A peanut and popcorn wagon, 1896

This is an excellent example of the occasionally serendipitous nature of archival research and discovery, and how unusual items can turn up in the most unexpected places.

One would not normally choose to delve into the more than 1,000 boxes of correspondence of the Lands Department Miscellaneous Lease Branch in search of information on peanut and popcorn roasting machines. However, an interesting leaflet on such machines has survived as an enclosure to an application for a lease. As it turned out, the enquiry was made to the wrong official, but the file was duly registered and has remained with other lease papers, where it was found by a researcher looking for something entirely different.

Source: NRS 8315 Lands Miscellaneous Lease Branch Correspondence files, 1890-1924.
Application from Thomas Robert Smith (Member of the Legislative Assembly for Nepean) 27 May 1896 on behalf of Messrs Pooley and Co. seeking a lease for a portion of land (corner of George and Moore Streets) from which to operate a popcorn and peanut wagon. MsLs 96/6097, including attached brochure


Mis: Lease Branch
No 6097                                          Legislative Assembly NSW
28 May 96                                            Sydney 27 May 1896
Department of Lands
The Hon
the Minister for Lands
Dear Sir,
A very respectable firm in
Sydney (Messrs Pooley & Co Scale Manufacturers)
are desirous of renting for 2 or 3 weeks, a
corner (inside the fence) of that vacant
piece of land fronting George Street and GPO
all they require is about 6 x 8 feet to
exhibit a Pop Corn & Peanut Roasting
Machine (see enclosed pamphlet)
I would consider it a very great favour
if you would grant them permission to
exhibit this machine at the place asked
Yours faithfully
T R Smith
Inform Mr Smith that his request should be
made to the US (Under-Secretary) for Works.

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