Canterbury and District Historical Society s2 n12
With Australia's Bicentenary in 1988 coming ever closer, there is a notable upsurge in interest in our nation's beginnings.
Australians are anxious to discover more about their ancestors, and all around us we are aware of Family Trees being compiled and Family Re-unions taking place.
In the course of their research, people are naturally turning to libraries and Historical Societies for information. Canterbury & District Historical Society has had its share of requests and has been able to fulfil many of them because of the ever-growing store of local history now being assembled in the Society's headquarters, "Beulah Vista", Church Street, Canterbury.
This information has been laboriously gathered and catalogued by dedicated members who give their time voluntarily to foster the aim of the Society - that is to increase interest in, and knowledge of, the history of the Municipality of Canterbury.
The articles in this Journal are an example of the research being done by folk who are aware of the importance of recording our heritage. The Society is sure you will find them informative and you may even be encouraged to delve further into the fascinating past.
- 1 MASHMAN POTTERY, KINGSGROVE
- 2 TRAFFIC CONTROL SIGNALS
- 3 THE WHITE HOUSE BAKERY, BELMORE
- 4 THE STORY OF C. C. MERRITT PTY LTD, PRINTERS, LAKEMBA
- 5 NARWEE
- 6 "JESSAMINE", 20 GARNET STREET, HURLSTONE PARK
- 7 THE SAINT IS MISSING. LINK WITH AUSTRALIA'S VETERAN LANCASTER 'G-GEORGE!
- 8 SCOUTING IN EARIWOOD IN 1912
- 9 DAVID JONES, BUILDER OF"THE TOWERS", BELMORE
- 10 JOHN TAWELL, QUAKER MURDERER
- 11 THE REMINISCENCES OF OBED WEST
MASHMAN POTTERY, KINGSGROVE
James Mashman was born in London in 1824. At an early age, he was apprenticed to Sir Henry Doulton the head of the renowned Doulton Pottery at Lambeth, where he became skilled in the potter’s art and continued his association with that company after he served his time. In due course, as was common practice in those days, James Mashman had his sons William and Henry and later John also apprenticed to the Lambeth Pottery where they each learned to be skilled in different aspects of the craft.
After the death of their father at Tooting in 1876, the Mashman family moved to Leigh-on-Sea where the brothers were able to find employment at the Regal Pottery where a relative was already employed as a mould maker.
Hearing of the opportunities available in Australia for artisans, William and Henry decided to migrate leaving John behind to look after their mother and the rest of the family until such time as they could be sent for.
The brothers arrived in Sydney on the steamship "Windsor Castle" in 1885 and looked carefully around for a suitable area in which to set up in business. They entered into partnership with James Sandison in July 1885 when the firm of Mashman and Sandison came into being, operating a pottery at Chatswood.
John and his mother arrived in 1888. In 1890 John Mashman took over an already established small pipe and red ware works at Auburn. In 1892 James Sandison was induced to sell his share of the pottery to John Mashman and the name of the company was changed to Mashman Brothers, Victoria Pottery, the brothers having an equal third share of the enterprise.
William Mashman died in 1912, John in 1918, and Henry Mashman in 1922. The Chatswood Pottery is now the Royal Doulton Chatswood Pottery, while the Auburn works continue as Mashman Bros. Pty Ltd.
In 1908 Frederick Albert Mashman, son of William Mashman, left the family business to found his own pottery at Kingsgrove and later Sutherland. He obtained 2.4 hectares of virgin bush land beside Wolli Creek at Kingsgrove, because he knew there was clay suitable for pottery in the area. The land was bounded by Wolli Creek, the present Kingsgrove Road and Morgan Street.
He came by horse and sulky one day in August 1908 and camped in a tent overnight. Next morning the ground along the valley was white with frost. Mr. Frederick Francis Mashman says that is father was very proud of the fact that he had pitched his tent on the site and built his kiln virtually single-handed, the small building that first housed the pottery was built of posts hewn from trees in the area. The name was the St George Pottery.
Mr Mashman first set out to produce flanged drain pipes, but was unable to do this because suitable machinery was unavailable. Production was confined to making terra cotta ware such as flower pots, chimney pots, air bricks and agricultural pipes. These products were made until 1918, when a limited company was formed and terra cotta roofing tiles were produced to meet the post-war demand for housing. Two builders named Charles Paterson and Fred Colvin, were directors of the company with Mr Mashman.
Roofing tiles were the main product of the pottery until 1929, when the Depression stopped most building activities. After 1930 production of roofing tiles ceased but terra cotta work continued almost unchanged for the next years.
Production now centres on home renovation items, such as quarry tiles, paving, and sill tiles, chimney pots, Spanish capping and solar screen locks. The quarry tiles are in a variety of mottled colors, with semi-glazed and unglazed finishes suitable for indoor or outdoor areas.
The original Mr Mashman built a house where the railway station is now located. When the railway line was built, the house was moved to Paterson Avenue and was demolished for the present Police Station. The railway took about one-third of the property, without compensation, only the land south of the railway line was retained by the company.
Until the late 1930's clay was obtained from another site owned by Mashmans on the Canterbury side of Wolli Creek. Now clay is obtained from as far away as Appin and Richmond, enabling particular colours to be obtained. In the late 1930's, the company subdivided the shop sites on Kingsgrove Road and built the shops on ramp. In 1939 it built the flats in Mashman Avenue.
Fred A. Mashman Pty Ltd has opened a showroom at the Pottery in Mashman Avenue behind the Kingsgrove shopping centre beside the railway line.
The showroom contains old hand-hewn posts that were used as supports in the St George Pottery. Mr Frederick Francis Mashman and his son Michael are proud of the tradition of the old pottery. This is one reason for their decision to restore the stables as a showroom which will remind customers of the company's history and at the same time be a useful showplace for its products. An article on the showroom appeared in the St George and Sutherland Leader of 17 March, 1982.
TRAFFIC CONTROL SIGNALS
The first set of traffic control signals in N.S.W. was installed in 1933 at the intersection of Kent and Market Streets, Sydney. 40 traffic signals had been installed by 1940, 70 by 1950 and 222 by 1960. The 500th set of signals was installed in 1968, the 1,000th in 1974 and on 30 June, 1983, there were 1,874.
In 1957, "Belisha Beacon" flashing signals were installed in Canterbury Road at Canterbury Hospital. This was the forerunner to a number of experimental crossing warning signals (all ultimately superseded by the overhead internally illuminated pedestrian symbol sign).
These details are taken from an article "Fifty Years of Traffic Signal Service" and a Chronology of Events, in "Main Roads" journal of the Department of Main Roads N.S.W., September, 1983.
To assist future research into official records, does any reader recall the place and. date of installation of some of the earliest traffic control signals in the Municipality of Canterbury?
THE WHITE HOUSE BAKERY, BELMORE
In March, 1905, the Station Master at Belmore railway station, Samuel Fitzjohn, placed £4.0.0 deposit on Lots 5 and 9 of the Belrmore Estate and commenced paying off the land at £2.0.0 per month. During the following year he arranged for James Augustua Wilson, who traded as The Belmore Timber Company and was the previous owner of the land, to build on Lot 5 for him. Lot 5 was on the corner of Mooney Street (now Burwood Road) and Wilson Avenue, back to Thompson Lane.
He built a corner baker’s shop and a three-roomed attached house, with a small wash house, back verandah and pantry at a cost of £287.3.6, a bakehouse with a flour store costing £111.9.1 and stables and breadroom adjoining with skillion roof for £17.18.4, all of brick. It is believed Hocking did the brickwork. The ovens, built by Pickard, were another £80.0.0, the whole was completed by January, 1907.
Baker D. W. Peterson, Fitzjohn's brother-in-law, was the first tenant, for about eight months, followed by Thomas Condon. By this time Fitzjohn had been transferred to St Peters Railway Station, then to Fernhill (Hurlstone Park) and he was also paying off Lot 6 next door to the Bakery's Lot 5. He had taken out a mortgage to pay Wilson for the building programme, but Wilson claimed it cost £170.0.0 more and took the matter to court, with Fitzjohn contesting the action. Judge Rogers found in favour of Wilson. There was written contract. As Fitzjohn had other debts and could not pay, he went bankrupt in April, 1908. Wilson bought all the buildings at auction in August of that year for £575.0.0.
Lessee or tenant bakers during the next few years were Frederick Landenberger, J. Liggins, Charles Wood, McLiesh and McDonald. Ownership passed to Leopold Bertram in 1914, about the time that Wilson became Mayor of Canterbury, but it lay idle for some years.
WILIAM HENRY THOMPSON
At the end of World War 1, in November 1918, William Henry Thompson purchased the Bakery, and then Lot 6 next door, giving him an L-shaped block. He did not buy the front part of Lot 5 on Burwood Road, containing the corner shop and dwelling, and it was about this time that the Bakery acquired its name. The dull beige paint was peeling badly, so Thompson had it scraped back, painted white and named it "The White House Bakery", hoping to make it a district landmark.
The slogan, "BREAD FOR THE THOUSANDS", was painted on the north wall, maybe indicating Belmore’s post-war growth. Thompson had been a baker in Newcastle before the war. In 1909 he had built a home opposite, at No. 1 Wilson Avenue.
Thompson commenced with one cart and did his own baking and deliveries at first. His daughter, Isabel, worked in the bakery and his other daughter, Mary, did the clerical work. It was not long before the business was too small for the needs of the growing district. Within a year Thompson enlarged it and by 1922 had also built two shops on the front of Lot 6, facing Burwood Road, one of which became the shop for the Bakery. These have now been converted into flats.
EARLY BAKING METHODS
In those days the baking was done by hand. Supplies were delivered by horse-drawn dray from the markets and raised into the upstairs store by the hoist in Thompson Lane. There was only one set of wooden stairs in the bakehouse and when supplies were, required they were sent down a lowered chute. Crago and Company were Thompson's suppliers.
About every ten days a copperful of potatoes was boiled up to make the yeast. First, the potatoes were scrubbed clean, then any specks nicked out and they were boiled to a soft mash. They were then beaten down and pressed through a sieve into a large bowl, till all that was left in the sieve were the skins. Part of the old yeast would be added with some water and sugar and the whole left to ferment for 48 hours.
Two large wooden troughs occupied pride of place in the centre of the room and they could be worked from both sides. Mr Thompson would commence work about 4 p.m. To the flour mixture would be added yeast, water, salt and bran if it was for brown bread. The dough was punched down, worked over and punched down again by hand, then sprinkled with plenty of flour, covered with bags and allowed to stand. When it rose to the top of the trough, it was worked over again. The second time it rose to the top of the trough it was ready.
A large amount would be cut out with a long-bladed knife, gathered up in the arms and thrown on the lid of the other trough where the "scaling off" took place. Each loaf, by law, had to weigh two pounds, so the dough was weighed, into two pound two ounce (about one kilogram) lots to allow for shrinkage, moulded into ball shapes, placed on wooden trays, then into the press until they rose again. Then they were taken out and re-moulded and placed into whichever tin was desired.
The largest loaf was called a "Married Tin". It was a double loaf, or two large loaves together. Half of this was a two-pound loaf, it cost 3d. And was considered dear at that, though it was the cheapest loaf. The Twist was oval shaped with a twist along the top. There was also the Vienna, the Sandwich loaf and little rolls.
A long-handled wooden, spade-like implement called a peel was used to "feed the oven". Each peel held six tins of bread. The tins were so shaped that six could be held in 3 arms to put on the peel without dropping. The peel could reach right into the oven and slide the tins off. It could then be pulled out and be ready for loading again. The ovens held two or three hundred loaves. Each trough heId enough dough for an ovenful and took about an hour to bake. The loaves were extracted from the oven in the same way, and put in the bread room.The second troughful of dough was about an hour behind the first. There was no electricity, the ovens were wood-fired and the copper was heated by gas.
Very hot nights upset this routine. There were no ceiling fans to keep the bakery cool and in the heat the dough would rise quicker than usual. If it was not worked and made into bread quickly it would go sour, so on many a summer night Isabel was called from her bed to help.
There was no weekend work. Friday was a double day and particularly busy. Monday was busy too. After the bread was finished, there were still the cakes to be made for the shop. The sponge mixture for the jam-and-cream sponges took 28 eggs. They were mixed in a large stainless steel container about 60 cm across, and the handle had to be turned until the arms ached. Once the eggs were frothy, in would go the sugar, then the flour, the handle still being turned, en lastly the melted butter. The mixture was scooped into sandwich tins or into flat trays for the Swiss Rolls, and baked in the usual way.
AFTER W. H. THOMPSON
Later, R. W. Shoesmith rented the Bakery from Mr Thompson and William Moore leased it after him, followed by Herman Moses. In 1968 Mr Thompson’s daughters sold it for £8,000 to Barletta and Finochiaro, who leased it to Vettimar Pty Ltd in 1971. It is still in use today. The building has been added to the National Trust's Industrial Archeological Sites List as a suburban bakery that is characteristic of turn-of-the-century suburban industry.
Interview with Mrs Isabel Clifford, Belmore.
Register General's Land Title Records.
Register of Bankruptcy, A.O. 10/23552-17725.
District Court Records, 7/5092-43, A. 0.
NOTE: James Augustus Wilson is also mentioned in the article "The Story of C. C. Merritt Pty. Ltd. on page 10.
THE STORY OF C. C. MERRITT PTY LTD, PRINTERS, LAKEMBA
This statement (condensed here by the Society to include mainly facts relating to Merritt’s printing interests) was written in 1976 by Mr C. C. Merritt for a proposed story of C. C. Merritt Pty Ltd, Printers, Lakemba, which did not eventuate. It is published here with the permission of his widow and the firm. Mr Merritt died at Terrigal on 3 May, 1980.
The story of Merritt’s probably started with my paternal grandfather, who, I am given to understand, was the inventor of the rubber stamp, so he must have had something to do with printing. But the real story started in 1917 when my father commenced business as a jobbing printer in Gladstone Street, Belmore.
Incidentally, in 1917 the butcher stayed open on Saturday afternoons because not everyone was fortunate enough to possess an icechest. Gas lamps in the streets of Campsie had just been replaced with electricity. Hall's horse-drawn coach plied between Lakemba station and Shorter Avenue, Spencer Smith's picture palace (replaced by the Magnet Theatre) featured Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, Lillian Gish and other almost long-forgotten stars.
In 1917 the city limits practically ended at Campsie. Past that point Lakemba was still an unspoiled vista of rolling hills; when Canterbury Road, Haldon Street and Lakemba Street were little more than bush tracks. Punchbowl Road ended at Hillard Street where there was a creek which was filled for some years later.
Before reclamation, 212 Lakemba Street, where the factory now is, was also a creek which flowed into Cooks River. This fact proved to be very expensive some years later when the original brick factory was built, as we had go down some 27 feet on the north western footing to find a bottom. Unfortunately, it rained heavily at the time and this awesome hole kept caving in. The bricklayer built the pier with a rope around his body so that he might have some hope of rescue if a cave-in happened while he was down there. All that risk for about $2.00 a day!
As a child I remember my parents as hard-workers, tremendously dedicated to the well-being of their family; those desperately poor times, with five children to support,determined to improve their lot.
After years of ups and downs, they decided to start "the business". This was a small shed, which my father built, about 12 ft. x 10 ft., in Gladstone Street, Belmore. The plant, under hire purchase, consisted of a Chandler & Price platen printing press, 12 cases of hand-setting type, and a small hand-lever guillotine. The platen, as a matter of interest, was some thirty years later installed in the company's present premises in Lakemba Street and was used usefully for a number of years thereafter.
My father was the letterpress printer and my mother, with absolutely no previous experience, was the compositor. Later, with my own trained experience, I came to realise just how wonderful their efforts were, most particularly those of my mother.
At that time too, my mother undertook a course of instruction in chocolate making. Commencing production, they were marketed successfully under the trade name of "Dorothy Perkins". The four-colour wraps were printed on the platen and the boxes assembled by the entire family after school hours.
Soon after my thirteenth birthday, within a few months of the founding of the business, my father became ill and I became the head and only printer. Then there were two completely inexperienced people running a printer! When I was fourteen, I became apprenticed at composing to Messrs Turner & Henderson. Some two years later I was back in the family business. Apprenticeships in those days were fairly loose affairs.
As the prosperity of the business fluctuated from time to time, I found myself working at home and at other times in the city. I gained experience at Messrs John Sands Ltd and also at Snellings where one of my responsibilities was to lay the plates for Yates' seed packets. This contract is now with Merritts and the plates are only casually used.
After my marriage in 1925, I again rejoined my parents in the business which was now situated at 122 Haldon Street, Lakemba. For a while it became a partnership, R. Merritt Son, but with the full impact of the Depression this had to be dissolved. Out of work, with no prospects and with little money, I became a milk vendor and also decided to commence a poultry farm.
This all came to an end in 1936 when my father offered to sell me the printing business which he and my mother had kept going through those difficult years, but from which they now desired to retire.
I sold the milk run and the poultry farm for the magnificent sum of £255 and paid £250 for the printing plant and stock, opening a bank account with the remaining £5.
Although conditions were still difficult in 1936, the "LAKEMBA ADVANCE" NEWSPAPER, FIRST PUBLISHED IN 1927 AND CLOSED DOWN IN 1930, RECOMMENCED PUBLICATION. There were no regular employees in the business, but I had an arrangement with my father that he would come and operate the printing machine every Thursday. For this, as the early timesheets show, he received £1. The rest was up to me; space salesman, journalist, editor, compositor. (All, except the main body of news was handset out of the original 12 fonts of type, plus, I think, about another four fonts.)
The first week's revenue was £7.2.6. This had to buy the paper and ink, pay my father and two men to deliver the papers, each of whom received 12s.6d., and to give me some take-home money. The plant at that time consisted of the original platen, another larger platen, a royal-sized flatbed minting machine, a hand-lever guillotine, a stitching machine and sundry type.
As times picked up, I was encouraged to employ my first all-time employee, office boy William Marrower for 15s.Od. for a 44 hour week. Then came Fred Henderson-Smith, compositor, who remained with the firm for many years.
THE "ALERT" NEWSPAPER
IN 1938 THE "ALERT" NEWSPAPER. A PAID CIRCULATION PUBLICATION ESTABLISHED IN 1907, was purchased from the founder proprietor, Mr James August Wilson, a one-time Mayor of Canterbury. This newspaper serviced all districts between Sydenham and Bankstown and was the principal source of district information for the early residents. Unfortunately, this was the rock on which I nearly foundered. After only three months of publication I was forced to close it.
In 1939 CAME THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE "CAMPSIE NEWS”.
This I saw as a good opportunity as the closure of the "Alert" had left the important Canterbury- Campsie district without a local news medium. The venture was successful from the start and the paper quickly achieved a good reputation. As the district grew, retailers tended to establish stores in both Campsie and Lakemba and urged me to consolidate the "ADVANCE" and the "CAMPSIE NEWS" and this is how the amalgamation took place.
In 1939 came the Second World War. Rationing of materials particularly newsprint, was quickly enforced and, with the establishment of manpower controls, formidable problems were encountered. Free-circulation newspapers at first had no newsprint quotas, so this meant going to Sydney every week to scrounge a few reams of paper. Personnel quickly shrank to myself, wife, father and (God Bless him) Fred Smith.
In 1940 a gentleman named Henry H. Neary came to my office and in response to his request I printed a book that he had been writing for some years. He had been a goldminer and had worked in the Sofala, Hill End and 'Wattle Flat areas for most of his life. This book related to some of his experiences. "The Sydney Morning Herald" praised it as an important record of the early days of the Turon. After that review, I received enquiries and orders for printing from many clients.
THE COMPANY FORMATION
By 1945 the small premises at 118 Moreton Street were far too small. I searched for another site, and was offered the whole parcel of land which the company now owns for £300. Unfortunately, this was beyond my resources and I had to settle for the portion on which the original section of the factory now stands. For this I paid £110. Later, in 1960, 212a Lakemba, Street was acquired for $11,000 and finally in 1973 the brick cottage and furniture factory sites for $85,000.
By 1947 the land had been paid for and the factory had been built. A proprietary company was formed with an initial nominal capital of £10,000. The Company paid £5,147.12.1 for my business and Mr J. B. Bradbury (our first factory manager) and I were appointed directors. The original shareholders and their holdings were as follows:
Mr D. Garrick (son-in-law).....200 shares
Mr A. Ginns (brother-in-law).200 shares
Mr W. Merritt (brother)........300 shares
Mr S. McKechnie.............. . 300 shares
Mr J. Bradbury. ............... 100 shares
Mr C. C. Merritt................2,500 shares
Profit for the first year was £513.19.4.
Already floor space was proving to be inadequate and we had decided to buy our first vertical Neihle printing press. In the period we had acquired a power guillotine, a Heidelberg automatic platen and sundry other equipment. Additional shares were issued in 1949.
The "CAMPSIE NEWS AND LAKEMBA ADVANCE" IS SOLD.
In 1960 the free circulation newspapers in our district were the "Campsie News and Lakemba Advance" (Canterbury-Wiley Park), the McGinley family's "Punchbowl Punch" (Punchbowl) and the English family’s "Bankstown Torch."
At this time these districts were expanding rapidly. The larger chain stores were being attracted to the suburbs, which resulted in substantial revenue going to the newspapers. While this was gratifying to us, it was apparent it was not going unnoticed by the larger city interests. Cumberland Newspapers had been bought by Mr Rupert Murdoch, while the Illawarra locals had been blanketed by a Rockdale -Wollongong newcomer.
Seeing, as I thought, the writing on the wall, I accepted an offer from Mr. Karl White (ex -Cumberland Newspapers) to sell. Mr. White had taken over the "Punchbowl Punch" and was better equipped to meet the threatened competition than I was. We settled for £4,659 cash in November, 1960. This was not much, but it was far better than being smothered as some were in other districts. In any case, we had other problems. Commercial printing production was expanding, factory floor space was inadequate and could not be increased; nor, because of lack of capital could we consider alternative premises.
We applied the cash from this sale, together with a loan from the M. L. C. to purchase the property at 212a Lakemba Street. Using the new premises as the administrative centre, congestion in the main factory was reduced considerably.
Selling some of the now redundant newspaper equipment, we made our first step into offset printing. That the decision right has been well-proven. Until my retirement in 1968, the company continued to make steady and satisfactory progress. In that year the owners became Messrs N. Spedding, J. Kelly T. Hodgson who had loyally and capably served the company for some years. They formed a fine team with their respective abilities and proven compatibility. Looking back some eight years later, I find this judgment fully vindicated. This year, I am given to understand, turnover will be close to $2,000,000. "The Mighty Oak from a Small Acorn Grows".
NOTE: James Augustus Wilson is also mentioned in the article "The White House Bakery", on page 4.
Narwee Primary School is built on land given in 1809 to Richard Podmore, a free settler, who came to New South Wales as a soldier in the N.S.W, Corps in 1792 on the ship "Pitt".
Land between today's Penshurst Road and King Georges Road belonged to Richard Tuckwell, another soldier from the same Company. At the time of grant, the land was covered with a very thick ironbark forest.
Tuckwell and Podmore sold their grants to Patrick Moore and Robert Gardner, both ex-convicts, in 1819 and 1820, and "Bob the Gardener", as he was known, began to clear trees and develop a farm on Podmore’s grant, which he called "Sunning Hill Farm". The property was later extended to cover Emery's 30 acre grant next door. This was farmed by his adopted son, Thomas Gardner Whitehall.
At that stage there were very few farms in the district. Men earned a living by cutting down the trees and selling the logs for firewood and timber to build houses and boats, Narwee did not exist as a locality; it was called "Bob the Gardener's Farm", and there were so few people living in the area that bushrangers could easily hide for weeks in the forest without being discovered.
In the 1830’S, the Sydney Hunt Club used to hold its hunting meets in this area. Reports in the newspapers of the time tell of groups of men trotting through the thick forest below Oatley's (near today's Beverly Hills) and chasing deer across Bob the Gardener's and other nearby farms. It was called "wild and difficult country". The deer were imported by the upper classes when they came from England, so they could follow the same gentlemanly sports that they did at home The fields of young barley particularly attracted the deer, and many a crop was damaged by first being grazed by escaped animals, and later being galloped across by the Hunt in pursuit of a good day's sport.
At the top of the hill, in the block surrounded by today's Shorter Avenue, Penshurst Road, Grove Avenue and Karne Street, there was a farm and orchard called "Stacy's Farm". Dennis Stacy, the ex-convict owner, lived there at first, and later it was occupied by Joseph Williamson. A wooden cottage containing four rooms, with a kitchen built separately for fear of fire was built, plus a stable, a fowl house, and huts for the men working on the property.
The land south of Broadarrow Road was given to Dr Robert Townson as sheep grazing land in 1809. It was not used for this, as Townson complained that it was not suitable, being too hilly and rocky. It was sold to John Connell, a Sydney merchant, and became known as "Connell’s Bush". It was also occupied by sawyers and firewood gatherers, among whom were Thomas Collins, John and Bet Hardy, Joseph Fretus, Michael Connolly, William Humphreys, Samuel Lewis, Thomas Sheldon and the Whitworth family. The name of the locality was later corrupted to "Connelly’s Bush", after one of the farmers who lived there.
Few of the farms in the district were sold until late in the nineteenth century. Connelly's Bush was the first to be cut up into smaller farms in 1855. It was advertised as:
- 16 valuable farms, of from 10 to 21 acres each ...Admirably adapted for market gardens or orchards, the soil being of the choicest description of brush land... Particular attention is directed to the :timber on these farms, comprising almost the only iron bark in the district, and whether for sawing or splitting purposes, this bush stands unrivalled; and abundance of water, of the best quality, may be :obtained either by sinking or from an adjoining creek, which forms an unfailing supply.
When Bob the Gardener died in 1873, he was, it was claimed, over one hundred years old. His farm was left to his wife, Sarah or Basalena Gardner, his step-children, the Hickman family, and his only son, also named Robert Gardner. When rumours that a new railway would be built through the district began to spread in Sydney, a land speculator called William Graham Cameron persuaded the family to sell Sunning Hill. In 1885, however,the Minister or Public Works decided on a more northerly route, and Cameron was unable to sell his land. For this reason, he became one of the most vocal opponents of the railway to Burwood Road (now Belmore). The property was eventually subdivided by the Intercolonial Investment Land and Building company Ltd in 1912, and sold as the ten-acre farms of the " Graham Park Estate", each costing between £65 and £142.10.0.
Tuckwell's Farm stayed in the family of Patrick Moore until this century. His son, Peter Moore, was well known among the woodcutters of the district, because he was the coach for anyone who wanted to become a boxer. This was a very popular sport among the sawyers of the nineteenth century - they fought in clearings, cut well away from settlements, because they did not want to be found by the police. (The sport was officially banned). They did not wear boxing gloves, and fought on, sometimes for 150 rounds, until one of the boxers was knocked out, or had his arm broken.
The suburb was named when the railway was built in 1931. Narwee is an aboriginal word meaning "Sun", an appropriate name for an area once called "Sunning Hill Farm". People living there at that time were mostly poultry farmers and market gardeners, and a city florist had a large garden west of the railway station.
After the railway came through, people bought up land for residences. Little building was done during the Depression and World War II, but the suburb grew rapidly in the 1950s, when the area was settled by young families.
"JESSAMINE", 20 GARNET STREET, HURLSTONE PARK
My search into the origins of this lovely home was made at the Mitchell Library and Registry of Lands in Sydney and references to Sands Directories.
Garnet Street, a most easterly boundary of Canterbury Municipality is seen on an 1885 map in Sands Directory, though not named. The name appears in the 1892 issue of Sands.
Register of Lands Book, Vol. 546 Folio 93, shows the transfer from Tomaso Compagnoni a Sydney restaurateur to Frances Menzies (wife?) of George Menzies of the allotment on which this house was to be built, and dated 13 August, 1898. We can assume that building took place immediately, making it truly a Victorian house, for it is listed in Sands 1900 (Queen Victoria died Jan. 1901).The occupier was George Menzie sic note spelling. My experience of Sands, in the historical sense, is that often it was two years behind the actual event, so the house could have been erected late in 1898 or in 1899.
Having lived next door to this lovely building almost all of my life, I remember the fine character of it and the Victorian presence ever so strong. Set on a very wide block the house was double-fronted with a central entrance and carriage drive on the southern boundary. From the rather high white picket fence, the palings of which were ornamented with shaped routings, the stout posts of nine inch square hardwood were capped and had an astragal near the top and a skirting at ground level, the curving gravelled path led one past the fountain with a not unpleasant cherub supplying a fine spray of cool water from somewhere above his head; the water fell onto the first circular container and spilled over the edge into a deep fish pond equipped with aquatic plants and large red fish.
Marble steps led up to the tiled verandah and a Grecian urn on either side was planted with ferns. Ornate cast iron columns supported the bull-nose corrugated iron roof with iron lace between the columns. The wide lawns were surrounded by rose gardens, the clay soil suiting these plants, no doubt.
A glass panelled door, although wide by today's standards, looked smaller, really due to the further glass panels used on either side. I can still see the ruby red glass with lite floral frosting, large rooms with high, richly ornamented ceilings, the centre pieces picked out in various colours and deep cornices surrounding the ceilings and walls. Massive cedar folding doors divided the huge drawing room into two on the south side.
The bathroom was large and tiled in imported, highly decorative tiles; so that everywhere one could see the money spent on such a building; marble fireplaces and high chimneys showed the utilitarian thinking of architect and owner.
The rear of the home on its northern side contained a huge fernery, latticed all over, providing a luxurious environment for the inhabitants, supplying them with overhead watering. The Kentia palms today, are evidence of this superb area, standing well over 30 feet.
In 1903 the house is named "Bisley" and the home is numbered 20 (Sands). Up till that year "Bisley" was one of only four homes in Garnet Street which ran from Canterbury Road right down to Cooks River crossing the newly designed railway to Belmore. There were no homes on the Marrickville side of the street, so the view from the front of "Bisley" took in an unrestricted view of Botany Bay and the Heads and Pacific Ocean. That year (1903) also saw the occupier's name spelled MENZIES.
The "BISLEY" name is interesting, for as a child the house I knew was labelled "JESSAMINE". An embossed, copper name-plate was attached to the outside of the front bedroom wall. But "Bisley" went, I believe, next door to No. 22, the home of Mr & Mrs Jack Moss, parents of Kevin Moss, the present Mayor of Canterbury. The Moss home was built on the carriage way of "Bisley" and I assume Mrs Menzies - a widow now - arranged the subdivision.
Although a next door neighbour's son, my infrequent visits to "Jessamine" were filled with awe, for everything about the house was larger than my own. It seems to me now, that I then had the notion that the house had been there forever; a childish whim, of course. The architecture was of a much earlier period, yet the house was hardly thirty years old.
The late 1920's and early 1930's were the days that impressed me the most. The home was then owned by a Miss Mabel Hanlon, a volatile, middle-aged, painter of repute. She conducted an art class in Enmore Road, Enmore, almost, next door to Szarka’s Picture Show. At "Jessamine" she also taught drawing, painting and pen painting and a large brass plate affixed to the picket fence testified to this fact.
I have a vivid recollection of sitting on my front porch and listening to the music and laughter emanating from the drawing room; the venetians drawn high, a single electric bulb glowed on the verandah - people moved about the lawns and viewed the ponds - this was a "musical evening" - the piano the centre of interest in those days. It was the first time in my life I heard the song - "Yip I yaddy - I yay – I yay", so it must have been sung many times over that evening for it to have such an impression on me, a thirteen year-old boy.
On summer nights it seemed everyone, neighbour's that is and we sat outdoors and braving the occasional mosquito, partook of ice cream and ginger beer - someone in the family racing around to Mrs Gilchrist's shop on the corner of Duntroon and Canterbury Road and returning with dripping ice cream cones; how times have changed. On summer nights the scent from the huge pittosporum tree blossoms must have been strong, for I can still remember the perfume now, almost 50 years later.
About this time the owner married Mr Samuel Taylor of the Government Printing Office, Sydney. I believe Miss Hanlon now Mrs Taylor) was related to Mrs George Menzies, but I have no proof. I vaguely remember, however, my mother telling me that these sisters, whose maiden name was Maidment, were related to (probably) Mrs Menzies. One lived directly behind "Jessamine", another next door to her and a third in Woodside Avenue, opposite in Duntroon Street. They were respectively, Mesdames Bridekirk, Lonsdale and Watson. I would dearly like to get in touch with any descendants of these people.
Mr Taylor pre-deceased his wife. Mrs Taylor died about 1960. In 1958 Mrs Taylor presented two of her oil paintings to her neighbours, one to the Moss family and one to my family. My painting hangs in my study where this monograph is being written.
The house was put up for auction and came into the ownership of Mr Orme Rees. The house was renovated, the old fence removed and the house re-named "Rosemont".
This completes my recollections of this fine old home, which indeed will stand for many years to come, a reminder to younger generations of the era of grace, simplicity and tranquility.
THE SAINT IS MISSING. LINK WITH AUSTRALIA'S VETERAN LANCASTER 'G-GEORGE!
That was the heading of an R.A.A.F. news release in October, 1944. 'The Saint' was Flight-Lieutenant James Alexander Saint-Smith, DFC, DFM and he had been missing since June.
He enlisted in the R.A.A.F. in January, 1915 giving his home town as Earlwood. In fact, his father was Raymond Saint-Smith, Headmaster of Clemton Park School in Bexley Road from 1941 till he retired in December, 1949. They lived in Willunga Avenue, Earlwood, not far from the school. Alexander trained as a teacher, too, at Armidale Teachers' College, and taught at Yullandry, near Cumnock. The children and staff at Clemton Park School thought he was very handsome when he visited them, in his uniform (was the Air Force forage cap the inspiration for the school's Flute Band cap? They were very similar).
Saint-Smith left Australia for Canada in May 1941 after initial training at Narrandera, N.S.W , then joined No. 12 (Wellington Bomber) Squadron in England. On 6 December 1942, as the Flight-Sergeant pilot, he flew the Lancaster bomber,‘G-George’, on her very first flight, in a bombing raid over Mannheim, Germany, with 460 Squadron. He was the pilot for 'G-George on her first 15 flights and after each one a little stick figure of a man with a halo was painted on the fuselage.
In December 1943, after 30 missions, with his navigator, Geoffrey Heath of Croydon, Sydney, they were both posted to the newly-formed No. 627 (Mosquito Light Bomber) Squadron. It was on 29 June, 1944 while flying to their target at Beaurevoir, France, that they were shot down over a little village of Vaulx. They were buried in the village cemetery there by the local residents. Several years later the graves were transferred to a military cemetery at Abbeyville in northern France.
On 22 April, 1951, his family endowed a window to his memory in St George's Anglican Church, Earlwood. This window is a copy of the one in a church in England erected to the memory of his friend, Geoffrey Heath.
In May, 1943, James Alexander Saint-Smith was awarded the DFM, and the DFC, six weeks after being reported missing, the citation reading:-
- "This Officer has taken part in a number of major attacks on Germany and enemy-occupied territory. He has taken an important part in attacking the Kjeller aircraft factory near Oslo and in several other :operations against targets in Germany and France, exerting himself the utmost to ensure their complete and final success. All these operations have had to be accomplished from low-level and have owed much of :their effectiveness to his conspicuous gallantry and determination."
'G for George’ became very famous, completing 90 missions altogether, and 28 more fine Australian pilots followed Saint-Smith into her cockpit. Finally, after being retired from service following a raid on Cologne on 19 April, 1944, ’G-George’ was overhauled and flown to Australia, the flight taking three and a half weeks, for a time she toured the Eastern States on wartime loan drives.
Today she stands proudly in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra with her row of little 'Saint' figures to remind viewers of Flight-Lieutenant James Alexander Saint-Smith, DFC, DFM, of Earlwood, and close by is his log book presented to the memorial by his parents, Mr and Mrs R. Saint-Smith.
My thanks go to Mrs Richmond of Concord for sharing these memories of her brother and to the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, for information.
SCOUTING IN EARIWOOD IN 1912
Residents of Earlwood today, in the Permanent Avenue-Prince Edward Avenue area certainly would not tell you that they lived in "the wilds of Cooks River country" nor in the "hinterland of Australia". Yet that was the description applied by journalists about seventy years ago when a weekend Boy Scouts' camp held there was visited by the Chief Scout, Sir Robert Stephenson Smythe Baden-Powell.
As Lieutenant General Baden-Powell he had been the Commander at the long siege of Mafeking in 1901 during the Boer War and, while Inspector General of the British Army wrote, "Scouting for Boys", listing his tenets, required for training boys for good citizenship.
World Scouting recently celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the first Scout camp ever, it being held on Brownsea Island, England, and was organized by Baden-Powell himself, in June, 1907. Scout camps very quickly spread to other countries. It is thought the movement in N.S.W. began about March, 1908, and by the end of that year several Patrols were registered, including one at Marrickville.
Four years later, Baden-Powell undertook a world tour, visiting countries to which the movement had spread, and Sydney Scouts excitedly organized a weekend camp to celebrate.
On Monday, 20 May, 1912, the Sydney Morning Herald printed an article that said:
- "At last the Boy Scouts of Sydney have achieved their greatest ambition. They have been reviewed by Chief Scout Lieutenant General Sir R. S. S. Baden-Powell, the hero of Mafeking, and the founder of the Boy :Scout Movement. For months they have been preparing for the great day - ever since word came that 'B.P.' was to visit Australia. And to give the distinguished visitor some idea of the Australian bush the camp :was pitched in the wilds of Cooks River country. Here 800 scouts from the metropolis and 250 from the country were congregated. Also, about 100 Aids assembled during the afternoon, and came in for :commendation at the hands of the General.
- Although the scene of operations was far from the usual haunts of the Saturday crowd, thousands of sightseers trudged over the hills and through the gullies, following stray scouts, till they came to the :rendezvous. Here they found the camp in full working order. There was an up-to-date signaling station, a wireless plant, a well-equipped ambulance and various other items of interest. Not the least :interesting was the company of 200 Mounted Scouts...from Cootamundra."
The "Sun" newspaper, on Sunday 19 May, 1912, wrote:
"Lieutenant General Sir Robert Baden-Powell ventured into the hinterland of Australia yesterday. He went, attended only by a private secretary and a few civilians, into the fastness of the country around Cooks River, and after careful scrutiny he happened upon a camp of boy scouts. And he was the biggest scout of them all. That he found their tents at all is to his credit; but a word of thanks due to those who guided him through the scrub and over the rocks, and along the sandy tracks which barred the way to this unconventional camp. Also, it is to the credit of those responsible for the organization of the camp that they are able to so effectually hide themselves in the bush. Had they been a mile or two nearer to the railway and tramway systems they might have been swamped by the whole population Sydney and the suburbs. As it was, they caused more thousands of men, women and children to put in a tiring - but interesting - afternoon than any ordinary Wild West show would have attracted.....
The camp out beyond Cooks River was held in honour of the British General - the idol of the Scouts, the defender of Mafeking. There had been no bill-posting to advertise the engagement; The General's visit was unheralded and unsung. The General Baden-Powell's expected arrival had been whispered about. The outpost sentries had been specially selected on the qualification of keenness. The Bugle Band of the Scouts and the excellent brass band of the compulsory trainees from the Petersham area were placed under cover so advantageously that they might let all the local world and the camp know when the great 'B.P.' arrived. And the public had not been sow to interpret the signs.
So, from Wardell Road Railway Station to a point out in the wilds, where mounted and foot police marked the position of a missing slip-rail in a long line of fence, the footpath (with apologies to the local aldermen) were lined with people anxious to see the man who had made a chapter in British history. There were others there who showed by their medals and clasps that they also had done some service for the Empire about the same time as this famous day in May, 1901, and before and after. The crowd was not interested in the last-named section. It rubbed shoulders with men who rode in the relief column, and it heeded them not. The crowd wanted Baden-Powell. And Baden-Powell came. The crowd knew him because he wore a hat with four fingers pinched in the crown and a stiff brim - one of those hats that contingents wore before they went to South Africa and changed them for others...
When the camp was reached few people in the crowd - and certainly not the General - knew that such was the position. The tents were apparently not there. The 'Boy Scouts' were invisible. There was a bush look-out with a Union Jack afloat which was somewhat incongruous. There was a small squad of standard bearers carrying colours which had been presented to the scouts. But nobody knew where the 1000 scouts were until a bugle sounded a short, sharp call. Then, in a moment, the scrub became alive with fantastically garbed boys. They sprang from here, there and everywhere, and rushed towards their chief...It was a rather unique welcome. Another bugle call and the boys disappeared into the bush again...
Then the Chief Scout paid a visit of inspection to the camp, saw the boys at their work and their physical exercises. They could cook a meal or build a bush hut, render First Aid, rescue and resuscitate the drowning, flag-signal a message from their camp to distant places or dispatch an order by wireless, even do Japanese wrestling. The cooking and ambulance display of the Girl Aids also attracted attention. A camp fire was held in the evening."
And the last word in this description of the area is from Baden-Powell himself in his book, "Boy Scouts Beyond the Seas, My World Tour", in which he says - "What a place for scouting! All around the town and even in it are the wooded hills and thick bush...
When I went to see them they did not parade on a flat, open lawn and march like imitation soldiers; but they were camped in the scrub among the rocky hills, each patrol in its own little spot very much hidden from view.
They had rigged up crows nests of poles from which orders could be signalled to the different tents. Also they put up a signalling mast with flags to ships in the harbour in addition to a wireless telegraphy installation with which they could talk with the men-of-war or with their own headquarters in the town."
REFERENCES: "Origins of 'Scouting in New South Wales" – The Scout Association of Australia.
"Scouting in New South Wales", Part 4, May 1982.
Ed. R. Wilson.
DAVID JONES, BUILDER OF"THE TOWERS", BELMORE
According to his death certificate, David Jones was 80 years and three months when he died on 22 June, 1899, and was born at Bryn, Montgomeryshire, Wales. His descendants say he came from Wrexham, Denbigh, Wales. When he died, he had been in New South Wales for 48 years, so he would have arrived about 1850.
According to "After One Hundred Years", an account of the Centenary of Methodism in Bathurst and the West of New South Wales, 1832-1932, by Rev. Raymond Doust: "William Jones.....came to Bathurst in 1862 with his brother, David". David Jones built a number of major buildings in Bathurst including the Court House and Railway Station and many large houses. The Railway Station was built in 1876. The Court house was commenced in 1878 and completed in 1880. His tender for the building of the Goulburn Court House, a building very similar in style to its counterpart in Bathurst, was accepted in 1884. The family moved from Bathurst to Goulburn about this time.
After the Goulburn Court House was completed (it was officially opened on 14 October, 1887) the family apparently came to Sydney, and the now well-known landmark, "The Towers", may have been built at this time. (F, A. Larcombe, in his book Change and Challenge, a History of the Municipality Canterbury, N.S.W.", 1979, suggests that "The Towers" was built in 1870, because the Munz metal is Stamped 1870.)
David Jones' name first appears in Sands Directories in 1889, under Sharp Street. Another point is that the land and improvements were valued at £500 in 1884, but were sold in 1898 for £1,400.
(Recent research by Lesley Muir, a member of this Society, has brought to light further evidence as to the date of construction of "The Towers" ; this is contained within brackets.
David Jones, described as a builder of Bathurst, applied about 1886 to bring the 13 acres of William Ward's grant under the Real Property Act. The land had been transferred to David Jones by William Brown on 28 August, 1854. The application said that Joseph Ward was occupying the land without David Jones' knowledge or consent.
William Preston lodged a caveat dated 28 April, 1886, objecting to the application on the grounds that he had purchased the land from Joseph Ward, paid him money for the land, and had fenced the land eight years previously. He also said that at the time there was a hut on the land which had been occupied continuously since then by caretakers employed by him.
When the case was listed in the Supreme Court, Preston did not appear, and the land was registered under the Torrens Title in September, 1886. The construction of "The Towers" must have been subsequent to 1886. David Jones’ name first appears in Sands Directories in 1889.)
According to his descendants, David Jones had a number of Government contracts in Sydney, and built a number of houses. He suffered some financial difficulties in the Depression of the 1890's. Although not made bankrupt, he was forced to sell or mortgage everything, including "The Towers", but this was not finally sold until 1898. He was able to build a smaller cottage, "Cambria Villa", 70 Tupper Street, Marrickville. He suffered a health breakdown at 75 years of age and did not work again. It was at this address at Marrickville that he died in 1899. There are no obituaries in Sydney or Goulburn newspapers and only a few lines in one of the Bathurst papers.
David Jones was married three times. From his first marriage in Wales, there was one son. His second marriage was at Gresford, N.S.W., and there were two daughters and a son from this marriage, his second wife dying in Bathurst. Soon after, he married for the third time at Bathurst at the age of 58, and there were eight children of this marriage.
He is buried in the Wesleyan Cemetery at Rookwood. He was an active Wesleyan, and taught Sunday school and was one of the Church trustees at Bathurst. His wife played the organ at Moorefields Methodist Church. David Jones was interested in astronomy and built towers on his houses to observe the stars. This was the reason for the unusual design of the building at Belmore.
B. J. MADDEN
JOHN TAWELL, QUAKER MURDERER
If you live in Lakemba, you could be living on land that once belonged to a murderer. One of the convicts who arrived in Sydney in 1815 was John Tawell, a chemist, convicted for being in possession of a forged Bank of England note, and transported for fourteen years. With an eye to advantage, he was quick to notify the authorities that he was a pharmacist, and was promptly given an easy job in the penal hospital, where he managed to stay out of trouble until he received his ticket-of-leave. Soon afterwards, he opened a druggist shop in Hunter Street, later moving to better premises in Pitt Street, where he advertised his services as:
- "On sale, by J. Tawell, No, 18 Pitt Street, Sydney: London Confectionery, Lozenges, Comfits, Preserves, etc., Candied Peels, Spices, Italian goods, etc., Sundries, Dyeing articles, Snuffs, Perfumery, etc., :Patent medicines, Horse and Cattle medicines of all kinds".
As business improved, John Tawell's desire for respectability grew, and he became a successful trader, buying up parcels of property. By the time the 1828 census was taken, Tawell was landlord of many estates, three of them in our area. Dennis Stacey's grant, (bounded by today's Shorter Avenue, Karne Street, Grove Avenue and Penshurst Road)- was one such farm. John Madden’s grant (roughly Canterbury Road, Dreadnought Street, Leslie Street and including Flora Street) was another. The latter property was rented and occupied by Mary Miller, born in the colony in 1792, and four convict labourers. They had cleared part of the land and six acres were under cultivation. Tawell’s other lands nearby were 30 acres in Bankstown, and 120 acres bordering the Punch Bowl (near today's Coronation Parade, north of Cooks River).
John Tawell’s original crime had been the capital offence of forgery, and it was only through the pleading of a Quaker who befriended him that he managed to escape with a fourteen-year transportation sentence. On his emancipation, he became one of the prominent Quakers in Sydney, numbering among his virtuous performances the endowing of a Chapel in Macquarie Street, and cultivating the approval of the local Temperance Society by buying up Campbell’s stocks of 116 gallons of gin and 492 gallons of rum, and publicly tipping the lot into the harbour.
The depression of the 1840’s hit Tawell's business hard, so he decided to return to England with his ailing wife and young daughter. Here, he engaged a nurse, Sarah Laurence, to care for his wife in London; she eventually became his mistress, and she bore him two children. When his wife died, Tawell, determined to make his fortune again, married a rich widow, leaving Sarah Laurence in a cottage near Windsor, where he could occasionally visit her.
She was not satisfied with this arrangement and began to complain, so much that on one of his visits to Windsor, John Tawell poisoned her with prussic acid in the pips of an apple he had sliced for her. He planned his escape to the minute, but reckoned without the new invention, the electric telegraph, which transmitted the description of the Quaker murderer to the police in London, who were waiting for him when he stepped off the train at Paddington Station. "He is in the garb of a Quaker with a brown great coat on, which reaches nearly down to his feet", was the message received.
He was tried for the murder of Sarah Laurence, convicted, and hanged, still dressed as a Quaker, early on the morning of 21 March, 1845.
Tawell’s Australian estates were left in a legal tangle for some time after his execution, not able to be sold for the benefit of his second wife and his children by Sarah Laurence. An old Surveryor's tracing, dated 20 November, 1867, in the Canterbury Subdivision Boxes shows Mrs Tawell, England, as the owner of Madden's grant, and underneath is written the evocative words - "Vacant - known as 'Nobody's Bush' ".
Old Title Rcords. Registrar General's Dept.
Canterbury Subdivision Boxes, Mitchell Library.
Sydney Gazette, 10 November, 1825, p. 4
Australia's Heritage, No. 8. pp. 370-374.
THE REMINISCENCES OF OBED WEST
Obed West was born in Sydney in 1807, and grew up in Pitt Street and then at "Barcom Glen" at Darlinghurst, a grant to his father. He lived at "Barcom Glen" for the rest of his life, dying there in 1891. He proudly boasted in his old age that he had never left the Colony of N.S.W. in his whole life, and because of this was in his old age regarded as authority on Early Sydney.
Articles by him were published in the Sydney Morning Herald and republished in "Old and New Sydney" by E, Hordern and sons. No dates are given but it was probably about 1882 (see Mitchell Library 991 .1 /W). There is also an article about him in the Daily Telegraph on 23 January, 1888.
Obed West's reminiscences were never published. I was supplied with an extract by Mr T. Michell of Ingleburn, whose great-great-great-grandfather Thomas Spencer West (older brother of Obed West) built "Pembroke Cottage", now 9 Bennett Street, Kingsgrove, probably in the 1840’s. With permission of Mr E. Marriott of Bowral, who holds the manuscript, Obed West's references to the area south of Sydney are published here. The period referred to seems to in the 1820's. I must admit that I was sceptical about the reference to Kingsgrove as "a model farm, a very fine place", as I had thought it rather neglected at this period, but in view of the other comments, I will seek further evidence about Kingsgrove during Simeon Lord's ownership.
B. J. MADDEN
Here are Obed West's reminiscences. Copyright is reserved.
"The native name of the district beyond the Botany Road at Waterloo and beyond Newtown on the other side bore the designation of 'Gooman Anne' and 'Goomanamorra'. Gooman Anne comprised the district on the east side of 'Shea's Creek' and Muddy Bay, the former is the continuation of the stream running from the Waterloo Mills into Cooks River, and took in on the south side to the waters of Cooks River. Gomanamorra comprised the district on the west side of Shea’s Creek and Muddy Bay, and extended to a swamp on the east side of the Hon. Thomas Holt’s late residence of 'The Warren'. It commenced in a straight line at about where the Illawarra Railway line crosses the Cooks River Road.
I recollect the first farms that were established out in this direction, the first was Mr Devin’s farm that commenced just past the Deaf & Dumb Asylum. It was on what is now known as the greater part of the suburb of Newtown.
At the time I first knew, all over the ground was thickly timbered with large Ironbark and Blackbutt and other hardwood. The old farm house lay nestled among the trees, and had a considerable piece of cleared ground around it with a very fine orchard.
The old house lay about where the Revd Mr Jeffries' house, 'The Retreat', now is, or a little further on than this & just towards the Newtown Road. Mr DeVine got a grant of the land from the Crown and was one of the Superintendents of the convicts. The farm took in both sides of the present railway line. The place was so isolated at the time they lived there that they were once set upon by robbers and very severely maltreated. They were (that is the old man & the old woman) very severely used, and, so that they should not follow them or give the alarm they were both securely tied up in sacks. The robbers were never, that I know of, found out altho' some people said it was some of the prisoners who were under his (DeVine's) charge that robbed and ill-used them for revenge.
Next to DeVine's farm and a little to the South commenced Nanny Badgery's farm. It was partly cleared and had on it a fruit orchard, & especially fine orange trees.
On the south east of DeVine’s farm & running to the Waterloo Swamp came what was called 'Sidaways Clear'. Sidaway was a First Fleeter. This place at this time was deserted, but there was clear ground around it where wheat and other cereals in the early days had been cultivated. Farming however in those days was not a paying enterprise and the places had to be abandoned; in fact I recollect at one time nearly all the farms around were deserted and the houses abandoned, and then anyone with any cash could have bought them outright for a trifle. Sidaways Clear is where all the brickmaking is now going on.
Then came Mick Brennan’s farm south of Sidaway’s Clear bounded by the swamp and running up to the Cooks River Road. This place of late years was known. As 'Bown Park'. From this part of Goomanamorra was a thick dense forest covered with scrub and trees, Ironbark, Peppermint, Blackbutt & all kinds of gums etc. At this time there were no farms or anything beyond Brennan's down to Cooks River, but a cart track where carts went along to get firewood etc. There were numbers of wallabies etc. in the scrub which in some places was so dense you had almost to crawl thro' it, and numbers of wild deer were to be found among it. They were some of the progeny of those liberated by Dr Harris of Ultimo.
At this time anyone who had to come to Sydney with a cart or animals to cross either Cooks or Georges River had to go right up to the head of the Punch Bowl to cross, and come in on the old Liverpool Road at a spot between the 8th and 9th milestone from Sydney. The farmers and others who wished cross to the other side of Cooks River had to cross by the aid of a log of a tree hollowed out and flat at each end in the same style as they hollow out the trunks of large trees for making drinking troughs at Public Houses.
Across the River where The Dam is now, and where Tempe Hotel grounds are, was a farm belonging to a Mr Packer, a publican who used to live in Pitt Street, opposite Hoffnung & Co’s new stores. Further westward along the River was George Tyrell’s farm & he used, like the others, to cross with the wooden log, and above Tyrell was a man, a sawyer named Burke who used to sell sawn timber. A. B. Spark a merchant afterwards lived on Packer's farm, but he kept a proper boat and to save crossing his vehicles & horses had stables built on the Sydney side of the River. At this time get to the place he had to drive along a deeply rutted bush track full of stumps & such like.
Down below where The Dam is now, and down near the mouth of the River I have often seen upwards of half a dozen black fellows in their bark canoes paddling in and out about the mangrove trees at night time, torch fishing and spearing the fish, principally black fish, black bream and mullet as they rushed out from among the trees, and in the day time I have seen them along the River lying prone in the canoe spearing flatheads, flounders, etc. The torch was a bunch grass tree rushes (dry) bound round with a piece of vine. They used to hold these in one hand over the side of the canoe, and when one burnt out they lighted up another.
Just where the stream of water comes in (Lords Stream) at Mud Island, mud oysters were so plentiful that a boat-load could be loaded in a quarter of an hour. I do not, however, think that this Mud Island is discernible now, the place is so altered. The oysters were so plentiful they used to take them and make lime of the shells. From Packer’s to Georges River the only habitation so far as I know was at Pat Moore’s on what is own as Pat Moore's Swamp. There was another old place called Townsend’s, but it was deserted. Further westward there was Kingsgrove, a model farm, a very fine place, built and maintained on the old English principle. It belonged to Simeon Lord. Other small farms about belonged to Chandler, Silvester and an old nailer named Sparkes, whose son was, afterwards known as the great fighting man, Bill Sparkes, who was sent to England to contest a fight with the champion of England at the time. Kingsgrove was originally, I think, granted to old Captain Laycock.”
To keep in line with the times, of some of the stories, in this and other Journals, various denominations of money, length, area, mass, volume etc. then in use have been retained. If desired, a few approximate conversion examples will assist at a glance. In these examples when a true answer has more than three decimal places in it that answer here has been shortened correct to three decimal places.
1 inch 25.400 mm = 0.025 m
1 foot 0.305 m
1 yard 0.914 m
1 mile 1.609 km
1 square foot 0.093 m²
1 square yard 0.836 m²
Acre 0.405 ha
square mile 2.590 km²
Ounce 28.350g = 0.028 kg
Pound(1b) weight 453.592g = 0.454 kg
Stone(141b) 6.350 kg
1 ton 1.016 tonnes(t)
1 gallon 4.546 litres (1)
The following will revive the memory of some and answer the puzzle for the younger folk.
£ s. d. to dollars and cents. A guide when you go shopping after 14 Feb. 1966
PENCE TO ROUND CENTS
SHILLINGS TO CENTS
1/....10 cent exactly
POUNDS TO DOLLARS £1 = $2, 5 = $10, £10 = $20
Remember this rhyme to convert pence to cents
One and two remain the same,
The only difference is the name,
Three to nine lose one it’s true
And for the rest you take off two.
Produced by the Decimal Currency Board.
THE CANTERBURY & DISTRICT HISTORICAL SOCIETY meets on the FOURTH TUESDAY OF EACH MONTH at 7.30 p.m. in THE BELMORE SENIOR CITIZENS’ CENTRE
REDMAN PARADE, BELMORE.
GUEST SPEAKERS FILMS TOURS
VISITORS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.
ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION: $7.00 Single membership. $5.00 Members on fixed income.
Mrs T. Roberts,
77 Banks Road,
Mrs F Miller
14 Willunga Ave,
Phone: 78 3937.
THIS WORK HAS BEEN ASSISTED BY FUNDS LOCATED TO THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY BY THE CULTURAL GRANTS ADVISORY COUNCIL OF THE PREMIER'S DEPARTMENT OF NEW SOUTH WALES.