George Cranfield and the Shearers Union: History with Brian James

The following article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, October 23, 1888.

Ademonstration and sports meeting of union shearers, to celebrate the conference between the sheep owners and the representatives of the union, took place at Young on Saturday last, and was a most successful gathering.

At 11 o'clock the procession was formed opposite the shearers office, Criterion Hotel, where they were addressed by W. G. Spence, president of the union.

The procession headed by the town band and the handsome banner of the branch, then started for the cricket ground (now Cranfield Oval), upwards of 300 shearers marching in line, and altogether about 500 taking part in the days amusement.

The principal events were the sheep-shearing contests, viz:- One for a prize of £15/15/- .

The first was won by J. Byron, a shearer from Berthong; the second by Peter Scott, Wombat.

There were two other events for good prizes.

For the first event there were 36 nominations, the judges were Messrs. G. H. Greene , E. J. Allen, and M. Brown.

The other sports were all well contested.

Although there were about 1500 on the ground, not a single complaint was heard, or a case of intemperance noticed.

In the evening a torch light procession took place, and a meeting was held in the Mechanics' Institute, the Mayor in the chair, where addresses were delivered by Mr. H. Greene, who spoke in strong terms of the apathy and selfishness of sheep owners, and while warmly supporting the union, denounced anything in the way of intimidation or boycotting.

Mr. Greene was followed by Mr. W. G. Spence, president of the union, who spoke to the same effect, complaining that the union was boycotted by certain sheep owners.

At the close of his remarks he contended that the sentences passed on the participators in the Brookong rioting cases were altogether too severe.

He advised the union men to act with moderation, and live down opposition."

The Mayor at the time was George Cranfield.

George Cranfield was involved with the Carriers Union and was pro union, as was some other members of the Council and many leading citizens.

October 24, 1888 was a big day in the life of George Cranfield and the people of Young.

George had more on his mind other than unions, this was the day the mechanics Institute was finally purchased by the Borough Council as a future Town Hall for Young.

As chairman of the Young Federal Labour Council George was heavily involved with Union matters and he and his fellow unionist found sentiment changing, as strikes and troubles increased, in the attitude of some business owners and citizens.

In 1890 a general strike was called in the country, so as to gather support the combined unions of Young decided to hold a demonstration to raise funds for the Burrangong Hospital.

Cranfield arranged to purchase 60 sheep from Tunney's "Spring Park" for a shearing competition.

When Cranfield and others approached some business owners for donations they were treated in an abusive manner.

So as to gather support they asked the hospital committee to collect the money at the showground gates and at the concert and ball in the evening, and they persuaded people of various political persuasions to act as officials.

The day of the demonstration was Friday, November 21, 1890 and it was a resounding success.

George Cranfield led the march on a grey charger, the Young Town Band followed the banner of the shearers union, consisting of a shearer, a kangaroo and an emu painted by Joseph Schmidt.

Fifty shearers on horses followed the band with 100 shearers on foot.

The Yass Town Band was placed further back in the procession.

The various Society groups followed and then the general public brought up the rear on the long march to the showground.

At the height of the day it was estimated 1500 people were at the showground.

The Burrangong Argus begrudgingly said the demonstration was "par excellence the greatest event of its kind ever held in the town".

The concert and ball at the Town Hall that evening was equally a great success.

At 11pm, half an hour after the concert ended the ball commenced and 40 couples danced waltzes, polkas, reels and schottisches until dawn.

*Some of this article sourced from "Bow Bells to Burrowa Street" by William Forbes.