Monday, 8 September 2014

James Start Harrison

We love comments from our readers, especially ones that point out an error. We try our best to bring you correct information, but research being what it is is not always perfect.

Recently Paul Cooper let us know the name of the resident who Harrison Street & Woodbury Street  was named after was incorrect. From the following article we can guess Mr Cooper is a relative, and somewhat more of an expert than this writer. So thank you for helping us.

After a quick search for the correct name, I was able to come across some more information about James Start Harrison. With such credentials it is a fitting tribute to have his name honoured in our streets.

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW:
 1870 - 1907), Saturday 15 March 1902, page 26

In the News - Dulwich Hill Boy Scouts Hall Addition

Marrickville Council recently posted this picture to their facebook page.  It shows the opening of the extension to the Dulwich Hill Boy Scouts Hall in 1924.  Through Trove I was able to find an interesting recount of the events of the day that connect to this wonderful photograph.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Monday 16 June 1924, page 10

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.

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