain or shine.  He  got a chill which turned to influenza and bronchitis..

 His wife said James Rutherford  in a letter to a friend....

I’m sure if he had not taken this dreadful journey but stayed at home quietly he would have lived another 10 or more years. His life here for about 7 months was active and full of interest as he had a good many colts, Every morning he put one of more in breaking them himself. At 10 went to the office and opened and answered letters, attending to business matters, home at one, rest from 2 till 3.30, off to a meeting or to exercise more colts from 4 to 5.  Office work, never neglected to go into town, if a meeting leaving at 7, returning 10 or 10.30 this was the usual routine  rain or shine, always ready for breakfast at 8 even when he would come from Sydney  arriving here 4 am,

Nothing seemed to escape him, his powers of observation and quickness of decision were wonderful. He read a great deal every spare moment and if he found a joke, read it aloud, he did not seem old to us in thought and action, he outstripped many younger ones, he was always sympathetic and ready to help and advise others in trouble.

Truly James Rutherford  was truly one of Australia’s great icons for future generations to emulate his drive and vision.  

Links

Cobb & Co: www.cobandco.net.au

Cobb & Co Heritage Trail from Bathurst to Burke  

Cobb & Co Museum Queensland

Cobb & Co  A Select Biography

Lithgow History

Teaching  Heritage Lithgow

 

The  TV series Whiplash was loosely based on the life of Freeman Cobb, founder of Australia's Cobb & Co. coach line

   

 

Souce: www.cobbandco.net.au

Cobb and Co coaches were invaluable for the transporting of goods. An unimaginable  amount of luggage was piled high

on top. For anyone who has ridden pillion on these coaches  the swaying is about a foot  up and down.

   
     
Any further photographs  or information would be gratefully appreciated.
 
The first services began in 1854 between Melbourne and Bendigo.[2] In 1861 Rutherford proposed extending the business into New South Wales, but his partners opposed the plan. They reversed the decision following news of the Lambing Flat (Young) gold rush.

Image above

Edward Field Inn as at 1872.  The roof was covered in corrugated iron sheets, the cook house still stood behind the Inn and the stables can be seen behind the cookhouse.  Where the white horse stands is the walkway that lead to the cookhouse.

Note that the front fence bordered the sandstone slabs that form the verandah.  There is four  doors leading onto the front verandah, whereby now there is only three.

The main room of the inn is directly behind the 3 seated on the horse trough. Cobb and Co

 

 

   
In the Sydney Gazette of July 15, 1832 appeared an advertisement in which Joseph Cox, a carrier on the Western
Road for nine years agreed to carry parcels or packages to Bathurst. Leaving the “Angel Inn”, Brickfield Hill, Sydney,
during the first week in each month, and Bathurst about the fifteenth of each month, Cox charged eight shillings for the
carriage of one hundred pounds, tenpence per gallon of spirits or beer on the forward journey, and seven shillings for one hundred pounds. and three shillings per bushel of wheat on the return journey.”


“In 1836 mention is made of two companies plying between Sydney and Bathurst - the Ireland-Reilly Coach Service
and the Bathurst Conveyancing Company.
The passenger coaches of the first mentioned company left Sydney every Tuesday and Friday morning at six o’clock,
arriving in Parramatta at eight o’clock.
After partaking of breakfast, the coach then travelled to Penrith, which was reached at half-past eleven a.m. The
passengers were allowed half-an-hour’s stay in the township. The Weatherboard (Wentworth Falls) was reached at seven o’clock on the first night. Early on the following morning (six o’clock) the journey was recommenced, and after staying at Andrew Gardiner’s for breakfast, Bathurst was reached at seven o’clock on the second night. It will be seen that the entire journey was covered in twenty-four hours, an average of six miles per hour”...(There may well have been stops at “The Woodman” or “Kings Arms” at Woodford too.)

“The Bathurst Conveyance Company carried passengers at the rate of three pounds five shillings each, while a charge
of seven shillings per hundredweight was made for luggage carried by the bullock teams. The bullock drivers received one pound per week, the coach drivers nineteen shillings and three pence per week, together with the following
fortnightly rations: - 24 lbs. flour at 54d per lb, 20 lbs beef at 4d per lb, 4 lbs sugar at 7d per lb, 1/2 lb tea at two shillings and sixpence per lb, and tobacco tenpence.
“Many landowners from the Western districts who desired to travel to Sydney undertook the journey in their private gigs, or on horseback, and, since the company usually numbered several friends, an enjoyable time was spent by stopping at the well-known inns along the route, namely Mrs Dillon’s “Golden Fleece” (Kelso) or Kit’s “Dun Cow” (Kelso), “Mutton’s Inn” (Tarana), Rotton’s “Victoria Inn” (Solitary Creek), Collits’ “Golden Fleece” (Hartley Vale) or the many taverns on the Mitchell Road, “Perry’s Inn” (Mount Victoria), “The Pilgrim” (Blaxland) and “The Red
Cow” (Penrith)” (possibly “The King’s Arms” at Twenty Mile Hollow.)
Extract from Royal Australian Historical Society article about “Hartley - The Gateway to the West”.
**************
21 April Friday (spent in Blackheath) 22 April Saturday up at 4 am got under way again at 5. The roads frightfully
boggy - also very misty and cold. The horses pulled away bravely. We got to Busses’ about 10.30 all looking very seedy and feeling faint and miserable. A good breakfast had a wonderful effect in restoring us. We started again exactly at 12. The weather had cleared up into a lovely day and the road better every mile.
[Had Clara with her maybe also Lottie and Aunt Charlotte. Travelled by road to Penrith where they caught the train to
Sydney]
Extract from a Journal of a Colonial Lady 1865, by Jessie Augusta Francis, p102, Journeys File 2, Local
Studies BMCC Library, Springwood. This extract is about a journey from Bathurst to Sydney.

 

 
Bathurst 15 July 1841
“The most speedy mode of travelling over
the mountains is by the mail cart, which
leaves Sydney for Bathurst on certain
days, but this is too expensive to be
generally adopted as the lowest fare is 90
shillings for each person. All, therefore
who cannot afford this, and have no
conveyance of their own are under the
necessity of travelling by some of the
drays, numbers of which are constantly on
the road to and from Sydney:
Drays are precisely the same as those
used in England.”
Four pounds was the cheapest
accommodation. They were ferried across
the Nepean in a punt. Filled their bottles
with river water. Her husband carried
loaded pistols and the men kept sentinel
all night in watches. Their personal
possessions were loaded on dray(s) pulled
by horses.
But at Springwood they transferred
everything to a bullock wagon, and were
accompanied by five bullock teams.
Road conditions became worse.
“I brought up the rear and blocked the
wheels at every stoppage, sometimes left
half a mile behind, and then having to run
as fast as possible to perform this new but
somewhat irksome duty.”
Somewhere after leaving Springwood,
camped and a spark from their fire began
a blaze even though it was June.
Extract from Journeys over the Blue Mountains - research at
Local Studies, Springwood Library
Letter of Sophie Stanger nee Pollard to her mother ex Allan
Searles’ scrapbook, published in Sunday Sun File: Journeys 2
Sophie Pollard was born c1813 at Epping Essex, daughter of
a miller, George Pollard and wife Sophie. In 1836 she married
Joseph Stanger in London. Joseph was born in London 1811,
died Newcastle 6 July, 1892. He was variously described as a
gentleman, blacksmith, whitesmith, storekeeper. He arrived in
NSW c 1840.
Sophie travelled with her husband and five young children,
Willie 5 years, Lucy 3 years and triplets, Sarah, Mary and
Eliza. She went on to have four more children. Two of the
girls died . Sophie died in Bathurst 19 July 1881.
Immigrants
 
Bathurst 15 July 1841
“The most speedy mode of travelling over
the mountains is by the mail cart, which
leaves Sydney for Bathurst on certain
days, but this is too expensive to be
generally adopted as the lowest fare is 90
shillings for each person. All, therefore
who cannot afford this, and have no
conveyance of their own are under the
necessity of travelling by some of the
drays, numbers of which are constantly on
the road to and from Sydney:
Drays are precisely the same as those
used in England.”
Four pounds was the cheapest
accommodation. They were ferried across
the Nepean in a punt. Filled their bottles
with river water. Her husband carried
loaded pistols and the men kept sentinel
all night in watches. Their personal
possessions were loaded on dray(s) pulled
by horses.
But at Springwood they transferred
everything to a bullock wagon, and were
accompanied by five bullock teams.
Road conditions became worse.
“I brought up the rear and blocked the
wheels at every stoppage, sometimes left
half a mile behind, and then having to run
as fast as possible to perform this new but
somewhat irksome duty.”
Somewhere after leaving Springwood,
camped and a spark from their fire began
a blaze even though it was June.
Extract from Journeys over the Blue Mountains - research at
Local Studies, Springwood Library
Letter of Sophie Stanger nee Pollard to her mother ex Allan
Searles’ scrapbook, published in Sunday Sun File: Journeys 2
Sophie Pollard was born c1813 at Epping Essex, daughter of
a miller, George Pollard and wife Sophie. In 1836 she married
Joseph Stanger in London. Joseph was born in London 1811,
died Newcastle 6 July, 1892. He was variously described as a
gentleman, blacksmith, whitesmith, storekeeper. He arrived in
NSW c 1840.
Sophie travelled with her husband and five young children,
Willie 5 years, Lucy 3 years and triplets, Sarah, Mary and
Eliza. She went on to have four more children. Two of the
girls died . Sophie died in Bathurst 19 July 1881.
   
         
     

 .