Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Who founded Seaspray?

A delightful controversy ignited in the pages of The Gippsland Times in February and March 1921 over the question as to who founded Prospect (Seaspray) on the Ninety Mile Beach, where for many years Uncle David Borthwick had his farm. Satisfactorily, the answer appears to be great-great-grandfather William Pearson of Kilmany Park, among several other gentlemen including his crony and brother-in-law Lemuel Bolden of Strathfieldsaye. In a letter to the editor (“Who Founded Seaspray?” Thursday, March 3, 1921, p. 3) an anonymous correspondent set the record straight: “Sir,—Fifty years ago [c. 1871] Mr. W. F. Foster, our then Police Magistrate, the original Mr. Wm. Pearson, of Kilmany, Mr. L[emuel]. Bolden [his brother-in-law], of the Aurora Flour Mills, with their wives and children, and their nurses, and numerous other people, were in the habit of camping for weeks in the summer in tilted wagons, tents, &c., on the beach at Prospect, which has recently been called Seaspray. It was realized from the first that the place would always be a valuable seaside resort in summer, not only for Sale, but for all the surrounding districts; the one great drawback was the difficulty in getting there in the absence of anything like a passable road leading to it. And Mr. [James] McLachlan is fully entitled to the gratitude of the whole community for his unselfishness and untiring exertions for many years in providing a road for the benefit of the public; and if he were presented with a comfortable residence at Seaspray he would not be overpaid for the trouble he has taken for a long time past to provide that place with its first and most essential need. Many old residents were flabbergasted on reading Cr. A. G. Futcher’s letter in Monday’s ‘Times,’ [February 28] to find that gentleman claiming to be the founder of Seaspray! He says: ‘Twenty years ago, when I founded Seaspray—’ Really his modesty is delightful! Cr. A. G. Futcher has always been known to look after No. 1, and he has done very well. But honour to whom honour is due; and old residents know that Seaspray would be what it is today if Cr. A. G. Futcher had never existed. But Seaspray would have been many years behind what it is today if Mr. McLachlan had not given his services without any remuneration. And while some are striving to have a part of Seaspray cut up and sold, which would offer a safe speculation in which to invest their capital, let us at least be fair to Mr. McLachlan, and give him, and not Cr. Futcher, the credit for making Seaspray what it is.— Yours, &c., A 50 YEARS AGO CAMPAIGNER.”

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