Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sepia Saturday: The Millaira stud

George Henry Alford, my husband's great-uncle, was a very complex person and his life was complex as well but I'm not attempting here to write his biography. This post is in response to the theme photo for Sepia Saturday this week, an advertisement  featuring a horse.

In the late 1800s George's father was a successful dairy farmer at Warragul in Gippsland, Victoria and George himself was a fine judge of cattle and horses. Throughout his life George committed to a diverse set of business opportunities - farming, real estate, a stable of trotting horses, a livery stable, a boarding house - as well as serving the community on any number of committees, judging at shows (including the Perth Show in 1918) and was a councillor of the Brighton council.

This is an advertisement for the boarding house he had at Warragul.

Gippsland Gazette
, 29 June 1909
But I think George's main interest in life was horses, trotting horses in particular. There are many, many newspaper articles mentioning the results of shows where George's horses gained prizes and trotting races where his horses placed well. The photo below is held by Museum Victoria and shows George with one of his trotters 'Alarm Bells'. In newspaper articles a lot of his horses have 'bells' in their names so I think the line must have been fine racing stock.

George Henry Alford and his champion trotter 'Alarm Bells' [Museum Victoria]
During World War 1 George and his family was living in the Brighton area near Melbourne. George worked as a real estate agent and had also built up a stable of horses that he called the Millaira stud. It was very well-known throughout Victoria and beyond. The family home was a substantial two-storied building and George was an elected member of the Brighton Council. But all was not well. Two of his sons were serving in France with the Australian Army (they returned in 1919), and his other son accidentally shot himself (dead) in 1916 and George himself was not well. So he put the Millaira stable of horses and the fittings on the market.

The sale was mentioned in newspapers in Hobart, Perth and Sydney as well as in Victoria and the results were very satisfactory.

The Australasian, 25 May 1918
Daily News (Perth), 30 May 1918
George must have held on to a few horses because there is another notice of a sale in 1926 and this time the reason given is that his son is not interested in carrying on the business. George was 64 years old and must have decided he couldn't keep it going himself but he lived until 1942 and I can't imagine he lost his interest in trotting and horses.

The Argus, 1926
I suggest you trot on over to Sepia Saturday to see what other bloggers have contributed.


  1. George certainly had an impressive number of horses at his stud. I hope he was happy with the prices obtained at the sales. My great grandfather brought a team of draught horses over from NZ to be sold at Kirks Bazaar, so they must hacpve had a good reputation.

  2. He must have been disappointed that his son wasn't interested in carrying on the business.

  3. Sounds like George was an all-round busy fellow, but his real joy came from owning horses. It must have been a bit of a disappointment to learn his son wasn't interested in the same thing. But children are different people with their own ideas about what they want and don't want. We bring them up to be independent thinkers and then have to let them go out into the world and be who they've decided to be and hope it all turns out all right!

  4. I know nothing of horses but I do enjoy reading the names in the sale list. That first horse image is a perfect match for the prompt.

  5. An interesting story about a dapper man,and a fine horse too.

  6. I don't know much about horses but I love many of the ones I've met. They seem noble creatures to me. I think Alarm Bells looks very noble, attentive, and intelligent. And obviously well-cared-for. George must have felt great sorrow to have to sell his prize horses.

  7. I do so love old adverts, so much social history crammed into so few column inches. And you manage to match the theme on so many levels.


I love to read your comments. Thankyou for your interest.



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