Oh NO!, I hear you cry. "I thought the Elections were finally over!"
No such luck, as this week we are looking at the timely topic of Early Elections in Tamworth. My apologies!
It wasn't until 1842, when there had been a European presence of around a decade in the Tamworth area, that the English Parliament granted Australia the right to elect some of its own representatives.
Previously the Governor had made all appointments.
The term "fighting an election" was well and truly realised when the first major election was held in the County of Cumberland Sydney area in 1845.
Rival supporters of the two candidates, Fitzgerald and Bowman, engaged in a very nasty conflict on polling day. Around 200 palings were torn of the Courthouse polling-place fence to use as weapons, rocks were thrown, opposition houses were attacked and residents terrorised.
The conflict went on for some hours before police arrived from Parramatta to restore law and order.
Things were perhaps a little more civil when, 14 years later in 1859, the first election involving a wide area around Tamworth took place.
Voting was non-compulsory and restricted to males over the age of 21.
With AA Company Superintendent Philip Gidley King appointed as Returning Officer, candidates had to nominate in public at the local Courthouse on the corner of Ebsworth and Gipps Street.
The two candidates nominating were F.T.Rusden and Andrew Loder, the latter hailing from Colly Creek near Quirindi.
Rusden was first to nominate in front of the public assembly at the Courthouse, leading to an outbreak of boos, hisses and catcalls from Loder supporters, with a threat to call police ensuing from the disturbance.
Anyone was free to speak in support of their candidate.
Following this a vote was taken through a separation of supporters leading to a count, eventually won by Loder.
However, Rusden then had the right to challenge the result by initiating a wider local polling day.
On the July 5, 1859 polling day, under huge banners with band accompaniment, both groups of supporters paraded around Tamworth.
As described by the local newspaper the Tamworth Examiner - "supporters of Mr Loder marched through the streets, cheering at all the houses favourable to that gentleman and hooting at all those opposed to him.
Mr Rusden's supporters were not far behind, cheering and hooting a la Loder's supporters."
At the completion of the 9 to 4 voting hours, Returning Officer P.G.King announced that Loder had won.
Of the 1400 eligible electors on the roll, only 531 voted, with Andrew Loder gaining 380 votes to Rusden 151.
- Stepping back in Times: Tamworth's early newspapers
- Not so likely now, but Tamworth has had its fair share of big floods
- Tamworth's early, mainly wooden, buildings were prone to going up in smoke
- Take a trip down memory lane - Our beloved peel Street
- Stepping back in Times: When posties were on bikes of the pedal-power kind
Quoting the Examiner - "Mr Loder was then put in a chair and carried around the town, headed by a band and banners, one of which was the prettiest we have ever seen and bore the inscription 'Loder for ever' " Interestingly, Loder remained in the office for only 9 months before resigning, soon becoming disillusioned with parliamentary culture and procedures.
Could this happen to our elected candidate from last Saturday?
By 1876 Tamworth had a population of around 3 000, sufficient to form a Borough Council, leading to our first local government elections.
A remarkable 33 candidates nominated, still a record to this day, the next best being 25 candidates in 1965.
The election resulted in 8 Councillors - Henry Lye, Abraham Cohen, Edward Lewis, William Dowel, Philip Gidley King, Joseph Chaffey, John Denning and Daniel Regan.
That's 8 Councillors representing 3 000 people - today we have 9 Councillors representing 50 000 people!
AA company Superintendent Philip Gidley King was then elected as our first Mayor, going on to serve 5 consecutive terms.
Then living 14 miles from town at the AA Co. headquarters at Goonoo Goonoo Station, his other (1875) house at what is now Calala Cottage Museum was a very handy addition to conduct his mayoralship.
Come 1913 there was an interesting 3-way election contest for the seat of Tamworth in the State Legislative Assembly.
The candidates were Harry Levien, Jack Lord and Frank Chaffey. Candidate speeches were given from the balcony of the Post Office Hotel in Peel Street.
Levien's speech went on for nearly 3 hours and he was the first eliminated in the vote. (How could anyone speak that long - those that know me - don't answer!)
A big crowd had gathered in Peel Street listening to the speeches, with Lord's supporters in the majority.
Lord was expected to win but Chaffey scored a surprise upset.
On coming downstairs from the hotel balcony, Chaffey had to flee up Peel Street, pursued by irate Loyd supporters, luckily gaining sanctuary in the Caledonian Hotel where Coles is now located.
This sort of makes our recent egg-attacks look rather mild by comparison, but don't get me started on party politics!
We all look forward to our next election!