Royal Reels: Gambling


The first printed to private order (PTPO) cover has an advertisement for Noske Bros. Millers and Grain Merchants, Horsham/ Mills: Horsham, Lowan, Nhill and Natimuk, and the pink embossed ‘ONE PENNY/ VICTORIA’ stamp is cancelled with a roller postmark of MELBOURNE/ NOV 20/ 12 30 AM/ 1906, It was posted to Messrs. Brown & Dureau, 9 Queen St., Melbourne. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

The second PTPO cover with the same embossed stamp has a different design advertisement, but with the same text, and the stamp is cancelled with a roller cancel of MELBOURNE/ NO 10/ 3 30 P/ 1908. Iit is addressed to A.E. Treadwell Esqr., Yarram (Victoria). The reverse was not seen (Figure 2).

The third PTPO cover with the same embossed stamp has a different design advertisement with the same text, and the stamp is cancelled with a duplex cancel of WINDSOR/ MY 7/ 10/ VICTORIA with the barred numeral ‘MD/ 27′ (1527). It was addressed to the same person in Yarram.. The reverse was not seen (Figure 3).

The only coherent account I have seen of this firm was found in The Carlton Community Newsletter dated 10 March 2009, and entitled “Old Noske Flour Mill. Know Your Local History” by Carolyn Olive. I have extracted the following information and two relevant photographs, as follows: For many years the old Noske flour mill and silos in Charlton have dominated our skyline…. they are an important part of Charlton’s history and still perform an important function in the grain industry of Charlton and surrounding district. Charlton originally had two flour mills in the 1870s…. one of which was G.H. Forman’s on the bank of the Avoca River…. this was acquired in 1919 by Messrs Noske Bros Pty. Ltd. who already owned mills in Horsham, Nhill and Murray Bridge. Mr. T.J. Noske, the founder of Noske Bros., was a farmer from the Dimboola area and on being offered the Horsham Mill at a bargain price, found himself unexpectedly in the milling business. He subsequently sold his farm and expanded his milling business becoming one of the early pioneers of flour exporting. The mill operated at the old site by the river until August 1926 when it was closed down and dismantled with plans for a new state of the art mill well underway. In 1927 a new mill began operating with three silos, a 250 h.p. diesel engine and a capacity of three tons of flour per hour. It was one of the largest mills in the state and gained a reputation of excellence for not only its design and operation but also for its flour both locally and in overseas markets. The mill at Charlton in construction in 1927 is seen in Figure 4.

On January 15th, 1949 disaster struck the mill when a large fire took hold in the storage shed…the storeroom contained 500 tons of flour, bagged ready for export and 250 bales of new flour bags… the estimated total loss caused by the fire was £60,000. Eventually more silos were added and electricity installed but after 45 years of operation and employing approximately 65-70 men at its peak, production of flour at the mill ceased on October 25th, 1973. Noske Industries Ltd was to replace the milling operation with a stock feed production centre. The Horsham and Murray Bridge mills had already been converted and were proving much more profitable than local and export flour sales. The mill fire at Charlton in 1949 is seen in Figure 5.

The remainder of my information was derived from more than 100 entries in the NLA newspapers when searching for ‘Noske Bros’. Traugott Noske was a Lutheran of presumed Germanic origin and he and his wife Johanne Auguste Lehmann were the parents of T.J. Noske who started the firm, date uncertain, but the earliest Noske Bros entry in the NLA newspapers was 1905, and the latest was 1952. The Advertiser (Adelaide) on 22 August 1919 stated that Messrs Noske Bros was erecting at Horsham the largest wheat silo in the Southern Hemisphere, capable of holding 125,000 bushells of wheat. The Argus (Melbourne) 21 November 1919 stated that Noske Bros had purchased 2 additional flour mills at Wycheproof and Charlton from Mr. W.E. Foreman. The company had taken over the mill at Goorambat, and a Bordertown mill had been added to the original four towns named on the covers. There was silo construction ongoing at Nhill which will hold 135,000 bushells of wheat. The firm’s mills will be capable of producing over 60,000 tons of flour per year.

The Argus

(Melbourne) on 16 January 1920 reported a fire at the mill at Natimuk with an estimated loss of £10,000. The same paper reported on 22 December 1922 that Mr. J.T. Noske returned to Melbourne with his son, Mr. E. Noske from 8 months in Europe. The first sign that the bubble had burst was found in The Argus (Melbourne) 7 August 1933 headed FLOUR MILLER’S BANKRUPTCY. The letter to the Editor stated that Mr. T.J. Noske’s active association with the firm of Noske Bros. Pty. Ltd. had ceased two and a half years ago.

The Argus

11 May 1935 had a heading ‘BANKRUPTCY ANNULLED. COMPOSITION APPROVED. FLOUR MILLER’S ESTATE. £75,317 in Debts Released. Traugott Johann Noske was obviously in financial distress (for he was now living at the YMCA in Melbourne) and his brother Ernest Bernhardt Noske was helping him financially. The Sydney Morning Herald on 18 November 1936 reported that his brother E.B. Noske was involved in a train crash at a crossing, with circumstances of which, as described by the train driver, suggested suicide.

The last item of interest was found in The Argus (Melbourne) on 26 February 1943 and was headlined OBITUARY. Mrs T.J. Noske. After a long illness the death occurred yesterday afternoon of Mrs. T.J. Noske, wife of Mr. T.J. Noske, founder of the firm of Noske Bros, flourmillers. She was the daughter of the late John E. Walther, school teacher, and (she) was born in Geelong in 1871. Mrs Noske is survived by her husband, 2 sons and 3 daughters.

How fortunes can be lost so quickly!

Addendum (February 2010):   A photo of Noske Bros’s  flour mill at Horsham, Victoria is seen in Figure 6.