Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover was addressed to G. Rometch, 86 Collins Street, Hobart Tasmania. The blue 2d Queensland ‘Four Corners’ stamp was cancelled with an illegible obliterator and alongside there was an unframed EMERALD/ AU 13/07/ QUEENSLAND postmark. The two puncture holes in the cover were very suggestive of a Tattersall’s cover. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

Another example of a cover sent to G. Rometch was found in David McNamee’s book on Tattersall’s Covers on page 148, and he confirms that Rometch was yet another front for Tattersall’s. The cover had a pair of the red 1d N.S.W. ‘Shield’ stamp and the cancellation was WOLLONGONG/ 21 OC 07-745PM. The reverse was not seen (Figure 2).

The Cyclopedia of Tasmania 1931 states that the company was the largest and most up-to-date passenger transport company in Tasmania, having a fleet of small cars and omnibuses of all sizes, sufficient to cope with the biggest tourist season Tasmania has ever experienced. “Over a half century ago the late Mr. Walter Webster commenced running four-horse coaches to and from Hobart and the Huon, and at his death, his widow, the late Mrs. K.L. Webster, continued the service. Subsequently Mr. George Rometch, of the Arcadia Hotel, entered the field, and from the first he was able to run from Hobart and return in the day, and cut off two hours on the journey….After a period Mrs. Webster and Mr. Rometch joined forces, together with the late Mr. J. Duncan, and this firm carried on the service in an eminently satisfactory manner…This firm purchased an 18-seater char-a-banc with no doors, and it proved a great attraction… About 20 years ago the firm was floated into a limited company, known as Webster, Rometch Ltd., and the purchase of motor vehicles on a large scale were run in connection with the horse coaches…which were gradually worked out of commission”.., but the horses were used as backup in cases of emergency.

“The company continued to enlarge its fleet of motor vehicles…and it was the pioneer of pneumatic tyres on its char-a-bancs in Australia….At present the company is styled the Webster, Rometch, Astor Motor Pty. Ltd., and is known all over Australia for its carrying capacity, its initiation of tours all over the State, and the satisfaction given… It has cars to meet every need from five-seaters up to 33…. it has its own Tourist Bureau and it can supply tourists with information. Mr. L.O. Hillyard is manager at Collins Street, Hobart. The Launceston office of the company is situated at Brisbane Street.”

The above account gives no biographical information on George Rometch, and a short column in The Mercury 10 April 1928 under the heading of TASMANIAN CASUALTIES supplies some Rometch family information: Private Arthur Rometch was reported missing in October 1917, and then was reported killed at Ypres, a single man aged 34. The deceased was a son of Mrs. Priscilla Rometch and a brother of George Rometch. Prior to enlisting he was engaged in the coaching business. Private Frank Rometch enlisted in 1915 and was killed near Flers in January 1917. He was 36 years of age, single and had been engaged in the coaching business in Hobart.

ANSETT AIRWAYS TAKE OVER WEBSTER-ROMETCH MOTORS was the headline in The Mercury (Hobart) 4 December 1946, but the name of Webster-Rometch-Astor Motors was to be retained. “Mr. George Rometch began his business in 1899” and there was repetition of what has already been mentioned. What was new information was that Mr. L.O. Hillyard had bought all the company’s tourist assets in 1932, and remained the manager of the company until his retirement in December 1946, on the completion of the takeover by Ansett Airways.

A short personal column in The Mercury (Hobart) on 9 April 1951 reported that Mr. George Rometch returned to his home at Opossum Bay after undergoing a serious operation in a private Hobart hospital, and it was stated that he was making satisfactory progress. However the next report 2.5 years later was seen in The Mercury (Hobart) on 19 December 1953 which stated that the well-known Hobart sportsman and former business man, died in Brisbane 2 nights previously at the age of 77, after a short illness, was cremated in Brisbane, and his ashes were flown to Tasmania. Further information that this article supplied was in addition to his ownership of the Arcadia Hotel, he owned the premises of the Bookmakers’ Club, and his great sporting interests were trotting (owner of many horses) and boating (owner of 2 motor boats, both known as Arcadia), and he was survived by his wife, Muriel.

David McNamee’s book included the information that the Commonwealth Government in 1909 proscribed George Rometch for his participation in Tattersall’s network. A poor picture of George taken from The Mercury (Hobart) is seen in Figure 3.

Categories: Business, Tattersall’s