Faces of Tamworth: Munro’s Mill owner Donald Munro

Munro's Mill. Photo: Tamworth Historical Society
Munro's Mill. Photo: Tamworth Historical Society

In about the middle of 1863, Donald Munro of “Keera” station at Bingara decided to build a home in Tamworth with the idea that his wife could later live there while their children attended the Tamworth National School.

He bought a small parcel of land on the site of what was later the Swan Street Sewerage Treatment Works, according to A Chronological History of Tamworth.

The road to Manilla ran alongside it and the Gunnedah Road forded the river a little down stream from it.

William Dowel was engaged to build the home which Munro named  “Ardullie” out of deference to the seat of the Clan Munro in Scotland.

“Ardullie” was a picturesque brick, shingle-roofed cottage standing on a slightly elevated plain overlooking the river.

Subsequent additions made it look like two cottages.

It followed the European fashion of a high-pitched roof to shed the snow and had very thick mortar between its bricks.

In later years, the flat ground between the house and the river, stretching back towards Tamworth, became a favourite picnic spot.

To the old hands, the portion of Marius Street between Peel Street and the River was always known as “Ardullie Lane”.

Donald Munro’s untimely death in 1869 from ptomaine poisoning set at nought his family plans for “Ardullie”.

MUNRO’S FLOUR MILL

Following the closure of Armstrong’s Mill, Donald Munro decided, as a speculative venture, to erect one that was large enough to meet Tamworth’s needs.

Accordingly, he bought 0.4 hectares of land bounded by Peel and Bligh Streets and the river, a part of what had been David Cohen’s and John Gill’s coaching yards.

The Foundation Stone was laid by Solicitor William Smith on 25 November 1863 and the contractor, William S. Dowel (M-27), had the building completed by February 1864.

Built of brick with walls 45 to 50 centimetres thick and concreted over, it contained at least twenty beams, six metres long and 38 centimetres square. All bolts and nails were hand made.

The building was three storeys high and over each window and doorway was an arch with a keystone let into it.

Remains of some of the mill’s old machinery, such as cog wheels, bear the inscription “D. Sim & Sons, Makers, Morpeth”.

During negotiations to build both “Ardullie” and the mill, Donald Munro travelled cross-country on horseback between “Keera” station and Tamworth.

In 1865, the mill was leased by William Cohen, who later bought it.

He engaged Frederick D. Sawkins as his flourmiller.

Until the early 1960s, it was still possible to read in faint lettering on the front of the building, “William Cohen & Co.”

- Information sourced from A Chronological History of Tamworth

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