On the corner of Little Street and Memorial Drive, Forster, is a bench which was unveiled in 1949 outside the former residence of Thomas Buckle.1 The seat honours the public service Thomas gave to Forster during his residency there. Born in 1865, Thomas was the son of Francis Buckle,2 a shipowner and engineer who owned many wharves in Balmain. When Francis died, his fortune left his family independently wealthy.
Although Thomas lived the majority of his life in Sydney, he and his wife Jane Croll, daughter of the late Alexander Croll of Bungwahl,3 purchased a house at Forster where they lived on and off for 17 years. He loved the town and its people and never tired of talking about its beauty.4 Thomas was a keen fisherman and always shared his catches. He built a wharf for himself including a small electric lighting plant which extended to his wharf so he could go out in his skiff at night.
Thomas was a public-spirited man who assisted Forster in any way he could. He was the President of the Forster Urban Committee, President of the Returned Soldiers’ Association and assisted the Boy Scout movement.5
When he died in 1939 aged 74, there was genuine public grief in Forster at the news of his death. Soon after, friends and residents took a subscription in order to erect a memorial.6 Next time you walk along Little Street you might take a moment to remember Thomas Buckle.
Author: Marilyn Boyd
1 Northern Champion, 15 January 1949, 1.
2 NSW BDM, Birth Index for Thomas Buckle No. 360/1865.
3 NSW BDM, Marriage Index for Thomas Buckle and Jane Croll No. 6776/1893.
4 Dungog Chronicle, 22 August 1939, 4.
5 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 25 August 1939, 8.
6 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 9 March 1940, 2.