Jack Cregan

John Edward Colleridge (Jack) Cregan

Block 13A Paddys River District – Property Name: 'Lower Freshford'

John Edward Colleridge (Jack) Cregan was born in 1895, the son of Isaac and Jemima Cregan. His father was the groom for the Cunninghams who owned Lanyon Homestead and later became their driver.

Cregan enlisted in November 1914 with parental consent, as he was only 19 years of age. He served with Andy Cunningham in the 1st Light Horse Regiment on Gallipoli from May to August 1915. On the 6th and 7th August 1915 the Anzacs launched a number of attacks on the Turkish positions on Gallipoli including Lone Pine and at The Nek. The 1st Light Horse Regiment was positioned at Popes Hill near The Nek when they were ordered to attack the enemy trenches opposite them on Dead Mans Ridge. Cregan was wounded in the elbow by shrapnel during the battle. The wound was serious enough to end his involvement in the war. In the early 1950s, Jo Gullett described Cregan as "a good-looking man about fifty, obviously very strong but with a bent arm", the result of his wound at Popes Hill. He was officially discharged on the 2nd June 1916.

In 1920, Cregan successfully applied for the Soldier Settlement Paddys River Block 13A, the lease beginning the 5th April 1920 for five years at an annual rental of £178/8/8. At the same time, he purchased 300 merino ewes from Cuppacumbalong for £365 to help stock the block and he also agisted stock for other leaseholders.

Paddys River Block 13A was 848 acres (343 hectares) in area and located on the western side of the Murrumbidgee River at Freshford, opposite Pine Island and the Tuggeranong Town Centre. It was part of James Cunningham's Tuggeranong estate which was compulsorily acquired in 1916 for the proposed, but never built, arsenal and township near Pine Island. After World War 1, it formed part of the Tuggeranong sub-division of the Soldier Settlement Scheme.

Plan of Paddys River Block 13A

Plan of Paddys River Block 13A.

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Cregan, who had married in 1919, lived at Naas and found it difficult to work his lease while living so far away. In 1922, he sought permission to move an old slab and galvanised iron house, once owned by the Maloney family, to his block. He got permission but only used it occasionally. In 1926, he was offered a ten-year lease on Paddys River Block 13A, terminating on the 31st December 1935, on the understanding that he made it his bona fide residence. He and his family moved there in 1926 after which Cregan began referring to the block as Lower Freshford.

While rabbits were not as big a problem on the Freshford blocks as they were on the other side of the Murrumbidgee, Assistant Land's Inspector Fred Cox was still able to find fault with Cregan, complaining that he did not do enough to control the sweet briar weed.

Google Maps image of area c2013 with Paddys River Block 13A boundary in red

Google Maps image of area c2013 with Paddys River Block 13A boundary in red.

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In 1928, Cregan applied for a £400 loan from the Federal Capital Commission (FCC) under the Housing Ordinance (1928) for a weatherboard extension to his existing residence as he now had school age children. The nearest school at Tharwa was about six miles (ten kilometres) away and though he had intended building a room for a subsidised teacher, he had had to use all of his money because of an accident to one of his children's eyes. He got the loan and built the extension but he was refused a ten year extension on his lease beyond the termination date of the 31st December 1935.

In April 1929, concerned about access to schools for his children, Cregan applied to transfer the lease for Lower Freshford to Unity Cunningham, a younger sister of Andy Cunningham. Lands Inspector, James Brackenreg, raised the issue of transferring land to a woman because "it will be very difficult to turn down future applications where the transferee is a woman" even though she had good financial backing and experience on the land. At the time, Cregan owed £57/15/4 to the FCC. Paddys River Block 13A was transferred to Unity Cunningham on the 27th May 1929. Cregan and his family lived at Naas and later in life he became involved in real estate.

Jack Cregan died on the 30th August 1961 and is buried in Woden Cemetery.


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