Jim Rochford passed away aged 103 on 11th October 2016. (Pictured above on his 100th birthday in Hall)
Jim is probably best known in the Hall community for his service on the Progress Association for 32 years. He was responsible for negotiating water to the village in 1965 and street lighting in 1968.
Among Hall Rotarians, Jim is remembered for his outstanding service to the club between 1989 and 2003.
Jim was the club’s first Treasurer, a role that he performed for three years, from 1989 to 1992. He was then Vice President in the 93/94 year and held the position of Attendance Officer for 8 years; 93/94, 95/96 and then from 1998 until 2003.
Jim introduced Dennis Greenwood to the club after Dennis went to do some work on Jim’s house.
Jim was made an honorary Member of the club in 2009 and appeared as a guest speaker when the club met at the Gumnut Cafe on 10 Nov, 2009, where he spoke on the History of Hall – as follows:
Jim started by saying that he was one of seven children. His first memory goes back to when he was two.
Young Jim lived 7 miles from Hall and attended Glenwood School, which had 14 students.
‘To get there one could either go via Kaveney’s Road or Wallaroo Road and Oakey Creek Road. Some students rode up to 7 miles to get to school and opened 14 gates along the way.’
In the early days Hall grew like topsy, one of the reasons being that Hall was on the creek and also that the hills behind Hall proved shelter from the westerly winds. Hall was stablished as a convict settlement. Another settlement was established at Gungahlin. It was the intention that settlements were established about every 18 miles which was a day’s travel for a bullock team or a person travelling on foot.
Jim mentioned that during his early life there were a number of drownings in both Ginninderra Creek and Jeir Creek. Jim remembers four wagons being washed away crossing the flooded Ginninderra Creek.
The postal service eventually came to Hall. One of the main social centres near Hall was the Cricketer’s Arms. The publican unfortunately died but his wife was debarred from holding a licence and running the hotel. Jim remembers that the community rallied behind the family and built a home and tea room for them. His mother came with food for 6 to 8 people.
Jim’s mother passed away in 1938 when Jim was 25.
There was a horse and coach staging post 4 mile from Hall on his father’s property. At this time Hall became more prominent. Jim remembers the mail contract being awarded for the delivery of the mail between Murrumbateman and the Cricketer’s Arms. The contract was for £78 per year. The contractor later became the licensee for the hotel.
The area had good cricketers and tennis players. In spite of the hard times people loved their sport, which lead to a strong supportive community.
Sheep farming was the way of life for the area. During the 1914-18 war 17 men from Hall enlisted. Two did not return.
The first blocks in Hall were sold in 1854. The original businesses in Hall included the blacksmith, Kinsleyside, and next door was the saddler. There was also a boot maker. Initially there was no school in Hall and children went to Ginninderra. In the early days not much money changed hands but there was a strong system of bartering with eggs being one of the main items being exchanged.
In 1907 Kinsleyside built a training centre building sulkies, buggies and poison carts which were used for poisoning rabbits during the rabbit plagues.
With the introduction of films, a theatre was established in the village, however the owner was jailed for screening a stolen film. The theatre was used for dances and showing pictures on alternate weekends.
There was dentist who came from Queanbeyan every 5 or 6 weeks. He operated from behind the garage at Kinsleyside’s home, carrying out extractions and filling using a foot operated drill.
Electricity came to the village 4 years after the Second World War in about 1949. This was the result of negotiations by the Progress Association. They subsequently sat down and agreed to extend the supply along the Yass road.
ACT was formed in 1911 but Hall didn’t become part of ACT until 1974. He said that the Minister for the Interior came and interviewed Jim when he was negotiating bringing water to the village and said that he was the only person who had ever thanked him. Jim commented that he found that the public servants he had dealt with had all been very approachable.
Jim then mentioned famous people who visited the village. Billy Hughes came for a picnic during the war years.
The telegraph line was established to Ginninderra in 1878 which was the community centre rather than Hall in the early days. There was a farmers’ centre there where farmer met and discussed issues such as the best seed to plant.
The Hall Pavilion was built in 1928 using local labour. At the same time they built sheep yards to enable holding the sheep dog trials in Hall. Hall has held sheep dog trials in the village every year since then.
The Show Society was established to run the Canberra Show in Hall. They initially met holding their meeting using kerosene lamps where they planned which trees needed to be cut down in order to establish the showground. Jim commented that the attitude was that, “We need to do things, not think about it.”
Jim concluded by mentioning that during the period around 1945, many people believed that Hall should be shut down.
Rest in Peace Jim, and thank you for sharing your life with us.