TILBA'S ROLLERSKATING PAST

The 100+ year old character-filled Central Tilba School of Arts 'Big Hall' has been used for a wide variety of creative pursuits.

Early use, rather surprisingly, was a roller skating rink - a very progressive and fashionable start for a small country town hall!  Roller Skating was all the rage at the time and the Show Pavilion at the Tilba Tilba Showground was the temporary rink to satisfy roller skating enthusiasts until the Hall's completion in 1911.

After years of skating use, the floorboards in the Big Hall were polished down by the roller skate wheels, and perfectly transitioned into a smooth dance floor when the skating fad was over.

Many family-friendly dances were held in the Big Hall and  euchre cards were played next door in the Small Hall, providing plenty of entertainment for all.

 

Also used as a storage hall for cheese from the nearby  factory, plus housing many different community and art events over the years, nowadays the Tilba Hall comes alive every Saturday for the famous Tilba Markets and continues to be a community hub for trivia nights, performances, balls, exhibitions and meetings.

The Hall is available for hire for weddings and events by contacting Sally Pryor from the Central School of Arts Trust.

ELIZABETH PEARL CORKHILL

Australian military nurse of the First World War

Born on 11 March 1887 at Tilba Tilba, New South Wales, Elizabeth was the second of three children of William Henry Corkhill, grazier, cheesemaker and photographer (see below), and his wife Frances Hawtrey, née Bate.

 

Pearl grew up on her father’s property, Marengo, and attended Tilba Tilba Public School. Graduating as a general nurse in 1914, in 1915 she joined the Australian Army Nursing Service, Australian Imperial Force, as a staff nurse.

 

Posted to the 1st Australian General Hospital, Corkhill arrived in Egypt in July 1915 where she tended sick troops from the Gallipoli campaign. Reaching France in April, she and two other Australian nurses wore green gum leaves with the inscription `Dardanelles 1915’.

 

One night Elizabeth was on duty during an air raid in which she 'continued to attend to the wounded without any regard for her own safety’. For her 'courage and devotion’ she was awarded the Military Medal, becoming one of only seven Australian nurses to receive that award during World War I.

Returning to Australia in March 1919, she held various private nursing positions both in Australia and overseas and in 1951, she was appointed as senior sister at Bega District Hospital.  A skilled horsewoman, she also led the parade for the centenary of the Cooma Show in 1975.

Elizabeth Corkhill died on 4 December 1985 at Dalmeny and was buried in the Narooma cemetery. She never married. Her MM and other service medals are held by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

A true Australian heroine and by all accounts, a wonderful and kind person.

WILLIAM HENRY CORKHILL

The Tilba Tilba Photographic Collection

In 1882 William Corkhill was invited to visit Tilba Tilba by Henry Jefferson Bates and his wife Elizabeth which subsequently led to his marriage to their daughter Frances the following year and settlement into Tilba life.

 

Accountant, cheesemaker, father to Elizabeth Pearl Corkhill and farm manager, William Henry Corkhill began taking photos at the age of 44 after reading some books on the subject.

 

Over the next twenty years he took thousands of pictures of his family, friends and neighbours in the Tilba community and produced a fascinating collection of around 1000 glass plate negatives.

 

The works were gifted to the National Library by his daughter in 1975.  840 of the plates retained printable images containing a treasured record of life in the thriving Tilba community at the turn of the twentieth century.

The iconic collection gives us a unique and valuable insight into early Tilba life and the workings of the farming community, and thanks to Sister Pearl Corkhill and other residents of the Tilba district, most of the people and places in the photographs were able to be identified.

The collection is housed at the National Library of Australia in the ACT.

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