End of an era

Cobb & Co. truck, 1924Coach companies were very expensive operations to run. Cobb & Co. had thousands of horses to feed, coaches, stables and offices to maintain.There were hundreds of drivers, grooms and office staff to pay. In years of drought the company made a loss because of the cost of buying and transporting feed for horses.

James Rutherford, the director of Cobb & Co. in Queensland and New South Wales for half a century, died in 1911. Just before his death, Rutherford ordered three motor vehicles, beginning the gradual replacement of horse transport which took place over the next 13 years.

Cobb & Co. coaches had carried the 'Royal Mail' to distant outback towns for generations, but following the First World War, many of the big mail runs were divided up. This enabled individual returned soldiers to become mail contractors. Large mail carrying companies became obsolete.

The last Cobb and Co. coach ran on the Yuleba-Surat route on 14 August 1924. QANTAS was already carrying mail by air in western Queensland, and radio and telephones connected towns hundreds of kilometres apart.

Cobb & Co. purchased stores in the Southern Queensland towns of Yuleba, Surat, St. George, Thallon and Dirranbandi, in its latter years, and ran a few motor vehicles to deliver mail.

When Cobb & Co. finally wound up in 1929, at the beginning of the Great Depression, it had provided transport and communication to Australia for 75 years.