The Trinham orchard was a large property of 138 acres, located along the western side of today’s Beaconsfield-Emerald Road stretching from Stoney Creek Road to Lewis Road. Mr John George Trinham planted the first commercial orchard in North Beaconsfield, but after his death in 1913 his children were keen to realise the estate, as they weren’t able to continue to run the orchard as a family concern. On behalf of the Trinham Estate, the Victorian Orcharding Association offered the property to the King, for the Government to use it as a Soldier Settlement property.
As the property was large, and there were two existing dwellings, it was decided to split it into two parts, to be allocated to two returned soldiers who were keen to farm next to one another. Stanley William Smith and Douglas Kerr had both served in France with the 14th Battalion for over three years, and both had been wounded in action which left them with a 50% disability due to gunshot injuries on their right arms. Both returned soldiers had some experience in farming/market gardening and completed a six month horticultural course at Burnley College. They took possession of the orchard on 13 Oct 1920.
Our old Village Bells recall the two settlers, in particular a time when they were both spraying rows of fruit trees, and, arriving at opposite sides of the same tree, they drenched each other with copper sulphate solution. They also owned a temperamental International Harvester oil engine, mounted on a cart, which was started by pulling a rope around the fly-wheel. When it fired they regularly ran for cover until they were sure that it was safe to approach again.
Both settlers were involved in community affairs being treasurer and secretary, respectively, of the North Beaconsfield Progress Association in 1925. By 1929 they were both struggling on their properties. Kerr applied for a reappraisal of the value of the land, as the market value of apples had so declined that the returns from his orchard could not meet interest charges. He had made improvements to the property in the first three years, but the last five years had been failures. Although the board adjusted the property value, and thus the repayment amount, Kerr had decided by Sept 1930 to surrender the allotment to make available to another settler. It appears that Smith had surrendered his property before Kerr, as Herbert Charles Wain had taken over the lease of Smith’s allotment. By now the Government not only had to deal with returned soldiers, but also with a rising number of unemployed men. Kerr’s orchard was allocated to Thomas Fergus Black under the Unemployment Relief Scheme, though his lease was later taken over by the Closer Settlement Board. In a report issued to the Board in 1936, Black was described as an expert orchardist and an excellent type of settler, and was worthy of every consideration to be given a lease under the Closer Settlement Act. In May 1938, he was able to buy Wain's allotment for £525, thus enlarging his orchard considerably. Fairview Farm, as the property was known, stayed in the Black family for many decades, until the last part was sold late last year.