ohn Atkins was a man of his times ~ a man with ambition, a man with goals and man with the means of achieving  them. He saw opportunity in the location of the Fyans ford - at the very gateway  to Geelong, to Ballarat and to the western district.      It was the nexus between a quickly developing hub and a bountiful country filled with untapped potential. He had an eye for the future, for his future and for Fyansford's.

Only six years earlier captain Foster Fyans had recognised the importance of this bottleneck at a ford that just had to be crossed on route to or from Geelong; either that or the traveller had to detour further north, i.e. until a bridge could be built across the Barwon river to the south.

 

As a businessman he saw only advantage in building an inn beside the Fyans ford. Thus he contracted a Mr. Marr to built that inn, later referred to as the Swan Hotel. It opened with Atkins as licensee in 1842. 

Jo Mitchell in her blog "Four bridges and a ford: the ford" observed, “… In 1842 when Atkins and Clarke selected the site for their inn, they chose a prime position on the track to the ford. The flats nearby were used to hold some of the region's earliest horse races as well as other sporting matches. After only a handful of years however, the original owners, were forced to sell up having overstretched themselves financially...."

 

Unfortunately the vaguaries of life often interfere with the best-laid business plans. When a bridge over the Moorabool was built in 1854 at a location a few hundred metres down from the ford, the Swan inn now found itself somewhat 'off-the-beaten-track' so to speak and with new more accessible establishments, the Balmoral and Fyans' Ford hotels being built directly by the roadside in 1854/55, its future was less opportune.  

 

Nonetheless,  John Atkins played his crucial part in the establishment of Fyansford as an important stopping-off point for individual travellers, coaches and commercial bullock teams. The import of this foundation member of the community was recognised by the naming of one of its streets. 

1847 George Alexander Gilbert sketch ca 1845 showing both the ford and the Swan Inn. (State Library of Victoria)

Fyans' Ford  1862 by Samuel Calvert (engraver)

Press clippings from 1843

Click first clipping to enlarge

My Ponderings... Remember to click first image to enlarge to full size.

Where is, or was, Atkins Street?

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The many faces of Atkins St. Remember:- Click image to enlarge to full size.

and, in my mind's eye...

A bullocky stopping by

for a hard earning beer

Weary coach passengers

enjoying a toilet-stop

An elegant couple strolling along the Parade

What children group up on the property and what adventures they must have had

What stories the old Swan Inn buildings could tell

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Last photos of Atkins St. Remember:- Click image to enlarge to full size.

Fyans' Ford  1862 by Samuel Calvert (engraver)

Showing gentry walking beside the Moorabool River                                       along The Parade,                   

across from John Atkins' old Swan Inn       

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© John Flatt 2015