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as written for 1965 celebrations

Gawler Blocks is situated on the Gawler Plains, 24 miles north of Adelaide, it was originally owned by a Mr John Riggs, in two sections of 630 acres.

A move to establish Gawler Blocks began with a meeting in Gawler on May 28th, 1890, which formed a branch of the 'Home-stead League'.

On 24th June 1891, the league received word that the Government had purchased the 630 acres as requested by the branch for working men's blocks.

On June 21st, 1892, the Blocks were allotted in various acreages, with a maximum of 20 acres.

These blocks were intended as a means of a little extra income to the workingman by producing milk, butter, eggs etc. This no doubt was of some importance when a labourers wage was not more than 25/- per week. No sick pay, no paid holidays, and quite a lot of unemployment, due to seasonal conditions.

The majority of the early settlers worked in Gawler in two large foundries, owned by James Martin and May Bros, which employed the better part of a thousand men.

The original Riggs home being the house which Mr Arnold Brereton occupied until recently.
The first houses were somewhat primitive, some being built of clay and straw. The first move to establish any community life was made about 1905, when residents decided a church and Sunday school was needed for the rapidly growing number of young folk. An approach was made to the Presbyterian Church in Gawler who started services in a barn on Mr Sam Hillier's property.

Mr Jabez Hillier gave a ¼ acre of land for a church to be built, and on July 1907 the foundation stone of the Gawler blocks church was laid. Some of the original settlers were, Matz, Forby, Wiese, O'Toole, Turner, Emerson, Lucas, Rusby, Mr Tom Butler, although not an original settler, but an early one, was one of the main movers in the building of the church. He still lives in Gawler and is over 90 years of age.

Our local Member of Parliament Mr J.S. Clark moved to Gawler Blocks in 1914 and resided there for a number of years in his early youth. The Education Department then rented the Church for use as a day school.
School opened on 20th January 1908, first teacher being Miss Timms. Before that children walked a distance of 3 ¼ miles over the river to Loos School. In 1923 the education department built the present school, which has since been extended by the addition of two extra classrooms.

In 1945 the Gawler Blocks Progress Association was formed, which has done much for the benefit of the district. One of the Association's first moves was for the installation of Electricity through the district.

In March 1946 the Memorial Hall was built, the land for this was given by Mr M.C. Hillier, and has proved a great boom for social gatherings and meetings of the various organizations of the district. A postal and telegraph service was started in the late twenties in a private dwelling on a two-day a week basis, later becoming a daily service.

Over the years with the closing down of Gawler's two foundries in the 1930's, there has been a trend of more people making a living from their blocks. There are several poultry farms and hatcheries and with under-ground water readily available for irrigation there is a fair amount of dairying, vegetable and tomato growing, and several almond orchards.

Sport is well catered for with tennis, basketball and cricket clubs.

In 1951 the women's Agricultural Bureau was formed, with the first President being Mrs O'Toole who now is our Regional Councilor. Our Bureau has been the means of bringing the ladies of the district together, and has given us many happy and profitable hours of pleasure.


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