New England history: Building a place in history

Workers at Wade's brickworks Inverell: Sold to Ben Wade in 1909 and later moved, the brickworks was founded by William Nott before being extended by George F. Knott in the early 1900s.
Workers at Wade's brickworks Inverell: Sold to Ben Wade in 1909 and later moved, the brickworks was founded by William Nott before being extended by George F. Knott in the early 1900s.

Builder and philanthropist George Frederick Nott was born on the Breeza Plains in 1865, the son of William Randolp (WR) Nott and his wife Mary Ann Northey. I do not know much  about the early life of the Notts.

W.R. was the son of ex-convict Thomas Edward Nott who had been transported on the “Elizabeth” in 1816. At Sydney Cove, Thomas had met and married currency lass Charity Evans, the daughter of former soldier and then free settler Thomas Evans and ex-convict Judith Francis Bidwell.

Thomas and Charity settled in the Lower Hunter where W. R. was born at Maitland in 1839. There, W. R. met and married Marry Anne before moving north, ending up in Inverell around 1878. 

W.R. was a skilled bricklayer with a love of the material and its application to building, something that his son George Frederick inherited.

While timber still provided a core building material, the emerging commercial and professional classes in the growing New England towns demanded bricks, leading to the establishment of local brickworks.

W.R. prospered. He began making bricks on the banks of the Macintyre River at Inverell before establishing a site at nearby Goonowigall.

It’s not clear when George Frederick became involved in the business, but it seems likely that it happened at an early age.

By 1901, the now 36-year-old George Frederick was in charge of the facility. He had also established his own rapidly growing business empire in Armidale.

George Frederick was a skilled industrialist as well as builder. In 1901, the skilled brickmakers at Goonowigall could only make 1000 bricks a day each, limiting production to 20,000 hand-made bricks a week.

Inverell was booming, and this was just not enough.

George Frederick began an expansion program, buying the adjoining Wellis’ brickyard and installing three new large kilns linked by a tramway. Production expanded from 20,000 to 70,000 bricks per week.

In 1909, George Frederick sold his Inverell brickworks to Ben Wade. He continued to build in Inverell, but his main industrial interests were now in Armidale.

The brickworks he had established was moved to a new site in 1929, but continued to function until 1974.

In my next column in this series, I will look at George Frederick’s contribution to New England’s life and built landscape across three dimensions, as a builder, as and industrialist and as a philanthropist.

Jim Belshaw’s email is ndarala@optusnet.com.au. He blogs at http://newenglandaustralia.blogspot.com.au/ (New England life) and http://newenglandhistory.blogspot.com.au/ (New England history)