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Letter: Twinning With Guildford Western Australia Would Be The Ideal Next Step

From Donna Collinson

chairman of the Stoke-next-Guildford Resdents Association

As the lead proponent of the campaign to Save St. John’s churchyard from development, and part of the team that included: Rosemary Morgan, Guildford, and Sid Breeden and Dr. Steve Errington in Western Australia (WA) who identified the last resting place of Admiral Sir James Stirling (see SCC Full Monument Report and map ref 22754), I am delighted that the idea I suggested to The Guildford Dragon on October 18 has been brought forward by Hon Alderman Parke and that twinning with Guildford WA will now be considered by the GBC Twinning Working Group at their next meeting on November 28.

Viewed from Joseph’s Road is the site where the excavation took place that revealed the final resting place of Admiral Sir Jsmes Stirling (the first governor of Western Australia) and his wife Ellen.

We share a cultural, historical and topographical affinity with Guildford WA, another riverside town. Many intrepid people from Guildford, Surrey and the surrounding villages sailed with Admiral Sir James and Ellen Stirling onboard the Parmilla to settle in Western Australia and there is a society there dedicated to tracing the lineage of those descended from the Parmilla voyagers.

Here in the original Guildford, the connection between the two towns had been largely forgotten, however, Stirling is celebrated and remembered here as well as in WA in the names of houses, roads and areas around the town.

Stirling House, Stirling Way, Woodbridge Cottage in Josephs Road (formerly known as the road to Woodbridge,) The Wooden Bridge pub, and Woodbridge itself. James Mangle built a cottage within the grounds of the Mangles Woodbridge estate for James and Ellen and their baby son in 1824 possibly Woodbridge Cottage built 1824.

More recent publicity locally about our Western Australia connections and Admiral Sir James Stirling in The Guildford Dragon, Surrey Advertiser, Get Surrey, and nationally, in The Times since the start of the campaign to save St. John’s churchyard have led to renewed interest in our forgotten Guildford hero and by extension the idea of twinning with Guildford WA.

As we are already twinned with Freiburg Europe and now partnered in Dongying Asia. It seems an ideal next step to twin with Guildford, WA.

To aid intercontinental communication about the idea I have contacted Pamella Stratham Drew, official Stirling biographer and Dr Steve Errington WA, asking them to contact Cllr Matt Furniss as chairman of the Twinning Working Group before the group’s next meeting. I strongly urge and encourage those in favour of this idea to also email their support.

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3 Responses to Letter: Twinning With Guildford Western Australia Would Be The Ideal Next Step

  1. Graham Hibbert Reply

    November 10, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    It is to the enormous credit of Donna Collinson and Rosemary Morgan that our historical links to Western Australia have been highlighted and that the burial place of Admiral Sir James Stirling has been identified and saved from destruction through development.

    I think that the proposed link with Western Australia is one that merits serious attention by the council. I can see advantages to Guildford in terms of tourism and cultural exchange, from the building of closer links to our namesake in Western Australia.

  2. Stuart Thompson Reply

    November 10, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I hope that, before reaching a decision, Cllr Furniss and his group will look closely at the history of James Stirling in Western Australia. In particular, they should consider his role in the killing of 25 to 30 native Australians in 1834, the so-called Battle of Pinjarra, or more accurately, the Pinjarra Massacre. Information on this is readily available; this article is a reasonable summary and can be accessed on the internet:

    “Bates, Daisy M. (5 Aug 1926). “Battle of Pinjarra: Causes and consequences”. The Western Mail.” (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinjarra_massacre)
    This article also gives a very unflattering description of the way Stirling and his fellow settlers treated native Australians who occupied the land they seized.

    Such episodes in British history are now, correctly, seen as a matter for shame rather than celebration. Guildford should not be seen to celebrate James Stirling by pursuing this ill-conceived proposal. The Twinning Working Group such reject it without wasting any more time.

    See also: http://www.newhistorian.com/aboriginals-killed-at-pinjarra/5181/

  3. Sid Breeden Reply

    November 15, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    As a passionate Western Australian I find Stuart Thompson’s comments appalling and misleading. It is tiresome to read armchair warrior “aboriginal industry” style comments.

    James Stirling did not kill 25 to 30 “native Australians”. In fact I’m unaware he personally killed anyone. Furthermore Thompson does not provide the background of the lead up to this event nor the reluctance of the Governor who in a different era some 183 years ago was effectively beholden to the free British settlers of the Swan River Colony of whom today we are proud.

    Before sneeringly demeaning others, Stuart Thompson would be well advised to look at his own country’s history of torture, beheadings and so forth. A visit to the London Dungeon is a starting point to make comparison.

    Stirling instigated and founded what has become a highly successful Western Australia with a Westminster system of government and sound British principles. If not for James Stirling and his wife Ellen (nee Mangles) we in Western Australia including Guildford, would not today be enjoying our exceptional way of life and good fortune. God forbid some other nation had taken possession of what then was unclaimed New Holland, the western third of an island continent that in 1824 was named Australia.

    On the subject of Guildford Surrey twinning with Guildford Western Australia as a sister city, this has nothing to do with Pinjarra or anywhere else. I commend Mr Thompson and others to look positively to the future and support both Guildfords.

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