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Shoobridge, William Ebenezer (1846–1940)

Mr. William E. Shoobridge, a member of one of Tasmania's best-known pioneering families, died at his home, 7 Garden Crescent, Hobart, yesterday. He was aged 94 years. Mr. Shoobridge, the last of his generation in the Shoobridge family, spent a lifetime in the development and study of irrigation and primary production methods, and largely because of his efforts the district of Bushy Park in the Derwent Valley was transformed from worn out farmland to one of the most fertile areas in Tasmania. A funeral service will be held in the Bushy Park Methodist Church tomorrow, the cortege leaving Hawthorn Lodge at 2 p.m. for the church. After the service his remains will be interred in the Red Hill cemetery.

Of pioneer stock - his father, Mr. Ebenezer Shoobridge, came to Tasmania in 1822 - Mr. W. E. Shoobridge was born at Richmond (T.) In 1846, and the family transferred to New Norfolk in 1848. His education at Horton College, Ross, included a study of hydraulics, hydrostatics, and kindred subjects, and his early experience on the farm at Valleyfield awakened an interest in irrigation.

The estate at Bushy Park was purchased in 1864, and, with his brother, the late Mr. R. W. G. Shoobridge, under parental supervision, he began development of the property. He married Ann Benson Mather, daughter of Mr. R. A. Mather, of Hobart, in 1800, and resided at Valleyfield, but still continued supervision of the Bushy Park development. Experiments in hop drying met with considerable success, and culminated in a business visit to England, and to Saaz, Bohemia, in 1905. On his return he constructed the first Saaz drying kiln in Tasmania.

Mr. Shoobridge undertook the export of apples to England as ordinary cargo in 1881. The results encouraged him to persevere, until in 1880 a cool chamber was fitted in the steamer Warwickshire, and the possibilities of marketing in England were enlarged. He organised the Tasmanian Fruitgrowers' Union and as president of the Council of Agriculture from 1892, he initiated work of benefit to the dairying industry. Mr. Shoobridge engaged successfully in road construction, as a member of the Lower Derwent Road Trust, and later of the Upper Derwent Road Trust. He also promoted social welfare in Bushy Park.

With a set of standard instruments, he began recording weather conditions in October, 1873, and until the publication was taken over by the Federal Government, published the monthly means in the journal of the Royal Society, of which he was a member.

This work secured him a place in the International Scientists' Directory. He maintained the record for 50 years, and it was continued by his son, Mr. H. W. Shoobridge.

Forestry also gained his attention, and his interest in that field included the despatch of swamp gum for paper making tests.

An active church and Sunday school worker for more than 60 years he held many offices in the Methodist Church, and was a delegate to the annual conference in Melbourne for 30 years.

He was appointed an assessor of capital vulues in 18S9, and made the first assessment for New Norfolk. He also reassessed Glenorchy, and none of his assessments was upset on appeal. He was a territorial magistrate from 1878. He retired from active management in 1906 and devoted his life to travel and the acquirement of firsthand information particularly with regard to irrigation and water-power. He had two trips to England and Europe and in 1914 visited Canada and the United States on a commission from the Earle Government.

Mr. Shoobridge was elected a member of the House of Assembly for Franklin in 1916. He was defeated in 1919, but elected again in 1922 and held the seat until 1928. On the retirement of the late Mr. J. A. Lyons to enter Federal politics, he was elected to the seat for Wilmot, but was defeated at the State election in 1931.

Mr. Shoobridge's wife died in 1920, in the year following the celebration of their golden wedding. He is survived by a family of three sons, Ald V. W. Shoobridge, of the Hobart City Council, and Messrs. H. W. and M. R. Shoobridge.

Original publication

Citation details

'Shoobridge, William Ebenezer (1846–1940)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/shoobridge-william-ebenezer-906/text907, accessed 12 December 2018.

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