Blencowe Families' Association Newsletter Vol. 19 No. 4 December 2004

Blencowes get together ‘Downunder’

As reported in the August newsletter, the descendants of George Blencowe (1858-1940) and his wife Matilda Nourse (1865-1945) were invited to attend a reunion at the Griffith Pioneer Park Museum. Griffith is a town in western NSW only 36 miles from Leeton where the Blencowes settled after the First World War. It was the ideal setting for the gathering as the museum depicted the era in which they were farming. The towns of Griffith and Leeton came into being with the commencement of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area circa 1913.

The Reunion was tinged with sadness with the passing of George and Matilda's grand-daughter, Gwen Hill, nee Blencowe, on the Sunday before. Gwen, who had been looking forward to the reunion, was laid to rest after a service conducted by the Leeton minister at the Uniting Church in Griffith.

More than sixty of the family had travelled to the Reunion from Belgium, Western Australia, Queensland, the ACT and throughout NSW. George and Matilda had 19 grandchildren of whom only five are now living: Jean Luhrs (Blencowe), Noel Blencowe. Norman and John Taylor and Beryl Crouch (Blencowe). Noel was not well enough to travel and John was attending his grandchild's wedding in Queensland. Jean, Norman and Beryl had a wonderful weekend

Saturday 2nd October began mid-morning with family putting up the displays of their memorabilia which included embroidery and crocheting of Matilda and a very old music box/photo album belonging to the couple. A professional photographer was hired to record events and, more importantly, to scan all the old photos and documents considered important to preserve for future generations and to be available on CD ROM to the wider family.

The afternoon was spent mingling and getting to know one another. Due to the spread of our family throughout Australia, no one had met very many of their relatives. Many took the opportunity to visit one or two of the many wineries in the area making the most of cellar door sales.

The formal part of the reunion was the Saturday evening, beginning with a roast dinner. Beryl Crouch had specially made cream table cloths with pleated skirts, purple and cream table runners, and floral table centre pieces in mauves and purples. The table settings took us back to the era of George and Matilda, whose painting hung over the mantelpiece on which proudly stood the Blencowe coat of arms beautifully crafted by Beryl and her husband, Bob. The room was set up “just as Grandma would have wanted it”. Our eldest family member, Jean Luhrs welcomed everyone and said Grace.

An after-dinner talk on our early pre-Australian history was given by Wilfred Blencowe who had travelled from Belgium for the occasion. Wilfred had managed to track our family back to Adam de Blencow via Brackley, Radstone and Marston St Lawrence. The audience was captivated by his little anecdotes, especially about a maiden aunt Olive's decision to turn down an inheritance from England because it came from the sale of a brewery! Beryl spoke about the life of George and Matilda and the legacy they left us.

On Sunday many family members travelled to Leeton for the 9.30 service in the Leeton Uniting Church. Rev Mark Collins welcomed the return of the family and gave recognition to the part played by George and Matilda in the foundation of the original church in Leeton and the building of the present one by their son and grandson, both also named George. Three generations of Blencowe were born in Leeton but four generations grew up within the Leeton church which was the centre of not only our spiritual life but our social and recreational life as well. The present congregation welcomed us with a morning tea following the service.

After church, a tour of Leeton and district past former Blencowe homes and our various farms, including where George Henry Blencowe and seven other growers harvested Australia's first commercial irrigated rice crop. The nostalgic Leeton tour culminated with a visit to the Leeton cemetery to pay tribute to George and Matilda and other family members.

The final official function was back at the Pioneer Park in Griffith for a good Aussie barbecue tea and final farewells as most were leaving for home the next morning.

Anne Burton, Deniliquin NSW
October 2004

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Blencowe Families' Association   Vol. 19 No. 4 December 2004
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updated: 30 July 2005