William and Sarah Collins

William Collins (1848-1896)

William Collins. MUS1989.5
William Collins. MUS1989.5
Sarah Collins. MUS1989.5
Sarah Collins. MUS1989.5

William Collins was born in the Casino area in 1848 and was baptised at Grafton. His family moved to Sydney during the 1850s and took up residence in Erskine Street, Sydney.

Sarah Collins (1849-1902)

William married Sarah Keppie in Sydney on 7th April 1869. Between 1874 and 1889 William and Sarah had nine children:

  • Ada Annie Harriet (1870-1952)
  • Henry Herbert (1872-1928)
  • William Walter Thomas (1874-1952)
  • Alfred Edwin (1877-1928)
  • Henrietta (1879-1947)
  • Evan John (1880-?)
  • Stella Sarah (1881-1965)
  • Eliza Isabella (1887-1979)
  • Percy Charles George (1889-1943).

Initially William worked as a hairdresser but later became a publican and took up running the Caledonian Hotel in Pyrmont, Sydney in 1880.

William Collins was held in high esteem by those who knew him particularly for his involvement in Masonry and Oddfellowship as treasurer for the Seaman’s Union.

On 20th September 1883, on the eve of his departure for the Tweed, a garden party and banquet were held for William at the Sir Joseph Banks Hotel in Botany, Sydney in recognition of his public services and sterling qualities as a private citizen . At this event William was presented with an illuminated address which says, in part,

'We present to you this address on the eve of your departure from amongst us to enter upon a new sphere of life in order to express our esteem & admiration of your character as exhibited in all your relations among us either as a man or a citizen.'

Sarah Collins was presented with an inscribed sterling silver tea and coffee service on behalf of the officers and members of the Seaman’s Union in testimony of the valued services rendered by her husband as treasurer to that society.

At Tumbulgum

The Junction Inn at Tumbulgum (detail). MUS1992.25
The Junction Inn at Tumbulgum (detail). MUS1992.25

By 1884 William Collins was running the Junction Inn at North Tumbulgum where he was a very popular figure in the community.

During this time William took an interest in public affairs and worked hard for area which at that time was a bustling township. In 1884 William Collins founded a branch of the Independent Order of Oddfellows, Manchester Unity, and hosted the opening at the Junction Inn.

This was deemed to be a great success, and a great many availed themselves of the opportunity of joining a friendly society, for it supplied a want that was very much felt in the district.

In 1885 William Collins was involved in the establishment of the first Masonic Lodge in the Tweed Valley. Lodge Tweed No. 136 was consecrated on 31st January 1885 and the first Worshipful Master was Worshipful Brother William Collins. The first meetings were held in Collins’ Junction Inn.

In 1888 at the Oddfellows’ Annual Dinner and Ball William Collins was presented by the Lodge with a beautifully illuminated address and a purse of sovereigns, in recognition of his valuable services to the Lodge.

As well as the activities mentioned above William was noted for promoting and conducting a foot race known as the Sheffield Handicap, which took place for many years in front of the Junction Inn on New Year’s Day.

The race became one of the most important events of the year with many people from the district attending and laying wagers.

At Murwillumbah

In 1890 William Collins and his family relocated to Murwillumbah where he opened the Club House Hotel which became known as Collins’ Hotel. His advertisements at the time announced that he was offering his clientele Private tables and best brands of Liquors, 'The Culinary Department is under most efficient management, and cannot fail to give satisfaction'.

William was noted for being a genial and courteous host and continued to work for the promotion of the interests of Murwillumbah. He became secretary of the Progress Committee and at all times of his life held some position that was tended to the forwarding of the interests of the neighbourhood in which he lived.

The Club House Hotel became known for good cheer and conviviality and William and his wife Sarah were thought to do everything in their power to entertain the customers who patronised their establishment.

William Collins' death

After a long illness William Collins died at Tweed Heads on 23rd August 1896. His coffin was conveyed by steam launch from Tweed Heads to Murwillumbah.

His funeral procession started from the Club House Hotel, for the Church of England portion of the cemetery. The procession was headed by the Murwillumbah brass band, playing the “Death March”, followed by Oddfellows’ Lodge and the Masonic Lodge members all dressed in full regalia. The hearse was attended by his near relatives and friends.

William was survived by his wife Sarah and their nine children. Sarah succumbed to heart failure in 1902 aged 52.