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A Full Circle
28 Dec 2012
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We are the "Stratton" who emigrated from England in 1988, the year of Brisbane's great EXPO on South Bank. We came out seeking a new life, myself Graham,my wife Maria and two son's Matthew, aged 7 and Richard aged 5. On reflection, our decision to emigrate was rather impulsive but we wanted an alternative to the days of me travelling away from home working at sea. I aspired to become a harbour pilot and my marine background provided me with a good discipline to offer my services in our new country. Brisbane was our chosen city on the basis that my sister Cheryl and her husband Ken Soens had settled in Browns Plains some years previously. I gained employment in late 1988 with John Burke Shipping as a relieving Master on the mv."Sid McGrath" and then was employed by the Port of Brisbane Corp. as Master of the suction trailer dredge, "Sir Thomas Hiley" in mid 1989. In 1992 I secured a Marine Pilots position in Gladstone and we moved to Gladstone to undertake those duties. In 1996 I was selected to join Brisbane Marine Pilots, a private pilotage company here in Brisbane. We returned to Brisbane and to date I have been happily employed driving ships within the great port in the beautiful river city of Brisbane. Over the past 24 years we have adapted well to our new land, we had a daugher, Zoe Marie in 1990, our true blue Aussie. Our kids have grown up each being successful in their own ways. Matt married Lauren in 1994, they have 2 boys, Ethan James aged 6 and Angus William aged 4. As at the end of 2012, Matt and Lauren own and operate MWS masonry, a stonemasonry business based in Hemment. Richard is onto his second career, just about to commence studies for his Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. Zoe has graduated as a Vet. Technician and is employed at Greencross Vets, Moorooka. Australia has proven to be indeed a lucky country for us and we are so glad to live in one of its best cities, Brisbane. So where is the full circle in such a young family story? It began in 1888, almost exactly 100 years before we emigrated to Brisbane in 1988. The occasion was the arrival in Charters Towers of my great grand father on my mothers side, William Hatch, born in 1869 in Bramshaw, New Forset, England. William was one of 15 children born to a forester Henry Hatch and his wife Eliza Spratt. One can assume that the lure of the goldfields of Charters Towers, nicknamed "The World", would have reached England and induced William to travel across the oceans seeking his fortune, along with peoples from all over the globe. Family stories suggested my great grand father in the late 1800's had owned a 'ruby' mine in Charters Towers. The story continued that he was a womaniser and drinker and that his wife, along with their 3 children, including my grandfather, left him and returned to England. Subsequently through some foul deeds he was dispossessed of his mine and died a poor man, never re-uniting with his wife or seeing his children again. So much for family stories, but the truth is so much more interesting. Several years ago we had been introduced to a researched family history story by several long lost cousins both in the UK, Spain and in Sydney. Keith and Diana How from the UK, Chris and Ruth Shone in Spain and Ken and Gail Diment in Sydney. These guys had done a lot of leg work, gathering and sorting so much information and being generous in their sharing of the results. By the start of 2012, we had compiled an rough story line of William Hatch, his wife Emily Sophia and their children. But like a lot of things in life, reading about it and looking at printed copies is one thing, but living the experience and seeing for yourself is another experience. So in October of this year my wife Maria and I took a road trip north toward Cairn with the intention to visit Charters Towers where William and Emily married and had 3 children and also Collinsville where William ended his days, working in the coal mines there and where he died in 1931. William had came to Charters Towers in 1888. He was born in April 1869, so he was only 19 years old at the time. He would have worked as a miner in the gold fields. In 1891, Emily Sophia Rattue arrived from England. She lived near Salisbury, Wiltshire which is not too far from William's Bramshaw. How they were paired off is still unclear but they married the day after Emily arrived at Charters Towers in December 1891. They had a miners homestead lease in Hodgkinson Street, down near the railway. They had 4 kids, however one died at birth. Times got hard towards the end of the century and in 1899 they all returned to the UK but William, once more felt drawn to Charters Towers and he returned alone a few years later to win his fortune. Records suggest he tried many leases including some leases within the area known as the Ruby P.C.Mine. In time, the large companies took over the mining activities as it required large capital and much eqipment to mine and extract the ore. William set off west and spent time in Cloncurry and the Dutchess Mine, working copper ore. He became a unionist there and also sat out the horror of the First Wolrd War. In 1920 the collapse of the copper prices saw the end to much mining activity in the area and William is left quite destitute, living in a tent in quite harsh conditions. He finally returned to the coast and went to Collinsville where the new coal mines opened up in 1922. William would have worked as a miner there until his death in 1931. He had worked all his life as a miner, the Collinsville Mining Museum is a testimony to these hard and dangerous times. We learnt a lot about those times and conditions and conclude that William was a hard worker, a member of a Temperance Lodge which makes him perhaps not a teetotaller, but a responsible person, a staunch unionist, being an equivilant of todays shop steward and a man who sent money to his family back in the UK on a regular basis up to his death. It was a great trip and one that made us both feel more attached to Australia and proud to have some connection to those early pioneers. One hundred years after William arrived, my family arrived in Brisbane. Whilst William never struck it rich he displayed a tenacity and strenght to carve a living for his family from the land. William, my great grand father is an inspiration to us all as we, in our turn, work, prosper and enjoy a great life here in Brisbane. A full circle indeed!

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