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ICELAND: LETTER from MICHAEL H. CASHMORE, MANLY N.S.W. to AKUREYRI

The cover has a registration label SYDNEY B/ NEW SOUTH WALES and the grey 6d ‘AIR MAIL SERVICE’ stamp is cancelled G.P.O SYDNEY/ R.S./ 15 AP 40A/ B/ N.S.W. AUST. It is addressed to Mr. Gudmundur Mikaelsson, P.O. Box 14, Akureyri, Iceland. The red printing reads: If unclaimed return to/ M.H. Cashmore, 10 Woods Parade, Manly N.S.W. (Figure 1).

The reverse has four postmarks (from L to R) a reception AKUREYRI/ 7.6.40, 2 different originating cancels for Sydney Registration, and a transit at the capital of Iceland, REYKJAVIK/ 5 VI 40 19 (Figure 2).

The mouth of the fjord Eyjafjordur is only 40 km from the Arctic Circle (66°N) but the fjord itself is about 65 km long and then the valley continues a further 50 km inland. Akureyri is located at the base of the fjord and regarded as the capital of North Iceland. Eyjafjordur is surrounded by high impressive mountain ranges, many of which are flat on top as a result from plateaus caused by volcanic lava during the tertiary period about 5-10 million years ago. The bedrock beneath Akureyri is mainly basalt layers from the same era. During the last ice-age, the valleys and dales of the area were filled by glaciers and in conjunction with the volcanic activity it formed the landscape of Akureyri. The area was completely uninhabited and existed peacefully until the first Viking ships sailed into the fjord around 890.

Akureyri (‘field banks’) was not recorded for certain until 1562. The name of the town is ancient and connected to agriculture and its development originally associated with shops and export of agricultural produce. The Danish commercial monopoly was lifted in Iceland in 1787 and Akureyri was one of six places to get market rights at the time. The stores were still mostly owned by Danish or their descendant keepers due to Iceland being part of the Danish Kingdom. Many positive influences were left in Akureyri by the Danes, such as potato patches, tree growing, architectural style and culture. A map of Iceland showing Akureyri is seen in Figure 3.

The actual old part of Akureyri is located on a narrow gravel bank which lies beneath Buoargil as a result of deposits brought by the river which ran down the gully. The first buildings of the town were raised there, with the oldest building Laxdalshus built in 1795. Oddeyri, the next oldest section, was an ancient meeting place. This was where the last Catholic Bishop of Iceland, Jon Arason and his sons, were charged with high treason in 1551. The outskirts to the north of the town was bordered by the River Glera. The suburb that developed on the other side of the river was called "Glera village" and after joining the council in 1955, the name was changed to Glera suburb but locals still call it by its original name or even "the village". Both names on the cover, Gudmundur and Mickaelsson are common names in Iceland, but no one with both these names has been identified. The estimated population of Iceland in 2008 is 304,367, and that of Akureyri is approximately 16,000. It is the administrative, transportation and commercial centre of North Iceland.

The sender M.H. Cashmore of Manly was an early 1900s settler in the northern suburbs of Sydney at King’s Avenue, as it was originally named, and it was created by the subdivision of the Prince Estate on 10 April 1920. King’s Avenue first appeared in the Sands’ Directory for 1922, indicating that the first houses were built in late 1920 or early 1921 so as to be included in the 1922 Directory. Michael H. Cashmore’s name first was listed at King’s Avenue in 1922. He continued to be listed at King’s Avenue until 1925, his house being named Ranunella, but no longer was listed at that address in Sands Directory 1927. An old photo of the area is seen in Figure 4 .

I have found no association of Michael Cashmore with either Akureyri or with Iceland.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 
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