William Robert Watson (Uncle Will)

William Robert Watson was born on June 30, 1856. He married Alice Eliza Bellette on October 25, 1882.

The photo above was taken on their diamond wedding annniversary in 1942. Uncle Will died the following year on July 18.

Will was well known in the sporting community. Like his father, he was a successful shot with the fowling piece, and a great cricket enthusiast, having been captain of a team on several occasions.

Golden Wedding Celebration

Ref: The Mercury Newspaper, Thursday 27 October 1932, page 2

At South Arm, on October 25, 1882, William Robert, second son of the late Mr. and Mrs. John Watson, sen., of York Grove, Sandford, to Alice Eliza, eldest daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. John Bellette, jun., of Sorell. Fifty years ago the above wedding ceremony was performed by the Rev. Canon H. Finis at the old school, South Arm.

The residents of South Arm and Sandford on October 25, 1932, did honour to Mr. and Mrs. Watson by giving them a reception at Calverton Hall. There were over 300 persons present. The gold and white wedding cake, which was given by Mesdames H. Alomes, Alan Calvert, and Alf. Calvert, was surmounted by the representation of a gold cricketer, in recognition of Mr. Watson's 60 years career as an active player. As the guests of the evening entered the hall "The Wedding March" and "Here Comes the Bride" were played by Mrs. A. Hurd. The bridesmaid of 50 years ago (Mrs. A. M. Elliott, of Melville Street, Hobart, nee Bellette) accompanied Mrs. Watson.


The Warden of Clarence (Mr. A. Chipman), who was introduced by the chairman (Mr. E. Calvert), spoke of his 50 years' association with Mr. and Mrs. Watson in the amenities of the district, and said he had found them true and constant friends, who had always been actuated by those principles that should guide us all through life. They had never turned a deaf ear to any charitable appeal. Mrs. Watson had been one of the earliest State school teachers at South Arm. Mr. Watson was a great sportsman, in the bush and at the range, and had always been amongst the winners. He had played the grand old game of cricket when it was in its in- fancy in the district, and had not missed a season since-a great record-from the age of 15 years to 75. In the early days he had seen him carrying a spade to clear the pitch from bumps when the bush had not been thrust back as far as it is at present. He presented Mr. and Mrs. Watson with a wallet of notes from his friends, a travelling rug from his sisters, a crystal clock from Mr. and Mrs. Jensen, a bowl from the Rev. H. C. and Mrs. Brammall, and several other gifts from relatives; also numerous bouquets for Mrs. Watson and her sister (Mrs. Elliott). Other speakers were the Rev. V. H. Gill (rector of Clarence), the Rev. H. C. Brammall) (late rector and lifelong friend), Councillor O. J. Morrisby, and Mr. Ernie Calvert.

Church Work

Mention was made of Mr. and Mrs. Watson's long career of church work, Mr. Watson having served several terms as churchwarden, and Mrs. Watson on the women's societies and committees. At 9.45 p.m. silence was observed while 7HO radioed congratulations; then sheaves of telegrams were handed to the happy couple.

Mr. Watson's Reply

Mr. Watson, in replying, said that he and his wife were deeply touched by the evidence of the goodwill and esteem of all the residents of the district, with whom they had worked and played all through their lives. Orcharding was only in its infancy at the time of their wedding. Sailing boats, owned by residents, took the produce and passengers up and down the river. There was no main road to Kangaroo Point (now Bellerive), only a beach track, and at high tide it was a wet journey. Mails came twice a week. There was no church, but services were held in the old school building. This was now built round with rooms, and used as a dwelling house, near Gellibrand's Corner. There was no telephone.

Musical Programme

A feature of the evening's programme was the performance by the Sunday school children of "The Wedding of the Painted Doll." This was organised by Mrs. Hurd and Miss Dickson. Others who helped with songs and dances were:—Mesdames Geoff, and Ern Calvert, Misses Madge Calvert, E. Alomes, L. Page, Sylvia Morrisby, Nellie Calvert, Messrs. Griffiths, Wishart, and Alomes. The flowers on the supper table and decorations were all gold. The bouquets were made and flowers arranged by Mrs. Percy Hook. This was the first golden wedding that has been publicly celebrated at South Arm. One of a family of 15, Mr. Watson said that seven survived. Mr. and Mrs. Watson have no direct descendants, but have numerous nieces and nephews throughout Tasmania.

The Bungalow

The Indian-style cottage was built in 1917 by Will and later owned by his nephew Charles Tolman and his wife Vera. The Bungalow remains unaltered except for the replacement of the shingle roof with colorbond and the inclusion of a bathroom on a small section of verandah.

The Tolman family which included children Jack and Olivia, stayed at the Bungalow for up to 8 weeks at a time during the summer, having travelled by ferry. They then wheel-barrowed their luggage from the South Arm jetty. As there is only one bedroom, the children and sometimes their friends used to sleep on the verandah, which had roll-down awnings.

Errol Flynn visited the Bungalow for holidays during the time he was a school friend of Jack Tolman.

The Bungalow changed hands for several years during the 1940s during which time it was used to bilet trainee soldiers, who slept on the verandah.

After a few years, it was re-purchased by Jack Tolman and remained with him until 1999 when it was sold to local resident Fran Rankin.