William Ebenezer Shoobridge

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William Ebenezer Shoobridge

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William Ebenezer Shoobridge (1846-1940) of Bushy Park, J.P., fruit and hop grower and farmer, was the eldest son of Ebenezer Shoobridge (1820-1901) who purchased Valleyfield, New Norfolk, in 1851 for hop growing.
W.E. Shoobridge was educated at Horton College, where he was introduced to the study of hydraulics, chemistry and electricity, which he continued to study after leaving school in 1860, thinking of becoming an engineer. However in 1864 his father had the chance of acquiring Bushy Park estate with its water resources and W.E. Shoobridge, with his brothers, helped to develop it, later purchasing also Kentdale and Glenora and forming the firm of E. Shoobridge and Sons (later Shoobridge Brothers) with W.E. Shoobridge in charge of construction, his brother R.W.G. Shoobridge the general farming and brother L.M. Shoobridge the stock department. W.E. Shoobridge constructed an irrigation system for the hop fields on Valleyfield and later replanned and reconstructed the irrigation works on Bushy Park (originally made by the first settler of Bushy Park Mr Humphries). In 1908, with the help of his son, Marcus, who had trained in the Westinghouse Factory in Canada, W.E. Shoobridge installed a hydro-electric plant for the estate. W.E. Shoobridge was especially interested in the development of water conservation, irrigation and hydro-electric schemes for Tasmania. In 1914 he went on a trade mission to Canada and the United States to inquire particularly into hydro-electric power schemes and industries connected with them, including paper making, and irrigation schemes for closer settlement. He negotiated the transfer of the Hydro-Electric scheme from the Electrolytic Zinc Company to the State Government and also consulted Dr. Fortier of Berkley, California, about plans for the use of Tasmanian water although these were rejected by the Legislative Council.
W.E. Shoobridge also did much to develop the fruit industry, not only in irrigation and methods of pruning to allow the sun to shine equally on all fruit, but especially in developing a ventilated cool store system to prevent deterioration of apples through "brown heart". A cool store designed by Shoobridge was installed on a White Star liner. He developed suitable apples for export to Europe and expanded the British and European markets and started the Derwent Valley Fruit Growers' Association. He also introduced the Saaz drying system for hops and developed the process for drying or curing other fruit.
In 1892 W.E. Shoobridge became President of the Council of Agriculture. He introduced improvements in the dairy industry and started the export trade in butter. He was later able to persuade Messrs. W. & J. Cooper of the Cadbury Company that sufficient milk supplies would be available to start a chocolate factory in Tasmania. He also experimented with and advocated the introduction of alternative crops, including tobacco and sugar beet and recommended clearing and irrigating bush allotments for specialised crops and soldier settlements. In 1918 he investigated the use of gum wood for paper pulp and persuaded the directors of the Australian Wood Pulp and Paper Co. to try Huon district timber.
Shoobridge was a member of the Labour Party and was elected to the House of Assembly for Franklin in 1916, remaining a member for most of the rest of his life.
He married Ann Benson Mather, a Quaker, daughter of Robert Andrew Mather in 1869 and they had 6 daughters and 3 sons. He was made a justice of the peace in 1877 and in 1888 an Assessor for Capital Values. He was a member of the Methodist Church and a lay preacher for many years. For more information see http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/shoobridge-william-ebenezer-906


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