Mathew Barber Miller

Mathew Barber Miller

Mathew Barber Miller was born at Newton Stewart, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1817. He always spelled his first name with one ‘T’. County Tyrone contains large quantities of sandstone and marble and it is thought the man from whom Mathew learned his occupation must have been a master of his craft. Mathew Miller was born to his trade. His father William Miller was a stonemason and his mother Jane Miller (nee Mason) was probably the daughter of a stonemason as many surnames were derived from occupations. Mathew Miller arrived in Australia in 1840 as a free immigrant on the steamship Clyde. He was 22 years of age. Accompanying him were his 21 year old wife Anne who left behind her parents James and Mary Pinkerton never to see them again? Ann was to be reunited with some of her brothers and their families later. Also on board the Clyde were Samuel, John and Margery Dunbar from the village of Ardstraw also in County Tyrone. Both the Dunbar and Miller family names were to become familiar to the residents of Scone. They have had a continuous presence in the district for more than a century since arriving in the colony in the mid-nineteenth century. It appears that both the Miller and Dunbar families came to Scone shortly after arrival. Samuel Dunbar was a bricklayer and worked with Mathew Miller on many of his buildings until his death by drowning in 1864 at the age of 46. Both Samuel and his wife Elizabeth are buried in St. Luke’s Churchyard.

Mathew Miller was said to have worked in 1846-1847 on the Hill Street section of St Luke’s Church of England Schoolhouse, now part of the Scone Grammar School reopened in 1990. Mathew Miller was also associated with an architect Mortimer William Lewis (Junior) who was Clerk of the Works at Maitland and later Newcastle. This association was undoubtedly of considerable value to Miller, not only in obtaining suitable and profitable contracts, but in acquiring greater knowledge of design and construction. Mathew Miller’s first major construction was the original Court House in Kingdon Street. First tenders were called dated 28 February 1848 and closing date of 3 April 1848. Notices appeared in the Government Gazettes of 29 February 1848, 7 March 1848, 14 March 1848, 21 March 1848 and 28 March 1848 calling for persons willing to Contract for the erection of a Court House in Scone. The successful contractors were John Laurence, carpenter, and Mathew Miller, stone mason, both of Scone, with a tender of £390. Their sureties were George Grey, blacksmith of Scone and James Phillips of Kareen. Soon after signing the contract Laurence pulled out and Mathew Miller built the Court House on his own.  The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser reported on 13 June 1849 that the new Court House at Scone was nearly completed and it was expected that the bench would take possession by the end of the month. “It is a fine building, and the workmanship appears good, and justice done by the contract.” A letter dated October 3, 1849, stated that Mathew Miller had completed the building and would be glad to receive the balance of payment due to him, “as I am a por man” (sic.). Although he was invited to make repairs to the lock-up in 1850 he must have had other commitments as he acted as guarantor to a carpenter, James Graham, who undertook the task instead. In 1853 when the walls of the Chief Constable’s cottage adjoining the Court House were in danger of collapse, “under a spread roof”, Mathew Miller did the necessary repairs. The steady increase in population in the Upper Hunter and the shortage of skilled labour provided plenty of work for the competent stone mason and his builder Samuel Dunbar.

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Earl of Belmore

Earl of Belmore

Somerset Lowry-Corry, 4th Earl Belmore


Somerset Richard Lowry-Corry, 4th Earl Belmore GCMG PC (Ire) (9 April 1835 – 6 April 1913), styled as Viscount Corry from 1841 to 1845, was an Irish nobleman and Conservative politician.

Background and education

Born at Bruton Street in London, he was the eldest son of Armar Lowry-Corry, 3rd Earl Belmore and his wife Emily Louise Shepherd, youngest daughter of William Shepherd. Belmore succeeded his father in the earldom on 24 December 1845, at the age of only 10. He was educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge, from where he graduated with a Master of Arts in 1856.


English government

Belmore was elected as a Representative Peer for Ireland and sat in the House of Lords from January 1857 until his death. He served under the Earl of Derby as Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department from July 1866 to August 1867, and was then appointed Governor of New South Wales, on 22 August. He was sworn of the Privy Council of Ireland on 17 September.

Governor of New South Wales

Belmore became Governor and Commander-in-Chief of New South Wales on 8 January 1868 at a time when the position was not yet just a figurehead for the colonial government and he was still an imperial officer responsible to the British government. On 12 March 1868 he was attending a picnic with the visiting Prince Alfred at the Sydney beachside suburb of Clontarf when Henry James O’Farrell shot Alfred in the back and claimed to have intended to shoot Belmore as well. Although Belmore did not see the incident, he arranged for Alfred’s transfer to hospital for treatment and passed on to the colonial government the Prince’s request for clemency for O’Farrell, which was ignored. He worked effectively to calm the sectarian passions unleashed by the incident.

Belmore succeeded in having the Audit Act 1870 passed, which established the principle that government expenditure had to be authorised by appropriation through both houses of parliament, which had not been the practice until that time. He found the Sydney summers oppressive and therefore rented Throsby Park, near Moss Vale, as his country house. He resigned to protect his wife’s health and to resume his parliamentary career, and left Sydney on 21 February 1872.

The Earl of Belmore visited Scone 17th April 1871 to officially open the Railway Station. He had opened the line to Muswellbrook on 19th May 1869 when the Government ‘promised that the line to Murrurundi would be opened within 18 months’. The Governor could not refrain from a somewhat snide aside ‘about the slowness of the Government in progressing the railway extensions’. It appears nothing much has changed in 150 years?

The visit by the Earl of Belmore must have seemed like the return of the Messiah to local builder Mathew Miller. The latter came from County Tyrone; the home territory of the high profile Aristocrat and Diplomat. He had owned much of the land which was appropriated under the Railway Resumption Plan for Scone 1868 detailing the extension of the Great Northern Railway from Singleton to Armidale. In fact the railway bisected his land allocation of 230 acres on the northern extremity of Scone. As was usual at the time the massive impact of the visit by an ultra-important dignitary was commemorated by naming important local buildings and structures in their honour. The Earl of Belmore was no exception; some of this was ‘crawling’ or smacked of the obsequious sycophant? Mathew Miller went overboard. He named the eastern higher portion of his estate Belmore Heights. He referred to his personal fiefdom as Belmore Estate. His recently completed house became Belmore House. This is the same house now occupied by my spouse Sarah and myself. It was renamed ‘Geraldton’ by a later resident owner J A K Shaw. I’m thinking of going back to the original name? Sarah might not agree! The first iteration of the single story Railway Hotel was also built by Mathew Miller. It was renamed the Belmore Hotel which appellation it still carries today. The two story Belmore Hotel has emerged as one of the major hospitality venues in Scone. It proudly maintains this distinction at the time of writing. I believe the visit by the Earl of Belmore in 1871 will be forever recorded in perpetuity with these names?

I would have loved to be a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ when Mathew Barber Miller and Somerset Lowry-Corry, 4th Earl Belmore (inevitably) actually met? Verbal communication might have been interesting? I doubt that Old Etonian Lowry-Corry’s aristocrat-speak would be any more intelligible to Miller than the latter’s strident country Tyrone NI brogue would have been to the 4th Earl? Maybe ‘ausification’ in Scone for over thirty years had softened the rough edges?

The visit to Scone by the Earl of Belmore had a family connection. His sister Helen Gladstone had married William Alexander Dumaresq of ‘Furracabad’, Glen Innis in 1870. William Alexander was the only surviving son of William Dumaresq of St Aubins, Scone. Their son Rear Admiral John Saumarez Dumaresq became the first Australian-born officer to command the Australian Squadron in 1919-22.

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Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association Scone: History

I thought this might be worth revisiting; and be of some interest?

See also on this website ‘blog’:

The facts are that only five (5*) of the original committee are still extant! Two of them are advanced octogenarians; virtually wheelchair bound and in care. Almost none are still actively engaged in the industry with the one possible exception being Hilton Cope. I still write if that’s engagement? The promo was written originally to celebrate the first-time major sponsorship of the 1996 Scone Race Club Cup Carnival.  Noel Leckie was the instigator. Much has changed since then; but the overarching philosophy prevails. There’s a new broom at the Race Club now.

*Note: With the recent passing of Betty Shepherd and John Harris the ‘original’ committee team of twelve (12) is reduced to three (3): Hilton Cope, David Bath and the author (WPH)!

Note 2 (25/04/2022): David Bath passed away earlier this year also. I call Hilton on occasion to make sure he’s still there!

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Thoroughbred Advisory Panel R & D

Featured Image: Derek Field, Widden Stud.

This is now dated but the best possible news at the time! It’s been a long time coming. My journey has taken me via the Australian Equine Research Foundation (AERF), Hunter Valley Equine Research Foundation (HVERF), Hunter Valley Equine Research Centre (HVERC), RIRDC and Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA). We fought for this; and now its happened. Funding is guaranteed and realistic.

Equally gratifying is the very strong Upper Hunter influence on the panel. Professional colleague Dr Catherine Chicken supports the chairman Professor Nigel Perkins who has been a frequent visitor since elucidating the EAFL dilemma. Derek Fiield is a long term administrator with Widden Stud as well as a Committeeman of both the NSW TBA and HTBA. Even Tas Reilly from Victoria spent many of his formative years at Widden. Jacqueline Stewart as Keeper of the Australian Stud Book is inevitably enmeshed in the district due to her role. It’s a revelation as well as revolution! Fabulous!

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Alfred Owen Ellison


Alfred Owen Ellison

The featured image shows the assemblage for the presentation of the Bim Thompson Lightning Handicap at White Park Race Course Scone in May 1981. Those present from left to right are: David Bath; Bill Howey; Robert Thompson (winning jockey); AO Ellison; Antony Thompson; Peter Meehan (Radio Station 2NM); Bert Lilley (Sydney Morning Herald). This cadre probably captures AOE’s closest allies in his nether years?

Mr Ellison was Antony Thompson’s godfather. He was a close family confidante at the time of Bim Thompson’s tragic and untimely sudden death the previous year. He was then still resident at ‘Baramul’; the neighbouring property to Widden.


See also:

See also:

Peter Pring in his excellent ‘The Star Kingdom Story’ paints an intuitive and sensitive word portrait of AOE. He knew him well. There are some superb images of a very dapper ‘tres soignee’ AOE at Flemington and Randwick. He depicts the relationship with ST Wootton based on mutual respect settling points of difference amicably. AOE was also a businessman with multiple interests including horticulture, gardening, farming and grazing. He once said to me: ‘I may not be a very good stockman Bill (he wasn’t) but I am a very good gardener. Farming is gardening on a large scale’. He was right. He could also be artful. Murray Bain was much amused when AOE set about ring barking all the Ironbark Trees on the escarpments. It left good looking Box Eucalypts deemed to flourish on better country. Murray thought this was a meretricious means of ‘improving the country’ to the untutored or unwary voyeur?

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Royal Hub-capping

Royal Hub-capping

Featured Image:

HRH Prince Charles and John Archibald at the Scone Polo Club’s ‘Yarrandi’ ground in 1966

See also:

See also:

It would be hard to top a future monarch as a social coup, wouldn’t it? This is exactly what the Scone Polo Club (who else) was able to do on more than one occasion. HRH Prince Charles had attended school at the ‘Timbertop’ campus of Geelong Grammar. ‘Wing Nut’ knew what to expect. He was the appreciative recipient of the special hospitality provided by the White Family of ‘Belltrees’.

My good friend Racehorse Trainer Pat Farrell of Muswellbrook was the first to introduce me to the sobriquet ‘hubcap’. It derived from those he perceived as ‘hanging around the big wheels’. He applied it to a local Stud Master who he thought was always a trite ‘uppity’. He called him ‘Hubcap Jack’. There were some good reasons for this appellation. Pat also referred to the professionals who resided at Skellatar Heights as living on ‘Snob Knob’ or ‘Pill Hill’! Maybe Pat had a bit of a complex? He was described as being of ‘Bog Irish’ appearance if that’s a clue?

Prince Charles was just ‘one of the boys’ in this scenario and fitted in beautifully. My spouse Sarah was introduced to him on this occasion as an ingénue of 14 years. Sadly she had to settle for very much less almost 10 years later! I think my mother-in-law was devastated?

Incredibly (for those interested in history) ‘Yarrandi’ was the property visited by the ‘Birdman’ John Gould and his wife Elizabeth in 1839. The property was then owned by Elizabeth’s brothers from Kent; the Coxens.

I don’t know what Pat Farrell would have called HRH Prince Charles if he’d met him? It was never likely. He did come up later with an even more derogatory nick name: ‘Tow Bar’ as in bringing up the rear or hanging off the coat tails of the upwardly mobile! I could list a few. The great thing about Pat is that he never considered himself to be part of any underclass!

Vale Reg Pascoe AM


See also:

The veterinary profession in Australia has lost one of its great and genuine giants. This applies across all disciplines in our profession but pertains more to the equine veterinary sector as a specialty. Accolades also cover the Australian horse industry in its totality. Even though we think in terms of ‘Pascoe’ and horses Reg’s first post-graduate credential was an MVSc (UQ) in Mineral Metabolism of Dairy Cattle.

There aren’t enough superlatives when it comes to accurately describing Reg Pascoe. I first met him almost 50 years ago at one of Tom Hungerford’s very early presentations on behalf of the University of Sydney Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science. He was most impressive. Another presenter on that occasion was my original mentor Murray Bain. They were a formidable duo.

Over the years from 1967 I came to know Reg Pascoe very well. It was all good; much of it great. We shared the nascence and early progress of the Australian Equine Veterinary Association (AEVA); now the EVA. We met regularly at venues all over the eastern seaboard to ‘build the blocks’. Reg was a permanent fixture at both the AEVA and Bain Fallon. He became the ‘backbone’ or spine. When the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists was born Reg persuaded me to sit for the examinations and help to form the Equine Diseases Chapter. He and Len Fulton were my examiners. I think I only just scraped through! Reg had many connections with my home base of Scone. He very generously travelled overnight 12 hours by ‘bus from Toowoomba to present at a very early fund raising meeting for the AEVA. I picked him up in Kelly Street at 4:00am! I retain the fondest memories of travelling with Reg (and Joy) to the inaugural ISER in Cambridge in 1974 and thence to Kruger Park in South Africa for Maurice Azzie’s never repeated extravaganza. You could learn so much by simply listening to Reg. We repeated the ‘experiment’ in travelling to ISER II at Davis UC California in 1978. This was immensely stimulating and informative. It sewed a seed. Reg’s eldest son John later returned to UC Davis to pursue a stellar career there in Veterinary Science. Professor John Hughes was a great mentor. Most of us had hosted he and spouse Lavonne in Oz since first meeting at Cambridge UK in 1974. Professor John Hughes was the AEVA’s first invited guest speaker to the AVA conference in Melbourne in 1976. Professor O R Adams (Colorado) was the second in 1977. The first Bain Fallon was held in Sydney in 1978.

ISER II in California fulled us all with resolve to present ISER III in Sydney in 1982. Reg was very much part of the organising committee which also included Phil Knight (Gunnedah),  Rex Butterfield (Sydney), Geoff Hazard (Melbourne) and chair Peter Irwin (Adelaide). Ms Audrey Best was the immaculate administrator. I still think this was the biggest and best ‘thing’ AEVA ever did. Yes, I’m biased.

Reg was commissioned by the Fraser Government to report on the feasibility of establishing an Australian Horse Council similar to the American model. I still retain a copy of his detailed and meticulously researched final recommendations. This has now mutated into the Australian Horse Industry Council (AHIC). Reg worked very closely and tirelessly with local Hunter Valley Stud Master John Kelso to set up the inaugural Council.

In 1977 the venereal disease of horses first known colloquially as ‘Jubilee Clap’ (ER II’s Jubilee Year) was identified at the National Stud near Newmarket, Suffolk, England. It quickly escalated. Reg was appointed by the Australian Government to fully investigate the situation overseas. The information he gleaned on Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM Taylorella equigenitalis) was invaluable. He was seen as a crusading ‘saviour’ of the horse breeding industry in Australia. I don’t think he spoke Irish very well?

Reg’s achievements in academia are legend. We were all absolutely astounded at the tsunami-like continuum of credits with Fellowships, Doctorates, further degrees and awards plus multiple publications. We remained in wonderment: ‘How does he do it’? We knew that at least part of the reason was his very special supportive spouse Joy and his high achieving family of four sons.

I was delighted to be involved in the launching of the ‘Provet’ Pascoe Oration at the EVA Darwin Bain Fallon Conference some years ago. We knew this provided recognition in perpetuity with a dedicated Plenary Address at our Annual Convention. What a terrific trifecta of names: Bain; Fallon; Pascoe; forever branded.

There is so much more I could say but will ‘pull the reins’ now. The virtue of a ‘blog’ is that I can both add and edit later.

The family tribute from Facebook I repeat herewith: my sympathies are with them.

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Legendary Melbourne Cup horses gone but not forgotten by NSW Hunter Valley

Legendary Melbourne Cup horses gone but not forgotten by NSW Hunter Valley

I’m indebted to my close friends Mike Pritchard and Brian Russell for this blog. It’s very timely in the lead up to the 2017 Melbourne Cup. I actually wanted to feature Merriwa and its connection to ‘Old Rowley’. Peter Gleeson told me the actual burial site may not be the one popularly promoted? It will always be a subject for debate.

I’m also pleased to acknowledge Jessica Owers who has been the author of some great books about horse history including ‘Shannon’ and ‘Peter Pan’.

1233 ABC Newcastle

By Karen Shrosbery and Mike Pritchard

Posted 1 Nov 2016, 8:30amTue 1 Nov 2016, 8:30am

The Upper Hunter and the Melbourne Cup have a lot more links than you think – Breakfast – ABC Radio

Featured Photo: Dual Melbourne Cup winner Peter Pan


The New South Wales Hunter region may not have a horse in 2016’s Melbourne Cup, but some of the race’s most iconic winners are buried there in treasured sites.

For those living in Australia’s thoroughbred capital, the horses may be gone but they are not forgotten.

Brian Russell from Muswellbrook is a thoroughbred breeding consultant, and has been a racing enthusiast for 80 years.

He said two giants of the turf were buried in the area and not many people knew about it.

“Five horses won the Melbourne Cup twice and two of them are buried here — that was Rain Lover who lies in Tarwyn Park in Bylong, and Peter Pan who rests in Singleton,” Mr Russell said.

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Murrurundi & Pride of Place

Murrurundi & Pride of Place

I’ve just run into Mandy Archibald; oddly enough at a ‘pop up’ fish mongers refrigerated van. I felt guilty! I should add something for Murrurundi. Mandy is the very best ‘Pride of Place’ ambassador with her regular local ABC Radio historical segments. This is the best I can do at short notice. Sorry Mandy!

The featured image is the view from Murrurundi Gap. It mus be what Uncle Benny was writing about (see below)?

This is very ‘dated’ harking back to my time as Councillor on the Upper Hunter Shire Council. I also acted as Chairman of the UHSC Heritage Committee. The following are recorded for my visit to the Murrurundi Public School for its 160 year celebration. I thought some of the messages and sentiments were worth repeating? I have left them in context even though the meeting references are long past. Maybe you can give them a score? Has anything changed or happened?

“I have stood many times throughout my life at the spot where the Northern Highway touches the summit of the Dividing Range, above the railway tunnel to look down at Murrurundi, three miles away steeped in early history, undisturbed by progress, lying asleep in a cradle fashioned by the feet of its encircling mountains.

If there is an island valley equal in scope and in balanced beauty in New South Wales, I have yet to find it”

Mr. Harold Sims (aka Uncle Bunny

Murrurundi Public School

Established 1849

160 Years of Quality Education

Friday 4th December 2009


‘Developing Pride in Our Heritage and Confidence in Our Future’


Maximising Outcomes   Positive Relationships                    Success for All

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Gold! Gold! Gold!

Gold! Gold! Gold!

Featured Image: ‘The Man from Snowy River’; Sydney Olympic Stadium; Friday 15th September 2000′.


Late great ABC Radio sports commentator Norman May will never be forgotten. His ecstatic and exultant call of: “Gold! Gold! Gold! For Australia” will be forever imprinted on the Australian psyche wherever and whenever Olympic Sport is discussed. (The original occasion was the final of the 4 x 100 Metres Men’s Medley Relay at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow).

There is little doubt that in the modern era the Sydney Olympic Games of 2000 won the Gold Medal for excellence in almost every department. Recently (2016) London mounted a strong challenge. It’s my personal belief that the Opening Ceremony in Sydney was a victory for the ‘Green & Gold’ despite HM ERII making a personal marquee contribution in London with James Bond. The opening stanza in Sydney featured that most Aussie of Aussie icons: the Australian Stock Horse. This was truly innovative, imaginative and unique. It ‘stamped its brand and made its marque’ to belabour the clichés. The rest of the world looked on in wonderment.

What is not so well known is the role played by Scone and the Australian Stock Horse Society (ASHS) in the coruscating display?  Then ASHS GM and long term Scone resident Brian Brown was the man responsible for alerting SOCOG (Sydney Olympic Committee for Organising the Games) to the concept of including our ‘indigenous’ breed of horse into the program. Brian produced a Feasibility Report for the then Director of Operations for SOCOG. A secret meeting was convened at the new Scone Race Club and the report discussed. Despite opposition from some quarters (‘I don’t want my athletes to be besmirched by horse dung’) the report was adopted in principle. Brian stepped aside as ASHS GM in 1996. He was succeeded by Steve Guihot.

Steve now runs ‘Paddock 2 Pantry’ in Scone. Several recruitment camps were held; pivotal among them were those convened at White Park, Scone. No-one knew. It was the best kept secret. Steve told me there were many heroes along the way. Foremost among them was Senior Sergeant Don Eyb. Don is/was in charge of the NSW Mounted Police Unit based at Redfern in Sydney. If ever you’ve been privileged enough to witness the NSW Mounted Police Musical Rides at the Royal Easter Show each year you’d recognise the exquisite choreography. Don has produced this for all the 20+ years I’ve been involved with the RAS of NSW. He ultimately directed the ‘greatest show on earth’ for the world to witness at Sydney Olympic Stadium on Friday 15th September 2000. I was one of the very, very lucky ones to be there.

The first ‘Boot Camp’ was held at White Park Scone from 10th – 12th March 2000 commanded by Don (‘The Don’) Eyb and Horse-master Tony Jablonski. Darrell Clifford and Fiona Wallis were ‘score & store keepers’. By the time the second Boot Camp was held in June a few locals began to ask some questions. The answer was simple: ‘They’re doing an ad for Omo’! Joy Poole and David Atkins provided motivation. There followed a 10 day Boot Camp at Castle Hill which included visits to the Olympic Stadium for accreditation and familiarisation. The Castle Hill tavern was a significant beneficiary of the largesse of the assembled team.

Don Eyb said it was the most nerve racking experience of his life! Ceremony organisers Ric Birch and Ignatius Jones had a basic concept of riders bringing in the Olympic Flag; staying for the National Anthem; and then taking out the Australian Flag as well as forming the Olympic Rings. The rest, as they say in the classics, was up to Don. He and Tony moulded a disparate team who hadn’t even known each other at the start. It was an achievement of Herculean proportions; much of it fashioned in Scone.

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