Stories from Manly's past - local history from Manly Library.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Regular visitors to the Trove website will have noticed that it allows users to search when a word first occurs in the accumulated newspaper database. I have previously searched for, among others, "tango" and "bunyip". Most recently, I wanted to know when "bombora" was first used. The earliest citation given in the Oxford English Dictionary is from a Bulletin article from 1933, and I felt that the word must have been in use much earlier than that.
Using the Trove search, I found a reference from the Sydney Morning Herald of 1st March 1879 to Botany Bombora. This was not quite what I was after, since the word was being used as part of a specific place-name. But an article from SMH on 21st December 1886 was more like it. It referred to a buoy at Dobroyd(e) Head being a danger to vessels, as it might mislead them to sail too close to the "bumbora". So the word was in use as a general noun some fifty years before the OED had it (and, no doubt, even earlier than that). Interestingly, the spelling of the word was more commonly "bumbora" in the 19th century, giving way to "bombora" by the 1910s, and the OED does not note "bumbora" as a variant spelling. Perhaps the later spelling was seen as more genteel?
The bombora at Dobroyd featured in Enid Conley's children's novel of 1968, The Dangerous Bombora. And most recently, of course, Bombora was the excellent ABC series on the history of Australian surfing.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
The 19th century aldermen of Manly were a colourful bunch. Alderman John Agar Scarr followed two occupations with great success. He was the shorthand writer for the NSW Assembly for more than 40 years. And he was also a handicapper for the Australian Jockey Club - in fact, for many years he was their sole handicapper, a difficult and responsible undertaking. In addition, he wrote a racing column under the pen-name 'Pundit', and was the compiler of the stud book in the 1870s and 80s.
He was born at Campbelltown in 1830, the son of John Scarr, who was Clerk of the Court at Campbelltown. The family lived at Agar Cottage, Campbelltown. In 1853 John Agar Scarr married Louisa Holdsworth. One of their children, Henry Holdsworth Scarr, also became an alderman of Manly.
On his retirement from Parliamentary duties in 1887, he came to Manly, and was petitioned by nearly a hundred notable local men to stand for alderman. As an alderman he advocated improvements to the Little Manly Baths which were in such a decrepit condition, he said, "that a vigorous shark could enter and devour a bather." He was also involved in the long-running debate over improvements to Manly's sewerage.
He took ill in 1894 following his return from the Melbourne Cup, but was still involved in racehorse handicapping up to a few days of his death from diabetes on 31 March 1895.
The photo of him appeared in the Australian Town and Country Journal on 6 April 1895, and was retrieved from a Trove search.