Roy Irwin Alchin

Gunning to Newnes and Beyond: Roy Irwin Alchin

by Garry Smith

Roy Irwin Alchin with Grandson Garry Norman Smith 1949

Roy Irwin Alchin (1897-1976) was born in Gunning on 23 January 1897, the son of Edward Alchin (1863-1941) and Elizabeth Ann Alchin (nee Bailey) (1872-1964). Roy’s great grandfather, Ambrose Alchin, had come to the Gunning district in the late 1840s with his family - wife Ann and their children.

The British Parliament approved the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act in 1901. In that same year Roy was a four-year-old boy playing around the family home near the common in Gunning. Little is known about Roy’s childhood but it is known that in the year of Federation, Roy made the newspaper when he badly fractured his leg while running around the house.

Goulburn Evening Penny Post”, Saturday 16 March 1901, 7 (via TROVE)

Roy grew up in a strictly Methodist household; at the age of ten years Roy and his sister Myra took part in the Methodist Sunday School anniversary services in the Gunning Methodist Church. On Sunday 22 December 1907, young Roy gave a recitation and his twelve-year-old sister recited an emotional poem.

“Goulburn Evening Penny Post”, Thursday 30 October 1913, 4 (via TROVE)

Roy survived another accident in 1913 when he broke his leg, once again ending up in Yass Hospital. Not long after his recovery Roy made the decision to move to the Newnes Oil-Shale Works in the Wolgan Valley near Lithgow, New South Wales. During his time at Newnes Roy celebrated his twenty-first birthday in 1918; he managed to deck himself out in his best and probably only suit for a photograph.

Roy Irwin Alchin, Newnes, 1918 

Towards the end of 1919 and for some months there was a major strike at Newnes, which was effectively a lock-out of the workers; this was caused by non-union labour and modernised machinery. Roy was living at Newnes township at that time. He received negative mention in the press in 1919 when he was charged at Wang Police Court with carrying a firearm on a Sunday (Lithgow Mercury, Monday 8 September 1919, 3). 

Newnes Oil-Shale Works c1913

Roy Irwin Alchin’s move from Newnes to Glenorie, where he was reunited with his family, began some time in 1921. His parents and most of his siblings had left Gunning for their major life change prior to Roy’s arrival in Glenorie. The family set up their new lives on an orchard where father Edward Alchin grew citrus and other fruits.

Roy arrived just in time to meet and marry Doris Irene Thompson who was living with her parents at nearby Kenthurst. The couple wasted no time in announcing their marriage which took place in the Methodist Church at Dural on 27 January 1922. Roy was a handsome young man, Doris an attractive young woman. The first of four daughters – Hazel Doris Alchin – was born the same year as the wedding.

Dural Methodist Church 1925 

Roy Irwin Alchin & Doris Irene Alchin (nee Thompson) 1922

Roy’s entry into the “beyond” had taken him a long way from Gunning via Newnes. Roy and Doris raised their four daughters in places such as Glenorie, Dural and Kenthurst. They also lived at Granville and Northmead. Roy worked mostly as labourer but also a bread delivery driver, hence his nickname: “doughie”.

(l-r) Daphne, Doris, Hazel, Roy, Joyce & Ellen, Kenthurst c1940

Doris & Roy Alchin 1955 

Malia Smith (nee Sigmont), Roy Irwin Alchin,
Doris Irene Alchin (nee Thompson) & Garry Norman Smith, January 1975

Roy Irwin Alchin died in Gosford Hospital on 9 May 1976; cause of death was cardiac arrest.