Like all of us, when the Divers moved in to their West Albury property six years ago they wondered who had called it home before them.
A fortnight ago they learned the name of one of those people when builder Fran Buxton found a government document from the 1950s while renovating.
Mr Buxton was taking down walls in a front room of the weatherboard house when he came across a folded piece of paper.
“It was in the wall between the two sheets of plaster, on the ground,” he said.
“Just looking at the way it was folded, I thought it would be something.
“In the past I’ve found coins, old Border Mails, and things like that – but this is the first full-on government document I’ve come across.”
While the Commonwealth declaration for tax purposes is not dated, it appears to be valid for the 1950s.
It has been filled out by an Alexander Barlow, who listed his occupation as a casual labourer for the Government Railways, working at Albury Railway Station.
He has also listed the names of his wife, Ena, and children – Shirley, Margaret, Frances and Raymond Barlow.
Raymond, the youngest, would be turning 64 this December.
Joanne Diver said she was interested to know if any of Alexander’s descendants were still in Albury.
“We don’t think he was the first owner as on the initial plans there’s a different name, and we think the house was built in the late 1930s, but we’re not sure,” she said.
“I’m sure it’s been put in the wall on purpose – it’s pretty amazing.
“It’s only from the 1950s, but I think we have to appreciate our recent past as well.
“It’s not just the red brick houses in central Albury or what’s been built by a known architect, there is history in the families and homes that have been here for a long time in West Albury.”
Tax declarations of this kind were often kept for a number of years and it’s not uncommon for such papers to be left with memorabilia or acquired through deceased estates.
But it is quirky that the document was left in a wall.
In the Barlows’ time, their address was Dean Street – it is now Lamport Crescent.
The Divers fell in love with Albury after moving from Hay and even named their son – the first to be born on the Border – after the Murray River.
“We liked the view, the sense of space, the proximity to the river and the greenness around here,” Mrs Diver said.
“We really like the area, so certainly thought it would be worth investing in and making it a home for the long-term.
“It’s been really interesting seeing how the plaster was made, with things like horsehair and straw, and the names on the back.”
Their weatherboard may have 62 more square metres of floor space when renovations are finished, but it will still have the original frame and characteristics of the house, plus a little bit of both the Barlow and Diver families.
“Murray is the start of a generation here and a new story,” Mrs Diver said.
“We will put the declaration back in the wall, along with one of our family newsletters for the next people.”
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