20 December 2023

Riverina Rewind: A very popular Wagga butcher

| Chris Roe and Michelle Maddison
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The butchers of Wagga Wagga in 1910.

The butchers of Wagga Wagga in 1910. Photo: Museum of the Riverina.

Today the Museum of the Riverina takes us back to the year 1910 to look at a group of Wagga master butchers.

The man seated at the centre of the image above is Sam Warran, who, along with Alick Clough (of Yarragundry), established a partnership together in 1909, merging their businesses to create the Hampden Butchery on Fitzmaurice Street.

The Wagga Wagga Express of 30 January 1909 stated that both men had been carrying on separate butchering businesses but decided to enter a partnership: “The principals are well known to Wagga housewives and are to be wished every success in their new venture”.

It seems that in the following year, Warran managed to annoy the “municipal inspector of nuisances” by driving his butcher’s cart on the footpath at North Wagga.

“They seem to think there are no footpaths there,” exclaimed the inspector as Warran and a colleague were fined for their impudence.

Sam left Wagga in November 1915, when he entered a business enterprise in Hay.

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Before leaving, the Master Butchers and Bakers of Wagga entertained the extremely popular local character at a farewell function.

“The employees also felt that they could not permit that gentleman to depart without expressing to him in some slight form, a measure of the esteem in which he was held by those associated with the trade,” recorded The Daily Advertiser.

James O’Regan presided over the event and raised a toast, proclaiming regret at “losing so valuable a citizen in the person of Mr Warran who had resided in their midst for many years and who had been closely associated with all charitable and progressive movements”.

The guest of honour was presented with an illuminated address “as a token of the deep respect in which he was held by the employees”. Illuminated manuscripts and scrolls were highly decorated formal documents and a popular civic gift in previous centuries.

He was also given a ‘smoker’s outfit’ on behalf of the members of the Master Butchers Association. This is more likely to have been a box for tobacco and matches than a jacket for smoking in.

Mr Warran responded to the outpouring “briefly but feelingly” and hoped that the “harmony between masters and their employees would continue to prevail”.

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After finishing his business in Hay, he resided in Sydney for a short while, before acquiring a butchering business in Parkes in 1920.

A story in the Parkes Western Champion in 1925 was full of praise for the “up-to-date butchery” that boasted the first automatic Lipman’s patent ammonia refrigerator to be installed in the Central West.

“It is claimed that meat is kept in a more perfect condition by the ammonia refrigerator than by the ordinary ice-chilled one,” the reporter gushed.

“Messrs. Warrans’ sausage mill is now worked by a small electric motor and there is another novelty in the shop in the form of a cash register which is electrically driven and thus obviates the necessity for cranking a handle at the side when using it.

“Messrs. Warrans’ butchery is well worth a visit of inspection and we congratulate the firm on their enterprise.”

On 1 December 1926 Sam Warren, Sr. retired from the firm of S. Warran & Co. leaving his son and namesake S.E. Warran to take charge.

In May 1943, his return to the Riverina for the Wagga Cup was noted by the local media.

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