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Snippets 22 February 2006
What a shock to arrive back in the Ridge to discover that the Tram-o-tel was no more! This institution is in the Lonely Planet, Guide to the Universe and has been a popular destination since the 1960s. How could you forget staying in the St Kilda tram at Lightning Ridge?

Late last year, the front Bondi tram was repainted and mostly enclosed to create a reception and shop space. It was hardly recognisable except that the sign writer had fun creating colourful characters hanging out of the windows and the conductor at one end. He then splashed ‘Chasin’ the Tram’ and ‘Welcome Aboard’ across the front – it didn’t click that this was the new name of the place!

We knew that plans were afoot to improve the accommodation – word had it that the three trams at the back would be removed – but nothing prepared us for the huge, empty space! By Easter, there were two self-contained cabins lined up, and it is proposed that say, 12 more will be on site by year’s end. Nothing for backpackers now!

So much for the Lonely Planet’s prestige and the flavour of early Lightning Ridge!

Barbara Moritz, Secretary
17 May 2006 05:42pm
15 February 2006
After four months away from Lightning Ridge, Yours Truly was informed that the Ridge News had decided to publish a different style of Snippets, eg. an old photo with commentary. After two months, it is clear that there is rarely room to fit this into the weekly news, and besides, not an option to announce recent achievements.

Therefore, Snippets will resume on the web page to bring interested persons up-to-date with recent happenings, and there have been several.

Barbara Moritz
10 May 2006 03:31pm
Snippets 8 February 2006

Before 1916, the Angledool Police kept tabs on the Wallangulla Opal Fields. Court was held and Miners Rights and Dog Registrations were issued in that once busy pastoral village north of what is today the town of Lightning Ridge.

However, after about 1914, matters could be dealt with locally in a portion of the residence of the late Max and Edna Fuller, Morilla Street. In 1915, Tom Urwin built a rather grand Federation building alongside that was leased to the police from 1916 until 1944 when it reverted to a family residence.

Urwin's grandson, Gan Bruce, calls it home in 2005. Constable Mather was first back after the WWII closure when he transferred from Angledool. The second police station opened in 1961 and serves as today’s Courthouse.

In 1968, Constable McEvoy arrived and by 1975, three policemen were in attendance. Walgett had 17 policemen by 1980. The current police station was built in 1983 and a fourth constable joined the force with its occupation in 1984. The official opening was in 1985.

Two more constables were added in 1988, and in 1998, Lightning Ridge had 11 on-board to serve our busy community. Walgett had 27 policemen. In 2005, the Ridge force hovers around a dozen. Walgett’s force has increased.

Barbara Moritz, Secretary

26 March 2006 09:48pm
Snippets 1 February 2006

In spite of local opinions as recorded in 1906, the Imperial Hotel opened December 1st, 1909 in the New Town. It was owned by Tooth’s Brewery and Richard Legge, whose brother, Herbert, managed the business. August Renisch, a former employee, took the lease in late 1910 until 1917. Watty Vause held the lease briefly until Tom Judge found opal in 1918.

During this period, most miners lived out on the fields either on claims or in their respective settlements, i.e. Old Town at the base of Sims Hill or at Nettleton on 3-Mile flat. No doubt the new hotel had a slow start due to competition with sly grog. Max Meyers leased the Imperial circa 1921 when Judge took over the Commercial in Hebel. Dave Jacobs, his brother-in-law assisted. When the hotel went up in smoke in 1927, Legge wouldn’t rebuild so C E Thomas tried to move the liquor license to Walgett.

The licensing board met and even the local constable spoke against such action. Eventually, Thomas rebuilt the hotel on the same site. The Ridge was a great sports centre in those days. As many as 600 vehicles gathered on weekends, not to mention the thirst of the opal miners! The name was changed to the Diggers Rest in about 1963.

Barbara Moritz, Secretary
26 March 2006 09:46pm
Snippets 25 January 2006

From the Walgett Spectator: 25 August 1906: "The miners working at Lightning Ridge are unfavourable to the granting of liquor licenses. They consider the liquor traffic will seriously interfere with the social life on the field and is objectionable in many other ways.

" From the Walgett Spectator: 28 August 1906: "Lightning Ridge owes its development largely to the absence of hotels, which always serve as tripping stones to those who, though addicted to strong drink, are often hard-working, honest men with the best intentions, whilst the hotel brings with it all manner of sharpers, loafers, etc. In the absence of hotels, provision will readily be made for those who require board and lodging."

Barbara Moritz, Secretary

26 March 2006 09:45pm