Fay Thomas Collection

Liz Pidgeon

13 October, 2021

South Yan Yean Football Club premiers 1909-10-11 (Fay Thomas Collection)

Moses Thomas was a notable pioneer in the early history of Mernda and the district.  YPRL is fortunate to be co-custodian of a significant archive relating to Moses and his family which was gathered by family historian Fay Thomas. It provides an insight into the lives of the local pioneering Thomas family, extended family and the broader community of the City of Whittlesea.

The Fay Thomas collection contains photos, records, maps, documents and other material relating to the Thomas homestead located in Mernda (known as Mayfield Farm), the original Thomas Mill, the Bridge Inn Hotel, store, church and school.

A majority of the original collection was donated to State Library Victoria with the City of Whittlesea acquiring some objects such as commemorative plates and mugs and other pieces.  The collection has since been digitised, and it is this digital collection that YPRL can now provide access to via our catalogue and Flickr platforms.  All of the photos are currently accessible, and over 800 documents will be added to the catalogue as an ongoing project.  The collection includes a significant number of postcards such as decorative and view cards of local, Victorian, Australian and international places.  Over 80 cards depict Scottish views and culture.

The collection also includes photographs, books, correspondence, manuscript material and ephemera dating from about the 1830s through to 2015.

Moses Thomas (1825–1878) migrated from Scotland to the area in the 1800s and became a local councillor. In the early 1850s he purchased 400 acres of land in Mernda (South Yan Yean).  He was a major contributor to the development of the flour milling and dairying industries in the Plenty Valley. Thomas became known as the 'Laird of Morang'.

Amongst his achievements, he established the largest steam-powered flour mill along the banks of the Plenty River. He was a Clerk and Surveyor for the Department of Roads and Bridges and designed the plans for the Plenty River bridge on Bridge Inn Road. He built and was publican of the Bridge Inn hotel and designed and built the Mayfield Presbyterian Church on Plenty Road, the first primary school in the area and the bluestone teacher's residence alongside it. He is also credited with building Turners Bakery in Schotters Road, Mernda which is still standing today.

Twice married, Moses Thomas fathered 18 children.

You can visit and explore the complete photo collection on Flickr. Comments are welcome, especially relating to orphan photos with no identifying information.

Search local history items and more on our catalogue.

Choose the drop-down option “Local history” for digitised photos and documents. Enjoy!

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