Interviewee: Mr William John Prout
Date of Birth: 22 July1909
Interviewer : Judith Clarke
Date of Interview: 27 July1986
Verbatim Transcript: Meryl Gardiner
Synopsis: John Brewer
BOHG No: 1986-010
Total Length: 1 hr 23 mins
William’s grand parents came from Ireland and lived at Dardanup near where the tennis courts now are.
William’s mother was the second daughter of the Slattery family. She married George Harris.
George was killed in front of their house erecting a windmill. They had only been married about eight months.
After he was killed mother had a son, who was George Harris the second.
Ten years later mother met William’s father, William Henry Prout who came from Cornwall and worked for Millars Timber and Trading Company as foreman of the timber yards in Dardanup.
Mother had three sons: William John, Arnold Francis and Frederick Ronald, the latter two both living in Bunbury.
William went to the Dardanup State School, teacher Mr Terence Hayward and his wife.
William remembers the men going away to the First World War and returning.
William, when nine, went to the convent school which was opened up at Prinsep Park.
Later the convent was built in Dardanup.
William remembers a butcher shop next door run by the Morrisey brothers, Dick (“Mick”), Jack and George with the cattle killed at Dowdell’s line.
Timber was brought down from the Wellington mills twice a day and stored until needed for loading a ship in Bunbury.
When he was nine years of age, there was the hotel, the store, butcher shop and William would take their money, every Saturday morning to Bunbury to the bank.
The cattle for the butchers came from the Northern Territory via Fremantle to Dardanup.
William worked at Maxicar, a property owned by Dr Flynn and Dr Joel on their forty acres of orchard.
The manager was Tubal Clarke who had a nephew, Les Clarke who used to drive the truck and pack the fruit for shipping overseas.
In 1915 the trains were also a convenient way to get to various towns to play football in Bunbury or Donnybrook, to shop in Bunbury with the last train from Bunbury on a Saturday night at half-past eleven.
There were three cricket teams in Dardanup. Mr Gooden who took the hotel on, had three sons and he wanted to get a cricket team going so he bought the block of land, where the hall now stands, for cricket.
The Venn Estate consisted of the land down to where Jock Johnstone lived and from there, from Jock’s property, straight up Italiano Road over to Paradise road, from the Paradise Road back to the turn of the Ferguson Highway where it turns to come back to Dardanup, and then they owned all the land across to where the recreation ground stands, plus the land where all the houses are going up in Hayward Street and also the land where the big two storey house is from there out to Gavin’s Brook, that’s on the way to Boyanup. That was all owned by Mr Venn but was sold in nineteen-twenty, split up by the government. That’s how all these little farms were brought about, namely there’s Freddie Clarke lives on one block, brother Ben on the other.
William remembers up past what is now the recreation ground, Bob Taylor took a block up there, the first block over the bridge was taken up by Mr Hayward and Mr Craigie, then there was Mr Leonhart, Paul Italiano, Louis Ricicci, [Richitti], Phillips, Butcher, Mr Woods, and so on.
Farming in the district came into its own when they discovered the clover. The next great thing was the super works, then eventually the irrigation and drainage, and that made the district.
Some people started dairying and they could grow things, potatoes.
Mr Parks was a chemist working for Carr and Company on the corner of Wellington and Victoria Street, Bunbury. He boarded at the Rose Hotel and he had the same room for forty years.
The Prince of Wales came on the train through Dardanup in about 1924.
The Mayor of Bunbury was Mr Warnock [Baldock] who took him by car around the back beach.
For amusement they used to go dancing in Brunswick, Boyanup, Capel, Bunbury, all by horse and cart.
William remembers some funny incidents.
William attended the RC church, the very old one, but denomination didn’t come into it. They all went along and came back and enjoyed themselves.
At the age of sixteen William did stock work for Louis McDaniel who at that time had Belvedere going by boat to Turkey Point with the horses swimming.
William remembers going to the Dardanup race track, called Maguires Paddock, which formed part of a round including Waterloo, Capel, Donnybrook.
William remembers the horse trained by a Miss Credlind.
Mr Morrissey the butcher had race horses: “Little Carbet” “Wangeratta” “Sparella” and “Florence”
The jockey that Morrissey employed was George Tyrrell from Waterloo.
Travelling on horse back or horse and sulky to cricket with the Ferguson team with Harry Gardiner, known as “Carbide”, Charlie Flynn, Walter Buck, Walter Fowler, Hal Gibbs and Noel Gardiner, there was quite a number of Gardiner’s and a Mountford.
William remembers the depression days when it was very hard going but people decided that they’d do what they could for themselves. Ex-bank managers, school teachers came into the district to dig drains.
When William was twenty he bought a truck and I started off carrying in the district, carting super, cattle, gravel.
One night, at a dance up at Ferguson William met a very lovely girl that became his wife, bred four children and have had over fifty years of married life.
William had a house built on Lot 8 Hayward Street, Dardanup.
Wages were three pounds twelve (shillings) a week.
The block of land, cost fifty pound and the house was four hundred and twenty-nine pound.
William purchased nothing until the money was put aside.
William’s wife’s name was Lorna May Beerham(?), from Bunbury and Margaret River.
William began carting households when people moved and recalls a particular job for which he got a permit from the Transport Officer, Mr C P Hayward who resigned from the Teachers College and became permanent Secretary of the Dardanup Road Board.
William recounts a tradition called ‘tin kettling’, like a ‘house-warming’
William said his first truck was a Rugby but then bought a thirty hundredweight Ford from Kaeshagan.
William then employed a driver and bought a second truck.
William was one of the first to cart super away from Cumming Smith Mt. Lyall and also carted quite a bit of the timber to build the Cresco Fertiliser works at Picton.
About nineteen-forty the road to Perth was all gravel road until you got up to Armadale and rough going taking about four and a half hours.
There was a strike by the railways and William was engaged by Cumming Smith to cart three hundred ton of tobacco manure to Michelides tobacco farm at Pemberton. When the strike was over, carting super became a permanent thing.
During the war petrol was limited and gas producers were used.
When the war finished William had the Agency for Mobil Oil.
In over fifty years William never had an accident. The ‘trees by the road side never rushed out in front’ of him.
Jack Shine of Brunswick grew a lot of potatoes up at Maxicar, all planted by horse and plough, cultivated by hoe, dug by fork.
William remembers some identities that came around every year like Harry, Scotty Clark step dancers, Jack and Jill, Con that had the violin and the organ.
Dardanup was well settled by the Irish community: The Foleys, Clareys, Bushes.
A hotel was built in Venns Road, replaced around nineteen hundred but was burnt down. Around 1902 a new brick hotel was built there run by a Mrs Coonan who later married a Mr Skipworth then leased out to others.
The Dardanup Road Board held its first meeting in 1895 with Mr Maguire as the first President. Another notable President was Mr R S Palmer, Shire President for forty years, Mr William Ratcliffe for about twenty five years.
The young men of this district had a Debating Society back in 1898 for which William holds correspondence.
Dardanup had its own flour mill back in 1880.
In 1930 the first bakery was built in Dardanup by Mr Jack Roberts in Doolan Street and leased to Mr Rickson for about twenty-five years; then the Scriveners.
A new bakery was built in Charlotte Street where it now stands and prior to having the bake-house the bread used to come out from Bunbury by rail from H Rendall and Company.
In 1935 Mr John Davy started the first cream run service to the Bunbury factory.
The house in Dardanup known as Dardanup Park was built by Mr Little. Then it became the property of Venns who had a number of servants to tend the gardens.
Three trains a day brought timber from Wellington Mill either straight in to the Bunbury wharf or stacked in the timber yards.
The big mill at Wellington closed down about 1914 and later they had a “spot” mill on the same site.
William remembers pieces of wood about eight-by-four-by-three were sent as paving blocks for the roadways in London.
The train was used on a weekend if there was a football match against Wellington.
The land for the railway line up to Wellington was either given by the farmers to Millars Timber and Trading Co or Millars bought. In recompense for the land Millars would transport farmers’ produce free of charge down to Dardanup from sidings such as the five-mile, the eight-mile, the nine-mile and the ten-mile siding, each distinguished by the miles from Dardanup.
The train also carried the mail from the Dardanup Post Office up to Wellington and where Millars had a store and a butcher shop.
At Wellington Mills, there was four streets of houses, a hall, the billiard room and the ambulance hall.
When the mill closed down, quite a number of houses and public buildings were sold off. Mr Hayward, Road Boards Secretary and lived in Hayward Street in Dardanup, bought one of the houses and re-built it in Dardanup. The Church of England in Wellington was purchased and transported and is now the Elgin church.
In 1927 Wesfarmers opened sale yards in Dardanup at Lot Six Hayward Street. Later on Dalgety and Company built in Charlotte Street, then Elder Smith built on the road opposite the Church of England in Dardanup. And at that stage they were the largest sale yards outside Midland Junction.
A lot of the cattle for the sale yards came from Craigie-Lea at Waterloo. William remembers some of the early settlers: the Clareys, the Fees – two brothers, Bob and George. One reared a family of four and the other had a family of nine.
Another family was Mrs Laura Dillon who reared twelve children and built a house of mud bricks which is still standing.
The Palmers had a farm, Mr Riche owned the place that’s now called Taunton Vale, now owned by Jock and Marian Johnstone, the Bushes, Foleys, Coombes, Houghs who had a property now known as Carlaminda.
About thirty acres of flat that runs along the Ferguson River was vine-yard, the vines grown by a Mr Stanley and Mr Travena came from South Australia as the wine maker before taking a property up at Preston. Wine was made there in nineteen-hundred.
A hall was built in Ferguson, the Agricultural Hall in nineteen hundred and five. It has since been pulled down and re-built on the same spot.
The people in the Ferguson Valley received their mail twice a week. It was delivered by horse and sulky by Mr Gibbs, Gladys and Ellen Gardiner.
On the Fifth of August this year William and his wife celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary.
William’s eldest daughter Patricia married Max Herring (Heady?), the second daughter Merle married Ken McKenzie, their son Keith married Bev Reid. and Stan, the youngest one married Janette Davies. Three of them are in Perth, the youngest one in Sydney.
They are friendly people in Dardanup and William assures anyone who wishes to live in Dardanup that they will be received into the community the same way as his wife was received there.