The Argus at KellyGang 25/5/1866

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What is generally considered to be the most important meeting ever held in this district took place in Beechworth on Tuesday last. The claims of the north-eastern portion of the colony to railway communication with Melbourne had several times been urged by public meetings and corporation petitions, but the report of the Parliamentary Committee appointed to consider the subject, instead of keeping up the excitement, appears by its favourable character, and the unanswerable nature of its data, to have allayed it. During the late crisis, as a matter of course it was hopeless to attempt anything in the way of re-asserting the claims of the district with a prospect of reaching the ear of the Legislature or the country, but the reaction from the dead lock has now taken the practical shape of an agitation for railway communication. The first step in this direction was taken by the Beechworth Shire Council, who in a circular invited the various other corporate bodies to appoint delegates to a central conference. The communication was universally and eagerly responded to, and the result was the meeting, of Tuesday, at which every borough shire and road board in the district was represented. Delegates were also requested to attend from the border city of Albury, which the Ovens and Murray districts claim almost as their own, but a telegram announced that they were unable to come.

The following gentlemen were present at the meeting, which was held in the Beechworth Townhall:- Mr Witt, mayor, and Councillor Crawford, Beechworth Borough Council, Mr Thomson, president, and Councillor Graham, Beechworth Shire Council; Mr Roper, president, and Councillor Griffin, Yackandah Shire Council; Mr Wood, president, and Councillor Wills, Oxley Shire Council; Mr H Nickless, mayor, and Councillor Ruppin, Chiltern Borough Council, Mr Donald Fletcher, chairman, and Mr Lorrimer, member, Beechworth Mining Board; Councillors Obbinson and Haillesellen, Rutherglen Borough Council; Councillors Murdoch and Dixon, Wangaratta Borough Council, Mr W H De Mole, chairman Buckland Road Board; and Mr John H Wallace, Messrs J Lindsay Brown and John Graham, Rutherglen District Road Board, Messrs Kay and Spink, North Ovens District Road Board and Mr M'Keone, chairman Indigo Road Board.

Mr WITT, the mayor of Beechworth (who on the motion of Mr Thomson, seconded by Mr DeMole, was called on to preside), said he was sensible of the honour conferred on him by placing him in such a position at so important a meeting, but he felt they were naturally a good deal influenced by the consideration that he was mayor of the senior corporate body in the Ovens district. He begged to thank them on his own behalf, on that of the council, and of the ratepayers who shared the honour with him. Some persons might consider that the matter they had met to discuss was second to that of a water supply to this district, but at all events it was of the highest importance, and even if secondary to a water supply, they might safely reckon on that very desirable object following as a matter of consequence on the establishment of a railway, which they were assembled to urge upon the Government. Tho conference had been undertaken at the suggestion of the president of the shire council, who no doubt would be able to put them in possession of the necessary information and details on the subject. He felt that, independent of the weight such a meeting as that present would have in forwarding the object for which they had met, it would also do great good in softening down the little feelings of rivalry which existed between different localities in the district. (Hear, hear.)

Mr Scarlett, secretary of the Beechworth Shire Council, and Mr Darvall, town clerk, were then appointed joint secretaries to the conference.

Mr THOMSON said that some five months ago Mr De Mole had suggested to him that great advantages might accrue from a conference between the various local bodies, and he regretted that Mr De Mole had not acted upon the idea at the time. They, however, had never had a more favourable opportunity of pressing upon the Government their many wants, and especially of railway communication with the metropolis. There could be no better means for doing so than by thus representing the voice of every ratepayer in the district. Seeing that time was pressing, he had brought the matter before the Beechworth Shire Council, and the suggestion of a conference was immediately acted on. In spite of the short notice, he was glad to see by the meeting present that the idea was so heartily approved of. They were all aware of the steps already taken.


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