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Singleton Argus Personality of the Week - Walter Gould
From: Jan Glasby
Date: Saturday, 6 July 2002 5:57 PM
"Singleton Argus" Friday 11 February 1949
Personality of the Week
90-Year-Old Still Managing Director of Singleton Company
MR WALTER GOULD HAS HAD VARIED EXPERIENCE
Managing director of one of the district's longest established industrial undertakings, Gould Bros' mill, Mr Walter Gould, 90-year-old member of one of Singleton's pioneering families was interviews as "Argus" personality this week.
In spite of his great age, Mr Gould retains a lively interest in life, and although he is not as active as he was some years ago, he is still able to move around and appreciate living.
Seated in the garden of his home in Dangar Road yesterday morning, Mr Gould was a picture of health.
His years rode very lightly on his shoulders, as he recalled his life work, and family and friends of years ago.
The son of the late Charles Gould, who was a founder nearly a century ago of Gould Bros Singleton sawmill, Walter Gould was the eldest of a large family, the remainder of whom are now deceased.
Born at West Maitland on September 6, 1859, he came to live at Singleton when eight months old.
Walter received his education at the old Church of England Grammar school in Goulburn Street, under the tutorship of Mr E. B. Craig, forerunner of the family of Singleton solicitors. The teacher's wife taught him his letters.
At 15, he left school and from High Street, West Maitland, entered the service of his uncle, the late Mr Henry Paskins, a music shop proprietor. He stayed there for four years, learning piano repairing and tuning and a less specialised knowledge of the handling and repairing of violins and other instruments.
When he was 19 years old, he joined a Singleton music shop proprietor and piano tuner, Mr William Blackburn, and in his service travelled widely, repairing and tuning pianos. These trips often took him far into the reaches of the Upper Hunter and Goulburn River areas. On several occasions he visited Hewitts at "Ferndale" and the Thompson's horse stud at Widden. He accompanied a member of the latter family on a trip to Mudgee with a racehorse. Stopping off, he visited his uncle at Budgee Budgee, later staying in Mudgee and Gulgong, which were then fairly rich mining districts. He tuned pianos in those centres.
However, tuning work soon cut out, so Walter Gould made his way to Narrabri, and after a lot of work there returned home by train to Singleton, where he visited his family. He later returned to Narrabri, retrieved his horse and again returned home on business to Singleton.
Accompanying Mr Blackburn, Walter made many trips up the North Coast to Taree and other northern towns on the route.
Nevertheless, he tired of working for an employer, and, borrowing 300 pounds from friends at Kempsey, set up in business on his own.
Business was good, and a sound circuit was established, but despite this, Mr Gould did not stay there very long.
After 15 years he visited his family and friends at Singleton, where the sawmill was now very much under way. Two of his brothers were employed in the mill, and he suggested to his father that he, too, would like to join them. His father was delighted.
"You boys could make at least five pounds a week each," he said.
In those days, Mr Gould added, a carpenter received only three pounds a week wages, and considered himself well paid.
Walter Gould joined his father and brothers on the business side of the mill and after gaining a little experience, enabled his father to fulfil a long-cherished hope of a trip to England. Both Mr and Mrs Gould, senior, had come from the Old Country. Mrs Gould was from Essex, and Charles from Dorsetshire.
Accompanied by two other members of his faith, the Christian Israelite, Mr Gould senior, returned to the land of his boyhood, where he caught a chill and died, thus never returning again to Australia.
The Gould brothers carried on the mill.
With the industrialisation of Newcastle and the Lower Hunter markets, the demand for timber increased rapidly, and Walter and his brothers, at the suggestion of Mr John Falkiner, began selling an accumulation of second class timber to the coal fields. The first few sales were not very successful, but with time, depots and yards were established and connections were built up.
A yard was opened at Weston, and another at Cessnock, where a sawmill and works were also in operation for a time. Other mills and yards were established at Ellalong, under the direction of Mr Frank Gould, a cousin.
Imported timbers were (and still are as supplies become available) sawn, dressed and milled. Business depressions and periods of material in short supply had to be weathered. Where possible, full employment was maintained at the yards. It was necessary to acquire Government and private timber leases to ensure a constant supply of wood for hungry mills and markets.
Mr Walter Gould (who is still the managing director of Gould Bros) travelled by rail many miles from mill to depot and mill, before the advent of motor cars. He became so well known to railwaymen that on occasion they would stop a special little departmental one-carriage train near the Ellalong saws, and pick him up.
Although many of the earlier Gould Bros interests away from Singleton have been transferred or disposed of, the company still continues to be one of the most extensive country milling concerns in NSW.
Mr Gould recalled that his father and other founders sawed by hand the first logs for commercial sale, later buying steam engines for power. The mill is now operated under electric power, and has been idle for nine weeks for the installation of a Canadian saw for "breaking down".
Mr Gould, who naturally is no longer actively associated with its workings, still retains a lively interest in its operation and development.
Mr Gould married Miss Eunice Perry, of Melbourne, whom he met on trips to the Southern Capital. Together they raised a family of five girls and two boys. The family are now living at various centres in NSW and Victoria. Mrs Gould has been dead for 20 years.
At the autumn of his long and happy life, Mr Walter Gould is able to sit comfortably and reflect happily on a life well spent, in industry and happiness and amid the prosperity of those he reared.