Molloy Family – Orchards, Timber, Politics, the Sherbrooke Atheneum and Debating Club

The Molloy family, long associated with the Timber business in Bulli, originally lived in Sherbrooke, where in 1892 they planned a large orchard – and were active in the Sherbrooke Progress Association. They were part of the Bulli Methodist Church and the Union Chapel at Sherbrooke – and walked down from Bulli Mountain to the Bulli Uniting Church and back each weekend.

But James Molloy’s contribution went beyond Church and Timber. In 1892, Mr James  Molloy became President of the newly formed weekly Sherbrooke “Atheneum and Debating Club” also known as a Mutural Improvement Society, with debates taking place in the Sherbrooke Union Church. The debating club produced its only journal with articles on Egotism, the Kingdom of God and Scotland. Occasionally Debating Club President James Molloy and others would deliver lectures on topics such as The Traditions of Men vs Truth, Temperance, Early Life in Victoria, Knowledge and self-culture.

And sometimes even Ladies attended, though mostly it was a male affair, where the Reverend Hugh W Taylor attended, as did the local NSW State MP J B Nicholson who provided addresses on the political situation, the Labor Platform of 1894, and other political candidates at election time. Debating Club topics were varied and were evidence that the Sherbrooke community was far from an impoverished hillbilly rural backwater ….

  • The right to mine on private property,
  • Dispensing with the services of the Government Agricultural Department inspectors,
  • Abolishing pensions to Civil Servants,
  • Protectionists vs free trade issues,
  • Abolishing pay for Government MP’s who have an income of 300 pounds or more,
  • Abolishing pay for Government MP’s outright
  • Women’s right to vote,
  • Imperial Federation vs Republican Federation and Republicanism vs Monarchy
  • Federation with Protection from the Outside World and Federation on Free Trade Lines
  • Intercolonial Free Trade with protection against the outside world
  • A tax of 10 pounds p.a. on bachelors of 30 years or over.
  • Smoking tobacco is injurious to the human system
  • Abolition of capital punishment
  • Opening Museums on Sundays
  • Repeal the present “dog tax”
  • Will the British Empire fall ?
  • Local option without compensation – local option and the liquor traffic
  • Leasing of the railways and tramway
  • Which was the greatest military genius, Wellington or Napoleon
  • Abolition of  paper money
  • Abolition of the unions in the working classes
  • Strikes – the best means of Prevention
  • Which is preferable town or country life
  • Which is the greater politician the Hon W E  Gladstone or Washington the first president of the United States
  • To affirm the notion that the Upper House in rejecting the Land and Income tax bill met with the approval of the electors of NSW
  • Which is the more preferable – married or single life
  • Which has been the greater benefactor to society, the inventor or the explorer
  • Whether In Temperance or Ignorance, the greater cause of crime and misery
  • Justification of diplomacy vs deceptive policy when used for the public good – in the military context of Lord Clive in the Indian Wars
  • Members of parliament should vote according to their opinions instead of the wishes of their constituents – that one would be a key issue 10 years later when the Sherbrooke resumptions were underway.

After 1895, the Sherbrooke Debating Club may have wound down, or was no longer of interest to the local newspapers. Certainly after 1895, there is little or no mention of Sherbrooke’s in the newspapers, although St Augustine’s Bulli and Woonona also soon had debating clubs. Perhaps that was winding down was unfortunate, because the Debating Club would have helped as the Sherbrooke community faced the resumption issue for Cataract Dam in 1902-1903.

By 1897, Molloys had a shop in Woonona and in 1900 the Molloys were erecting a residence in Woonona near a water course, perhaps near Campbell Street Woonona. However the interest in debating political issues remained with the Molloys supporting the creation of the Bulli Shire Council at various times in 1903 – 1904, in company with Messrs H. F. Cotterill and H. T.  Hicks, Wynn and Glass.

Molloy's Timber Business in the 1920's - courtesy of Mick Roberts Looking Back -

Molloy’s Timber Business in the 1920’s – courtesy of Mick Roberts Looking Back –

Unfortunately their furniture shop near to Davidson’s in Woonona was burnt down in 1906, and then they set up Molloy’s Timber, complete with a steam driven saw mill, which is where Cavions Scrap Metal later located in Bulli.  Timber was supplied from Sherbrooke over Bulli Mountain and also from Tomerong. There was another fire at the Bulli premises in 1919 which destroyed their machinery. Later they closed the Mill in Bulli and operated a Timber Distribution across the road from their original site.

The business was closed in mid 2013 – via Mick Roberts – Looking Back.

Further Reading :

  • “True North – Tales and Reminiscences – Celebrating the 2001 Centenary of Federation” – compiled by Mick Roberts with Terry Bugg, Jack Devitt, Mary Hendricks and Arthur Murray

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