Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Rames, Christopher (1906–1981)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Christopher Rames (1906-1981), blacksmith and farrier, was born on 16 August 1906 at South Shields, County Durham, England, second of six children of Christopher Rames, dock worker, and his wife Margaret, née Newsome. About 1911 the family migrated to Sydney. Chris’s father worked as a labourer and crane driver at Clyde Engineering Co. Ltd. The Rames family settled near Granville, where Clyde made locomotives. Within a few years they were living at Wentworthville; later the suburb became Merrylands. In 1922 at J. McVicker & Sons, Liverpool, Rames entered a five-year blacksmith apprenticeship, which he completed on 27 July 1927.

On 11 August Rames enlisted in the Australian Army Service Corps, Remount Section, Permanent Military Forces. His enlistment documents describe him as 5 ft 7¼ ins (171 cm) in height, weighing 140 lb (63.5 kg), with a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and dark brown hair. He gave his religious affiliation as Presbyterian. Rames’s service was largely as a farrier. A lance corporal from November 1927, he was promoted to corporal in 1930 and lance sergeant in 1934, serving at No.3 Remount Depot, Holdsworthy, near Sydney. On 9 June that year at Guildford Methodist Church he married Ruby Estella Slater, a machinist. He was promoted to temporary sergeant on 1 January 1937 when he was transferred to the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Canberra. On 23 July he was discharged at his own request.

Rames was appointed veterinary science attendant in the faculty of veterinary science at the University of Sydney on 2 August 1937. Chris and Ruby Rames took up residence in The Lodge there. For the following thirty-five years Rames closely assisted veterinary staff and students in dealing with horses. The former farrier sergeant became widely known and respected as ‘Sarge’. His practical experience and equine knowledge was passed on generously to students.

From 1950 Rames was employed as a demonstrator/assistant. He was a notable figure at the university, where his military bearing, his beautifully cut riding breeches and his polished boots and leggings ‘lent, from the outset, an air of distinction to the veterinary precincts’. One former student recalled his judging of the equitation events, with competitors assessed on dress, and on their ability to mount a horse and to ride and control it while walking and trotting. Another student, later a consultant to the racing industry, remembered his help with management and restraint techniques–crucial skills at a time when there were no sedatives for the animals. Rames’s employment on the laboratory staff and as caretaker ceased on 16 August 1971 and he and Ruby retired.

Rames died on 28 April 1981 at Avalon. Survived by his wife and their daughter and two sons, he was cremated. ‘Sarge’ Rames was mentor to thousands of Australian and New Zealand veterinary students. He linked a time when horses were a part of everyday life, work and war in Australia, to one in which their chief purposes were recreational and sporting. Rames Road in the veterinary precinct at the University of Sydney was named in his honour.

Select Bibliography

  • Centaur: Journal of the Sydney University Veterinary Society, no 33, 1971, p 20
  • Australian Veterinary Journal, vol 57, no 6, 1981, p 300
  • B4717, item Rames/Christopher (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Rames, Christopher (1906–1981)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/rames-christopher-15856/text27055, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 21 June 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

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