Todmorden Station

From Waler Data Base @ FaceBook. Image: Brood mares at the Homestead, Todmorden, Mount. C.1908. State Library S.A.

Some horse photos from Todmorden station (also known in earlier times as Mount Todmorden), north east of Oodnadatta and not far from the N.T. Border in South Australia. Owned by one of the great Waler breeders, J.A. Breaden.

Joe Breaden set this station up superbly, installing many vital water points. He had men working around the clock in shifts – night and day – pumping water for his horses at outstations. Eventually mechanised methods made watering easier.

Horses at the well, Todmorden, Mount. C. 1908. State Library S.A.
Horses at the well, Todmorden, Mount. C. 1908. State Library S.A.
Newspaper article about sale of horses on Todmorden station by Joe Breardon

Image: Kapunda Herald, 13th August, 1909

Joe often topped the sales with his cattle and horses. The Todmorden horses were keenly looked for in India and always got big prices.

Some mobs were also bought from the station and taken down to the Eyre Peninsula, sold for working horses. Ben Walkington, another great character of the era who also eventually owned his own station, Evelyn Downs, overlanded a big mob of Todmorden horses down to Kimba, he’d also overlanded Erldunda and other excellent horses to the peninsula, railheads and to sales. Several noted horsemen at times worked on Todmorden.

Joe used a mix of staying TB (he enjoyed the Oodnadatta races and often had a runner there) and draught to develop his horses.

In 1907 150 were sent to the sales and got top prices; big mobs sent every year to the sales, sometimes to several sales in a year. At the time the price for a good strong young horse was 19 pounds. Many Todmorden and Henbury horses went to WW1. Sales continues all throughout the war; 143 in August 1917 etc etc. Many of these horses also went to India over the war.

Seeing people frequently as they tended the water points etc kept the horses quiet, plus Joe wouldn’t keep a horse that wasn’t; they were known for a very good temperament.

Images: View of horses in a paddock at Todmorden Station, South Australia. From photographs of South Australian scenes collected by Harry Peters (Arthur Henry Peters), Director of Lands during Sir Thomas Playford’s time as Premier… C. 1938. State Library S.A.

Joe, 1859-1924, was born and raised in the far north of South Oz. he worked all his life in the bush with cattle and horses on different stations; also went on the Carnegie expedition as 2 IC with his worker, Warri. Joe was praised in the book “Spinifex and Sand”, as one of nature’s true gentlemen.

Images: Warburton, Coulthard, Breaden – some of, if not the greatest names in Waler breeders!
Yes, my bias is showing, ha. Wikitree photo
. Joe (Joseph Albert) Breaden. Pastoral Review, 15 April 1924.

Opened up Glen Helen station with his brother Allen, among other jobs; managed Macumba etc. Drought, floods, isolation were all part of Joe’s life.

When the pastoral company he worked for went out of business, Joe tried a few things but was soon left with only one shilling. He went to Adelaide to see someone connected with stations and asked for a job – being offered the management of Todmorden, then consisting of one wurly and one well. He took the job – his Aboriginal worker Warri was one major reason, the owner told Joe, as Warri was so reliable.

Joe improved Todmorden out of sight including building a substantial house. When the owner died Joe was offered the station to buy. He went in partnership to buy it, eventually able to buy his partner out. He also bought Henbury.

The Homestead, Todmorden, Mount. C. 1948.’ State Library S.A.
The Homestead, Todmorden, Mount. C. 1948. State Library S.A.

Images: Horse wagon at the homestead’s blacksmith shop at Mount Todmorden. C. 1908 State Library S.A. Angle Pole, Todmorden, Mount. C. 1908. State Library S.A.

Branding cattle on Todmorden station SA
Branding cattle on Todmorden station SA

Joe married and had three daughters, one, Mollie, born and raised on Todmorden, stayed there all her life, running it after her father died. She often lamented she had little time for riding – once she rode all over the vast station with her Dad – as there was so much to do running the place. Joe had been unwell and moved to family in Glenelg. He recovered for a few months, then went downhill again and died in 1924. While in Adelaide his favorite thing was going to the cattle and horse sales. Top fellow indeed, highly esteemed by all he met; and a great horseman, one of those which gained the Waler its great reputation.

Post inspired by Debi, who has a couple of copies from pages of the Todmorden horse book. The horse breeding stations kept very comprehensive horse books, hopefully those remaining in existence will be copied to keep these precious old records safe, and copies put in archives, just ask a local library or see instructions on Trove, archives online – loading to Flickr eventually sees them make it to archives..

Posted by Enoch Waler

Waler gelding purpose bred to help educate and advocate for Walers, in person and via Facebook and Instagram.