Facing insolvency

James Lerk | Bendigo Weekly | 17-Nov-2017

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Drought stricken land was Kraemer's downfall.
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All gardens are subject to the vagaries of the weather and Kraemer’s Sydenham Gardens was to prove to be no exception.

Mention has already been made previously of how he attempted to secure for himself a water supply with a large well and a dam.

As the demands of the hotel for water were reasonably significant, the well water was not really available for the garden, although the kitchen slops were used for watering some of the fruit trees. Whereas the dam was totally dependent on the natural rain that may or may not fall.

As revealed the finances for the garden were to some extent also dependent on the hotel trade. This was a good watering hole for those travelling between Long Gully and the White Hills, in the warmer months when travelling on foot as was very common at that time, the sight of the Sydenham Gardens Hotel was always a welcome one.

In the drier weather many of the more delicate flowers were definitely not at their best such as the pansies, verbenas, ranunculuses, the pelargonium and geraniums the latter however were much hardier and great survivors.

Goats had always been a problem when they forced their way into the garden and ate their way through.

Another problem had been puddlers who had been working further uphill from the gardens and their sludge was at times difficult to control and occasionally invaded the grounds.

There was always some activity at the site, whether it was an orchestral concert, a ball or a sporting shoot, this became a regular event. 

Annually, on Boxing Day there were an immense variety of sports on offer in competition this always attracted a large crowd.

Early in 1868 Kraemer’s finances were becoming unstuck, he had over-extended himself and his business creditors were beginning to breathe down his neck. 

The financial challenge became so great that in April 1868 Kraemer as a publican became insolvent. 

Four reasons were stated to the Insolvency Court for the problem of insolvency that he faced. Firstly, to do with the weather, the prolonged three years of drought had played havoc with the garden, its lack of attractiveness kept people away this eliminated most of that income.

Secondly, the White Hills previously had literally been teeming with diggers, they, by early 1868 left for areas that afforded superior chances of finding gold. 

The lack of available natural water affected the puddlers who were frequenting the lower parts of the White Hills. The digger’s returns were poor and so no money was spent by them at the hotel.

Thirdly, as a consequence of the previous reason the hotel trade was severely affected along with the lack of the regular excursionists because of the prolonged dry which had an effect on the total Bendigo economy.

The last reason was an inability to procure some form of settlement with creditors who were all caught up in the economic down turn as well. 

Kraemer’s financial advisors had tried unsuccessfully to arrange a composition, that is, to pay so much in the pound to each of the creditors. 

His liabilities were calculated at £1929 while the assets were given as £1653 therefore there was a deficiency of £276.

A metropolitan newspaper reported in May 1868 that the Sydenham Gardens property sale would not realise the amount that was due, the stock and furniture had already been sold and the money raised had paid a small dividend to creditors. 

A well known accountant R E Jacomb from Melbourne was the assignee of Kraemer’s affairs. An appearance in the Insolvency Court was made on May 5, 1868.

Kraemer somehow found a little cash and with some knowledge, speculated in mining shares and in a few months had made a nice nest egg, this was sufficient for him to purchase back his property having paid £270. 

In late July of the same year he had been given a certificate of discharge from his insolvency.

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