HERE IS A SECOND GUEST POST BY MY FRIEND WENDY MOLINE ABOUT HER INTERESTING FAMILY HISTORY. THIS TIME SHE WRITES ABOUT HER TALENTED GREAT UNCLE GEOFF.
In late August 1892, at a site known as Fly Flat in Coolgardie, prospectors Arthur Bayley and William Ford found more than 500oz of gold.
Coolgardie was gazetted in 1893 and, by 1898, was the State’s third largest population centre with 15,000 residents and at least another 10,000 in the district. In 1899 the town celebrated its mining industry with a World Exhibition attended by more than 61,000 people.
At its peak in 1900 Coolgardie had 23 hotels, three breweries, six banks, a hospital, two stock exchanges, a wide range of businesses and three daily and four weekly newspapers. There were electric street lights, the first public swimming pool in the State and 700 mining companies registered with the London Stock Exchange.
My (great) Uncle Geoff was the older brother of my Moline grandfather. He was born in Epsom near Bendigo in 1865, where his father was working as a Civil Engineer. He grew up in a big family.
The family moved around a great deal, as Lewis Prichard Moline, his father, followed work, mostly for the Victorian government in the Railway and Water Supply Departments.
There was an Australia-wide depression in the 1890’s, felt particularly in Victoria. The booming goldfields drew many men with initiative to Western Australia. In 1893 Uncle Geoff arrived at Coolgardie.
He stayed for eight years working as an architect and draughtsman, building surveyor and valuator. He had a miner’s right for prospecting. He then returned to Melbourne and worked for the railways as an architect.
The Western Australian gold rush came about forty years later than those in eastern Australia. Uncle Geoff would have been about 27 and a qualified architect when he travelled to Coolgardie, no doubt hoping to make his fortune.
From several ads in both Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie newspapers, it appears that Uncle Geoff had what might kindly be called a chequered career in the gold fields. There were several “dissolutions of partnerships” ;
He then advertised his business as a sole practitioner.
FIRE…AND A SETBACK FOR GEOFF MOLINE
Excerpt from Western Argus Kalgoorlie17/10/1895 re the great Coolgardie fire. Geoff Moline’s office (Moline & Summerhayes) was burnt down in the fire.
COOLGARDIE ON FIRE. A WHOLE BLOCK BURNT DOWN.
The alarm of fire .was first given at about 8.45, and caused a crowd quickly to assemble in Bayley-street. The flames were then confined to the office of Mr J. L. Hinde, and frantic efforts were at once made to rescue the goods in the adjoining shops. It was clear from the very outset that these premises could not possibly be saved. The flimsy nature of the material of which all of the buildings were constituted caused the fire to SPREAD WITH THE GREATEST RAPIDITY.
ON THE WESTERN SIDE of Mr. Hinde’s office the fire spread with equal rapidity and Stein’s & Co’s booksellers shop, Domenech and Casas’ restaurant, Shirlaw’s tailoring establishment, Mrs. Hickey’s wine saloon, Mr. Boileau’s chemists shop, Walsh and Son’s, Proctor and Cooper, the Coolgardie Athletic Club, Meyer and Cawthray’s chemist shop, Straughair’s hairdressing saloon, Dr. Ellis’ office, Dr. Gibson’s office, Moline and Summerhayes architect’s office, Mr.Cumbrae-Stewart’s office, the offices of Messrs. Hogan, Moorehead and Harney, the Coolgardie “Review,” Mr Bom’s bakery, a teamster’s store, a fancy goods shop, Pearson’s hairdressing saloon, E. A. Bright’s tailoring establishment, Dr. Morrow’s surgery, Pearce and Co.’s boot and shoe warehouse, Holmes and Blair’s office, Stellwag’s drapery, Mrs. Mines’ restaurant, and a number of others fell victims in quick succession to the devouring element,
Uncle Geoff is standing at the centre of what he dubbed The Victorian Office/Camp. It is likely this is what the great fire burned down in 1895,
Wendy’s great uncle Geoff was a talented artist and thus we have a wonderful water-colour sketch of his camp and a drawing of its interior, prior to the fire. The latter especially is of historical interest, showing the combined office and living space. The artworks on the wall were probably his own.
What do you do in such a place to while away the evenings? Play cards of course, and if you don’t have a pack and you are Geoff Moline, you make your own;
The bleak scene after the fire;
It is likely that the following image is Geoff Moline’s new office, constructed after the loss of his camp. He is sitting centre.
FIRE WAS A CONSTANT HAZARD. ONE OF GEOFF MOLINE’S MAJOR PROJECTS WAS DESIGNING THE AUSTRALIA HOTEL. IT REPLACED A CORREGATED IRON BUILDING WHICH HAD BURNED DOWN.
With its timber-framed verandah and decorative, pedimented brick parapet, it was a beautiful building, claimed to have been especially designed for hot climates. The hotel was constructed by Mr A. H. Golpin at a contract building price of 10,000 pounds. The architects were listed as G.J. Edmunds & G.H.P. Moline.
Unfortunately the new hotel was yet another victim of fire the following year.
Geoff Moline left to go back east in 1902. He married Ethel Agnes Wallen that same year and built a home in Malvern. He worked as an architect for the Victorian Railways. The couple had no children. Ethel was born in 1866, so was probably past child bearing age when she married Geoff.
HERE ARE MORE MINIATURE WATER-COLOUR SKETCHES OF GOLDFIELDS LIFE BY GEOFF MOLINE. WHAT A UNIQUE RECORD THEY PROVIDE.
FOR MORE ON GOLD MINING AT COOLGARDIE, CLICK HERE.
AND HERE IS ANOTHER STORY ABOUT THE MOLINE FAMLY AND THEIR EARLY HISTORY OF MOTORISED TRANSPORT