Thursday 8 June 2023

From Thoroughbreds to Clydesdales

While for many years the Blairmount estate was the home of Thoroughbreds, it later became the home of champion Clydesdales, bred by Mr Frank Young.

Frank was born in South Australia in 1885 and played a big part in the wool industry. As a young man he excelled at football and rowing. After school he was sent overseas to England and the continent to learn the wool business. On coming home he had enough knowledge and experience to join Commonwealth Wool and Produce. He would ultimately become its chairman and managing director in 1911.

Frank was described as “not being loquacious”. He did not really like talking about wool, or business, but he did like talking about football.  By 1937 he was the chairman of the Woolselling National Council, trading about 3 million bales of wool a year. But Frank’s side passion was the breeding of Clydesdale horses.

Widgiewa Blackwood, Champion Clydesdale Stallion at
Dandenong Show, prior to being purchased by Frank Young. 
(The Australasian, 19.12.1931)

He purchased Blairmount in 1929, and immediately set about modernising it. Sewerage, water supply, and electricity were some of his earliest concerns. One of his first equine purchases in the same year was the ten year old stallion Bangaroo Lettre, by the imported stallion Royal Warden. Bangaroo Lettre had made his name standing for the Glen Innes Experiment Farm. Frank purchased some mares, including two imported from Scotland. He then proceeded to build his herd of mares using Bangaroo Lettre. Around 1933 Frank purchased Widgiewa Blackwood, who had been imported in utero, and was a stallion who had already built a good reputation. Frank would use Widgiewa Blackwood over his mare herd and produced quality horses, who would take prizes at many agricultural shows, and be sold for good money. The Australasian paper in 1937 would say “Mr Frank Young’s Stock are Strong in Breed Type”, and “the sound average good quality of the brood mares on the property is beyond question”.  Frank was President of the NSW branch of the Commonwealth Clydesdale Society that same year.

Mullamuddy Fancy, one of Frank's early mare purchases,
Champion Active Draught Camden Show 1935
(SMH 6.4.1935)

Unfortunately, in 1942 Frank was reducing his stock, selling 8 of his mares at auction, and in 1946 making a further reduction. It makes me wonder if he was not in good health, as he passed away in 1950 at the age of 65. Blairmount was eventually sold in 1954 to Mr Stan French whose Eschol Park property adjoined Blairmount.

Written by Claire Lynch

Sources - Trove

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