John Tippett

John Tippett

John Tippett, was one of a large number of people of high calibre and great ability that were attracted to the South Australian mining boom and in turn made a substantial contribution to it and also to many other aspects of its early community. Born at St Agnes, Cornwall, on 6 April 1826, John Tippett was the son of Thomas and Grace Tippett. He soon developed an interest in anything mechanical, which was not surprising; after all his father was an Engineer. At the age of 23 John, who lived at Hayle, Phillack, was appointed Chief Engineer and gained the contract to install mining machinery for the Australian Mining Company in South Australia. This company had been formed in England in 1845.

On 20 June 1849, John Tippett married Elizabeth Williams, born 22 November 1828 and daughter of Edmund Williams, innkeeper, at the Wesleyan Chapel at Copperhouse, County Cornwall, according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Wesleyan Connection. The ceremony was witnessed by Elizabeth Jenkin and Ann Gilbert. The young couple now had only a few days to say their farewells as the ship for South Australia would leave Bristol on 5 July.

Heavily laden, the barque Augusta with 10 tons of iron, 13 cider pipes, 30 kegs with nails, 243 boxes of soap, 423 bags of salt, 27 cases of soda, 10 bundles of steel, 110 tons of coal, 1 plough, 200 boxes of glass, 373 iron bars and numerous other boxes, casks, bundles, cases and packages, took four months to reach South Australia.

The Tippetts finally arrived at Port Adelaide on 7 November 1849. The ship, under Captain Duncan was the first to sail direct from Bristol to South Australia. It not only brought a number of passengers and many migrants but also 253 pieces of machinery for the Australian Mining Company. It would be Tippett's job to superintend the installation of these bits and pieces at the Tungkillo copper mine at Reedy Creek.

The voyage must have been rather uncomfortable for Elizabeth as she was already expecting her first child. She gave birth to Elizabeth Grace on 28 February 1850. Their second child, John Williams Tippett, was born on 26 September 1852. They would have six sons and four daughters eventually.

After completing the assembly of an Ansteys 48 inch beam engine at Tunkillo, it was started on 23 May 1850. The engine 'started without the slightest accident or derangement of any part of her machinery, so skilfully and carefully had she been put together by the company's able and indefatigable Chief Engineer, John Tippett'.

Unfortunately for the company she did not work all that long. The copper mine was forced to stop production as its miners were leaving for the Victorian goldfields. With no other mines requiring his skills John and his wife and small daughter joined the thousands of South Australians but returned in 1854. It was during this time, 1852, that their first son, John Williams Tippett was born.

After his return Tippett made the drawings for a stamping mill, which was constructed at Wyatts Foundry in Adelaide and also erected machinery for Captain John Hart's flourmill in Port Adelaide. Early in 1855 their son Thomas Henry was born but sadly he died only four months old on 23 July 1855. Another son, Thomas Edmund Tippett was born in 1861 followed by Arthur in 1862.

In 1860 John installed two powerful engines at the New Cornwall mine on Yorke Peninsula. While busy working at many different mining sites, he also took a great interest in politics. When G.F. Angas was asked to stand for election to the Legislative Council in 1865 more than 3,000 electors signed that request, including many politicians, but also John Tippett.

In 1866 Tippett was a visiting director for the short-lived Coglin Silver Lead Mining Company near Cape Jervis. Afterwards he installed machinery at many other South Australian copper mines such as the Wallaroo, Moonta, Balhannah (1872), Sliding Rock, Blinman (1882), Prince Alfred and Yelta.

While at Sliding Rock during the early months of 1865 it was reported that the machinery, being erected under the able superintendence of Mr Tippett, was of the best and most suitable description. When the machinery at the New Cornwall mine was ready in 1871 it was started by Mrs J.L. Tuxford and Tippett's young daughter. Tippett later was a visiting director of the Yelta mine for nearly 12 years.

Tippett was back at Sliding Rock in August 1875. When the job was completed and every machine working it was decided to thank John Tippett in a fitting manner. John had worked for nine months at the mine and during that time earned the respect of all the miners and the management. While at the Rock, Tippett became influenced by the local coppermania and made a mineral application for an 80 acre section near the mine.

As a small recognition of the high esteem in which he was held, a complementary dinner was given by the workmen on 4 September 1875. Nearly all the Sliding Rock residents were present as well as many from Blinman, including the Rev W.T. Carter, W.J. Paull and T.J.C. Hantke. The evening's proceedings were officially opened by Captain Matthews as Chairman and J. Lennon occupying the vice-chair. After the usual number of speeches and toasts, Tippett said that during his 26 years in South Australia he had never felt happier. He thanked them all for the good time, the dinner, and in particular the hosts, Mr and Mrs Patterson.

During the late 1870s Tippett was back on Yorke Peninsula as acting Captain at the Hamley mine and resposible for the installation of new machinery. In 1882 he was back in the north working for several months at the Blinman mine. This time his job was to prepare the engines and crushers for the restart of the mine on 19 May. Again, upon completion of the job, he was given a farewell dinner by the management, which turned out a very enjoyable evening.

Between 1856 and 1893 the Tippett family lived at Millbrook, which John had named after Millbrook in his native Cornwall. He obtained several sections of land there and as early as 1858 sold two acres of section 6136 to Christopher Whitford. Later two sections of his land were acquired by the government for the construction of the Millbrook Reservoir. Tippett was a man with a sence of social resposibility as well. It was also said that 'Being a man of courage and possessed of a deep knowledge of human nature, it is natural that he should shelter an Aboriginal girl whose life was threatened by members of her tribe, in one of the boilers at Reedy Creek. This girl lived with the Tippett family for some years at Millbrook, but eventually joined a passing tribe'.

John Tippett was also involved in the local affairs of Millbrook. In September 1872 he chaired a public meeting, attended by Hannaford MP, to get a public school established. At that time out 97 children residing in the neighbourhoud, 38 attended the Millbrook school, run by Mrs and Misses Adey, 10 went to the Cudlee Creek school and the rest went without schooling.

When the local Sunning Hill Band of Hope celebrated its annual festival in February 1874, John Tippett made some of his land available to them to have their picnic. The procession, headed by the Kersbrook Fife and Drum Band, started from the Chain of Ponds post office and passed through Millbrook and the Morning Star township before arriving at Tippett's property.

In 1886 John, who already was a Justice of the Peace, was appointed a member to the Gumeracha Board of Advice for Schools. Among some of the schools he visited as Chairman of that Board in 1892 was the Forreston School.

Elizabeth Tippett died 29 June 1906 followed ten years later, on 7 September 1916 by John. At the time of his death the family lived at St Peters. The property at Millwood was bought by his son Frederick William who had been educated at John T. Moregreen's school at Cudlee Creek and Miss Adey's school at Millbrook.

Millbrook School, destroyed by the Ash Wednesday Bushfire in 1983. The only building not drowned after the construction of the Millbrook Reservoir.

Frederick married Helena Agnes Banks in 1892 and served for 14 years as a member of the Para Wirra District Council and two years as a Talunga District Councillor. He was in 1922 one of the first members of the Cudlee Creek cool stores and also involved with the Gumeracha and Millbrook Rifle Clubs. Frederick and Helena's daughter Elizabeth Jane died on 6 July 1978 at the age of 81 and was buried at the Kersbrook Cemetery.

John Tippett's eldest son, John Williams born in 1852, became the first licensee of the Travellers' Rest Hotel at Millbrook. As a young man he had accompanied his father to Sliding Rock where he got himself into some serious trouble. On 10 January 1876, local storekeeper George Marshall reported that his till had been robbed. Investigations by the police led to the arrest of John and although the cheque was recovered he still was sentenced to one month gaol with hard labour.

Between 1884 and 1888 John and his wife Mary had become the licensee of Pearce's Hotel, later known as Cornucopia and finally as the Copley Hotel. In 1888 John was employed as gardener at Chain of Ponds. John Williams Tippett died on 5 June 1892, aged forty. Three years later his brother Thomas Edmund died on 29 March 1895. Both Elizabeth Tippett, who died on 9 August 1869, and Benjamin Tippett, who died on 15 August 1897 are buried at the Cudlee Creek Cemetery.

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