Local Identities

Charles Roy Roesner

Roy was born in Harvey in 1918 and grew up there. Initially he lived on Uduc Road (between where Stockman Holden and the Wellington Medical Centre is located in 2023), and later lived at ‘Harvey House’ where his mother conducted a newsagency business (now No. 7 Hayward Street).

He was the only son of Arthur Ewald Roesner, the founder of AE Roesner, a blacksmithing and coach-building business which commenced in Harvey in 1906.[1] Roy was a driving force in what is now Roesner Pty Ltd in Harvey which has become known across Australia for the manufacture of the Marshall Multispread.

Roy joined the RAAF in 1940 and after his war service went back into the family business. When he took over, it was still carrying on general fabrication and farm machinery repair but the blacksmithing had become redundant. Roy was the agent for International Harvester which sold tractors, ploughs and disc harrows and in 1953 he was listed as an agent for Tip Top – a paint product.

To facilitate the spreading of bulk fertiliser instead of bagged, Arthur Marshall from Harvey designed a spreader and approached Roy to manufacture it. By 1961 the first sales of the Marshall Spreader were made and in the mid-1970s Roesners were specialising in its manufacture.  The Marshall Multispread was a response to changing requirements in the industry and has been the most successful product for the company so far.

Roy died in Harvey in 2007 and is buried in the Harvey Lawn Cemetery.

Harvey School 1930

Back Row (L  to R) Phillip Priestly, Syd Byrd, Paul Davis, Bruce Hill, Bob Hayward, Dudley Thornton, ____, _____. 

Second Back Row: Joan Shaw, Dorothy Hepton, Alma Maloney, Mary Hill, Peggy Breen, Judy Eyres, Joan Guy, Pat Johnson, Margaret Cowdrey.  

Centre Row:  Marion Crawford, Ivy Grieves, Ron Campbell, Archer Eckersley, Ron Symmans, Ron Goodson, Don Smith, Merv Grieves, Bert Craddock, Will McQuade, Viv Latch, Betty Logue. 

Second Front Row: Alan Venables, Joan Davis, Irene Webster, Ada Serjeant, Dora Crampton, Chrissie Jarvis, Roma Anderson, Rae Buckhold, Barbara Muir, Jean Myatt, Eric McCarthy. 

Front Row: Walter Currell, Roy Roesner, Bill Ward, Cliff Lawson, Roy Smith, Noel Peterson, Carl Peterson, Vernon Moore, John Giblett.

Roy attended Harvey State School from 1924 to 1934. He contributed to Harvey Primary School, 100 Memories 1899 – 1999, edited by Marion Lofthouse née Manning.

I started school in 1924 at the age of five and a half but only until Easter when my mother took my sister Enid and me to England where my mother came from in 1912. We didn’t return until Christmas so I really missed the first year.

I went to school bare footed like most of the other children but I seemed to get more than my share of stone bruises which could be very painful. About 1928 my mother took over a newsagent shop in Hayward Street and I was given a brand new bicycle, but there were strings attached – I had to deliver the ‘West Australian’ around town at lunchtime. My furthest customer was Miss Allan at the corner of The Avenue and 4th Street. When I finished the round and returned to the shop my mother would have a sandwich and a drink waiting for me. I would get back to school in time to have a couple of kicks of the football before the bell.

I was a fairly big boy and often got the job of chopping the wood and lighting the fire in our room in winter time. The wood came in long lengths (no foot block) and was hard to split because the axe was very blunt. I managed to get the fire going but we got more smoke than heat.

We were fortunate to have Mr AD Hill as our head teacher. He was strong on poetry and we all enjoyed the way he could make the poems really live. I learnt a lot of short cuts in mental arithmetic from him which has stood me in good stead right through my business life. Every winter Mr Hill would plant small plots of oats, clover and rye grass, I think this was for the farmers’ boys. Mrs Hill played the piano for our singing lessons – also we marched to her music when moving from assemblies to the school rooms.

An inspector would turn up every so often by the name of Mr Coleman. He would give us tests and we were always a bit scared  of him and gave a sigh of relief when he moved on – I think the teachers shared our feelings too.

A popular piece of equipment with the students was the collapsible aluminium mug, but in summer time when the wrigglies were in the water tank we had to use our handkerchief as a strainer. One thing I will never forget occurred in the middle of the depression. On the last day of school before Christmas our teacher gave us a glass of cordial and two biscuits each. It meant a lot to us.

My father started a blacksmith shop in Harvey in 1900.[2] I left school in 1934 and worked with him. The business is still operating and still run by the Roesner family.


Further Reading: https://roesner.com.au

[1] Bunbury Herald, 3 August 1906.

[2] See Footnote 1