Francis Henry William Thomas Winifred Brownrigg Peter Welsh Thomson Margaret Jean Caldow /Hodsdon Frederick Edward Senior James Roger Francis Wyman Clark Richard Robertson Patricia Mae Mulligan Joachim Dido

Biographical Dictionary - Coorow, Carnamah, Three Springs


Robert Leslie GILBERT

Born 30 April 1876 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia [P266]
Son of Henry Thomas GILBERT and Sarah Ann BROOKS [P266]
Later shifted to Western Australia where he worked as a Civil Servant for the Lands Department of the WA Government [P266]
Married (1) Mary Genevieve TRAPPALD in 1901 in Perth, Western Australia (Div)[15]
In 1903 they were living in Bulwer Street in Perth [P266]
Along with his wife and children left Perth and shifted to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia C.1908 [P266]
     Officer in Charge of the Western Australian Government's Melbourne Agency in Melbourne [34]
     Acted on behalf of the WA Government promoting and responding to inquiries for Government land for sale in WA [34]
     Also acted on behalf of the Midland Railway Company who had large amount of virgin land for sale in WA [34]
Departed Fremantle, Western Australia on the steamship Osterley and arrived in London, England on 4 March 1911 [204]
     Resided in London, England from 1911 to 1915 where he was Commissioner of Emigration for Western Australia [P266]
     His address during all or some of his time in London was 37 Old Deer Park Gardens, Richmond, Surrey [P266]
The WA Government loaned his services to the Midland Railway Company for a number of months during 1913 and 1914 [34]
     He travelled through various parts of the England and Scotland promoting the Company's Improved Farms Scheme [34]
     Through his promotions he sold a number of the Company's Ready Made Farms in Winchester, Western Australia [34]
     In October 1913 he received £92/17/8 from the Midland Railway Company, being a ½% commission on land sales [34]
In 1915 resigned from his position with the WA Government to accept a permanent position with the Midland Railway Company [34]
     Briefly worked in Britain promoting the Midland Railway Company's farms and then shifted to Western Australia [34]
     Before leaving he allocated £365 per annum of his salary to his wife, who remained in England with their children [34]
Superintendent of the Midland Railway Company's Farm Lands in Western Australia from 1915 to 1918 [34]
     Resided in Perth and oversaw the Midland Railway Company's Improved Farms Scheme [34]
     The Improved Farm Scheme consisted of ready made farms for sale in Carnamah, Winchester and Coorow [34]
     Accompanied by Walter C. JOHNSON (the Company's Accountant) he travelled up to Carnamah in mid July 1915 [10: 20-Jul-1915]
     After his first visit to Carnamah in July 1915 he routinely travelled to Carnamah by train one or two times a week [34]
     Undertook his first inspection of the Midland Railway Company's farms in Carnamah on 27 July 1915 [34]
     His duties included taking detailed reports of all of the company's farms in the Carnamah, Winchester and Coorow districts [34]
He was "to devote the whole of his time during business hours to the advancement of the Company's Ready Made Farms Scheme" [34]
     Inspected both unsold farms and once a week inspected farms that had been taken up by settlers [34]
     Dealt with the questions, concerns and complaints of settlers and prospective buyers and organised clearing contacts [34]
     Met prospective purchasers of the farms, accompanied them to Carnamah and showed them the farms [34]
     Received a 2½ % percent commission on any farm sales he made in the Carnamah, Winchester of Coorow subdivisions [34]
     Took tenders and allocated contracts for clearing, ploughing, seeding and harvesting on the Company's unsold farms [34]
The Midland Railway Company shipped him a camera from London on the steamship Omrah on 23 September 1915 [34]
     On 2 October 1915 the Company shipped on the steamship Ocean Monarch a motorcycle for his use in the Carnamah district [34]
     The motorcycle turned out to be unsuitable for the conditions in Carnamah so it and its sidecar were exchanged for a Ford car [34]
In 1916 took photos in Winchester and Carnamah and gave copies to the settlers (to their great delight) [34]
In June 1916 agreed to allow BOWMAN & FORRESTER until the end of the year to pay £900 they owed to the Company [34]
     He received a lot of criticism from the Company for offering more favourable terms to BOWMAN & FORRESTER [34]
     He substantially defended his actions as they unlike others were certain to pay their liabilities and showed signs of success [34]
Purchased the horse Rattler from Donald MACPHERSON of Carnamah for £15, which he used as his hack when in Carnamah [34]
Attended the Moora Agricultural Show held in Moora during October 1916 [34]
Vice President of the Three Springs Saint Patrick's Day Committee's Sports Meeting held in Three Springs on 17 March 1917 [124]
His horse Marramatta ran in the Carnamah Races on 9 April 1917 and won the Maiden Plate and Forced Handicap [9: 27-Apr-1917]
He presided over the address by the General Secretary of the Y.M.C.A. in Carnamah during May 1917 [9: 16-May-1917]
In March 1918 was notified that his contract with the Company, which expired on 1 June 1918, would not be renewed [34]
     He recommend that the Company employ settler John BOWMAN to oversee the management of the Improved Farms Scheme [34]
     The Company gave him an early release from his contract on 1 March 1918 and paid for his passage back to England [34]
In 1918 returned jobless to England, where his wife and seven children had remained [P266]
Married (2) Rose [P266]
Later became the Manager of the London Branch of the South Africa Canning and Packing Corporation [P266]
During the Second World War he chaired a committee that imported needed citrus fruit into the United Kingdom [P266]
Father of John, Donald, Mary, Edward, Robert and Nancy [P266]
Died 26 May 1952 in London, England [P266]

From the Progress Report of the Royal Commission on the
               Agricultural Industries of Western Australia on the Wheat-Growing Portion of the South-West Division of the State
Wednesday 6 June 1917 at Carnamah
ROBERT LESLIE GILBERT, Superintendant of Farm Lands, Midland Railway Company, sworn and examined:
     "We put under wheat the cleared areas of the unsold farms and in some cases we put in the crop for the first year for the new settlers. Last year we cropped 3,500 acres on behalf of ourselves and the settlers. The crop cost us £1 18s. 3d., inclusive. I think that given normal seasons the settlers can make good at present prices. They have had two bad seasons and with few exceptions they have proved inexperienced men, and some of them have been very slow in adapting themselves to local conditions. This applies also to some who had previous experience. The good yields have been brought down owing to the fact that much of the sowing was done too late. Mr. Bowman averaged 25 over some of his land, while another part of it gave only five bushels. Some of the settlers petitioned the London Board a short time ago. We received advice recently indicating the maximum concession the Company could make, and suggesting that the Lands Committee and Mr. Tate and myself should make a recommendation in each individual case. I went into each case and made a recommendation, and we have intimated to each of the settlers the concession we are prepared to make in regard to their holdings. They owe us £10,000 to £12,000. This year we do not take anything from them. Next year they are to pay us interest only and the arrears are to be spread over periods of five and ten years. One, a Mr. Watson, does not require any concession. He cropped the first year 120 acres and cleared 60 acres the next year. I let him a contract to 100 acres adjoining and another contract to take off a crop at Coorow. He is an exceptionally good man and he has a good team of horses. This year he averaged 23 bushels. Mr. Rooke took two block with 236 acres of crop. He got 4,2,42 bushels, which we had sown. The harvesters were going through it when he bought the farm. After deducting the cost of putting that in, on the basis of 4s. 2.d. per bushel, he was handed a net profit of £380 odd, which represents a reduction of 8s. 6d. per acre on the price of his farm, or, in other words, it paid within £50 the 10 per cent deposit he had paid to us.
     I cannot say whether the settlers who took up unimproved land are doing better than those who bought the ready made farms. Of course, they have had a pretty bad time also.
     We consider the values of the farms quite fair. We prepared 69 farms and we realise that we cannot sell these farms immediately they are prepared. We have a number in our hands and the interest on that money had wiped out any profit we would have got from the farms. Apart from that we believe that given normal seasons and proper methods this land is well worth £5 per acre. None of it is beyond five miles from the railway and at least 75 per cent of it is first class land. The Company has dealt with these people in a most sympathetic manner. We have never pressed them for their payments. It is to our interests that they should be successful, but in certain cases it is obvious that they could not make a success of the land under any conditions whatever. This year 46,000 bags of wheat we brought late Carnamah of which 25,000 bags came off ready made farms. These men have not yet had any chance of going in for stock. All the trouble arose through their striking two bad seasons for a start. We are still selling unimproved land at about Government prices, except that settlers are paying interest."

Reference:  Carnamah Historical Society & Museum and North Midlands Project, 'Robert Leslie Gilbert' in Biographical Dictionary of Coorow, Carnamah and Three Springs, retrieved 13 June 2024 from [reference list]

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