Tragic death leads to charity

James Lerk | Bendigo Weekly | 14-Aug-2015

FOR A GOOD CAUSE: Walter Henry Bradley as a Prima Donna.

Among the many different personalities associated with the Sandhurst Ethiopian Serenaders was a man whose father, William Bradley, had a watch-making and jewellery business in Pall Mall.

William Bradley’s shop was next to Temple Court, located in the block between Williamson and Bull streets. 

William Bradley’s business was highly respected and well patronised by the public, by 1913 he was celebrating his 90th birthday, quite an achievement at that time. 

William’s son, Walter Henry Bradley joined his father in the business and the firm became known as Wm Bradley and son.

By 1873 William Bradley had moved his business to what was then an even more strategic location, 7 Pall Mall, this being only two doors from the then famous Beehive Stores. 

The Beehive also had within its walls the local stock exchange, which attracted huge crowds of share speculators. There was also a branch of the Bradley business at his first location in High Street.

Walter H Bradley was acknowledged as being part of the business in the 1880s as from that time onward the advertising stated Wm Bradley and son. By 1890 however, advertising read “Repairs to watches, clocks, jewellery, gilding, electric plating, engraving, Beehive Watch and Jewellery Company, Jewellery made to order, W H Bradley manager, late W Bradley and son”.

Walter H Bradley was also an active member of the Sandhurst Ethiopian Serenaders which as mentioned previously started in 1878. 

One of the many charitable causes for which the Serenaders performed was for a widow, Margaret Robbins, and her five children. The concert being held in March 1883 at the Masonic Hall in View Street, now known as the Capital.

Margaret Robbins lived at Allingham Street in Golden Square, her late husband William Henry Robbins had worked at the New Chum Consolidated Mine. 

This mine was located on the New Chum Reef some 300 metres south from the gates of Fortuna. It was at this mine where Mr Robbins had an accident that led to his death some 28 months before the mentioned concert.

Mr Robbins had been working in the mine some 200 metres underground, he was extracting quartz from a reef, the void created became a large stope. 

Mr Robbins struck a large piece of quartz in order to break it up so it could then be loaded into the ore truck and hauled to the surface for crushing in the mine’s 30-head battery. 

A small, exceptionally sharp piece of the quartz flew off the block and lodged in the soft of William Robbins’ neck.

Only a small wound could be seen on the surface, it was dressed by Dr Eadie to stem the blood flow. Well bandaged, Mr Robbins then walked home. Later that same evening he passed away, at the subsequent inquest it was found that the quartz sliver had cut through some major blood vessels and the internal bleeding was the cause of death some six hours after the accident.

Even though upon the passing of her husband Margaret Robbins received £40 in compensation, by the time she had paid for the funeral there was only a small amount left. 

The five children were all under the age of 10, so the remaining compensation money did not last long. Mrs Robbins became destitute in every sense of the word.

There was a large billing for the charitable concert held in early March 1883 to raise money for the Robbins family. 

However, the organisers of the concert were somewhat disappointed that not all the artists who had promised their services showed up. 

As a result those that were present to display their talents were called upon to perform extra numbers in order to fill the gaps in the program. 

Walter Henry Bradley and other Ethiopian Serenaders also responded to render further items to patch
over the holes left by the missing artistes. 

One of Bradley’s roles was as a female character and here you can see the results of his cross-dressing.


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