Longwood, Victoria 3665 – The Town That Napoleon Bonaparte Named
The Patton family made their way to Longwood in the 1940’s. Timber brought them to Longwood, much in the same way that timber took the family to the Plenty Ranges in the mid 1800’s when William Patton arrived in Australia.
Longwood is midway between Euroa & Avenel, and is now situated on the main Melbourne to Sydney railway line.
The following is two posts that I recently posted on my Longwood, the legends, larrikins & fabulous fables Facebook page. There is a link to the Facebook page on this website.
I will be posting another story about the Patton’s coming to Longwood, but for now, this is the story of Longwood, how it was named and what life was like “in the early days”.
Longwood House was the residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, during his exile on the island of Saint Helena, from 10 December 1815 until his death on 5 May 1821. It lies on a windswept plain some 6 km (3.7 mi) from Jamestown.
Longwood was originally a farm belonging to the East India Company and was afterwards given as a country residence to the Deputy-Governor.” It was converted for the use of Napoleon in 1815. The British government recognised its inadequacy as a home for the former Emperor and his entourage and, by the time of his death, had built a new house for him nearby, which he never occupied.
In February 1818, Governor Sir Hudson Lowe proposed to Lord Bathurst to move Napoleon to Rosemary Hall, a house that became available and was located in a more hospitable part of the island, sheltered from the winds and shaded, as Napoleon had preferred. But the revelations of General Gourgaud in London brought Lord Bathurst to the opinion that it was safer to keep Napoleon at Longwood, where an escape was harder to undertake. The building of the new house only began in October 1818, three years after Napoleon’s arrival on the island.
Longwood, is named after Napoleon Bonaparte’s home on St Helena. John Brook was a squatter here in 1844. At the time this area was also know as ‘Winding Creek’, Hugh Middlemiss commenced his ‘Salutation Inn’ on the Sydney road around this time, where the coaches branched off to the goldfields in the Mansfield/Jamieson area [Loretta].
The Salutation Inn was built by William Beaton, brother to Isabella Beaton. Both survivors of the burning of the barque India on their journey from England to Australia.
After the railway went through in 1874, the towns folk of Longwood gradually moved there and a settlement called Longwood Rail was established at the station.
In 1895 the settlement was surveyed and proclaimed as Longwood West. After the 1951 review, the name of the then Longwood was altered to Old Longwood and Longwood West was renamed Longwood.
An article from the Euroa Advertiser, Friday 1st October 1920 by a young William Thomson gives a fabulous insight into Longwood at the turn of the 20th century.
LOCAL HISTORY COMPETITION LONGWOOD
The following history of Longwood was awarded third prize in the local history competition at the Euroa exhibition of school’s work. The booklet was well arranged and illustrated by drawings. It will be found interesting reading:-
1. – EARLY SETTLEMENT
The early history of Longwood is surrounded with interest. It was originally a camping ground between Sydney and Port Phillip Bay. Probably the earliest camper was J. Crook, who came from Sydney about 1839; but “Tommy the Nut” also claimed to be one of the very first men to camp on what is now termed the Nine Mile Creek, which was the original name of Longwood. The spot was attractively situated at the foot of a steep range, with a clear gurgling stream (the Winding Creek); and plenty of grass. So it was that when the rush to the Ovens diggings broke out in the fifties, the Nine Mile Creek became more frequented than ever.
In fact, Old Longwood grew to be a well known centre in those early days, and the pioneers still surviving look back with sighing regret at the fine stirring days of the arrival of batches of travellers. Of course proper settlement followed this stop-and-on—again sort of progress, so we find a store and an inn arising. A proper line of coaches took up the running between Melbourne and the North East (Sydney) and Cobb and Co.’s name is remembered as the great carrying firm. Longwood was the branching centre of the traffic from Melbourne to Mansfield, Alexandra, Woods Point, etc. while the coach from the Seven Creeks (now Gooram and Euroa) also stopped the night. In fact Longwood district embraced what we now know as Creighton, Tarcombe, Molka, Locksley, and so on.
2. – INDUSTRIES AND PROGRESS
No particular industries sprang up as apart from the use of Longwood as a coaching centre, and this was to bear fatal fruit as soon as improved methods of locomotion came into vogue.
Bark stripping was active, and around in a big radius were sheep runs own by Ryan (now Killeen), Wangabaranda (Wheeler), whose name is perpetuated in Wheeler’s Swamp, Tarcombe (Younghusband, who afterwards bought and named Killeen.
The inn and store at Longwood were built by Hugh Middlemiss about 1855 and it was called the Salutation Inn, being near the Winding Creek bridge and the toll gate. Middlemisses may claim to be the leading earliest residents, but in 1857 civilisation followed fast. (Eds Note:- The Salutation was built by William Beaton who’s sister Isabella married George Harrison, their stories are on this website.)
A post-office was opened as a repeating station under a Mr. Nunn, who also opened up the first absolutely authentic records as Registrar of Births and Deaths, in 1859.
Mails and coaches came from Melbourne along old Sydney road tri-weekly; and dashed down the Longwood hill with bugles blowing, to rouse “Billy the Tollman.” Meanwhile Longwood was still an outpost.
The nearest medical aid was Seymour, and the spiritual needs of the inhabitants were not over-well attended to either.
Education was remembered, however. and about 1861 what we would term a common school (where the children paid) was opened by a Mr. Henderson in a room in Mr. Beecroft’s house.
Later on this was transferred to Smith’s empty house close by, and after a succession of teachers, including Messrs Stack and Watson.
Mr. Fisher took charge of the school children. He appears to have had personality, and remains the only notable teacher till 1875; when the late
Mr. H. Tubb arrived as a State school teacher. Perhaps Mr. Fisher’s tragically sudden death helped to fix his memory in the annals of the hill- side hamlet. A police station was set up in 1857 at the rear of what then was the post-office and is now Capt. F Tubbs residence. The original lock up is still doing duty in New Longwood. Cobb & Co.’s coach depot was at the rear of Middlemiss’s hotel.
The blacksmith was a necessity that came early on the scene, and Mr Kellock had his smithy opposite St Helens; and on the banks of the Winding Creek (a tributary of the Nine Mile Creek)
Mr Kellocks residence has seen many tenants, from Smiths to various professionals, and is still ; in fine order, and is occupied by Mrs W. Hamilton and family. Alas not many old buildings remain. Another store followed (Kiernan’s) and Mr. Middlemiss built a palatial hotel— The Longwood Hotel. But he died in
his prime, in 1859, and after a succession of managers Mr. A. Hamilton who has bought the Salutation Inn in 1865, became the owner of the Longwood hotel. No trace of it exists; but a part became the present White Hart Hotel. Mrs Bunting’s house etc., as if it were scattered to all the winds that blow. Along with the Middlemisses and Kellocks and others mentioned, pioneers of the days included Beecrofts, Macdonalds, Meades, Castrees (toll gate keepers), O’Briens and Poynes, and many of the representatives still live round the district.
It does seem incredible that Longwood was in 1857-1865 the hub of of the central North East, while Euroa was as nowhere almost.
An idea of Longwood as a rest house may be gauged when even in the late sixties as many as one hundred and sixty horses have been camped about. Yet for years it was as the Nine-Mile that Longwood prospered.
3. – ORIGIN OF NAME
The origin of the name is involved, but there is no doubt that the idea most prevalent about its connection with Napoleon and Longwood in St. Helena, is correct. The version given is that the name Longwood was adopted after the authorized survey of the township in the ’60’s, but the willows were there then.
The story goes that Dr. L. L. Smith (Smith’s Almanac) was going through to the Ovens diggings, and he and Hugh Middlemiss (a friend of his) planted on the Winding Creek a couple of cuttings he had brought from the original tree at St. Helena while coming out from Europe. Howbeit, the name was universally adopted; and later on Mr. Tubb named his place St. Helena appropriately. (Does it not seem fate that, fifty years after, sons from this “St. Helena” should go and fight; and even die, for Napoleon’s countrymen in France). The creeks are still the Nine-Mile (from the Seven Creeks) and the Winding Creek. The little cemetery on the edge of the Winding Creek, with its many forgotten dead, has seen the decay of the brightest hopes of Old Longwood and its glories.
4. – EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS
The proper school was built by the people in Mr. Fisher’s time, and given to the State. It was at the back of Old Longwood. Its number was 367; but New Longwood’s is 2707. The bell that then stirred up tardy scholars now calls to worship the Anglican folk in the township, but the building was sold. Its blocks remain along with the name of some streets such as Fitzroy Street.
5. RISE OF NEW LONGWOOD
But Longwood’s day of fate was at hand in the shape of a railway line.
This did not pass through Longwood East, but took a course about two miles away, on the edge of the Goulburn plain. The construction there was easier and cheaper. It brought about, slowly and surely, a transfer of business to the station, and hence arose the present Longwood. The railway was opened in November 1872; and from that on a decline began, though the post-office was not transferred till 1879 and the school not even till 1885. Even then two schools were kept going for a while. The Police Station was shifted to Buddy’s (i. e., where Puddy’s house is now), and then Mr. Hall built the present station. Old Longwood had the doubtful honour of being passed through by the Kelly’s in 1878. In fact, in 1869, Powell, the bushranger, was busy with the mail man from Longwood to Alexandra, just near Morton. Pan, the driver, had this experience of being stuck up, but escaped lightly.
6. – SETTLEMENT IN THE NEW TOWNSHIP
As in the old township, public convenience followed this railroad, and Maxfield’s, from Kilmore set up a mill and store in 1873, and a part of it still stands (Mr. Corich’s residence), but it is greatly transformed.
The traffic from Old Longwood to Molka and further out, made the new town grow, and so most of the old residents shifted down. Kiernans had a bark store where O’Connell Bros. are, and Hamilton built the White Hart Hotel. The toll gates opposite Tubb’s and the check gates on the hill on the connecting road between
Old and New Longwood have dis- appeared, and Castrees is almost a forgotten name. Mr. Hill had become a police officer at the old town. Selectors became numerous round about, and saw-mills began operation, and for the next thirty years New Longwood was noted for its wood. The station was a centre for
traffic to Gobur and Yarek, etc, but Euroa and Violet Town had done with Longwood as a traffic point.
Coaches met the train, and you drove across the range to Ruffy, Gobur, and beyond.
7. PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS IN LONGWOOD
The Mechanics’ Institute was built in 1883 out of the ruins of a burnt- out hotel opposite its site, and it has proved a great boon. All praise to the Maxfields, Grants, Robbins, Kiernans and the rest who erected what was a fine building for the town. In 1885 the State opened up a school in it till the new school (No. 2707) was finished. The old church of St. Andrew’s at Longwood East was incorporated into the new St. Andrew’s in the township in 1901. The old building had been a part of Middlemiss’s hall, but it did good duty for fifty years as a place of worship. New Longwood had gradually improved itself, and when the streets were laid out pioneers of the new town had their names given to them.
The Monument Square is a good centre. It commemorates the volun- teers who served in the Boer War, and the V.C. gained by Lieut. L. C. Maygar (1899-1902). Equally distinguished was Longwood in the recent great war, when a second V.C. was gained by Major F. Tubb, The M.C. was gained by Capt. F. Tubb
and the late Capt. G. Maxfield, all natives of Old Longwood. As these lads dreampt of the bygone days in their own hamlet they little thought of the part they would play in history. At present Longwood is a neat township of mixed pursuits—wood, wool, rabbits, and dairy produce. The rabbit factory near the school had a brief career which was ended by fire 30 years ago. Somehow New Longwood does not seem as interesting as the Old Town, with its hills and streams, its tragedies and its thrills, as the coach bugle rang through the hills when the coach arrived from Melbourne and on its return. Yet the town is up-to-date. It has its water supply scheme, its telephone, and its motors.
Old Longwood is now the petty remnant of an English-looking village, and from Tubb’s lookout one can picture all the past sixty or seventy years. Judging by the standard of progress even towns must go on or decay. Old Longwood’s loss was New Longwood’s gain.
Author – WILLIAM THOMSON
I hope you enjoy this page, contribute, share your memories or learn more about this vibrant little town that many of us call, or have called out HOME.
Gary Patton (GG Nephew of William Beaton (Built the Salutation Inn for Hugh Middlemiss), resident of Longwood (1966 – 1979) and student of the Longwood State School 2707.
(The photo is of the Salutation Inn in Old Longwood and the Mechanics Institute in “New” Longwood)