Captain Sale's Memories part 3: The town and its residents

In March 1936, the West Australian published the memories of Captain James Sale, compiled from letters written by him in 1932. For many years he engaged in whaling and other maritime activities on the south coast. At the time of his death in 1933, he was the last surviving member of the exploration party led by Lord Forrest, which in 1870 travelled from Albany to Adelaide, surveying the route for an inter-State telephone line.

 I can best tell you about other residents of the town in those days by telling you something of the settlement and where the people lived. I have already mentioned that Mr Cheyne built a house where Miss Dynes now lives and that that house was the eastern extremity of settlement. The next building in the terrace to the west was the home of Mr James Dunn, a wooden structure.

Mr Dunn kept a hotel and a store. The place immediately to the westward was Mr Alexander Moir's who here kept a store. This was a better structure of two storeys. It was built of stone and stood about where the Royal George Hotel now is. The next place was a small lean-to wooden building in which Mr John McKail kept a store. During the 1860s he built a store where the White Star Hotel now is and in the 1870s he built another store where the National Bank now stands.

Alongside this latter store of his Mr McKail built a warehouse. Later Mr McKail was elected to the Legislative Assembly to represent Albany. He was a first-class carpenter, joiner and cabinet-maker. Further west along the Stirling Terrace was a small building, a bakehouse, standing back from the street alignment. This was run by Mr Ward. Then came Captain Symers's house, a two-storey building. Four brothers, Thomas, Charles, Joseph and John Barrett lived there. They were stock people and butchers. This house must have been built very early, probably in the late 1830s or early 1840s.

In the next place, a wooden structure, Captain Hassell of Kendenup Station, used to carry on butchering. He also built a very narrow building we used to call Noah's Ark. Between Hassell's place and the corner of York Street and Stirling Terrace, was a brick two-storey building owned by Mr Daniels. This was where part of the Freemason's Hotel now stands. Mr Daniels sold it to the Government for offices and went to England. Later Mr John McKenzie acquired the property and kept a hotel there. The purchase money for the property was £500.

The same block has retained the licence ever since the early 1860s. There have been many tenants - Mr Tregonning came after Mr McKenzie and then Mr William Strickland and of course, the premises have been reconstructed several times. During the later 1870s and the early 1880s nearly all the vacant spaces in the Terrace frontage were filled up. Mr John Moir's new store was built; the Argyll Buildings were erected and the Royal George Hotel. The White Star Hotel was originally the White Hart Hotel. Later came McKail's store, JFT Hassell's store, Barnett's, Drew, Robinson's and the Freemason's Hotel. At the corner of the Terrace and York Street, where the picture theatre now is, there was a store that belonged to Mr Stephen Knight, the first postmaster at Albany. I think he had the post office at a big private house.

The house brought from Singapore on the opposite corner was the 'Brass Castle,' where I was born and the next house proceeding west along the Terrace was that of Mrs Uglow. It was a combined store and residence. Her only son, Mr George Uglow, now lives in Middleton Beach Road. There was a large vacant block between Mrs Uglow's house and the 'Brass Castle.' This block was acquired later by a Mr McDonald. He came to Albany from Singapore and brought with him a large gable-ended building that had been constructed in Singapore. He chartered a vessel to transport to Albany his wife, his house, his furniture and all his belongings. This was in the latter 1850s. He erected the house - he brought his own carpenters - and applied for and was granted a publican's licence. He started the London Hotel. The McDonalds had lived too long in India and they soon passed away. The property fell into the hands of John McKail and Co. who rebuilt the hotel. A part of the original structure might still be at the back of the existing building. Westwards from Mrs Uglow's, the next structure was a gable-ended building of about three rooms occupied by a Mr Maxwell, a botanist.

The next place belonged to another Mr McDonald. It possessed a nice garden and plenty of fruit. The next was a two-storey brick structure occupied by a Mrs Cooper as a bakehouse and confectionery store. She came to Albany in the early days, her father and brothers being lime burners. They supplied most of the lime used in Albany in those days. They used to live at Little Grove. The next pioneer living westwards was a Mr Richard. He was a very old settler. He kept cows and supplied the town with milk and butter. All these people that I mentioned came from Scotland, Ireland and England - they were very different from what we get today.

There were many buildings on the beach. At the extreme east was the soldiers’ barracks, beyond the miller's common and the old coal jetty. The next place was Mrs Foot's house, a stone structure, with about four rooms and gable ended. It was the residence of many before Mrs Foot occupied it. She had three sons, Joseph, who is still living and over 90 years of age; John, who long since has joined the great majority and Scindian Campbell Gibson Foot, who was drowned in Oyster Harbour.

He was named after Captain Gibson, Dr Campbell and the vessel Scindian. The three sons were very good boys to their mother. The next place was the P&O. office and the residences of some of the employees of the company. The agent, Mr Clifton, had a very nice house in Brunswick Road. Next door was a building called Corporal Cares's house. Corporal Cares was in my father's regiment, the 96th. Further westward were the Ship Inn and the Sailors' Rest. Mr Townsend, who later went to the King River and planted a beautiful orchard and vineyard, had the next place. Captain Symers's house was next door and then came a brick house erected by Mr Tom Harris. He married a Miss Moir and was the grandfather of the late Captain John Harris, chief harbour master of the State.

Now we come to the Sherratts’ place. I think they came from South Africa. Old Captain Sherratt built extensive stone buildings, some of two storeys and kept merchandise acquired from American whalers. He had a vessel built at Torbay of about 200 tons. She was named the Emma Sherratt, but she broke her back in launching. This was in the late 1840s or early 50s. The Emma Sherratt was certainly the first ship built near Albany. The Sherratt family comprised five sons and four daughters. The daughters were all married into the Barrett family. I only remember Miss Amelia Sherratt, afterwards, Mrs Tom Barrett. Only one son, Mr Thomas, was married. He married a Miss Jenkins, who predeceased him. He married again some years afterwards a Miss Emma Barker.

The other sons were John, William, Thomas, Henry and George Sherratt. George kept a hotel adjoining the residence on the beach. There were several other buildings further west, Mr John Robinson's, Mr Tom South's, Mr John Williams’ and a big boarding house called the Green House. Another building still further west was a stone structure built by a Mr Lane who called it 'The Sailor's Rest.' I forget to mention a very old house of the bungalow style erected by Mr Pat rick Taylor sometime in the 1840s between Mrs Cooper's house and Mr Geak's. Mr Taylor went to Candiup on the Kalgan River. The first person living in the old bungalow was a Captain Belsher. I think Mrs Taylor was a Belsher.

Captain Symers left the beach house and with his family moved to the Kalgan where he located himself near the river about a mile from the mouth. There was a very nice vessel built near Captain Symers’ Kalgan house. I am speaking of the 1850s now. The contractors were a Mr Solomon Cook, Mr Metcalf and my step-father, Mr Covert. The vessel would be about 100 to 160 tons and she was to have been rigged as a brig. After the construction of the hull and the masts had been stepped into place she was brought into Princess Royal Harbour to be completed. Some dispute occurred between the owners, who, I think, were then Captain Symers, and Mr James Dunn (some others were also mixed up in it) and the dispute ended by running the vessel up to the east end of the harbour and there she remained until she was eaten by the sea worms and rotted away.

She would have been a very good vessel and well suited to trade between Albany and Adelaide. Her name was the Fairy. The greatest development of Albany took place in the last 60 years during which time building was pushed up York Street and along Brunswick Road and Middleton Beach Road. I remember a very old building erected in the 1860s. It was a flour mill erected for a small company and the ingenious man who built it was Mr Metcalf. It was constructed with rushes and clay, the inside being plastered. The mill stones were of granite. There was a small sawmill attached to it used mainly for the sawing of shingles. Later a Mr Ward turned this place into a brewery. The beer they called 'Tanglehead.'

Further along Ulster Road was a house with a thatched roof erected by Mr William Sounness in the latter 1850s. These people later moved to Mt. Barker and took up land at a place called Merenyup. Here they established a very fine orchard and did well. They were a fine type of pioneer. They have died and so have their children, two sons and a daughter, but the grandchildren are scattered all over the Mt. Barker district. Their old home was purchased by my step-brother, Mr William Covert and he built himself a house on the site and still lives there. Mr T Sherratt built a small octagonal building up near Davidson's house at the back of Mr Bradley's shop. This was used for a court-house, a church and an infants' school.

There was proper seating accommodation and at the back there were two sets of stocks with arm holes and leg holes. There they used to put men who misconducted themselves and if we children did anything wrong we used to be frightened by being threatened with being put in the stocks.