Saturday, 30 August 2014


The cost of membership to MHS has not changed for at least 5 years!

Members receive a monthly newsletter which keeps you up to date with local heritage matters and news of upcoming talks, outings and events organised by the Society. Members also receive a complimentary copy of our journal Heritage as well as our other publications.

How to join Marrickville Heritage Society

Send a cheque or money order made out to 'Marrickville Heritage Society' with your name(s), address, phone number(s) and e-mail address, and send to MHS, P O Box 415, Marrickville, NSW 1475

Individual or joint concession $20
Household or organisation $28
Concession $12

Apart from new members, fees are renewable on the 1st June each year. For more details about membership contact Diane on 9588 4930

History Lost: The Warren

As a follow up on our post about the use of The Warren as a training camp during World War I ... we should include it as a post in our History Lost series....

Image Source: Marrickville Library Services
Thomas Holt (1811–1888) was a Sydney business tycoon who built a castellated Victorian Gothic mansion named ‘The Warren’ in 1857 in Marrickville South. It was designed by architect George Mansfield, and contained an impressive art gallery filled with paintings and sculptures from Europe. It had elaborate stables built into imposing stone walls, and large landscaped gardens filled with urns overlooking the Cooks River. Holt gave it that name because he bred rabbits on the estate for hunting, as well as the grounds being stocked with alpacas and other exotics. The Warren was a landmark in the district for some decades; the still-operating Warren View Hotel in Enmore as evidence of this.

As Holt’s health began to be an issue, the Warren was subdivided in 1884 with the land around the immediate building’s grounds being sold off – and the family returning to Britain for the remaining years of his life. He passed away in 1888. The Warren became a nunnery when the mansion and 12 acres (5 ha) of land were purchased by a French order of Carmelite nuns. The Carmelites were evicted from The Warren in 1903 for outstanding debts. By this stage the grounds appear to be bare with a high wood fence installed on the western side of the building about this time. It then was used during WWI for an artillery training range and this fenced area also appears in photos along with smaller buildings on the grounds nearby. It was resumed in 1919 by the New South Wales government was finally demolished in around 1922 – the land subdivided to build a housing estate for returned soldiers.


Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930),
Sunday 28 September 1919, page 4

Prehistoric History: Dugong Remains at Alexandria Canal

Alexandra Canal was named after Princess Alexandra, who married Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) in 1863. The suburb of Alexandria is also named after Princess Alexandra.

Alexandra Canal was once a salt marsh known as Shea's Creek. Excavation began in 1887 to transform the marshland into a canal capable of carrying barges to transport goods from the nearby brickworks, woollen mills, tanneries and foudries.

During the excavation of Shea's Creek in 1896, the remains of a dugong were found in the estuarine clay. Examination by the then curator of the Australian Museum Robert Etheridge, revealed the animal had been butchered by a blunt-edged cutting or chopping instrument. Two stone hatchet heads were found nearby.

The artifacts provide evidence of the Indigenous Australians who lived in the area prior to European settlement.

Image Source: Newcastle Cultural Collection

The following is an extract from one of the National Archaeology Week posters displayed by AMBS in Search & Discover, Level 2 at the Australian Museum in 2013.

Archaeology and the Australian Museum
Since the colonial settlement of Sydney layers of buildings have been constructed over historic (since 1788) and Aboriginal archaeological sites. These have to be assessed and excavated prior to any building proposal, as part of the urban planning and environmental assessment process.
Modern planning laws protecting archaeological sites in NSW were introduced in the 1970s. Before this, Australian Museum scientists were often called out on an ad hoc basis to investigate sites that were going to be impacted by a development. One of these early excavations took place at Shea's Creek.

Nineteenth century salvage excavations at Shea's Creek

During construction in the late 1880s of a navigational canal floodplain to connect Botany Bay with Alexandria along the Shea's Creek, a large marine mammal skeleton was uncovered in silty deposits below the low water mark. It was located over one kilometre from the Cooks River, the closest source of deep water.

Such was the importance of this discovery that Robert Etheridge, the director of the Australian Museum, T. W. Edgworth David, geology professor at the University of Sydney, and J.W. Grimshaw were called to investigate the archaeological site at Shea's Creek. The large skeleton was found to be that of a Dugong (Dugong dugon), a large marine mammal which inhabits the tropical and subtropical waters of northern Australia, but is not known to commonly inhabit the colder waters adjacent to the current NSW coast.

New insights
Recently, the Dugong bones from this site were radiocarbon dated and found to be about 6,000 years old. The presence of the bones suggests that water temperatures in the Sydney region were once warmer. Another intriguing aspect to this site is the presence of cut marks on the bones of the Dugong skeleton. Stone axe heads were found in the archaeological deposits, above and below the Dugong skeleton, suggesting that Aboriginal people inhabited the area of Shea's Creek at this time and butchered the Dugong for food.

Friday, 15 August 2014

100 Years Ago - The Elevated Suburb of Marrickville

The Newsletter: An Australian Paper for Australian People (Saturday 15 August, 1914, page 4) spelt out in vivid details what we already know about the Marrickville district. It is just an amazing place to live!

 Marrickville is a joy and a boon to life!

Perhaps our retail shops have changed, but for all of us that love Marrickville, we know just how amazing our varied shops are. Just try to find a park in Marrickville Road, and you will know that the place is still a place where "sunlight is never dimmed!"

The text is a little hard to read, so the article is included in full text here:

The City Lives in its Suburbs.

A complete revolution has taken place in the old City of Sydney. During the last fifteen years by reason of its mercantile growth; and it may be said that Sydney now lives in its suburbs. This change has been so immense, it may be seen the great -metropolis now consists of a net work of suburban cities, where residential and business life is almost wholly independent of the ordinary daily doings of the old city itself. North, East, West and South there are now magnificent suburban areas, or real cities; and certainly all this marvellous creation has been signally helped by the elevated and roomy features of the surrounding country, with which Sydney is endowed. Mechanical science, too, has played a big part in this wonderful suburban growth, as the electric train system has hugely facilitated transit, benefiting not only the people's business but also their health, and producing prosperity and happiness. Conspicuous in all this magic change stands the beautiful expansive and elevated suburb of Marrickville. Nature has been bounteous in her gifts to this popular area of the metropolis of Sydney. It is really an elevated plateau, and very fortunately its expansive endowments have not been ignored, but rather strikingly improved by the representative men who have taken a hand in the business social and public affairs of Marrickville. A genuine big public spirit has manifested itself in all the doings of Marrickville, and its consequent record is that though it is about the youngest of Sydney suburban areas, it is in the front rank easily in business activity and social and residential importance. Certainly all this, as we have already hinted, has been hugely helped by the lovely elevated situation of Marrickville ; but still the energetic work and good judgment of its representative' men and women in improving and not blur ring these natural ad vantages mutt be estimated and justly recognised. A visitor has only to alight from the tram in the main centre to feel

at once that he is in a new and throbbing world of business and social life. No earthly trace of hovels or cramped and crowded streets or lanes is to be found. Everything is open and cheering, and prosperity shows itself all around. The wide streets, where sun light is never dimmed, impart to the shops a completely improved appearance to the general run of city shops. Everywhere the build ings are new in life and new in design. They are all brilliantly lit up by sunlight, and seldom in deed in the interior of any one of them is there a necessity for the electric light in the daytime. This itself is strikingly impressive, and means an immensity to every kind of business. It looks here at Marrickville as if old Sydney had taken to the fields with its pure air and sun light in which to develop its future in business and social life. Still more remarkable, however, is what the visitor sees at Marrickville when he leaves the avenues of business and finds himself in the residential areas. Here is comfort; here is pure healthful social life... If we may use the term, 500 per cent, is the improvement here to be found as compared to the residential conditions of old Sydney and its immediate door stop environs. In this respect Marrickville is truly a suburban garden city. It has thousands of handsome cottage homes with roomy well-lit surroundings, and hundreds of beautiful large residences sleeping in bowers of flowers and foliage. Hence a promenade anywhere about' Marrickville is a joy and a boon to life, particularly for the juvenile element, whose condition of health marks the change from oppressive city life and its frequent undesirable immoral surroundings.

And this thing is most noticeable. The leading people have taken precious good care that nothing would be out of harmony; for whether it be the shops or the churches, the schools or the banks, the public buildings or the semi public institutions, the brand of excellence is everywhere observable. Everything is a cut above what is generally seen elsewhere, a vigorous clear big purpose of life being manifest on every baud. To do justice to Marrickville and her people, and to help point the way for other suburbs to follow, we propose to devote some space in these columns to details of the doings in this free and prosperous model suburban city.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Happy 150th Birthday Marrickville Public School

Marrickville Public School turned 150 on August 13, 2014.

A look back in time can be found online in the form of the Centenary celebration booklet put out by the school in 1964.

A very intesting book has been published for the 150 Anniversary and can be purchased at MHS' book stall at the upcoming Dulwich Hill & Marrickville festival or at the end of meetings at Herb Greedy Hall.

Marrickville Public School will have their own stall at the Dulwich Hill Fair, so be sure to stop by and talk t them .. after you've been to see us!

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