Guest Speaker 1 Sep 2015: Vivian Kenney – Restoring Town Clocks



Our Annual General Meeting will be held at the Kilmore Court House, 4 Powlett Street, on 1 September at 7:30 pm.


The meeting will be followed with our guest speaker, Vivian Kenney, President of the Antiquarian Horological Society of Victoria, who will be speaking on the rediscovery and restoration of the old Kilmore Town Hall Clock. This promises to be an interesting and timely address.

The meeting will begin at 7:30 and end at approximately 9 – 9:30, with time for questions and general business.

Supper will be served after the meeting and all are welcome to participate.

All members and non-members are welcome to attend.

James and Isabella Thom

The following article by Grahame Thom about a Kilmore schoolteacher and his family was originally published in the June 2006 edition of our Newsletter, Kilmore Connections

James Thom was born on 26 April 1840 and christened on 7 May 1840 at Forgue, Aberdeenshire, the third child of seven and second son of William Thom and Mary Bodie (1). William, christened on 13 September 1812 at Marnoch, Banffshire, was the son of Alexander Thom and Isabel Ritchie (2), and married Mary Bodie at Auchterless, Aberdeenshire on 9 December 1834 (3). William died on 8 December 1890 and Mary on 5 September 1893; both are buried at Inverurie, Aberdeenshire (4).

Jamesʼ future wife, Isabella Clark Gordon was born on 6 September 1842 and christened on 8 October 1842 at Clatt, Aberdeenshire, the daughter of James Gordon and Elspet Clark (5). James and Elspet were married on 1 July 1827 at Keig, Aberdenshire (6). It is likely that James was the son of Sir James Gordon the 7th Bart of Gordonstoun and the 8th Bart of Letterfourie, and Mary Glendonwyn (7).

Forgue is about 13 km north of the nearest large town of Huntly, and Clatt is about 20 km south of Huntly. A well known institution, the Gordon Schools, was established in Huntly in 1839 and it is possible that both James and Isabella were educated at this School. Especially as it is reasonable to conclude they knew each other well before coming to Victoria. James received his training as a teacher before emigrating (8).

James arrived in Victoria prior to 9 July 1866 for on that day he was appointed as the master (teacher) at public school 525 at Reids Creek, a little village west of Beechworth (9). While at Reids Creek he sat for a teaching exam (10) and was appointed to the 2nd Division on 10 January 1868 (9). In writing home to his parents James probably wrote to Isabella as well and it is likely he asked her to come to Victoria to be his bride. Isabella arrived in Melbourne in July 1869 on the ship Kosciusko (11) and on 6 August 1869 James and Isabella were married in Beechworth (12).

Just prior to his wedding, James was transferred on 26 July 1869 to public school 305 at Hurdle Flat, 7 km south east of Beechworth (9). This was only a short appointment for on 1 January 1870 he was appointed head teacher at Kilmore public school 353 known as the Kilmore Free Church of Scotland School at the rear of St Andrews Church (9). The Thoms remained in Kilmore for many years and the following children were born there.

  • James Lawson Thom born 1870, died 1872, buried in Kilmore General Cemetery
  • Gordon William Thom born 20 August 1871, engineer, married Hester Charlotte von Stieglitz in 1906, one child, died 6 May 1956.
  • Francis (Frank) Edward Thom born 25 October 1872, public servant, married
  • Agnes Deborah Thomson, 4 children, died December 1948
  • Lewis Stanley Thom, born 1874, died 3 April 1875, buried in Kilmore General Cemetery
  • Mary Grace Eliza Thom born 17 January 1876, died Ararat 17 April 1894
  • Isabella (Ella) Melville Thom born 10 January 1878, married
  • Edgar Charles Brewster in 1910, two children, died 4 November 1925
  • Leslie Niven Thom born 22 November 1879, teacher and patent attorney, married Sarah Jane Anderson, three children, died 6 May 1962
  • Elsie Lillian (Dollie) Thom born 7 November 1881, married Douglas Potter, auctioneer, two children, died 5 August 1965
  • Winifred (Winnie) May Thom born 1 March 1885, secretary, War Office, Southern Command, Melbourne, died 30 November 1943
  • Agnes Thom born 7 December 1886, died 18 November 1979 (13)

In the early years of Kilmore there were three public schools connected to three different churches. In 1872 the new Education Act provided for free, secular and compulsory education. Therefore it was not surprising that the Education Department quickly decided to build a larger public school at Kilmore with the intention of closing the three existing schools. This caused a lot of discussion by the residents of Kilmore and petitions on behalf of the teachers seeking appointments to the new school were lodged with the Minister of Education (14). Appointments were made and Public School 1568 opened in May 1875 with James being appointed as special assistant teacher from 1 May 1875 at £4 a week. He was promoted to 1st Assistant teacher on 22 January 1880, temporary head teacher from 11 October 1880 and permanent head teacher on 21 January 1882 (9).

James was a well respected headmaster and teacher and received good reports from the school inspectors during his career. The following are noted on his official record about his teaching while at Kilmore (9):-

27 March 1874 Mr Geary reported “manages the school very creditably – is careful and zealous in his teaching – preserves a quiet attractive manner”

19 May 1874 Mr Main reported “a very good assistant – I prefer his work as an assistant to his management as a H. T.”

17 September 1882 Mr Rice reported “An intelligent capable teacher; seems interested in his work.”

8 October 1884 Mr Tynan reported “Industrious; earnest & desirous of giving satisfaction to the Dept: He is perhaps to better scholar than a teacher.”

15 October 1885 Mr Tynan reported “An earnest conscientious man & an intelligent and capable teacher; not brilliant or showy, but sound.”

22 October 1886 Mr Tynan reported “A careful, industrious and conscientious teacher who has the school in a satisfactory state as regards instruction. He is not a disciplinarian of the highest order.”

18 August 1888 Mr Tynan reported “Conscientious and competent in all respects save as a disciplinarian.”

It is interesting to compare the final two above with the first report at Ararat school.

8 July 1890 Mr Roche reported “An efficient teacher, very zealous, and interested in the progress of his pupils. Discipline very good. The children seem orderly and industrious.”

On 16 December 1880 the following appeared in the Kilmore Free Press (page 2 col c),

Mr P F Flynn son of our respected townsman Mr John Flynn, has successfully passed the entrance examination of the University of Dublin, attaining a place in the honours list. Speaks well for the teaching he received here whilst under the charge of Mr Thom.

From the above it is reasonable to conclude that teaching the youth of Kilmore in those days was in good hands. But what of the Thom family life outside of the school?

On 4 August 1871, James, along with many other Kilmore men from Scotland, joined the Kilmore Lodge of the Order of St Andrew (15). By paying a regular subscription James and his family were covered financially for any costs related to illness; it was a form of health insurance. On joining James certified that he and Isabella were of good health.

Sadly their first born child, James died in 1872 aged 2 years, and then in April 1875 Lewis died aged 7 months, it is said, of diphtheria (13). In August 1877 the Kilmore Free Press reported an outbreak of diphtheria, with two children of James and Isabella being ill but “progressing favourably” (16).

In 1871 the Kilmore rate books list James as having a house on the corner of Union and Fitzroy Streets; then 1872 and 1873, house and land in Fitzroy Street, and in 1874 house and land on the corner of Albert and Fitzroy Streets (17). In early 1876 James appealed against a rate valuation by the Kilmore Shire Council, but failed on a technicality as he had not stated in his appeal that he was “aggrieved” as required under the Local Government Act. He was not alone in having an appeal dismissed for this reason (18).

At a meeting on 3 June 1876, the Kilmore Shire Council considered an objection lodged by the Colonial Bank against an application to enclose the Market Reserve as it would close an access route to a house owned by the Bank and occupied by the Thom family; no action was taken by Council (19). The Market Reserve was on the western side of Albert Street, between Union and Gipps Streets.

A contributor to the Kilmore Free Press, under the name Athmos, recalled in 1931 that James lived in a house in Victoria Parade, between Gipps and Union Streets (20). This is confirmed by an advertisement in the Free Press on 5 December 1878, (page 3, col d), which reads “To let or sell. Cottage in Victoria street, lately occupied by Mr James Thom. Apply Colonial Bank.” Where did the Thom family live next?

A clue comes from an advertisement in the Kilmore Free Press on 9 August 1883 (page 3, col b) – Wanted a General Servant, Apply Mrs. Thom, State School; Kilmore. Not long after the opening of the new school, tenders were called for the erection of a residence for the headmaster on the north-west corner of the school grounds. A wooden house of four rooms was built and occupied on 29 April 1878 with the rental being £20 a year. Another room was added in 1884 (21). So it would appear James and his family moved from Victoria Street in April 1878 and lived in the headmasterʼs house until they left Kilmore.

In June 1882 the Kilmore Council considered as request from J. H. Rose and others, asking to have the name of Jas Thom placed on the roll as a trustee for Oddfellows’ Hall. However the Council decided to let the matter be dealt with by the Revision Court. I wonder what was the outcome. One gets the felling that religion played a part in this decision (22).

History repeats itself for on 8 June 1882 James complained of the filthy condition of the channels in front of the School. And just three months later the School was closed as a result of his family coming down with diphtheria (23).

It’s interesting to learn in the Free Press on 29 March 1883, (page 3, cold), that James advertised that evening classes will commence on
Monday, 1 April at the State School.

In 1885-86 James was President of the Kilmore Mechanicsʼ Institute and in 1887-88 Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages (24).

In 1887 the colonies celebrated the Queenʼs Jubilee. But in Kilmore, the Council, dominated by Irish Catholic men, decided not to participate in the celebrations. It was reported in the press that Kilmore was the only town in the colony not to support the Jubilee celebrations. So the loyal citizens of Kilmore called a meeting and decided to form a committee to give every child in Kilmore a treat, hold a procession and have a bonfire on 22 June. James Thom was a member of the committee (25).

James ceased being a teacher at Kilmore on 30 November 1888 (9). Friends and fellow teachers were invited to a farewell dinner that night at the Royal Oak Hotel. The Kilmore Advertiser reported “Last Friday evening Mr. James Thom, lately head teacher of the local State School, was entertained at the Royal Oak Hotel on the occasion of his departure from Kilmore, and presented with a purse of sovereigns by the public, and a valuable writing desk by the teachers and scholars, and Mrs. Thom with a hansome biscuit barrel. About 40 gentlemen were present and a very enjoyable evening was spent.” The Kilmore Free Press also reported that “We need only say that we consider Mr. Thom was well worthy of all the respect shown him, and we wish him every success in his new sphere.” (26)

His next appointment was head teacher of public school 1719 at Broomfield, north of Ballarat. (9). It is possible he did not take up this position for shortly afterwards on 13 February 1889 James was appointed as head teacher at Ararat Public School number 800. He retired from teaching at Ararat on 2 November 1894 on a pension of £141.2.2 based on his average salary over the past three years of £302.7.6 (9).

In retirement James, Isabella and their family first lived at Parkville, Melbourne, where some of their children attended the Melbourne University Special School. In about 1905 they moved to live at Brighton, probably with several of their children including daughters Winifred and Agnes who probably looked after their parents (24). It is likely that James did some work as a representative of the AMP Society (27).

Jamesʼ death was reported in the Argus on 3 September 1920 (page 1) “On the 1st September at his residence “Ythan” (28), Windermere
Crescent, Middle Brighton, James, the dearly loved husband of Isabella Thom. Isabellaʼs death was reported in the Argus on 2 December 1927 (page 1) “On 30 November, at her residence “Ythan”, Windermere Crescent, Brighton Beach, Isabella Clarke, relict of the late James Thom; sister of Rev Samuel Gordon MA, BD (London, England) and the dearly loved mother of Winifred M and Agnes Thom. They were both buried in Brighton Cemetery.

The following obituary appeared in the Kilmore Free Press on 9 September 1920 (page 4 col b) :-

“Mr Jas Thom, who died at Melbourne on 1st Instant, was for many years a highly respected resident of Kilmore, and for a period prior to retirement from the service was head teacher of Kilmore State School. He had attained the age of 80 years, and was a quiet unassuming gentleman of high attainments and a most estimable character.”


  1. Web site <> Batch C111944 and Thom family notes held by the Kilmore Historical Society, February 2006
  2. Ibid Batch C111612
  3. Ibid Batch M111734
  4. Web site <> – Bodie-Antle Family Tree, February 2006
  5. Web site <> Batch C111804, February 2006
  6. Ibid Batch M112052
  7. Web site <> – Gordon11, February 2006
  8. Web site <> – Gordon Schools, February 2006
  9. Public Record Office Victoria, mfm VPRS 13718 – Teacher Record Books Number 2065, Blake, L. J., general editor, Vision and realisation: a centenary history of state education in Victoria, and Bailliere, The Victorian Official Post Office Directory
  10. Web site <> Index to VPRS 907 Examination Papers, Boards of Teachers, February 2006
  11. Ibid – Index to Unassisted Immigration to Victoria 1852-1923, February 2006
  12. Winifredʼs birth certificate No 4589/1885 held by the Kilmore Historical Society, and the Victorian Digger Index
  13. Thom family notes held by the Kilmore Historical Society, and the Victorian Digger Index
  14. Tucker, Maya V, Kilmore on the Sydney Road, pages 136-137
  15. Copies of the Order of St Andrew Kilmore Lodge held by the Kilmore Historical Society
  16. Kilmore Free Press, 9 August 1877, page 2, col c
  17. Kilmore Shire Council Rate Books held by the Kilmore Historical Society
  18. Kilmore Advertiser, 13 April 1876, page 2, col b
  19. Ibid, 6 July 1876
  20. Kilmore Free Press, 8 October 1931, Victoria Parade by Athmos
  21. Ibid, 8 July 1975, Early School History
  22. Ibid, 8 June 1882, page 2, col 5
  23. Ibid, page 2, col e, and 7 September 1882, page 2, col b
  24. Thom family notes held by the Kilmore Historical Society
  25. Tucker, Maya V, Kilmore on the Sydney Road, pages 150-151
  26. Kilmore Free Press, 29 November 1888, page 5, col d, Kilmore Advertiser, 8 December 1888, page 2, col c, Kilmore Free Press, 6 December 1888, page 2, col 5
  27. Kilmore Advertiser, 11 September 1920
  28. The river Ythan in Aberdeenshire originates from a convergence of small burns in the vicinity of Ythan Wells near Auchterless not far from where both James and Isabella were born. The river is approximately 63 kilometres long running through the villages of Fyvie and Methlick and the town of Ellon to reach the sea at Newburgh some 12 miles north of Aberdeen.

Kilmore Public Cemetery – Crane and Hammond

The following article by Grahame Thom was originally published in the December 2009 edition of our Newsletter, Kilmore Connections

On Sunday 25 October [2009], the Society conducted two successful events, first a tour of Kilmore Public Cemetery and second a lecture on the WW1 Australian soldiers remains recently found at Fromelles.

In preparing for the Cemetery tour I decided to feature two Kilmore residents whose passing are inscribed on two headstones in the cemetery; Samuel Ernest Crane and John Hammond. By doing this I wanted to demonstrate how reliable information can be gained quickly from the Societyʼs indexes and from searching the internet.

Crane family grave, Kilmore Public Cemetery
Crane family grave, Kilmore Public Cemetery

Samuel Ernest Crane

Private Samuel Ernest Crane AIF was killed in France on 20 April 1918, aged 36 years and his death was inscribed by his family on the Crane headstone in the Methodist Section. His parents were Sarah E Crane who died on 8 September 1909 and Thomas Crane who died in 1937.

Heather Knight checked her indexes and found a number of references. Samuel Ernest Craneʼs name appears on the Kilmore War Memorial, the Roll of Honour for the Kilmore State School, and the honour roll at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Also Heather found three references in the Kilmore Advertiser.

  • 25 May 1918 – a report of a memorial service for S E Crane, son of Mr T Crane
  • 14 June 1918 – a report that Thomas Crane had received a certificate as an expression of the loss of his son.
  • 20 July 1918 – a report that the Crane family had received a letter from the Chaplain of the 6th Battalion.

On the internet I checked the Commonwealth War Graves site and found a page “In memory of Private Samuel Ernest Crane, 2140, 6th Bn, Australian Infantry, AIF, who died aged 35 on 20 April 1918, son of Thomas and Sarah Elizabeth Crane, of Kilmore, Victoria, Australia, Remembered with Honour, Arneke British Cemetery, France”.

This cemetery contains 435 Commonwealth burials from WWI and five from WW2, and 126 French and five German war graves. The village of Arneke is about 50 kms south-east of Calais and eight kms north west of Cassel.

I then searched the National Archives of Australia web site and within the Defence records found Samuelʼs WWI file of 77 pages. The following is a limited extract from those pages. His enlistment paper shows that Samuel enlisted on 4 March 1915 at Broadmeadows. He then joined his Regiment, the 6th Batt Relief.

Samuel was an engineer, aged 32 years and 9 months, from Kilmore, Victoria, five foot six inches in height, weighed 11 stone eight pounds, fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, and religion Methodist, His next of kin was his father Thomas Crane of Kilmore, and he had served in the 5th Victorian Mounted Regiment in
South Africa.

Samuel served on Gallipoli in August 1915 and as a result of being wounded was shipped to England where he recovered in hospital at Hamstead After recovering he served in Egypt and then in France.
During this time he was promoted to Acting Corporal and then twice as Acting Sergeant but on embarking from England to France Samuel reverted to Private in October 1917. On 16 April while in action in France Samuel received gun shot wounds to both legs and died on 20 April 1918.

His army file contains letters to and from his father concerning Samuelʼs burial arrangements. His father was living at Fair View, Kilmore. Samuel was awarded 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

John Hammond

Readers will recall that as a result of advice submitted to Council by Heather, a small access road near the Kilmore Post Office has been called John Hammond Place. The Hammond familyʼs headstone in the Anglican Section of the Kilmore Public Cemetery reveals that John Hammond passed away on 20 March 1884.

Heather provided the following obituaries.

Kilmore Advertiser 22 March 1884 page 3
“Death of Mr. John Hammond.
We regret exceedingly to have to record the death of Mr. John Hammond, the well known livery stable and hotelkeeper, which took place at his residence, the Red Lion Hotel, on Thursday morning. He had been ailing for some time, but only took to his bed about three weeks ago, and gradually sank until he died. Mr. Hammond, who was a very old resident of Kilmore, was born of humble but respectable parents in the county of Northampton, England, and was at the age of 14 years apprenticed as a wheelwright to Mr. William Butcher, of Fostersʼ Booth, in the parish of Pallishall, county of Northampton. Having served seven years, he wrought some time as journeyman, and shortly afterwards left England for the colonies, arriving in Kilmore from Queensland some 32 years ago. He was at once employed by the late Mr. Wm Beckett, whose shop old residents will remember being situated in the small paddock now enclosed and known as Rose Cottage property. After working for some time with Mr. Beckett, he commenced business in company with Mr. George Lansley, late of Kilmore, and now of Mooroopna. This was carried on in Sydney Street on the present site of the Bank of Victoria, until Mr. Lansley left, when Mr. Hammond continued the business, combining with it that of livery stable keeper. On Messrs Spurling and Palmer giving up business as livery stable keepers, Mr. Hammond removed to their new premises, where he soon established himself, and became a great favourite with the travelling public. Some years ago he rented the Red Lion Hotel, which was creditably conducted by him; he was also contractor for the mails between Kilmore and the railway station, and in every position gave uniform satisfaction. He was of a very kind and generous disposition, and universally respected. His loss will be keenly felt by those who had occasion to come in daily contact with him. He leaves a widow and several children, three of whom are of tender years. Much sympathy is expressed for all his sorrowing relations, and deep regret that the town should lose such an honored and respected resident. Mr. Hammond was 59 years of age at the time of his death, and as a mark of respect to his memory, almost all the shops in Sydney Street have been shuttered for the past two days. The funeral takes place this afternoon at three oʼclock.”

Kilmore Free Press 27 March 1884.
“Mr. John Hammond, whose serious illness we announced a fortnight ago, died on Thursday morning last. Deceased gentleman, who had been a resident of Kilmore for over 30 years, had been ailing for sometime past but never gave up is really active occupation, being certainly one of the most industrious in our midst, until within a few days of his succumbing to the inevitable. We have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Hammond for more than a quarter of a century, during which time he carried on a wheelwright and blacksmithʼs establishment on or close to the site now occupied by the Bank of Victoria, the livery stables formerly kept by Spurling and Palmer, and lastly the Red Lion Hotel, in all of which avocations he was attentive and obliging. Deceased reared a large family in our midst, for whom the strongest sympathy is felt in their loss. That he was generally respected was evinced by the large number who attended the funeral on Saturday. Mr. Hammond was 63 years of age at the time of his death.”

Kilmore Advertiser 29 March 1884 page 2
“The funeral of Mr. John Hammond, of the Red Lion Hotel, took place on Saturday last, and it was one of the largest yet seen in the district. At 3 oʼclock the corpse was removed to Christ Church, where the impressive service of the Church of England was read by the Rev. A. E. Harris, in the absence of the Rev. A. Toomath. At the conclusion of the service, the burial hymn “When our heads are bowed with woe,” was sung by the choir, and the Dead March in Saul played on the organ. The cortege then proceeded along Union and Sydney streets to the General Cemetery, where the last obsequies were held. Mr. Weisel had charge of the funeral arrangements.”

Using the internet I found on the web site that John Hammond was baptised on 21 September 1823 at Pattishall, Northampton, the son of Thomas and Ann Hammond.

The 1841 Census of England and Wales on the web site revealed that John Hammond, aged 15 years (ages rounded down to nearest five years), apprentice, was living in Pallishall at the home of the Butcher family, with William Butcher, aged 40 years, wheelwright as head of the household.

I then checked the probate records held by the Public Records Office of Victoria and was able to download from the PROV web site, at no cost a copy of Johnʼs will and other related papers. John Hammond, hotelkeeper, left his estate in trust to his executors Albert Lobb and Thomas Lade, both graziers of Darraweit Guim, for the benefit of his wife Maria who is to use the proceeds for the education of their daughters Elizabeth, Lucy, Mary, and Fanny. After the death of Maria and once the youngest had reached 21 years of age, the executors are to give each surviving daughter an equal share of his estate.

At the time of his death, Johnʼs estate was valued at £1019-17-0 and included two parcels of land; a blacksmithʼs forge in Sydney Street (£100) and 2 acres in Moranding (£10). His personal estate included 20 horses (£180.10.0), two omnibuses (£92.10.0), five buggies (£66.10.0), one waggonette (£20), and household furniture and effects (£359.6.6).

These are just examples of what can be found and further research will reveal more. For example, from the Victorian births, deaths and marriages indexes held by the Society, and there are a number of references to both the Crane and Hammond families in the three published histories of Kilmore :-

  • Kilmore – A tale of the century by J H Maher
  • Kilmore on the Sydney Road by Maya Tucker
  • Kilmore – Those that came before by Heather Knight