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Yorkes Peninsula advertiser
Title : Yorkes Peninsula advertiser Yorkes Peninsula advertiser
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Source : Yorkes Peninsula advertiser and miners' and farmers' journal, 19 June 1877, p. 1
Date of creation : 1877
Additional Creator : Derrington, E. H. (Edwin Henry), 1830-1899
Format : Newspaper
Dimensions : 560 x 445 mm
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In 1872 the Yorkes Peninsula advertiser joined the older Kadina and Wallaroo times as an important district newspaper, providing the Yorke Peninsula, and specifically the town of Moonta with its own news reporting twice weekly. Within two years the newspaper had a circulation of 2,500 copies. (21 April 1874, p. 2) It was founded by an experienced newspaper man, Edward Derrington. Early in the Advertiser's history it printed a broad attack on all South Australian politicians. This caused a Parliamentary debate, with the local MP labelling the newspaper "utter and pointless rubbish." (Hansard, 28 June 1877, p. 170) The newspaper contains some interesting commentaries on early unionism in South Australia, through the rise and fall of the Wallaroo and Moonta copper mines.

Geographical coverage The Advertiser principally covered Moonta news, although Kadina and Wallaroo were often included. For a period from the late 1870s, forty country correspondents were contributing news items from various settlements and districts. The editor complained in 1878 that some of these, "have surely forgotten their vocation." (28 May 1878, p. 2) This proliferation of country news reports had dropped off by the mid 1880s. From 1879 regular columns describing news and opinions from the Moonta 'suburbs' of Jericho, Cross Roads and Moonta Mines appeared for a time.

Politics Apart from attacking the members of parliament in 1877, the newspaper did not take a particularly strong political stance at any time during its history, certainly in comparison to the outspokeness of early years of the neighbouring Wallaroo times. Issues of the day such as the planning of the 1875 Education Bill which made education compulsory in South Australia, were discussed. The Advertiser suggested that for local people compulsory education would lower the earning capacity for families. (14 January 1873, p. 2) The editor hoped the Bill would include compulsory Bible reading in schools. (16 September 1873, p. 2) In 1876 there was discussion about confusion over the expected salaries for teachers. (18 January 1876, p. 2)

The attack on politicians in June 1877 was unrestrained, with descriptions of just two individuals for example, as " a sucking land shark," and a "slimey pig salesman." (19 June 1877, p. 2) The Farmers' weekly messenger at Kapunda, which was owned by one of the politicians described, Ebenezer Ward, deplored the so-called humour. Ward was frequently ridiculed and abused, not only by the Advertiser, but by many other country newspapers, probably due to his outspokeness as well as his scandalous private life. The Advertiser responded by saying they had written the article in Mr Ward's own 'low' style.

The first issue of the Advertiser stated its intention of providing a forum for discussion via letters to the editor. The people of Moonta rose to the occasion and filled many columns in the first years of the newspaper, often abusing one another in the process. Writers such as 'Junius' and 'Nemo,' as well as others using their real names, wrote on a variety of issues. A writer signing as 'Post Office Stump' began writing elaborate letters in September 1874.

The issue under discussion, in the aftermath of the 'Great Strike' of April that year, was arbitration versus union membership and strike action. The Advertiser was against strikes and had mixed feelings about union membership. An article advocating arbitration sparked a debate in its letters column in August/September 1874. 'Post Office Stump' took up the same stance as the newspaper, which brought accusations that Derrington was the author of the letters. The Stump letters also referred unflatteringly to John Prisk, who Derrington hated with a passion. 'Post Office stump' re-surfaced in 1880 with an obscure letter describing a character named 'Toryblade' and the activities of a beehive, possibly referring to a local MP or candidate. (2 March 1880, p. 3) This once again brought puzzled and accusatory letters in response, for months afterwards.

The newspaper at times took a high moral tone, editor William Richards was a preacher in the Wesleyan Church and brought his religion to the pages of the Advertiser. When Charles Cameron Kingston, MP for West Adelaide, was cited in a divorce case, the Advertiser hoped the electors would decide that, "a man convicted of such moral iniquity is no longer fit to be amongst the law-makers and senators of the country." (30 March 1886, p. 2) However, Kingston was returned and later went on to become premier, and to sit in Federal Parliament.

Under the editorship of William Wilkinson, the Advertiser supported the newly formed Labor Party. In 1893 Wilkinson wrote,

One thing we are much pleased at is that none of the labor representatives have disgraced their party or their constituents by appearing in the House in a state of intoxication, as some other members have done, nor have they been obliged to remain away from their duties for a fortnight at a time while on the booze. (3 February 1893, p. 2)

Like the other Yorke Peninsula newspapers, the Advertiser was strongly in favour of women receiving the right to vote. (1 February 1895, p. 2)

Conscription issues during the First World War brought heated debate in country areas, however, while its neighbour, the Plain dealer, fought long and hard for this, the Advertiser chose to remain largely neutral during the debate. Figures for local voting at the October 1916 referendum showed that, in the copper triangle towns, the 'no' vote was almost double the 'yes' in each of the three major centres. (3 November 1916, p. 3)

Mining Mining was the main reason for the town's existence, and regular mining reports appeared in the newspaper throughout its publication. In April 1874 it reported on the famous 'Great strike.' A two-page supplement attached to the issue of 10 August 1875 gave a detailed history of local mining and the individual mines, as well as a description of the town and of Captain Hancock's mining inventions.

Apart from union issues and the major strikes in 1874 and 1891, the stream of accidents and deaths in the mines were reported in detail. Even social and recreational activities were frequently connected to the mines, as the mining company provided the workers with facilities including sporting venues, parks, a library and meeting facilities. The world demand for copper - or otherwise - set the scene for much of what took place in the district. In 1912 the world prices had fallen and the directors had to face the possibilty of closure. This brought public meetings and deputations, but was temporarily staved off. (27 September 1912, p. 3) However the advent of the war in 1914 did cause the mines to stop work, as the German markets closed, with 1,640 local jobs affected. (7 August 1914, p. 3) Again this was only temporary, as the demand created by the war from 1914 to 1918 saw the period of greatest productivity in the history of the Wallaroo and Moonta Mining Company.

After the war the demand for copper fell quickly and drastically. In early 1919 700 men were out of work, and another 100 had gone to Adelaide looking for work. (21 March 1919, p. 3) Eventually the mines closed in 1923, amid much union activity - all fully reported in the Advertiser.

Unions and strikes The 'Great Strike' by miners of Wallaroo and Moonta in April 1874 received detailed coverage. Two thousand miners stood down over pay cuts, and did not go back until the old pay levels were promised for two months as a preamble to further discussion. A four page supplement was printed with a detailed 'history of the strike.' (21 April 1874) The aftermath of the strike saw the formation of the fledgling miners' union. The Advertiser had mixed feelings about the union and its officials. John Prisk, the general secretary of the union, was clearly disliked by Derrington of the Advertiser.

The Farmers' weekly messenger criticised the running battle that Derrington held with John Prisk in the pages of his newspaper. "Could not the Yorke's Peninsula Advertiser give its subscribers some little useful reading to counterbalance all this personal rubbish?" (Farmers' weekly messenger, 7 April 1876, p. 9) When Prisk stated publicly that the Advertiser was, "the greatest enemy of the working men in this locality," the newspaper published a tirade against him. (28 March 1876, p. 2) This brought a flurry of letters defending the union leader.

Other miners' disputes took place over the years. In 1889, the world copper price was low and wages had to be cut. (7 June 1889, p. 3 and 14 June 1889, p. 3) The longest strike occurred from October 1891 until April 1892. (2 October 1891, p. 2-3; 24 December 1891, p. 3 and 1 April 1892, p. 3) The editor of the Advertiser took the opportunity to remind his readers that he had already told them publicly, "that the day had gone by when the labor perty would gain anything by strikes ... Hundreds of men now can see that we were right." (3 February 1893, p. 2)

When demand for copper fell after the First World War, the mining company attempted to keep operations going by again offering pay cuts. By this time the Wallaroo and Moonta miners were part of the Australian Workers' Union, who refused to agree. All the local newspapers reported the ongoing negotiations and rulings, all leading steadily to the end of an era. The Advertiser made use of a newer style of headlines, reporting, 'The local mines: Union proposals cannot be entertained,' (21 January 1921, p. 2), 'The Peninsula mines: directors' offer to the men,' (13 May 1921, p. 2) and 'The local mines: resumption of work improbable.' (27 May 1921, p. 2) The mines closed in 1923.

Social welfare issues There were many deaths in accidents at the mines, and through this and other causes, many instances of poverty in the nineteenth century, despite membership of life assurance groups such as the local Oddfellows, and the support provided by the mining company. There was consternation and indignation in the 1870s about the seeming inability of the government's Destitute Board through its Wallaroo agent, AJ Edmunds, to provide the degree of support felt necessary. In 1874 the Advertiser reported that there were currently 21 widows in need of assistance, 11 deserted families and 129 children. (21 August 1874, p. 2) A local writer, J. Martin, wrote in rhyme about the plight of the district's poor in 1877. (8 June 1877, p. 3) In response to a statement from the Board that a deserted wife with six children aged 12 and under was "well able ... to obtain a living," Joseph Dixon of the Moonta Mines Benevolent Committee wrote,

Pity there is not a female member on your board to show you what the care of six children ... involves, and a greater pity you have not some humane advisers in this district to show you how very nearly impossible it is for women to get work here. (19 June 1877, p. 3)

There was a similar reluctance on the part of the local Board representative in 1887 when a miner named John Roberts at Cross Roads lost his wife in childbirth, followed by the death of the baby. Roberts had already undertaken to pay the undertaker for his wife's burial in instalments, and now could not afford to have the child buried at all. (29 April 1887, p. 2)

The issue of 'Morals' caused much debate in 1914, both at town Council meetings, and in editorials and letters in the newspaper. (13 February 1914, p. 3, and 20 February 1914, p. 3) This was forgotten in the declaration of war in August 1914.

Religion In 1872 the Advertiser recorded, "in no community have we ever seen greater attention paid to religious observances than by the residents in the mining townships of Yorke's Peninsula." (18 October 1872, p. 2) The Cornish were proud of their strong historic associations with Wesleyan Methodism, and replicated larger versions of their chapels on the soil of Australia, funded by the local mineral wealth. Again the pages of the Advertiser reflect this strong community religious focus, with the various activities of the churches regularly reported.

In 1880 the famous English evangelist and temperance advocate, Matthew Burnett, made his first visit to Moonta. The Advertiser was not entirely convinced by Burnett's preaching, and took delight in describing how a procession connected with the visit, was heard singing "See the mighty host advancing, Satan leading on." (19 October 1880, p. 3) Burnett returned to the district in August 1881.

The quarterly meeting of the Moonta Mines Wesleyan Church in 1882 deplored the lateness of the hours of closing of Moonta shops on Saturday nights, which 'greatly interfered with' church attendances the following morning. (22 December 1882, p. 2)

Scepticism was expressed by Moonta people attending faith healing meetings conducted by Mr JW Wood at Port Adelaide in 1884. (6 May 1884, p. 3) When Wood came to Moonta he claimed 32 were healed at his two meetings, held in the Salvation Army barracks, but the Advertiser could find only one person ready to testify to the healing. (16 May 1884, p. 2) In 1887 Edith O'Gorman, 'known as the escaped nun' gave a talk in the Wesleyan Lecture Hall, Moonta, about the hardships imposed by the Catholic church on nuns and priests. She advised parents not to send their children to catholic schools. (27 May 1887, p. 3)

There was much controversy when the Salvation Army founded groups across the state in the early 1880s, due to their very different approach to religion. In 1884 reference was made to an argument between the editor and the local Army captain, which had resulted in a court case. (29 July 1884, p. 2-3)

Point Pearce mission Various references to the Aboriginal mission at Point Pearce appear in the pages of the newspaper. Reports in 1874 describe the early conditions and attempts to be self-supporting. (25 August 1874, p. 3 and 1 September 1874, p. 2) A memorial was sent to the government expressing concern about the welfare of the Aborigines in 1876. (15 August 1876, p. 3) The English evangelist, Matthew Burnett, visited the mission in 1882. (18 September 1882, p. 2)

Sport Local sport was not such a feature of the Advertiser as it was in the other Peninsula newspapers. The two major sports, football and cricket, are covered from the early years of the newspaper. A report of a planned football match in 1876 lists 87 players by name. (15 August 1876, p. 2) The forming of a cricket association in 1879 was described as "eminently Cornish." (24 Jaunary 1879, p. 3) In 1898 the cycling craze was reflected in articles including a 'Cycling notes' column. A bicycle club was formed at Moonta in 1901. (12 April 1901, p. 3)

These three were the major sports covered by the Advertiser until after the First World War. Other local sports included occasionally were Lacrosse, rifle shooting, tennis, horse racing, coursing, chess and draughts. Euchre made its appearance after the First World War, with teams materialising among members of the Manchester Unity, Druids, Rechabites and Foresters' lodges, as well as the formation of a returned soldiers' team. (20 May 1921, p. 2)

Cornish In recognition of the vast majority of the local population being Cornish, advertisements for the Advertiser claimed that it included, "news from Cornwall in every issue." (12 October 1894, p. 2) Early years contained humourous letters and articles written in dialect, such as 'The adventures of a Zennor party to Corpus Christi Fair.' (22 May 1874, p. 4) However there was not as much of this kind of content as was published in the Plain dealer newspaper at Kadina. In 1895 Charles Wilkinson introduced a 'Cornish news' column. In the twentieth century Cornish news and articles became less frequent, apart from occasional items such as 'Cousin Siah's ideas of marriage.' (2 May 1913, p. 3)

Music Like the other Yorke Peninsula newspapers, the Advertiser reflected the strong musical interests of the local people. From 1906 annual 'musical and elocutionary' competitions were held at Moonta. The fourth of these in 1909 extended over 15 nights with 220 entries. The Advertiser printed long articles detailing the entries and the judges' comments between November and December 1909.

Agriculture From 1900 the Advertiser took a stronger agricultural focus, with advertisements and articles.

Elizabeth Woolcock The trial and death of local woman Elizabeth Woolcock of Cross Roads, Moonta, on a charge of causing the death of her husband by poisoning, was described in full in September and December 1873. Derrington, as the local Justice of the Peace, chaired the initial inquest into Thomas Woolcock's death held in the Woolcocks' home which gave a verdict of death by poison administered by Mrs Woolcock. (9 September 1873, p. 3) There was naturally great interest in the case throughout South Australia, with its revelations of the unhappy marriage, Mrs Woolcock's attempts to obtain Morphia, threats to end her own life, and declaration that she would marry her husband's lodger. Full reports of the case as it took place in Adelaide were published. (5 December 1873, p. 3, and 9 December 1873, p. 3)

The same issue which contained the report of her death and widely published confession, also contained an editorial pointing out the "large weight of ... public sentiment" against capital punishment. "This is clear, that had the jury's recommendation to mercy been met by a reprieve of Mrs Woolcock, no more hangings would have taken place in South Australia." (6 January 1874, p. 2)

Advertising Like most country newspapers, from the 1890s advertisements for local businesses were supplemented with large illustrated advertisements for patent medicines, corsets and pianos. This included Doan's Backache Kidney Pills, with endorsements from local people such as 'Anthony Down of Cross Roads, Moonta.' 24 January 1902, p. 4) In the years before the First World War the newspaper pages were even more full of advertisements, both for these items and for local businesses.

War At the time of the South African (Boer) War, letters from a local man serving with the Army, Sergeant W. Schwann, were published. (2 February 1900, p. 3 and 30 March 1900, p. 3) When Schwann returned to Moonta in December 1900, a crowd of three or four thousand local people welcomed him at the railway station. (7 October 1900, p. 3) In 1902 letters from another local serviceman, Lance-Corporal Wadge, were published. (28 March 1902, p. 3)

The First World War had direct effects on the district. The increased demand for copper saw the most productivity the mines had ever experienced. Later the trickle of enlistments grew to a steady stream. In total 256 local men joined up - 46 were killed. (20 August 1920, p. 1) From 1915 'letters from the front,' containing extracts from letters from the trenches, appeared. Private Richard Shields wrote from Anzac Cove, Private Harry Chappel from Egypt, and Herbert Woods from a Prisoner of War camp in Germany. (3 September 1915, p. 3) When bogus applications for American workers to apply for jobs with the so-called 'Wallaroo, Moonta and Northern Railway Company of Australia' surfaced, the Advertiser, with others, was convinced this was a German plot to prevent Australian men from enlisting. (25 February 1916, p. 3)

On the home front the Moonta branch of the Red Cross swelled to 246 members. Their 1916 annual report list of articles sent to the front headed up with 867 pairs of socks.

The Conscription referendum was not pushed with the intensity of the Plain dealer at Kadina, or put as a matter of individual conscience as the Kadina and Wallaroo times did, but was largely avoided in the columns of the Advertiser. Interestingly in the three towns, the no vote was double the yes vote. (3 November 1916, p. 3) In 1918 a 'War Museum' opened at Wallaroo. The aim was to display photographs of all the boys from the town who had enlisted, labelled simply with the names they were known by, without mention of rank. At the opening, with the assistance of Kadina photographer Henry Pell, over 100 photographs had been gathered and framed in groups. (6 September 1918, p. 3)

There was much celebration when peace was declared, and early Anzac Days were major events. In 1920 there were church services, placing of marble monuments on the graves of two men who had died since returning home, a procession, a football match between returned soldiers and the long-standing 'Moonta Mines Turks' club, and a concert by the Moonta Male Voice Choir in the evening. (30 April 1920, p. 3) Later that year the Soldiers' Memorial, designed by local monumental mason, WI Neill, was unveiled. (3 December 1920, p. 2)

Contributors An early issue contained gardening notes by EB Heyne, the well-known Adelaide nurseryman. (3 December 1872, p. 3) Local man William Shelley contributed his own poems such as 'The neglected wife.' (11 April 1874, p. 4) Anonymous poems such as 'The Penang tea meeting,' were also printed (12 October 1877, supp. p. 1), and a letter in rhyme about the plight of the local poor, by J. Martin. (8 June 1877, p. 3) In 1896 the novelist John Hennessey was writing an 'Agricultural notes for practical men' column for the newspaper. (10 July 1896, p. 3)

Personal notices Like other Yorke Peninsula newspapers, the Advertiser included funeral notices. These were published from as early as 1875. Other personal notices appear on page 2 from 1878. From the early years of the twentieth century, particularly from 1911, quite detailed obituaries of local people were published. These increased during the years of the First World War under the title, 'Demise.' Reports of weddings became more common from this time, and were particularly noticeable as men returned from the war.

Illustrations Lithographic illustrations began appearing in advertisements in 1875. (28 September 1875, p. 1) In 1881 an advertisement for the business of local druggist, WJ Phillips, included a lithograph of his shop. (29 April 1881, p. 1)

Supplements A monthly double-page 'summary' specifically for mailing to relations overseas was a supplement in the first years of the newspaper. By 1877 a 'literary supplement,' a syndicated double page sheet was often included. This continued into the 1880s. From 1890 to 1894 a single-sheet (double-page) 'story supplement' was included.

Children's column The Advertiser printed a children's column for a short time in 1876, entitled, 'Young folks' column.' This contained original puzzles and mathematical problems.

Aeronautics The Beebe Balloon Company gave a hot air balloon demonstration at the Moonta Showgrounds in 1911, sponsored by Viceroy Teas. Unfortunately the balloon broke several telegraph and telephone wires in Ryan Street when it landed ,after the balloonist had made a 'double parachurte' descent in front of the Royal Hotel. (3 March 1911, p. 2) A visit from Messrs Willmott and Gardner in one of their De Haviland biplanes had an even worse result in 1921 when the plane was made 'a total wreck' after the propeller hit a boulder on the cricket oval. Later when it was being dismantled for removal there was an explosion, "and now all that remains is a heap of ashes." (27 May 1921, p. 2) There was a degree of local pride at the 'brilliant career' of former local boy Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Williams who was appointed Flight Commander in the first Australian Flying Corps in 1916, and Director of Air Services after the war. (14 January 1921, p. 3)

Ownership Edward Henry Derrington worked as a newspaper printer in Birminghma before coming to Australia. He worked for the Melbourne Argus before coming to Adelaide to work at the Register. In 1869 he purchased the Mount Gambier standard, which he sold in 1872 to begin his newspaper at Moonta. Staff at the Yorkes Peninsula advertiser included William Sowden, who later rose to be part proprietor and editor of the major city newspaper, the Register. In 1875 Derrington employed a reporter named Harris. (5 January 1875, p. 2-3) In 1876 the newspaper reported that with the advent of gas lighting in Moonta, they were now able to use an 'atmospheric gas engine' to run the printing press. (18 July 1876, p. 2)

Derrington moved to Port Adelaide to directly supervise his other newspaper, the Port Adelaide news, and placed William Richards as editor and general manager of the Advertiser until May 1883, when Richards went to Adelaide to work for the South Australian advertiser. William Henry Wilkinson became editor, and took over ownership of the Yorkes PeninsulaAdvertiser in November 1883. On his death in 1894, Wilkinson's sons, Charles and Henry, took over ownership of the newspaper. In April 1895, William Phillips, the Moonta Town Clerk, took over the Advertiser. At his death in 1914, his son William Downing Phillips, took over, joined by another son, Fred Phillips, when he returned from the war.

The Yorkes Peninsula advertiser ceased without notice with the issue of 28 July 1922. Its competitor, the People's weekly, noted, "We regret to learn that our contemporary, the "Y.P. Advertiser" was unable to appear this week due to unforeseen circumstances." (People's weekly, 5 August 1922, p. 2)

Coverage year : 1877
Place : Moonta (S. Aust.)
Region : Yorke Peninsula
Further reading :

'The late WH Wilkinson,' Yorkes Peninsula advertiser, 25 May 1894, p. 3

'The late Mr W. Richards,' Yorkes Peninsula advertiser, 21 December 1888, p. 3



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