History of West Australia/George Bellingham

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GEORGE BELLINGHAM, J.P., M.I.F.M.E., M.E.

IT is now considered a wise and fruitful policy to specialise in any one branch of art and science. No doubt the advantages of exclusive devotion to one subject are exceptionally great, as has been proved of late years in connection with chemistry and electricity. Scientists by their restricted attention to each of these sciences have imparted to the world the results of brilliant experiments and investigations. Still, such particularising may tend to close, perhaps involuntarily, the doors of the mind against other equally important departments of knowledge. It overdevelops one part of the mind at the expense of the other.

George Bellingham HOFWA.jpg
Photo by
Hemus & Hall.
GEORGE BELLINGHAM, J.P.

In Western Australia and in many other growing colonies such exclusive attention to any single branch would prove somewhat barren and unprofitable. To keep pace with the sudden expansion one must, to be truly serviceable, combine the functions of several offices. Facilities are not yet what they should be; environments are still rugged, and till these are perfected and those polished we can have no opportunities of allotting to every man one definite task. Under such circumstances the man who can respond to the calls of different requirements is one who is in every way suited for colonial enterprise.

Mr. Bellingham was born in Bendigo, Victoria, in 1860. His parents removed to Adelaide while he was still a child, and his education was begun and completed in Adelaide. On leaving school he entered the large offices of Messrs. Green and Co., engineers and mining surveyors, of Adelaide. During his five years' apprenticeship he carefully digested much useful information, and wisely availed himself of the wide experiential knowledge which that firm afforded. At the end of his quinquennial term he started business for himself in Adelaide. For three years he practised there as surveyor and mining engineer. Nor were his youthful efforts devoid of success. His rising capabilities were studiously watched, and before he had been any length of time in practice he had won a reputation for his scientific abilities and enterprising perseverance that might have caused jealousy in more experienced circles. But in a comparatively established township it is no easy matter to ascend in proportion to your powers. It is tedious and very gradual, and the energetic mind gets disheartened and goes in search of newer fields and wider spheres.

Mr. Bellingham then, after some deliberation, resolved to quit Adelaide and go to the north of Queensland, which at this time was winning no small amount of fame as a mining field. Whilst there he surveyed Charters Towers and other more or less important places. He returned to Victoria after a short stay in Queensland, and entered the Railway Survey Department of the colony. He was eighteen months in that employ, and completed several large undertakings for the Government. Up till now he had acted as mining engineer, mining surveyor, land surveyor, and lastly, civil engineer. There may be a certain kinship existing among these offices, but while one of them is intricate and difficult enough to the ordinary mind, the mastering of four would be rightly judged as the result of uncommon ability.

In 1891 he left for Western Australia, and entered the Government Survey Department. He went to Coolgardie in October, 1893, to finish some surveying for the Government, and had not been there many months before new goldfields broke out around Coolgardie. The long-expected opportunity came at last. He made Coolgardie his headquarters, and started the business which he at present holds. Though no longer directly in the service of the Government survey, he never discontinued his connection with the department, and often he is called upon to perform surveying operations.

The firm, under the name of Messrs. Bellingham and Sharland, has an extensive connection in Coolgardie. They are architects, civil and mining engineers, land and mining surveyors, and they enjoy the reputation of being one of the oldest established businesses in Coolgardie. Mr. Bellingham is a licensed surveyor of all the Australian colonies except New South Wales, He was admitted as a member of the Institute of Federal Mining Engineers in 1894. In the administration of the municipal affairs of Coolgardie he is a prominent figure. He was elected a councillor in 1895, and still retains his seat. His earnest desire to promote the general good in every department has caused him to take his seat on various sub-committees of the council, such as the Health Board and the Board of Trade. In these two boards he has rendered able services to the community at large. Progress, improvement, and amelioration are his ideals for the advancement of the town. He was one of the first members of the Coolgardie Stock Exchange, and of the Chamber of Mines and Commerce, and he has continued his membership of these two bodies up to the present. Many claim the first local flotation of a mine in Coolgardie, but it is beyond doubt that the Moorfield was the first mine floated locally. This flotation was effected by Mr. Bellingham. He is a director of the Easter Gift, Richmond Gem, and Malcolm Mohr.

He was made a Justice of the Peace in 1895. He is a prominent Freemason in Coolgardie, and was one of the founders of the Freemasonry Lodge of that town, and is now (1896) Senior Warden. He has contributed no little share to the growth of Coolgardie. The bonds which unite him to Coolgardie are strong and lasting, and the sincere interest he takes in every felicitous action finds a response in the breast of those whom he endeavours to benefit. As a committee man, he has exerted himself strenuously in every venture and in every matter of concern, and has shed many a welcome light on what seemed obscure and unpracticable. His efficiencies, his deep and long experience of the fields and the town, and his keen abilities, constitute him a pillar of strength in Coolgardie.