Royal Reels: Gambling


This privately printed unused postcard has no postal history connection, but it gives an interesting view of rural Australia in the late 1800’s. The 1d red N.S.W. ‘Shield’ card advertises Henry B. Maclure’s firm, The Ringer Stores, Hay, and the small trade mark Ringer insert shows a sheep shearer. Henry named his store the ‘Ringer Store’ after the fastest shearer in the woolshed (Figure 1).

“Hay is located in the western Riverina region of New South Wales, and the township began as a crossing place on the Murrumbidgee River for stock being driven south to markets in Victoria, during the gold-rushes of the 1850’s. The site was eventually surveyed in 1859 and Hay quickly developed as an important hub for the surrounding pastoral holdings, with their fat-stock and wool production.” The map shows the position of Hay in the Riverina region (Figure 2).

“During its earliest days Hay’s economy was linked to the navigation by steam-boats of the Murrumbidgee, and it became an important port. In 1882 the railway was extended to Hay, linking the town directly with regions to the east, including Sydney.” One aspect of the town of Hay in 1877 as viewed to the south along Lachlan Street towards the newly constructed bridge is shown in Figure 3.

Henry Barkley Maclure was born in Mordialloc Victoria in August 1856. He came to Hay in June 1877 as a bookkeeper and storekeeper to Wm. Cummings & Co, at Gunbar Station and he entered the store of Aldfred Meakes in 1885 and by July 1892 he was in business solely for himself and “The Ringer” was his registered trademark. He wrote: “It is a most appropriate one because anything I own are due directly or indirectly to wool and sheep. In the past I have depended on them for my living and my future prospects depend on them”. Henry dominated the local business scene for fifty years, and the Ringer Store is shown in Figure 4.

The firm became amalgamated with that owned by Permewans in 1967. It was eventually closed down and demolished. In the early days, local stores used to import directly from overseas. Maclure’s foresight in laying in of stocks of imported heavy hardware at the outbreak of World War I, allowed him to sell far outside of the Hay District. Maclure did not confine his business to this store alone, for he launched Hay Motors in 1908, as he was convinced that “motor cars were here to stay”. In the early days of Hay Motors, they had various cars for sale including the two cylinder chain-driven ‘Star’.

Hay Motors had been selling Ford cars longer than the Ford Motor Company of Australia has been in existence. Some of the models imported were assembled and painted in Hay Motors. Several years before his death in 1939, Maclure brought his son-in-law into the business to take charge of both Maclure’s Ringer Store and Hay Motors. A picture of Henry B. Maclure is shown in Figure 5.

I am indebted to Caroline Merrylees, the Hay Historical Society and to their published book “Ringer. Tales of Hay and the Western Riverina” for the text of this paper as well as Figures 3, 4 & 5, for otherwise this paper could never have been written.

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