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Paterson River history

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Fry & Co's Coaches

advert for Fry & Co's Coaches

Above: advertisement for Fry's coaches, Maitland Mercury 23 May 1882 p8.

Fry's hearse shed at Paterson

Above: Fry's hearse shed in Paterson. This and the nearby corn staddle are the remnants of a complex of buildings for Fry's Coaches on this site.

A brick shed and a timber structure beside the road above Tucker Park in Paterson are remnants of a complex of buildings for Fry & Co Coaches. From 1866 to 1911 this site was the base for the coaching enterprise that served the Hunter Valley and northern New South Wales.

The business was owned and run by Henry Fry who for many years held the contract for taking Her Majesty's mail by coach from Maitland to Dungog and Gresford. Henry was from Kent in England and arrived in Sydney in 1862 with his wife and four children. He moved to Paterson and bought seven acres of land along the River.

After Henry's death in 1894 his son Herbert took over the business. Coaches carried passengers as well as mail, and some were hired to Vaudeville companies and travelling salesmen who made regular tours. The business employed 12 men at Paterson and used 60 horses for the coaches.

The brick building housed the town's hearse and the timber structure is a corn staddle designed to store fodder in a dry, vermin-free environment. The hearse was always pulled by black horses. The site also had a cottage, stables, store and blacksmiths shop on it. The fertile flats grew feed for the horses, and old faithful horses who died were buried in deep soil on the riverbank.

The coaching business contracted dramatically when the north coast railway line between West Maitland and Dungog opened on 14 August 1911. The last coach from Maitland to Dungog run on that same day. From then Fry's coaches connected with trains at Paterson to provide a service to Vacy, Gresford and Allynbrook that were not on the rail line.

With the contraction and eventual demise of coaching, Herbert Fry farmed on land he had purchased at Paterson. He lived with his family at 'Glen Ayr' (1900) near Tucker Park and continued as a dairy farmer, orchardist and funeral director.

Fry's blacksmiths shop at Paterson

Above: The blacksmith's shop that was part of Fry & Co Coaches base in Paterson, on land that is now part of Tucker Park (photo: NCC Collections).

Fry's coaching complex

Above: Looking across the lagoon to Fry & Co Coaches complex. The blacksmith's shop is closest to camera, with the corn staddle behind it to the right. The hearse shed is partly obscured by a tree (photo: Paterson Historical Society).

The last coach from Maitland to Paterson

Above: The last coach from Maitland to Paterson on 14 August 1911, the same day the rail line between West Maitland and Dungog opened (photo: from Turner, 1988).

References

Archer, Cameron (ed.). Heritage Photographs, Series 1, Historic Paterson New South Wales. Paterson Historical Society: Paterson, 2007.

Clements, Pauline. The Parks of Paterson. Paterson Historical Society: Paterson, 2001.

Museum News vol.4 no.4, 1997. Paterson Historical Society.

Turner, John. The Rise of High Street, Maitland - A Pictorial History. Maitland City Council: Maitland, 1988.