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Robert Trylbodox BEGG (nee Thompson) – Bob Begg
29th Sept 1903 – 21st April 1974
Robert was born on September 29th, 1903 at Manly. His parents (married 29/4/1896) William Thompson (dob 5/3/1873) a dentist and Elizabeth Hargrave (dob 1895) domestic duties, named Robert after Robert Thompson (his grandfather) and with his middle name of Trylbodox after Tilbury Docks on the Thames were his forefathers departed the United Kingdom for Australia c1830s. In his later years Robert used the middle name of Tilby as his given name caused many issues with the spelling.
Robert spent his infancy with his sister Marion – married Harold Hastings Ainsworth – at Manly with the family moving to Summer Hill for his schooling. During his school years Robert was a regular visitor to family friends at Manly enjoying the beach and swimming. At weekends he with other boys spent their time diving for “coppers” – farthing, half pennies & pennies – thrown into the water by the ferry passengers at the Port Jackson & Manly Steam Ship Company’s Manly wharf. Their bounty was spent in the penny arcades on the nearby Fun Wharf.
After his parents divorced, his mother remarried John Begg, a grazier from Narrandera, and with the 2 children, Robert and Marion, moved to the stepfather’s “Pine Grove” Station at Narrandera. Robert took his stepfather’s name of Begg – and was officially fostered on March, 13 1918, and for a number years Robert used the family name of Thompson-Begg. However his adoption of Tilby (middle name) in place of Trylbodox continued.
The move to Narrandera saw the end of Robert’s formal education. He was dissuaded to advance his age to join the Armed Forces of the British Empire resulting in his early working life being in the Narrandera region as a farm laborer, then working on Government Post World War Rebuilding Projects, and finally at the Narrandera Hotel, before moving to Junee permanently in 1930c.
The New South Wales Government Railways were expanding against the direction “from the Bank of England manager, Sir Otto Niemeyer who visited Australia in 1930, to advise governments to implement a deflationary policy. Niemeyer contended that wages must be ‘depressed’ (i.e. cut) to make exports more competitive and to raise profits. Niemeyer advised savage cuts in all existing social services. More significantly Niemeyer demanded that Australia not default on her international loan obligations to Britain. This created great political differences and resulted in the Premier of New South Wales, Jack Lang, being dismissed when he refused to pay the loan obligations”. (http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/great-depression).
The Great Depression (1929–32) was a time of extreme hardship with unemployment peaking in 1932 to almost thirty-three per cent. The devastating effect this period had on the individuals & communities was to have a lifelong influence on Robert.
Robert was employed with an Outdoor Movie Company – Haberecht owned – in Junee. He also became actively involved with The Greek Theater Operators Association of the Riverina which had a large number of independently owned theaters throughout the South West slopes and Riverina area.
Robert took a part ownership, 1935c, of the Junee Athenium (built 1929) and then full ownership from George Laurantus in 1938 after his win of 6000 pounds first prize in the NSW State Lottery.
The theatre was the main entertainment centre in the region catering for National Dance competions, Music Concerts, Church & Patriotic Balls, Touring Variety shows etc.. ( it had a capacity of over 1000 seated). Robert set about upgrading seats, projectors, and sound system, with some changes bringing him into conflict with the Theatres and Public Halls authority. He further built on his successful innovation with programing, Double features, Late night horror shows, Saturday matinees, to maximise the building’s use. And on Sundays – The Sunday Observance Act was in effect – Church concerts where held for ‘free’. (There was a collection!)
Athenium Theatre Junee NSW Heritage Link: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5053909
Friends of Athenium Junee, Web Link: https://www.athenium.org/
He established the ‘first run’ movies at the Junee Athenium, using the NSW Govt Railways Mail Train Network out of Junee giving a competitive advantage – against the City Chain based local cinemas. Again this he shared with the other independent (mostly Greek operated) cinemas.
In 1941 he Purchased the Belmore St. Café located between Laurie Yo the Dentist and the Junee Funeral Directors (still at the current location – 2017). It became the family residence from 1948 and was run by Oriel.
Belmore Café Junee, NSW Heritage link: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=1840074
Robert and Oriel were married in 1942, with the wedding reception at the Belmore Café.
Robert’s experience of the depression years had a marked effect with its devastating impact on Australian society. Along with his community interests (also shared by Oriel) saw him serve on the Junee Municipal Council 1941 till 1947, and holding four terms as Mayor. This also made Oriel the youngest Mayoress (1942), a record that is still current (2009).
After the war Robert developed the Roxanne Frock Salon into a chain from the Junee base to include Gundagai, Temora and Tumbarumba. He took an initial interest in the start-up of 2WG with his friend Eric Roberts and his wife Nan who became Robert’s son John’s Godmother, and in the AVOR factory in its recent move to Wagga.
In recognition of his civic contribution to Junee, the State Government, arranged for the official opening of the Junee Railway Roundhouse on his 44th birthday – September 29th. 1947. In the same year Robert received from the Commonwealth of Australia a citation award for his outstanding services on behalf of the First Victory Loan Campaign from Ben Chiefly – Treasurer
The family drove to the Annual Local Government Conference at Grafton, after which the family holidayed with Robert’s widowed mother who had retired to Lennox Head.
With the travel demands, for business – frequent business trips to Sydney Fashion Houses & Film Distributors, local Government duties, NSW/Federal Government Snowy Mountains Authority Committee duties, and now a young growing family, Robert was questioning the quality of their family life. Also Oriel’s family had moved from Junee, her father to Wagga, with mother Mary, sister Avrille and brother Daryl to Sydney, along with the Holloways, Haberechts and Oates families moved to Wagga & Sydney.
Robert bought the “Ocean View” complex comprising 12 – 1 & 2 bedroom – flats, a Community Hall, street fronting shop buildings, chicken pen, kitchen garden, camper’s ablution building, all on sea front land next to the “Reserve” opposite Alan W Jones General Store at the sea side village of Lennox Head, between Ballina & Byron Bay, on the far north coast of NSW, also known at the North East Corner of NSW.
The Begg family took up residence in 1951
Robert purchased a market garden – a family business! – on the Broken Head road to Byron Bay, established an Ice Distribution business, and a Fishing Tackle & Bait business, both of which were run by Oriel.
Oriel and Robert continued their community involvement with both holding offices in the Lennox Head Progress Association through the Tintenbar Shire Council, and North Creek Parents & Citizens Association.
The Lennox Head Progress Association was instrumental in having the National Electricity Grid extended to Lennox Head, the telephone exchange automated, and establishing plans for a town water supply. The committee organised an annual Summer Fair of Traveling Showmen with Horse O Plane rides and arcade stalls, NSW Ambulance Housie Housie (Bingo) on the “Reserve” with the overflow onto Begg’s Property next door, along Concerts, card evenings and dances in the Community Hall.
1956 saw the Begg family with one of the first TVs in the area and being shared with many locals through “TV nights” till the test pattern transmission began at 10:00pm.
The Begg family had increased by three, with daughters Bobbie (1951), Vicki (1954), and Laurie (1956) arriving.
Oriel was the region electoral contact for Members of Parliament – Mr. Larry Anthony (Liberal Party) and later his son Doug Anthony MP for Richmond and Mr. Jack Easter (Country Party) MP for Lismore. Oriel also held the position of the local reporter for The Northern Star newspaper and Radio station 2LM in Lismore for many years.
John joined The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited at the Coffs Harbour Branch in 1960, and Maree joined Lismore TV station then moved to Sydney in 1964.1963 saw the last child arrive with the birth of Ian Robert.
In 1965 the smaller family (6) moved from Lennox Head to Wagga Wagga to become involved with AVOR factory as Bill (Willie Haberecht) had plans to retire, however two years later the AVOR factory closed and the Wonderland Lane property was sold to a developer who built the Kmart complex facing Forsyth Street.
This same year also saw their mutual separation with Robert retiring to his house in Lord Street, Junee with his sister Marion until his death in 1971.
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