Newspaper pioneers: Lapthorne and Jarman

The Narrandera Argus office on the corner Larmer and Adams Streets with some of its early staff standing at the front.

Don Drover (far right) and other staff of the Argus in early years.

One of Narrandera’s earliest newspapermen and outstanding citizens was Edward T Lapthorne, a former proprietor of the Narrandera Argus, who was born at Huntley (Victoria) on January 28 1869 and was 73 years of age when he died.

At the age of 16 he went to Numurkah with his parents, the late Mr and Mrs John Lapthorne and resided in that district until he came to Narrandera in 1909.

Joining the staff of the Narrandera Argus (which was at the time owned by his brother the late Mr Ernest Lapthorne) he learned something of the printing trade and in 1910 acquired the Hillston Spectator, which he controlled until 1916, when on the death of his brother, he acquired the Narrandera Argus and returned to Narrandera to reside.

At the time of his return to Narrandera the Great War was in progress and both he and Mrs Lapthorne engaged in war work. A number of patriotic bodies were in existence and they became active workers in each of them.

There was scarcely a week that some patriotic effort was not held and they were ardent workers and generous givers to all of them. The affairs of the Narrandera Public Hospital also claimed their attention and Mr Lapthorne was elected a member of the committee, of which his brother was also a member for a number of years. Later he was elected President of the Hospital Committee, a position which he held for some time.

Soon after the termination of the Great War a movement was made to hold a Bush Week in Sydney. Together with Mr Jack Moses, Mr R H Hankinson, the late William Guest and the late J B Rickard, Mr Lapthorne organised a display of products from this district that earned great admiration when displayed in that city.

As a result of this effort Narrandera became known as the ‘Gateway of the Great South West’ and the value of the promotion the district received on that occasion could not be adequately assessed.

Other public offices which Mr Lapthorne held were those of District Coroner, Deputy Sheriff, President of the Mechanics’ Institute, committeeman of the P and A Association and various other bodies that were formed from time to time.

He was a life member of the Hospital Committee and also of the P and A Association. He was also a committeeman of the Presbyterian Church and PGDIW of the Leopold RA Chapter; PDGIW of Leopold Mark Lodge; a foundation member and first WM of both those lodges and an honorary life member of Lodge Leopold, of which he was a PM.

In the late twenties he and Mrs Lapthorne visited Japan and later made a voyage to England and the Continent.

In 1931 Mr Lapthorne decided to retire from business. This decision was largely prompted by failing health and the same circumstances also forced him to relinquish most of his public activities. From 1931 he lived in retirement, but he always retained his interest in the affairs of the district.

Another of Narrandera’s pioneer newspapermen was John Herbert Jarman who turned his attention to the printing trade and at the age of 22 years when he came to Narrandera from Benalla to work for the then proprietor of the Narrandera Argus.

Several years later his parents Mr and Mrs G Jarman and sister Bessie came to Narrandera and some time afterwards Mr Jarman and his father started the “Narrandera Ensign”, a newspaper the former ran until it ceased publication.

Mr Jarman was one of the old school of inkywaymen and worked at the trade under conditions far less congenial than those existing today. The offices were mostly poorly lit and typesetting by candlelight was a tedious task.

Being possessed of an inventive mind, Mr Jarman spent much time trying to perfect several inventions, including a starting machine for horse races which was used for several years.

As a young man he was a smart athlete and met with success as a runner. He was also an expert shot with a shotgun and in the days when pigeon shooting was popular in Narrandera and he competed with some success.

He married Miss Elizabeth Foley, daughter of two of Narrandera’s earliest residents.


Another former proprietor of the Narrandera Argus was J P Brosnan who died on May 3 1918 after a lengthy illness.

He was a journalist and late proprietor of the Argus. Mr Brosnan came to Orange as a reporter on the Western Advocate, in which office he remained until he purchased the Narrandera Argus.

He remained here for a brief period, but his wife’s illness demanded her removal to a hospital and circumstances forced him to relinquish the paper.

The Larmer Street building before it was demolished in more recent years.

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