E. H. L. Swifte
From Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project
- DEATH OF MR JAMES VALLINS
- A FAMILIAR FIGURE REMOVED.
- Another of the pioneers of Ballarat has been removed in the person of James Vallins, who died at his residence in Ballarat North on Saturday night, after a long and painful illness. By his death Ballarat loses one of the most familiar connecting links with the past. Indeed, it may be said that there were very few of the men of 50 years ago who were better known to all classes than, was Mr Vallins. The fact that he had for a quarter of a century been valuer to the City Council accounted to a great extent for this; but apart from that he had so closely identified himself with the growth and progress of Ballarat that all generations of the inhabitants were acquainted with him. The late Mr Vallins was bom in Berkshire, England, in 1831, and was, therefore, 73 years of age at the time of his death. He was the son of a clergyman, and at an early age evinced such a strong predilection for the sea that after many attempts on the part of his parents to dissuade him, he was appren ticed to a sailing vessel, and made many voyages. In 1854 he arrived at Geelong in the clipper ship The Banker’s Daughter, and shortly afterwards came to Ballarat. After a period spent in mining, during which he worked for some time in the Old Koh-i-noor mine, Mr Vallins entered into contracting, and with Messrs J. Quayle and Blaikie, formed a firm which carried out many big works in the early days. The firm built the railway from Ararat to Buangor, which was recognised as one of the toughest railway jobs of its time. The contract price was 40,000 pounds per mile, and though the line was only a shorrt.one, the work was exceedingly heavy, there being many deep cuttings and steep embankments. The firm also carried out the building of the walls of the Caledonian and Yarrowee Channels, when that work was undertaken in order to cope with, the sludge difficulty. Other large contracts were undertaken successfully by the firm. It may be stated that in the railway contract mentioned above Mr J. W. Graham, the veteran secretary of the Old Colonists' Association, was the firm's timber foreman. Mr Quayle is now the only survivor of the firm. Mr Vallins took a keen interest in the young and rising city, and every movement for its benefit had in him a keen and practical supporter. He was one of the founders of the City Free Library, and prior to his death was, with Mr Graham and Mr E.H.L. Swifte, only survivors of the originators of that institution. For close upon 40 years he acted as committeeman and librarian, and his excellent discrimination in the choice of literature and sym pathy with the tastes of the subscribers made him a most valuable officer. He was also one of tho earliest members of the Old Colonists’ Association, and was a trustee of that institution. He was a keen political student, and in the old days of the stormier history of Victorian politics was a familiar figure. In later years Mr Vallins essayed to enter Parliament. but was unsuccessful. He was a prolific writer on political matters, and. indeed, on almost every question of pub lic interest, and was looked upon as an authority on the art of self-defence. He had for many years written on boxing, under the nom do plume of “Pioneer.' in the “Sporting World.” He was also until a couple of years ago a member of the City Board of Advice, and, indeed, was always a keen advocate of the broad-er education of children. He possessed an innate sympathy with young people and their aims and aspirations, and was always particularly happy when in their company. In the earlier days of the South street competitions, of which he was a committeeman, he coached many successful competitors in elocution, an art in which he was much interested. The South street committee had from the earliest days of its competitions always had the benefit of his knowledge and ex perience, and the elocutionary, and oratorical portion of the competitions were alwavs a delight to him. He threw his whole heart into the development of the City Free Library, and it was owing in a great measure to his energy that that institution has reached its present high standard. He was, up to his last illness a votary of Ihe cycle as a means of locomotion, and one of the most familiar sights on the street was the figure of the veteran placidly riding the tricycle to and from his office. Although the late Mr Vallins took a keen interest in public matters in the City he never sought municipal honors, though several times approached on the question. The deceased gentleman leave a widow, two daughters, and a step-daughter to mourn their loss. One of the daughters is married to Mr G. Peverill of the Lands Department; another is Mrs A.E. Knight, wife of Mr Knight, school teacher of Barry’s Reef; and the third is Mrs J. Robins of St. Arnaud. On the news of his death becoming known yesterday morning flags were hoisted at half-mast on the City Hall, the City Public Library, and the Old Colonists' Association, and very general regret was expressed throughout both City and Town. It may be stated that the bellringers in the City Hall yesterday refrained from the usual ringing of chimes and confined themselves to the playing of a few well-known hymns.
- ↑ http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~carrick/Ballarat%20a%20to%20b.html accessed 15 March 2013.
- ↑ Ballarat Star, 18 July 1904.
--Beth Kicinski 12:57, 24 March 2015 (AEDT)