The Mann Family and Margaret River

(Compiled by Guy Jennings and the Margaret River Historical Society)

"Brookwood's history spans back to 1908 when the Mann family moved to the region as part of the thriving timber industry."

The first member of the Mann family to come to the south west was Leslie Rupert who, in 1908 at the age of 17, worked at Millar’s Timber Mill at Karridale, as offsider to the cook Doug Wilson. An accident put Leslie in Karridale Hospital, where Matron kept him working in the kitchen while he recuperated. Later, when he lost his mill job, he returned to the Gold fields to be with his parents and two brothers and two sisters. His father, Henry Ernest Mann, was a carpenter on the Great Boulder Mine.In 1910 Lesley returned to Margaret River with his father and younger brother Arthur to Location 859, which Leslie had bought two years previously.

They called the block Brookwood and lived in tents while building a jarrah bark hut. Their hopes of farming were thwarted by lack of money, so they took on a contract to ringbark trees and fence a neighbour’s land. They later began building and renovating houses. 

  

One was the ‘24’ near where the high school farm is now. This was at the 24—mile mark from Karridale, the head of the railway from the timber mill. Around 1904 there was a small settlement there and a landing for loading logs onto rail cars. The timber workers had dug a big well there to water the bullock teams and provide water for the locomotives. When the workers moved on to the Skeleton Bridge area on the Margaret River this area was lush with grass for cattle. 

In 1914 Alan, the son who had married in the goldfields, arrived in Margaret River with his wife and took up Location 999.

This became the start of their farm. Somehow they herded the cattle back to Brookwood and let them loose in the bush. No fences had been built, no bush cleared, but Arthur learnt how to milk. Three cows were lost to rock poison in the first year so they moved the herd down towards the coast to Boodjidup for the summer. The Maxwell and Rodgers families were down there and they all became friends.  

The Rev. Mother Elizabeth, on her first visit to the Convent wrote in a letter - “The first thing

I did on Monday morning was to see Mann, the builder, to tell him how immensely I appreciated the beautiful work he had put into it. I was very anxious to do this because he often loses jobs because he will not do cheap, shoddy work. It is a dream Convent, and all he wants to finish it by completing the quadrangle, but that must not be yet. There were certain things to be done there however, wood preservative etc., and that historic kitchen stove can now be installed in the convenient out—house he has put up.”

Convent of St. Elizabeth, Margaret River, 1928 (taken from rear of building)

Source - Little Grey Sparrows by Merle Bignell.   

He and Catherine were married in 1935. After a couple of years they returned to Margaret River, where Arthur built Wise’s brick garage, the CWA rooms at Cowaramup and a house for themselves on land on the corner of Mann Street and Railway Terrace, which he had bought from his sister Edna’s husband, Mervyn Longbottom.

Arthur was a member of Augusta-Margaret River Road Board for many years and later became a building inspector. Arthur and Catherine had no children and after Arthur’s death from a stroke their property was left to Arthur’s brother Alan’s three sons Ern, Allan and Norm.  

This information is an exert from Margaret River Stories

Source - Research by Jim Kinsella, Mae Wise and the Mann family.

 We would like to sincerely thank Guy Jennings and The Margaret River Heritage Society.

The Margaret Historical society

Contact the Margaret River Historical Society

The publication of "Margaret River Stories" brought to fruition a lengthy but enjoyable exercise conducted mainly by our member Guy Jennings, who tirelessly interviewed local people and families to produce many of the the fascinating stories included in the book. Together with these family histories are newspaper extracts, personal stories, and many, many intriguing old photographs.

The book also includes, as long promised, the definitive account of why the Margaret River was so named, plus the quirky little account of how the town's name was changed - and changed back!

Curtin University's Professor Graham Seal, Professor of Folklore within the Australian Studies Program at Curtin, summarised the book thus:

This book brings together the history and traditions of Margaret River and its people. From the original Wardandi, inhabitants of the region through to the present, Margaret River Stories provides snapshots of the pioneers, timber cutters, the Group Settlers, surfers, winemakers and tourists who are all part of a unique story. Illustrated with a wealth of fascinating photographs often drawn from the families of the community, this book is nothing less than a treasure and a tribute to the work of dedicated and talented historians and writers. A joy to look at and to read, it is a model of what a local history should be.

Copies of the book can be purchased through local booksellers or directly from the Society through this website. To purchase, please transfer the appropriate amount to our bank account, details of which are: Bankwest Margaret River, BSB 306 021, Account Number 0541686, Margaret River & Districts Historical Society Inc., using your surname as reference. Then email the receipt for funds to wightman@compwest.net.au with delivery details.

Alternatively, a cheque may be sent to MRDHS, PO Box 1575, Margaret River, WA 6285 with delivery details.

PRICES:

Book: $59.95

Postage and packing within Australia: $15

Postage and packing overseas - please email wightman@compwest.net.au