Iconic Grafton saddler Warren Newcombe farewelled
WARREN Newcombe's word was his bond.
Close friend Ron Parberry said he had never dealt with a more honest man, and it was this attitude, as well as his eye for perfection, which made him one of the most respected saddle-makers in Australia.
During a funeral service for Mr Newcombe at the packed Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton yesterday, friends, family and colleagues spoke of a passionate and skilled character who loved horses, leatherwork and going fast.
Younger brother Brian Newcombe, who delivered the eulogy, reminisced on their shared memories growing up on a Tamworth property.
"One of our jobs each morning- Warren and myself - was to ride down the paddock on our bicycles at about 5am and milk the cows," he said.
"We would bring the milk home in two or three large jugs and keep them in a basket on the bicycle. Warren was a bit of a speed demon, always has been, and inevitably hit a pothole and.... the majority of the milk was spilt. Warren being fairly cunning and not wanting to get a hiding from dad, filled it with water and said nothing."
Their mum was none the wiser.
An avid horse-rider from a young age, Mr Newcombe accumulated a wall full of ribbons from gymkhanas, shows, campdrafting and pony clubs. His life membership to the Big River Cutting Club and former presidency is testament to that.
But it was once he picked up the leatherworking tools that his future calling began to take shape.
"I still remember the address of the place in Sydney he ordered his tools from," Brian said.
"It was like Christmas morning when an order came through."
In a career spanning more than 50 years, Mr Newcombe made 1815 saddles from start to finish.
Former colleague and friend Lisa McPherson said everyone who worked under him would remember him with appreciation, as an inspiring man willing to mentor younger generations.
"From the beginning, perfection was his priority to make his saddles unique, striving for closer horse and rider contact, working the timber trees down for slim fitting foundations to build upon," she said.
"Every hind that came through that door was (quality) leather, all the threads were handmade from hemp, and every stitch was in unison and if it wasn't, that was the one you had to undo. He was a legendary craftsman of an iconic Australian stock saddle."
Son-in-law Christopher Teare said the family would like to thank everyone for their support, noting people had come from Victoria, NSW and Queensland for the service.