Aldgate South Australia

Aldgate in the Adelaide Hills

The Algate area was surveyed and subdivided into sections and allotments during 1857. It had become firmly established on 23 July 1864 when Richard Dixon Hawkins, son of a London publican, who had arrived in South Australia on the Lady Fitzherbert in 1842, opened his Inn. It began as a coaching Inn on the way to the Echunga Diggings in 1852. To attract as many visitors, and customers, as possible Hawkins placed a water pump outside the Inn so men and beast could have a drink. Previously Hawkins had been the landlord of the Crafers Inn, the Sturt Hotel in Adelaide and the hotel at Wellington. After the death of his wife and several children he married a second time and once more took up the Crafers Hotel.

In 1859 Hawkins bought land from Alfred Watts and built a hotel for which he was granted a general publican's licence in March 1864. The hotel soon became known as The Pump at Aldgate, or just The Pump. Hawkins remained publican of the Pump Hotel until 1875 when he sold it to John Borrett of Langhorne's Creek. Two years later Hawkins died at the age of 58. Borrett had done extremely well in Langhorne Creek and later business adventures. When did died a very rich man in 1906 he was buried at Langhorne Creek Cemetery where many other family members also found their last resting place.

The South Australian Gazetteer of 1866 described Aldgate as 'Aldgate Pump, a small agricultural settlement, and the name of a wayside hotel on the road from Adelaide to Mount Barker and near the township of Crafers'.

It was not until 1882 that the area began to develop when the Hills Land & Investment Company, believing that it would be the outermost of the surburban stations, took an interest. It laid out a town on part of section 92 and named it Aldgate Pump, 'though between that comparative solitude and what was once a gate of the English metropolis there could have been little resemblance'. Among the lots advertised by the company in Adelaide for public auction on 3 November were lots number 13, 14 and 15, located adjacent to the railway station.

They were bought by Cornelius Proud in 1882 and sold ten years later to Mrs Florence Emily Thomas. Some time later she also bought lots 17, 18 and 19 and had a cottage built for herself and daughter in 1898 on lot 19. After the marriage of Rev Samuel Raymond Cornish to Florence Gwennyth Thomas in London in 1927 the couple did not return to South Australia until 1940 when a start was made with the building of Stangate House on lot 19.

Before the days of the railway, transport to and from the city was by coach. During the 1860s this was provided by William Rounsevell who charged three shillings between Grenfell Street in Adelaide and the Pump Hotel. In 1867 it was Cobb & Co and four years later Hill & Co.

On 14 March 1883 the Aldgate railway station was opened by Governor Sir William Robinson. It turned out to be a long and frustrating day for everyone concerned. The train from Adelaide with all the special guests gave up the ghost at Blackwood and it took three hours to get it going again. It was only able to pull the first coach. The others had to wait until an extra train had been organised from Adelaide. The line after being duly opened, served the town for over one hundred years. For more than twenty years it also housed the post and telegraph offices.

In 1883 Fred Andrewartha set up his blacksmith shop, which would remain in the family until well into the 1950s, and the Corner Store across the road from the hotel was also completed. Its best known, and much liked, occupant was Richard Mortimer, originally from Broken Hill, who served his customers for more than twenty years.

In 1883 Aldgate became part of the newly proclaimed Stirling District Council. For this privilage the Aldgate residents were charged council rates of five per cent of their property's value. One of its long time Councillors being F.G. Andrewartha. Two years later the town had a population of more than 500 people. It now had a hotel, Temperance hotel and refreshment rooms. During this time the railway employed several of the local men, which in 1889 included R. Carruthers, J.D. Fitzgerald, A. Fowler, F. Holzerland and W. Pacey. The inspector at that time was John C. Baird while T.O. Patrick was the Rail, Telegraph and Stationmaster.

In 1888 William Austin Horn acquired the Wairoa property, at the approach of Aldgate, from John James and had a beautiful residence built. This provided employment for several Aldgate men including George Sparrow. He laid out the garden and built an arboretum and remained head gardener until his death in 1913. When the Horns returned to England the property was sold to Tom Elder and Mary Barr Smith in 1896.

During the late 1880's nearby land was cut up for farming blocks and in 1890 the town's population included a large number of blockholders. Among them were, F. Bissenberger, Anne Collingwood, J.A. Woods, James Gray, Wilson Hall, James Hawes, Eusebius Wilson, Jubel Wilkins, William Shanks, Clarence and George Lewis, William Morgan and A. and W. Porteous.

Among its later residents were Tom Pearce, who after his retirement from the Northern Territory lived in Aldgate. During that same time Myrtle Rose White, author of several books on the outback also lived at Aldgate.

Several of the old Aldgate identities, including Goyder, are buried at the Stirling District Cemetery. The Wairoa gardens at Aldgate have played a large part in the film Picnic at Hanging Rock.

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