The huge government grant that became Foster’s Estate divided the Sunnyside and Stoodley districts in half. From north to south, the boundary line cut across the long straight up on Sunnyside Rd, then through both Stoodley Rd and the Bridle Track Rd on its way to the foothills of Mt Roland. As the hard-working first settlers cleared their bush blocks at West Sunnyside, their new productive farms contrasted starkly with Foster’s vast expanse of virgin bush at East Sunnyside. This drew criticism from Launceston solicitor Wm Ritchie in the 1880s, who claimed Foster’s Trustees were ‘a curse to the country for being either powerless or disinterested in developing their vast estate’. Foster’s Trustees in Hobart were caretakers for the absent Foster children, being educated in England. Once they returned to Tasmania, John Dowbiggin Foster became responsible for this land. He selected his large Armistead estate, then offered the rest of Eastern Sunnyside for sale or lease. Some blocks sold but most were leased; many by Westbury families, a good number being Irish Catholics. It seems while Westbury’s Wesleyan families flocked to Upper Barrington in the 1860s & 1870s, Westbury’s Catholic families chose Sunnyside and Railton in the late 1880s & 1890s.
To reach their leased blocks, a rough bush track off Railton-Kimberley Rd was opened through Foster’s land up to the top of the Sunnyside hill. It commenced through Donovan’s property, then Michael & Alice Maloney’s land, where their sons James & Sarah Maloney and Wm & Marie Maloney also had leases. Hence, this track eventually became Maloneys Rd. Just to clarify two similar-looking local names – the Maloney families settled in Sunnyside, while the Mahoney families first came to Dulverton. Halfway up this road, Tom & Gertrude Sheridan (7 chn) bought 32 acres. Tom’s aged mother Elizabeth (Glock) Sheridan was from German Lutheran migrants, but upon marrying Tom’s father, became Catholic. In the early days, Elizabeth served the Sunnyside district as a midwife. In 1922 F E Watts, of Latrobe, built the Sheridans a 6-roomed house they called Riverview.
Other farmers who extended the end of Sunnyside Road into Foster’s Estate were John & Mary Brown, who added more acreage, and Fred & Mary Bramich (9 chn). About 1890, James H & Mary Powlett also took land along this new Sunnyside Rd. James Harlin Powlett was the son of James & Margaret Powlett, first settlers in Sheffield and younger brother to John Powlett who opened the Sheffield Inn in 1862. James Jnr had been the first to carry the mail over the tortuous track between Sheffield and Latrobe from 1863-69. In 1874 he moved to the mainland, married, and had the first few of nine children. James & family returned to Sheffield about the time of his father’s death and took up 100 acres along Sunnyside Rd. His pioneering mother Margaret Powlett eventually came to live with her son at Sunnyside, where, in Oct 1906, she died aged 95. Margaret had been the first woman to ride through the virgin bush to settle in Sheffield, the township she helped name. The following year, when James H Powlett retired to Devonport, his two eldest sons, James & John, took over the Sunnyside property. Their sister Elsie Powlett, who commenced working for McKinlay’s drapery store, Devonport, moved to Sydney, where in Aug 1915 she married the son of the founder of Mark Foy Ltd, the famous department store. Sadly, eight months into this marriage Elsie died of peritonitis and her body was returned to Tasmania by boat for burial.
The extended Sunnyside Rd track soon intersected the track coming up from the Railton-Kimberley Road (later Mahoneys Rd), which by now was continuing southward through Shadyside to Stoodley, a district that had been settled at the same time as West Sunnyside. This crossroad became the centre for all the new tenant farmers on Foster’s Estate. They included Edward & Mary Weeks, Thomas & Louisa Sullivan, Philip & Mary Dwyer, Sheean Bros, Fred & Emma Betts, Fred, Henry & Hubert Bramich, Henry & Catherine Donnelly, Edward & Mary Leo, and John & Catherine Templar. John Templar had been a well-known coach-driver travelling the roads between Deloraine to Burnie in the days before the ‘iron-horse’ began pulling trains. East of the crossroads, Wm Snr & Adela Bourke were one of the few to purchase their 64-acre block, succeeded by Wm Jnr & Clara Bourke. Shadyside families included Edward & Louisa Elmer, Wm & John Leo, and Wm & Edward Williams.
Maloneys & Sunnyside Roads
Before long, these new tenant farmers grew tired of accessing their properties along rough, steep, and slippery bush tracks, and wanted more reasonable roads. When several requests to Foster’s Brothers went unanswered, they appealed to the Railton Road Trust for help. But the Road Trust discovered that, legally, they were not permitted to spend public money forming roads on any private property. Following further meetings held in Philip & Mary Dwyer’s home in 1902, the tenant farmers signed a petition and sent it to Foster’s Bros. Besides their earlier request to make Maloneys track into a proper road, they now wanted the Sunnyside Road extension to continue eastward, right down to Merseylea railway station to enable them to get their produce to market. Foster’s Bros finally agreed to give the land for both these road routes, but wouldn’t contribute to the survey costs or the making and maintaining of either new road. Five years later, in Sept 1907 when these surveyed routes were in government hands, Devonport contractor T.J. Donnelly’s tender of £322 14s 2d was accepted to form a proper road from Sunnyside Rd to Merseylea. In the meantime, the Sunnyside Football Club was formed in 1905 and, with Mick Maloney as captain, became runners up in their first season in the Roland Football Ass.
These new roads were a great success and helped solved another major problem. These tenant farmers had about 50 children of school age and were also clamouring for a state school. Until now, any child wanting to attend school had to walk three miles over hilly terrain to reach either Railton or Stoodley schools. Now, with this new road, the Government decided instead of opening two schools at Merseylea and Sunnyside, they would build one combined school.
Sunnyside State School 1909-1945
On this occasion, Foster’s Bros were more forthcoming and donated an acre of land on the south-east corner of the new Sunnyside/Maloney crossroads. The school was erected by Wilson Bros for £240. Ed Weeks, Phil Dwyer, and Geo Bourke promised to cart stone for the foundation and building materials free of charge. The Hon John Hope opened the Sunnyside State School on 22 Feb 1909, with Miss Alice Cruikshank from the Sheffield School appointed head teacher. This new school at the crossroads now became the centre for the larger Sunnyside community, with the Hon Joseph Lyons using it for a political rally. In Feb 1913 John Foster’s brother Henry Foster, from Campbell Town, accompanied by estate manager Ernest Blyth of Armistead, motored through their leased estate to visit the Sunnyside State School, where he left a generous gift for the children. His motorcar easily climbed Broxam’s hill, a feat hitherto considered impossible. In August 1945 the Sunnyside school closed and all children were conveyed to Railton in Percy William’s new school bus. For a while, the old school was used for a hall, then sold to A G Haigh for a house. Telephone came to Sunnyside in 1946, electric power turned on 23 June 1949.
Being well west of Foster’s Estate, the Stoodley district, like West Sunnyside, began being settled in the late 1870s and 1880s. Although Stoodley was the parish name, the district called Stoodley gradually evolved from three earlier names: Dick Lowe’s Bridge, Sth Sunnyside, and Shadyside. Stoodley Road runs from Sheffield-Railton Rd through Shadyside to join Maloneys Rd at the Sunnyside crossroads. Many small farmers used to live in the Stoodley area, including Alex & Lucy Butler, Samuel & Susan Mawer, Henry & Charlotte Elmer, Godfrey & Maud O’Neill, James & Christina Wright with son James Jnr & Edith Wright from Sassafras. Also David & Alma Steers, Geo & Alice Crabtree, and Sheean Brothers. Thomas & Annie Shaw’s house burnt down in 1906 and Charles & Kathleen Plumley’s in 1907. James & Kate Lowry of Redlands had four young children die within a period of a couple of years, while their 50-year-old neighbour, suffering a back injury, filled his pockets with stones, laid his hat beside their well, and drowned himself.
Arthur Bros Fernleigh property was on the boundary of Foster’s Estate. Montague, John, and Lionel Arthur were sons of Anglican minister Rev Chas Arthur Jnr, who regularly stayed at Stoodley. He had two brothers, both Australian test cricketers. As a youth, their father Rev Charles Arthur Snr had accompanied his uncle Colonial Governor George Arthur to VDL and later married Thomas Reiby’s sister, Mary Ann. For generations, the Arthur family home was at Norley estate near Longford.
Beulah & Bridle Track Rds. After gold was discovered at the Minnow River, Lower Beulah, in the early 1880s, a rough track was cut branching off Stoodley Rd that ran south across the Bridle Track Rd and Dasher River before climbing to Upper Beulah and, hence, to the mining camps. In Sept 1890 John & Henry Knowles of Upper Beulah completed their contract for opening this road from Dick Lowe’s Bridge to Beulah.
The Stoodley Post Office opened in May 1905 replaced an earlier PO called Lowe’s Bridge. Seven years later, in 1912, James Wright built a new house/post office at the junction of Stoodley & Beulah Rds for his daughter Elizabeth Matthews, who remained postmistress for over 30 years. Her husband Harry Matthews, followed by Sam Mawer, did the Beulah mail run. Electricity came to Stoodley in March 1954, the PO closed in June 1970.
Cricket & Football. In Dec 1888 a Shadyside cricket team was formed under Captain Leo. The first club to play against them was Nook, who complained ‘their ground was too rough and their bowling too slow.’ The following year, Shadyside played North Beulah, who had never played a game. The Stoodley Cricket Club was formed at a meeting held in Arthur Bros residence in 24 Sep 1902, using one of their paddocks. In 1911 they put down a concrete pitch, which still exists today hidden beneath pine trees. The Stoodley Football Club was formed about the same time. It won the premiership in 1929, it was said, after Harry Matthews waited until Stoodley was in front before ringing his cowbell.
Wm & Agnes (Dodd) Bannon (6 chn) settled on their Fernhill property at the top of a very steep section of Bridle Track Rd, Stoodley in the 1890s. Wm’s father Wm Bannon Snr (1826-1904) had been an Irish convict guilty of several charges, including escaping from Port Arthur across the infamous dog-line at Eagle Hawk Neck. Later, he was charged with murdering a man at Table Cape, at a place now known as Murdering Gully Rd, but was found not guilty. His son Wm Bannon Jnr purchased the first car in Stoodley at the 1923 Devonport Show – a Hupmobile Tourer. At Agnes Bannon’s funeral in 1939, she was eulogized for being a faithful worshipper at the St John’s Anglican church, Railton, for 45 years. Wm (87) died in 1950. In 1963, son Gordon Bannon sold the farm to Rex (Nugget) & Audrey Diprose.
Stoodley School 1891–1941. In 1889, James Wright won the contract to build a school and teacher’s residence at Stoodley for £223. It was located on the SE corner of the crossroads of Bridle Track and Stoodley-Beulah roads. When opened in 1891, H R Owens was the teacher with the following six pupils: Hetty Cooper, Emily & Thomas Elmer, Angelina & Margaret Garland, & Katie Reardon. Owens was followed by Miss Laura Furlong, who later, with her sister Miss Minnie Furlong, opened a private school in Sheffield. By Arbor Day 1902, the Stoodley school had been enlarged, a variety of English trees planted around it and the bush cleared for a recreation ground. In 1905 Stoodley school was criticised for having no sewing class for girls. In 1921 incoming headmaster Wm Carnie complained his school residence was occupied by fowls. Kentish icon Miss Eva Wyatt taught at Stoodley 1928-1935 until she transferred to Sunnyside. At the end of 1941, Stoodley, Beulah & Lower Beulah schools all closed and the children were bused to a greatly expanded Sheffield Area School the following year.
In 1918 David Kirkcaldy of Stoodley won a contract to do road work down the Bridle Track, commencing at the school. When nearly finished, in Sept 1919, David (48) caught the deadly Spanish flu and died within days. His wife Martha (nee Goss) was left with six small children, two older ones having previously drowned. At the suggestion of Cr Wm Scanlon, 24 Stoodley men worked together to complete his contract in three days so Martha and family could be paid the balance of the money owed to him.
Foster’s big sale. In 1919/20 Foster Bros had a major sell-off of its leased lands across Sunnyside, Stoodley, and other districts. It was partly in conjunction with the Government’s soldier settlement scheme. Prior to this sale, all tenants were served notice to relinquish their holdings. Within two years, all but five of 56 leased properties put on the market were sold, many to their lessees. Most of the soldier settlement blocks were a total failure because they were on second-class land and plagued with rabbits and blackberries. Where once were farms, today we have only pine plantations.