The gravestone for John Stephen Lumley and his wife Lydia in Wardell.
The gravestone for John Stephen Lumley and his wife Lydia in Wardell. Australian Cemetery Index

Pioneer builder was a jack-of-all-trades in Wardell

IN A corner of Wardell cemetery there is the grave of John Stephen Lumley who came to Australia from Essex, England in 1856 at the age of 22.

He was buried in 1918 with his wife Lydia (nee King) who predeceased him in 1905.

He first settled at Coraki where he worked as a carpenter building boats for local shipwright William Yabsley.

John married Lydia at Casino in 1858.

When the Free Selection Bill was passed in 1861, John moved to South Lismore where he selected land.

John Stephen Lumley with his wife Lydia and their children.
John Stephen Lumley with his wife Lydia and their children. Courtesy of Blackwall Historical

He joined with Edmund Coleman in the construction of several important buildings including the courthouse, the early Lismore hospital, Commercial Bank and Nesbit House.

The hospital funds were provided for the first building from a bequest by William Forster from Federal.

All the timber John used was prepared and dressed by hand.

Some of the buildings are still there - notably the two story building on the corner of Zadoc and Molesworth Streets, the first Church of England and the Wollongbar Church.

These early buildings all had shingle roofs.

The shingles were split from logs on land John Stephen had selected at South Lismore.

The shingles were tied in bundles, stacked on a barge and floated up the river to the building sites.

In 1880, John Stephen moved to Wardell and he, and his son Henry, selected land at Lumley’s Lane.

He started a butchery business where Mayley House now stands and built a slaughter house on the farm as well as a house.

He is known to have grown sugar cane on the farm at Lumley’s Lane.

At the time of his death he had six children, 38 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Four of his grandsons were still fighting in the Great War when he died.

References

  • ‘Work to Death’ by Blackwall Historical Society, Wardell.
  • Australian Cemeteries Index (austcemindex.com).
  • Northern Star, Monday, November 22, 1954.
  • Northern Star, Friday, April 12, 1918.


Lawyer tells jury not to believe 'conman from Goonellabah'

premium_icon Lawyer tells jury not to believe 'conman from Goonellabah'

Universal Medicine operated under his 'sole control', court told

26mLs in 10 minutes: Hail, heavy rain lashes region

26mLs in 10 minutes: Hail, heavy rain lashes region

A severe thunderstorm warning is in place

Local Partners