Edwin Ernest “Ernie” Gorton was born in Stroud in 1867.1 His father Noel operated a prosperous wheelwright business there repairing and constructing wheels for horse drawn wagons and buggies. Ernie became interested in leather goods and entered the trade of saddler and bootmaker. He set up business in Clarence Town but believing he would be more successful further north he moved to Nabiac in 1894 operating a leather, saddle and boot making shop at 13 Nabiac Street.2
His trade increased to the extent that he taught his wife Ellen “Nellie” Hancock how to complete the finishing touches to the saddles and footwear, a task in which she became highly skilled. The brand “E. E. Gorton, Maker, Nabiac” on the leather products became so well-known and respected that orders for saddles were received in lots of 15 or more from large cattle stations in Queensland, Northern Territory and New South Wales.
Ernie was a skilled craftsman who laboured over his products by hand with pride. At the peak of production he employed additional workers including four saddlers, two harness makers and two bootmakers.3
Ernie worked late into his 80s assisted by a son and grandson. Nellie passed away in 1956 aged 85 and Ernie passed away in 1959 aged 96.4 They are both buried in Failford cemetery.
Author: Marilyn Boyd
1 NSW BDM, Edwin E Gorton birth index No. 15130/1867.
3 J. M. Clarke and G. T. G. Irwin, “Brothers George and Joseph Gorton, Pioneer Cattlemen”, 1977, p. 23.
4 NSW BDM, Edwin Ernest Gorton death index No. 24285/1959 and Ellen Gorton death index No. 24854/1956.
5 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 15 February 1899, 3.