Band Master George Beard
In the late nineteenth century, a young George Beard enlisted as a cornet player at Nellor Hall, the famous training school for English Military Bandsmen.
He emigrated to Australia toward the end of the 19th century – going straight to Brisbane, his home for the remainder of his life. He became a Public Works Inspector, this took him to many areas of the state and to Gympie for the construction of the town’s first State School in 1916.
George’s love of band music was a passion occupying most of his leisure and recreational time. Such was his dedication that, while in Brisbane, he played with the 9th Moreton Regiment, changed uniforms to play with the Queensland Rifles and another quick change into the distinctive uniform of the Australian Light Horse, where he served as bandmaster of the 13th Regiment.
Between times and for something to do outside Public Works duties and the above, he became a familiar figure at the Brisbane Race days, playing with the Brisbane Municipal Band.
During all this, he managed to tutor Albert Bale, conductor of the Newcastle Steel Works and the St John’s Ambulance Band’s in Sydney.
On joining the Light Horse, George had to find a suitable mount. He found such a one and bought him from the Queensland Mounted Police. This horse was called Paddy and thereby hangs a tale.
Paddy was the horse Patrick Kenniff was riding when arrested near Mitchell for the murder of Grazier and station owner Albert Christian Dahlke and Police Constable George Doyle in the Carnarvon Ranges in June 1902. Here Patrick, with his brothers Jim and Thomas, had established for themselves a profitable nefarious business horse and cattle stealing. It was to end in Patrick being hanged on January 12, 1903. Jim received a life sentence for his part in the affair.
No doubt George’s Paddy had been lifted from one of the cattle stations in the district. George bought him in 1903.
The accompanying photograph shows both George and Paddy being very much the proud Light Horseman and noble mount, taken at Victoria Barracks, Brisbane.
After training, Paddy proved to be an excellent band horse but, off duty, reverted sometimes to his Carnarvon days by swimming the Brisbane River at New Farm for a bit of a look around and to forage in the ashes of burnt rubbish in the hope of finding a piece of damper. It can be claimed that he never completely rid himself of the nostalgia of his bushranging days.
Of Bandmaster George Beard’s death and when is not known to me. There is no record of Paddy’s demise either.
George,s grandson, Bob, lives in Gympie, having spent all his life there in the printing business. I am indebted to him and to the Gympie Library staff for the material in this piece of history and I thank them for their help.