Historical information

The tent model mentioned in the letters was displayed in the Ballarat School of Mines Museum. During the 1960s it was transferred to the Ballarat Historical Society.

Physical description

Two handwritten letters on paper with black mourning edge written by Walter M. Hitchcock to the Ballarat School of Mines, and another written by Walter's brother George M. Hitchcock.

Inscriptions & markings

Letter transcription follow:
Letter from Walter M. Hitchcock regarding the death of James Oddie and early gold mining at Ballarat, 1910 and 1911

48 The Memorial Hall
Farringdon St

The Secretary
Ballarat Museum
Dear Sir,
I am just now sending you this line, i anticipation of further correspondence later on, simply to forward you a Post Card of the 1st mining tent erected 1851 on the site of he then newly proclaimed Township of Ballarat, which, as the sole survivor of the party who built the original, I have had the pleasure in making, and have decided to present it to your museum, Sir Jno Lasenor out Agent General for Victoria came to a Bazaar recently held in London. where I had it on view in the museum from 3 days, - and desired I would allow its [ ? ] exhibited in the first large window of the beautiful new building of the Victoria Agency situate in the Strand. It is there for the past few days and he may wish it to remain a week or two longer, I know of no other exhibition of it to delay it being packed and shipped to my relatives in Geelong (Mr [?] Bright of Hitchock's Firm) who may wish to show it in one of their windows before forwarding it to your museum - I have had an itemised pane glass case made for it with drop down end and [?} it stands on a plateau of moss, to represent grass 32 x 13 x 13 high and chimney 14 1/2 - the case is made 34 x 26 x 20 high inside - I shall have it very carefully packed - tent emptied tools, beds, &c &c in separate packing and insured for 50 pounds - I will send you full details later on. I hope and believe your President will accept it in due time Meantime believe me to be very truly
Cat Walter Hitchcock G.F.B.

48 The Memorial Hall
Farringdon St
March 15th 1911

The Secretary
Ballarat School of Mines
Dear Sir,
Thanks for your letter received last week – I have unaccountably mislaid it, so cannot address you personally, shall no doubt find it among office papers. The model is being fetched today from Victorian Agent General’s (Sir John [Lavernor?] office window in the Strand where many thousands, he tells me, have stopped in passing to see it (their first peep of Ballaarat).
It will be on view at Blackheath (Kent) for a week, then packed and shipped without further delay. I shall enclose in the glass case (which is 26 x 34 x 16 in high) some spare minced moss and gas (smoke) in case in transit the plateau suffers by shaking (though it is well glued down). All the tools, mining appliances, cradle, windlass, &c will be separately packed enclosed – which you can easily place in respective positions.
HRH Prince of Wales has graciously accepted a photo of it – and in my letter to him when sending it for his acceptance I said – as he would probably ere long visit Australia as did his grandfather and father, which ought to (and certainly will) include at least a day or two in seeing your beautiful City, and also something of your mines &c instead of the hurried visit of his father (2 hours) when he, as Duke of York, unveiled a statue to the memory of those slain in the sad Boer War, which now is admitted by almost everybody to have been a big political mistake, - though in the future with England’s present wise policy towards that country it will prove for Africa’s welfare.
It may interest you to know that when I ascertained that Geelong was not to be visited by the Royal Pair – I went up to St James’s Palace by appointed time the Duke’s private Secy Sir Arthur Bigge – taking with me a specially illustrated paper issued in Melb. showing many pictures of the beauties and industries of Geelong – Sir Arthur was impressed but said all the arrangements for the Royal stay in Victoria (10 days) were made locally, by Lord Hopetoun and collegues and committee, and were practically closed – which meant that only a brief trip to Ballarat to uncover the memorial was intended outside Melbourne. Perhaps if we were Melbourne residents we should have succumbed to the prevailing spirit of selfishness – forgetting (or trying to forget) that there are many beauty spots in Victoria and centres of great interest - Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo, &c that ought to have been visited instead of Melbourne only.
Finding Sir Arthur favorably impressed about Geelong I thanked him and returned to City work again.
I at once called to Geelong whose mayor and friends had been twice unsuccessful in trying for the Melbourne functions programme being altered to include a visit to Geelong and lovely spots in the Western District, reporting my interview with Sir A B and his favourable reception of my representations, but that any alteration to the programme of engagements during the Royal visit must be made locally and by the local authorities. This had the desired success for on receipt of my message the Geelong mayor and colleagues again reopened the question and went to Melbourne, resulting in a concession (but what an altogether inadequate one) and they graciously ? consented to the train, on its way with the Duke and Duchess to your city, to stop at the Geelong stn (15 minutes) and so it came about that by a hasty local effort, 3,000 school children, and not a few of the leading people including the Mayor &c were gathered to welcome them in Geelong. The National anthem being sung, an Address read and presented and kindly replied to. Now Ballarat should doubtless has influence. See to it when our P. Of Wales visits Victoria – an unselfish ¬ programme is fixed up – and HRH afforded ample opportunity of visiting leisurely your city, Geelong, Bendigo and other centres of beauty and importance.
The Prince himself will be the gainer by such an equitable and enlightened programme, - and come back with all the more favourable views of the marvellous development ever since our family first settled in Geelong in 1850.
A far preferable result of such a visit than night after night having Melbourne Banquets and the visiting of its undoubted attractions - whilst all the rest of the State remained unvisited. Such an official mistake must not be made again. I will write you again, stating name of steamer of which the model is shipped and date of departure – it is firmly built on a backing of 3/8 in oak tall uprights so through the 7/8 in plateau and am entrusting the packing be very careful. I expressed firm – so that except possibly any breakage in glass case – it should reach you in due time all right. The top of case will be screwed so that it can be readily removed temporarily to enable my [ ? ] firm to show it in one of their windows.
Believe me
Yours very truly
Captn Walter M. Hitchcock

My brother will deliver it on my a/c – all carriage paid.

Mt very kind regards to my friend since 1850 Jas Oddie.

University of Ballarat Historical Collection
Cat. No. 8133.3 & .4

Letter from Walter M. Hitchcock regarding the death of James Oddie and early gold mining at Ballarat, 1911

48 The Memorial Hall
Farringdon St
April 20th 1911

My Dear Sir,
It is with no ordinary feeling of regret that I received the tidings of the death of my good friend, your fellow citizen for many years, Mr James Oddie. Living at Geelong from March 1850 I came to know him there as carrying on a foundry business in Ashby.
With the discovery of gold at Ballarat started off almost of the working people, as well as of all other classes of the male population. Mr Oddie arrived in Ballarat I believe on or about September 1st 1851. My three comrades and I arrived October 1st 1851 – among the many thousands soon gathered within a mile or so of Golden Point – my friend Oddie and I often met. I returning to Geelong after a year mining – my friend on the other hand remaining at Ballarat ever since – a marvellous record, and I am sure his life has been one of unique value to your City in many ways, - his age (87) naturally prepared me for his call home – and only two mails before the news came I received from him on of his kindly chatty letters in which amongst other things – he referred with pleasure to having received from me two 10 x 12 photos – one being of my model and that he was arranging to have it placed in a shop window in your city.
I am interested in the fact of your having known each of my three comrades of 1851/52. It was J.M. Garrett and I who got permission to conduct public Sunday morning service in their large Marquee – used all the week for issue of Licenses in the absence of any church buildings, and it being on wet Sundays impossible to have services as usual under the trees – Ballarat then was more like a Gentleman’s Park – than bush country – but the axe soon did its work – and all were felled for our cooking, and hencewith to make our kindling etc.
Shafting of holes not being at first done because too shallow – our deepest (at Eureka) was only 115 ft. Bendigo I hear had now mines of 4,000 ft in depth (deeper than our tin or coal mines here). I fortunately have, in excellent state of preservation, my last of 12 licenses dated October 1 1852 and have recently purchased here a Miner’s Right dated 1864, to that when explaining on matters re Gold Licensing I can show sample of each.

With kind regards
Believe me
Yours sincerely
Walter M. Hitchcock

June 20/11

Dear Sir,
By rail to day through Messrs Bannister I send the model of miner’s tent packed in a case 50 donated by my brother Captain Walter M. Hitchcock of London. This model was made by my brother and represents the tent he worked in on the Ballarat Gold Fields in the year 1851 or 2. In a separate parcel a few extras omitted from the case. Please send me receipts in duplicate, one for my brother, the other for the Customs, Geelong, as being donated to your institution, after some little correspondence it was admitted [??] any payment for duty. You probably have my brother’s address and would like to acknowledge its arrival, direct. I hope it is in good order. I did not open it for show in Geelong, as there would be less risk of breakage on repacking. With kind remembrances.

I am
Yours Faithfully
Geo. M. Hitchcock.

A Mr G. F. B. Sharick who is living near my home called in to see my model – he said he knew FM [Fred Martell] and was lately at Ballarat