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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Louttit Family Reunion 2019

The unique story of seafaring Scotsman, Joseph Louttit, and his granite quarry on the South bank of Moruya River, was given a great new life when more than 70 of his descendants gathered in the town for several days in March 2019. Many had not known much about one another or their ‘place’ in “Clan Louttit”.

Further to this…there was a lot to learn of how the 400 million year old granite from his quarry was used in the building of many of Sydney’s prominent structures… starting with columns in the magnificent GPO and segments of Captain Cook’s monument… through to St Mary’s Cathedral and beyond. Little also was known of the many uniquely talented Artisans associated with specification or use of the stone. These included International Builder, John Young. Colonial Architect, James Barnet. Professor in sculpture at London’s Royal Academy of Art, Sir Thomas Woolner, and Entrepreneur, Captain Tom Watson. Many were astounded to know that Royalty as well took part, when H.R.H. Prince Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria, was involved in laying the foundation stone of Captain Cook’s monument in March 1869.

Above: “Sydney’s magnificent GPO”. From the Book (“Tablets of Australian & English History”)

An initial ‘getting to know you’ gathering at the Historic Waterfront Hotel on Friday, March 15, saw the launching of a book titled, “Tablets of Australian and English History”. The publication, written by local Historian Norm Moore, outlines the life & times of Joseph Louttit and has powerful input from Historian, Author and Publisher, Shirley Jurmann. (nee Louttit) Much of Shirley’s work can be seen in the Moruya & District Historical Museum.

The Southern River Bank quarry has lain dormant since about 1880, and given its relevance to the history of Moruya, and the development of Sydney…indeed, that of England… concern was felt among avid historians as to its future. As it turned out (Richard & Heather Gorrell) from Sydney, were not only the owners, but avid historians as well… and they were attending the reunion!

From Richard Gorrell: The Bank of NSW planned to have a new façade on their headquarters in Sydney and purchased the quarry thru an agent in 1914. Richard arrived in Batemans Bay in 1942, as a “babe in a cane pram” – where his father had been appointed Branch Manager of the Bank of NSW.

The bank decided to auction the land in 1949, but since the bidding was low, Richard’s father decided to purchase the titles himself. He was asked to take up another branch appointment and the family moved away when Richard was 10. Batemans Bay has always held a special place in Richard’s heart. The Quarry land has been in the Gorrell family longer now than the Louttits held and cared for it.

Above: Cook’s monument with Heather Gorrell and granddaughter Helena Grice”. (The Louttit quarry land titles are now held in Heather’s name.)

The main activities for the reunion weekend were scheduled for Saturday March 16, with a visit to the Moruya and District Historical Museum and presentations made of various items. This was followed with a visit to Joseph Louttit’s grave site at South Head– where both Joseph and his daughter Lavinea are buried, then morning tea & lunch at Moruya Surf club.

Above: Those present: Jayne Vost, Anne Black,Glenn & Brett Louttit,Alice Kelly, Eric,John & Mark Louttit. A highlight for the afternoon was a visit to the old quarry site for those fit enough to make it, and for which Richard Gorrell had given special permission. The main of the excitement was then centred on dinner at the Moruya Golf Club on Saturday night.

Above; A moment of reflection:“M&DHS President, Brian Harris, receives a family bible for preservation in the museum, from Jane Vost”.

Above: At the Museum in Campbell Street. Not all of the 70 plus crowd of “Clan Louttit” would fit along the museum wall in one shot. Photographer, Mark Louttit, has done well with this group”.

Above: A major contribution to M&DHS records: Present co-owner of the Louttit quarry land, Richard Gorrell, presents two of his latest publications relevant to Moruya’s history to Museum Librarian, Wendy Simes.

Richard has led an extraordinary life – starting as a career banker with the Bank of NSW, working mainly in administration, commercial law, adult education, risk management & cost accounting. Later company secretary to Channel Ten (Television & Telecasters Ltd) and secretary to the partnership for Price Waterhouse, Chartered Accountants.

Added to this, Richard has written and published several books. However, his latest additions are critical to ongoing records of Moruya & District’s history and heritage. A 231 page memoir titled, “Moruya Granite Makes the News” has taken an extraordinary level of patience & time to put together. It contains dozens of graphic descriptions of scenes during Sydney’s building & pioneering days taken from very old newspapers. One such report likens scenes when the GPO was under construction to that of activities when the pyramids were being built. Each of the massive granite support columns was spun in a giant machine day & night for a month in the nearby street to get the required polish.

A 68 page Memoir titled, “Fred Delofski” – ‘The champion rower from Moruya’, will bring back memories of the days of sculling & rowing for some of Moruya’s older residents and particularly the Innes & Ziegler families. The Delofski’s were farmers at Mynora & neighbours of the Louttits. The publications (presented by Richard) are on hand to all for viewing at the Moruya & District Historical Museum. A descendant of the Delofski’s was also present at the ceremony.

Above: A major contribution to local History: Historian & Author, Norm Moore, presents Librarian, Wendy Simes, with a copy of his publication; Tablets of Australian and English History. ‘The Forgotten History of Louttit’s Quarry and Construction of Captain Cook’s Monument’. Prominent in the background is John Louttit, chief organizer for the reunion.

Above: At the quarry: This spectacular scene was captured by photographer, Mark Louttit.

Some 41 of the 70 plus Reunion visitors made it down into the quarry – a feat in itself. But it can no way compare to the achievements and contributions made to history and society that encompassed the life of Joseph Louttit as he first sailed the world and then gave his all to Moruya. The stone in the quarry face still holds true to a description given by a visiting journalist from Sydney’s “Empire” in 1871,as being “The most beautiful & durable in the country and capable of lasting for thousands of years”.This might also be well said of Joseph’s descendants…who seem to have made significant progress in an ‘attempt’ emulate this!

Above: At the Reunion Dinner: Author of Louttit Quarry History Publication, Norm Moore, and Shirley Jurmann (nee Louttit) hold up a copy of the book. Shirley gave assistance with research & information from family memoirs.

A copy of the book has been accepted for the library in Government House, Canberra, and as recommended… a further copy has been sent to Kensington Palace, England.

Above: Two local identities: Ruth and Bill Louttit from Glenduart, Moruya, enjoying the occasion at the Waterfront Hotel, Friday 15th March. Bill was prominent for his work in journalism & printing in the town some years back.

Above: A triumph for organization: John Louttit and wife Karen Lloyd in a relaxed mood and with the job well done!

The planning and bringing together of all who wished to be involved was complex – with a maze of contact details to record and place given for a ‘link’ in the “genetic chain” forged by Joseph. But add to this…it had to be done from another town in another state, (Qld) and at the same time dealing with the loss of a loved one, and the task must have seemed ‘monumental’ at times.

John was helped out toward the end by professional photographer and brother, Mark, (also from Qld) and the ever helpful and ‘adviser’, Shirley Jurmann, from Port Macquarie, NSW.

For those of us outside the ‘circle’ of the Louttit Clan – it was a most a humbling and rewarding experience to be both invited and made welcome into what now can truly described as: “Another of Moruya’s remarkable events of Australian history”!

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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