Remembering early Forbes

This is the second instalment of two brief stories written about photographs of early Forbes businesses by Kathie Tisdell for the Forbes and District Historical Society Pictorial Forbes project.

The top photograph of A.G.F. Bollinger’s business on the south-easterly side of Lachlan Street, and about 1700 others on the Society’s database, can be viewed on the Pictorial Forbes Image Library site at photosau.com.au/Forbes

Born on the failed Lachlan goldfield at Forbes in 1865 and resident at Parkes since about 1896, Albert Godfrey Forbes Bollinger, watchmaker, jeweller, gunsmith and optician, established the Forbes branch of his business in this rendered brick building at the south-east corner of Lachlan and Templar Streets in early 1903.

Erected rapidly after fire destroyed the former building and an adjoining detached office fronting Lachlan Street about 2 o’clock on Christmas morning 1902, the premises were administered it seems by prominent local man John Bodel for the trust estate of his deceased wife Ellen, widow of the pioneering Forbes storekeeper and alderman John Shaw.

Bollinger previously rented a shop across the street in the Albion Hotel Arcade and placed a manager in charge but that shop and four others in the arcade had been partially destroyed by fire in late February 1903. A fifth shop, Connolly Bros. saddlery which shared a brick wall with Bollinger, as well as the hotel billiard room and private apartments on the floors immediately above were less fortunate.

Bollinger’s father, the Swiss watchmaker, jeweller and gunsmith Emanuel Godfrey Bollinger, came with the rush from Victoria to the Lachlan/Forbes goldfield in November 1861 and conducted business on essentially the same site in Rankin Street until his sudden death in 1897, first in a canvas-roofed hut, then in a single-storey building of brick, and by 1879, in a two-storey building of brick. On its balcony facing the Rankin-Templar Street junction he erected the township’s first tower clock. He considerably enlarged the building in 1883.

A.G.F. Bollinger placed his new Forbes establishment under management for the next nine years, from 1903 until May 1912, when his former apprentice David A. Hansard announced he had purchased the business.

When Bollinger first removed to the corner, one of the best commercial sites in the centre of town, this side of the block between Templar and Court Streets remained quite open. Its three allotments had been in the same ownership since shortly after the town’s settlement and there were only three buildings strung out along the footpath.

Bollinger’s rented premises stood on allotment 1a, a small parcel of eight perches previously containing the burnt out two-storeyed wood and iron building leased by the Bank of New South Wales, which began trading as Forbes’ second Old Musketeer Hotel in 1867, most likely as a single-storeyed structure, and the Templar Street side of which was initially leased by the bank as its Forbes branch in 1875.

Allotment 1 facing Lachlan Street was vacant, its eight perches previously containing the destroyed stock agent’s office, while allotment 2, a particularly large parcel of 24 perches, held a narrow, unpretentious little building facing Lachlan Street which might already have been the Don Boot Factory, and John Fullarton Armstrong’s weatherboard Apothecaries Hall or pharmacy wrapped round the southern corner into Court Street, opposite the post office.

The pharmacy portion of this allotment had been familiar to people at Forbes as Armstrong’s Corner since the middle 1860s.

When David Hansard moved into his new business in 1912, a charming row of shops and offices built of brick with linking verandahs and pretty parapeted facades ran straight down Lachlan Street to Armstrong’s old pharmacy, which had been closed for nearly five years, among those, an up-to-date studio belonging to well-known Forbes photographer Frederick Howe, who occupied the southern side of Hansard’s premises, and adjoining Howe’s studio were the Lachlan Chambers (1907).

A mature shade tree sheltering the Armstrong residence beside and behind the pharmacy had gone.

At the wide Lachlan-Templar Street intersection stood an elegant, brightly-lit Memorial, made of marble from Borenore near Orange and rouge Carrara marble from Italy, an enduring reminder of district men who fell in the African War, both shop-row and Boer War Memorial designed by resident Forbes architect John Holderness Bates.

In October 1913 D.A. Hansard removed to newly-built premises in Rankin Street owned by Walter E. Luthje, proprietor of an old-established building and undertaking business at Forbes, and long-time local jeweller Alfred Emile Boyne came into the vacated building, which remained subject to reservations under Ellen Shaw/Bodel’s estate.

Alfred Boyne’s show windows in Lachlan and Templar Streets glittered with ‘dainty jewels’ and interesting displays of memorabilia until he departed Forbes in 1924.

The Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd next leased and moved into the building. In late 1932, after a two year delay and in response to an insightful request by Forbes Unemployment Relief Committee following the great financial crash, CBA directors decided to purchase the allotment and its improvements and build a new two-storey residential bank on the site.

In 2015 stock and station agents Kevin Miller Whitty Lennon & Co. Pty Ltd carry on business in this lovely landmark building, only the third or perhaps fourth situated on the land since the famous Lachlan gold rush in 1861-62.

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