Townsite that failed to materialise
query about the convict depot at Port Gregory and the townsite of Lynton, on the coast north of Geraldton, was submitted to the State Archivist (Miss M. F. Lukis) who has replied as follows:
It seems a bit difficult to get any very exact information about the Port Gregory Convict Depot. The following is the best I can do:
(1) The Port Gregory Hiring Sta- tion was opened in 1853. Negotia- tions between the Geraldine Mining Co. and the Government were in progress in September of the pre- vious year, but agreement could not be reached at first on the subject of the cost of transport, etc. In- structions were finally -issued for a party of 40 men to proceed to Port Gregory in December, 1852, but these were cancelled almost immediately on the receipt of a letter from the Comptroller-General for Convicts, in which he complained of the shortage of men to fulfil the demands being made upon him, and the difficulty of assembling such a large group at that time. The Report of the Comp-
troller-General for Convicts for the half-year ending June 30, 1853, states: "A depot was formed at Port Gregory on the arrival of the Pyre- nees, and will be of great service in assisting the development of the mineral and other resources of the district." The ship Pyrenees arrived at Fremantle on May 1, 1853, and the party was taken to Port Gregory by the Leander, arriving there on May 22, 1853. ,
(2) With regard to the erection of the gaol and quarters I can give no definite dates. A letter from the Comptroller-General, dated April 6, 1853, says . . . "no preparations have been made for the housing of the men except providing tents." He mentions the lack of suitable wood for permanent buildings but refers to the limestone in the vicinity, and rushes suitable for thatching. On Dec. 9, 1854, the Comptroller-Gen- eral issued a long report on the Port Gregory Station after a visit he had just paid to the Champion Bay district.
What Happened in 1857
IN this he states: "Of the Depot as
at present existing the only build- ings are one cottage of two rooms one room occupied by the officer in charge and one by the non-commis- sioned officer in charge - and a building containing four rooms, one used as a Commissariat Store, one as a Commissariat office, one as a depot office and store, and one un- finished, having no roof. The men live in a tent and another tent is used as a hospital."
The convicts were withdrawn from Port Gregory and transferred with the officer in charge to Champion Bay in 1857. Although this is not specifically stated this transfer seems to have been due to the growing importance of the town of Gerald- ton, and the need for public works in this district.
The townsite of Lynton was pro- claimed open for the purchase of building lots on March 1, 1854. As, however, the mines did not continue to flourish for long, and Champion Bay became more and more the main centre for the district, the town of Lynton failed to grow.
I should recommend your inquirer, if he is interested, to get a copy of the Journal of the W.A. Historical Society, Vol. 2, Part 16, published in 1934. In this there is a short article on Port Gregory and Lynton, by the Rev. H. R. Trenaman, which con- tains some interesting information. Copies of this particular number of the journal can be still obtained from the secretary.