Monday, 31 December 2012

New Years Day in Marrickville LGA

Happy New Year! May this be a fantastic one for you and your loved ones.

New Years Day 1949 was an important day for the Marrickville Council.

1 January 1949 saw the amalgamation of St Peters and Petersham councils with Marrickville Council. 

Petersham Council were against the move, arguing, as they had to a proposed voluntary amalgamation in 1933, that a reduction in service provision and a loss of identity for ‘historic’ Petersham would result. Nonetheless, brought about by the Local Government (Areas) Act, 1948, it was part of a larger change in Sydney’s local government that saw the expansion of City of Sydney Council and the reduction of Councils in the County of Cumberland from 67 to 39. 

The move to form larger councils was seen to produce better efficiency for Councils, resulting in appropriate use and allocation of ratepayers’ money.  To mark the amalgamation, and retain the memory of St Peters and Petersham councils, new Mayoral chains were created bearing the emblems of all three councils. Until 1974 Marrickville Council met at the Petersham Town Hall, Crystal Street.
Gilbert Barry was appointed as first mayor for the newly amalgamated council.
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Thursday 16 December 1948, page 11

REFERENCE (including photo): Marrickville Council Website

Monday, 24 December 2012

Tornado Hits Marrickville

I decided to see if I could find any more about the “World’s Largest Xmas Cake” in my previous post, with little success.

I did however find out a tornado hit the area outside the Enmore Theatre the day before the cake was due to be served!

Our own mini version of Cyclone Tracey hit the suburbs around Marrickville on Friday 23 December, 1938 at 2.30pm.

The majority of the £200,000 damage reported at the time was in a one mile square area bounded by Wemyss Street, Addison Road, Stanmore Road and Victoria Road. At least 140 homes and factories were either unroofed or smashed down by the wind which was estimated to have exceeded 100 miles an hour. The papers reported the area looked as “if the area had been bombed. Sheets of iron were wrapped around telegraph poles like sheets of paper”.

The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), Wednesday 28 December 1938, page 7

Many people were trapped or knocked down by flying missiles. 18 persons were injured, one young boy, Noel Russell, 9 of Marrickville was struck in the head and critically suffered a depressed skull. Over 100 families had to leave their homes as they were deemed unsafe.

Local residents described the tornado descending on the area “with a roar ... like a thunderbolt”.

In Enmore Road, Newtown, the premises of Labour Funerals, Mrs Howard’s library and Mr Merrick’s hairdressing saloon were battered to pieces. Two motor hearses worth about £1000 were buried under bricks, iron, and timber.

Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld) 24 December 1938, p 7

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Marrickville Heritage Society wishes all of it's  members and readers of this blog a very Merry Christmas.

Updates to the calendar and more posts will appear after the Christmas break.

To Yule Tide you over until then, I would like to share this photograph from 1938 taken outside the Enmore Theatre.

Image Source: State Library of NSW

Perhaps  you were one of the lucky children to receive a piece of the "Worlds Largest Xmas Cake"? We'd love to hear from you if you were!

Everyone is invited to post comments below. There is no need to register as we currently accept guest posts.

For those with a love for trivia the Sydney Morning Herald of the day showed Enmore Hoyts to be playing "Life Begins with Love" and "Paid to Dance" as the movies of the day. Though, I'd have to question if either of those were suitable for childrens' matinee movies including free cake!

Click for Image Source

Friday, 16 November 2012

Chevy Chase Petersham Residence

Before there was Chevy Chase the actor, there was Chevy Chase the residence....

The house was built c. 1881 for Nicholas Hopson (who purchased the land in 1879 from J.L. Castner). Hopson named his house Chevy Chase. 

Originally the home had a carriage drive and circular planting bed. This can be seen in the aerial photograph (the red outline being the current property boundary).

The 1884 Sands Directory listed Nicholas Hopson, milliner as having business premises at 490 George Street, Sydney, with a private residence Chevy Chase at The Boulevarde, Petersham. 

Hopson lived at Chevy Chase till 1917, when the house’s occupier in Sand’s Directory is shown as Mrs Sarah Cox, a nurse and private hospital proprietor. This indicates conversion of the house to a hospital during World War I, presumably undergoing alterations. 

Hopson retained ownership till 1925, when the property was sold to Ellen Wynn-Martyn who sold part of the land fronting The Boulevarde. 

The house is an example of when heritage integrity has been lost and can no longer be recovered.

Chevy Investments bought the house in 1964, and converted the house into 12 flats, completely altering the northern façade by the addition of new rooms.

In the Marrickville Review of Potential Heritage Items, Volume 1: Final Report, June 2009 the following are given as reasons for excluding it from the Heritage register:
While originally the building was a grand Victorian Italianate style villa with a tower, built by local businessman Nicholas Hopson, due to conversion to a hospital in 1917 and later to residential apartments, the building now lacks integrity.

Approximately 40% of the original facades of the building remain exposed and unencumbered by later additions. The original appearance and form of every façade has been severely disturbed by the additions. The exposed parts of the original facades retain a good proportion of original detail, and some original detail can be reconstructed. However, the obscured parts of the facades have been severely modified and are incapable of reconstruction. Thus, even if all of the additions to the original house were removed, it would not be possible to return the house to its original form.

Friday, 9 November 2012

I Love Marrickville Jelly - Aeroplane Jelly for Me

Aeroplane Jelly and it's famous jingle have strong ties to the Marrickville area.

The 'Aeroplane Jelly Song’ was composed in 1930 by wholesale grocer and wines-and-spirits merchant, Albert Francis Lenertz, better known locally as 'Frank Leonard of Marrickville’(he resided at 284 Victoria Road Marrickville). Lenertz was a co-partner with Adolphus ‘Bert’ Appleroth in the firm Aeroplane Jelly.

According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography Frank was a managing director of the company, which was originally in Sussex Street in the City, but moved to Alice Street Newtown in 1927. Traders Ltd grocery manufacturers first appears in the Sands Directory in Alice Street in 1930, on the north side, between numbers 41 & 49.

Originally, the Aeroplane Jelly song was a tribute to Prime Minister Billy Hughes, with lines such as "Folk in the city and folk on the plain, Billy's great deeds for our land can acclaim". He rewrote the lyrics and it became a popular advertisement around 1930. (The jingle was added to the National Film & Sound Archive’s ‘Sounds of Australia’ in 2008).

Lenertz, Albert Francis, 1891-1943.
The Aeroplane jelly song words and music

The jingle was first recorded by Amy Rochelle, a music hall entertainer who did child imitations.This version of the song was used from 1930 to 1938.

But the best known recording is the 1938 version sung by seven-year-old Joy King (later Joy Wigglesworth). She was chosen after a state-wide competition in New South Wales (the only state marketing the jelly crystals at this time). Her recording was used for more than fifty years.

The song was eventually broadcast one hundred times each day as it was the signature tune on the radio programs Lenertz produced and announced for Sydney stations 2KY & 2SM.

Frank wrote a song about Newtown - Newtown is an Old Town That I Love, the score is available at , the lyrics include lines such as "I've roamed about it's streets & lanes, I've heard both laughs & sighs, I've gazed on many scenes that bought the tears into my eyes" and "where pals know how to play the game, and sweethearts all love true"

Australian Screen
 Sydney Archives

Friday, 2 November 2012

Marrickville Post Office Placed on Commonweath Heritage List

1899. Watercolour (detail). Marrickville Road. Marrickville Post Office (far right); Picture: Gasp Blog

The original Marrickville Post Office building will be placed on the Commonwealth Heritage List in recognition of its significant heritage value.

Member for Grayndler, Anthony Albanese, welcomed the announcement saying it would mean increased protection for the building which is today home to the Marrickville Post Cafe.

“The original Marrickville Post Office was designed by architect James Barnett and when it opened in 1891, it combined a post office, telegraph office and residence in the one building,” Mr Albanese said.

“It was constructed by Messrs Graham & Mercer for 2,197 pounds.

“Putting aside its physical grandeur, the building represents the establishment of the precinct as the main business district of Marrickville following the construction of the tramline along Marrickville Road in 1881.

“At the time, the Marrickville Post Office would have been the most prominent and substantial building in town and the site of important meetings.

 TITLE: Marrickville post office [view of front of building from across street] 
CATEGORY: photograph FORMAT: b&w negative 
TYPE: cellulose acetate STATUS: preservation material 

“Today, the building is home to the Marrickville Post Cafe and it continues to be a lively meeting place for our local community while retaining much of its original character including the wooden floors, high ceilings and gorgeous arched windows.

“I am delighted that Marrickville Post Office is now listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List.

“This announcement is significant because it provides heritage protection into the future for this significant community icon.”

In total, 15 post offices from around Australia have been added to the Commonwealth Heritage List.

Text Reference:

Monday, 29 October 2012

Women of Note

What do Mary Reiby, Caroline Chisholm and Mary Gilmore have in common?

If you said "they've all been on our currency" then you would be correct. However they are also connected to the Marrickville local area.

Caroline Chisholm was born in England. She arrived in Australia in 1838 and set up a home for other women who had come to live here. She worked to improve life on the ships bringing people to Australia to start a new life and started a loans plan to bring poor children and families to Australia.

Image Source: Memoirs of Mrs
Caroline Chisholm (online book
 She arranged free trips so that the families of convicts who were transported to Australia could come to join them. She also believed poor people should be able to buy farms cheaply.

In 1862 Caroline established a private girls school at Rathbone House which was located near the corner of Fotherington & Stanmore Road (now Enmore).  By 1864 she had moved her growing school to "Greenbank" (Tempe House) at Tempe.

Image Source: Inner West Courier

 Mary Gilmore (nee Cameron) was born near Goulburn, New South Wales. She became a teacher, a poet & writer, a campaigner for social reform and was editor of the women's pages of the Australian Worker newspaper for 23 years.

From May 1891 to 1895 she taught at Stanmore Superior Public School. During this period she became close friends with (and it appears she dated) writer and poet Henry Lawson. 

In 1895, she sailed to Paraguay (Arriving in 1896) to join a group of Australians who planned to set up a new colony where everyone would be equal and would work together. Here she married fellow colonist William Gilmore in 1897. The colony was not successful and after some years they returned to Australia.

Image Source: Wikipedia
She spent the rest of her life writing, doing her editing work and fighting for people who needed help. These included Aboriginal people, children who were forced to work in factories and shearers who were being underpaid. She also fought hard for women's rights.

Stanmore Superior Public School 1886

Mary Reiby was born in England in 1777, and transported to the Colony of New South Wales for horse stealing in 1790. When arrested she was dressed as a boy and using an alias, however her identity was revealed during the trial. She was 13 years old when sentenced. Arriving in Sydney in 1792 she was assigned as a nursemaid in the household of Major Francis Grose.

Image Source: FamilyTreeCircles
In 1794 she married Thomas Reiby, formerly of the East India Company, who established a trading enterprise called Entally House. By 1803 Thomas owned three boats and traded coals and wheat up the Hawkesbury and Hunter rivers. In 1807 Thomas bought a schooner for trading with the Pacfic Islands, however he fell ill after a voyage to India in 1809.

After his death in 1811 Mary was left with seven children and control of a large business which included rural properties, Bass Strait sealing operations and overseas trading. Through enterprise and hard work she became one of the most successful businesswomen in the Colony. As she rose in affluence, she also rose in respectability and socialised in Governor Macquarie's set. Mary opened a new warehouse in 1812 and extended her fleet with the purchase of two more ships in 1817. In 1820 Mary returned to England with her daughters.
Reiby House Station Street, Newtown (1923)
Image Source: State Library of Victoria

Returning to Sydney she began buying property and erecting buldings in the centre of town. Mary was soon able to retire from management and live on her investments. In 1825, noted for her interest in church, education and charity, Mary was appointed one of the governors of the Free Grammar School.

She settled in Newtown in her later years. Mary built a villa on land bounded approximately by Enmore Road, Station Street, Holt Street and Reiby Street. It was subdivided after her death in 1855, and the house survived until 1966 when it was demolished for high-rise development. Mary also built Stanmore House in the 1840s for one of her daughters. Stanmore House still stands, and can be from Pemell Lane (behind the Enmore Theatre). A drawing of it appears on MHS's information brochure (click here).

You can read more about Mary in our Heritage 9 journal article written by Nance Irvine.


Australian Dictionary of Biography

Sunday, 21 October 2012

HERITAGE LOST: Kings Theatre Marrickville

Image Source: State Library of NSW

Built for and operated by the Kings Theatres chain, the Marrickville Kings Theatre (200 Marrickville Road) was opened on 9th April 1937 with Freddie Bartholomew in “The Devil is a Sissy” and George Formby in “Keep Your Seats Please”. The Art Deco styled building was designed by Guy Crick & Bruce W Purse and built by J Nyssen.

 The theatre included a specially concealed lighting system with dimmer equipment to provide special effects.

 The Sydney  Morning Herald (11 May, 1937) reported:


Image Source: State Library of NSW

Dress Circle Lounge- Image Source State Library of NSW
It was taken over by an independent operator in late-1964 and began screening foreign language films, with occasional English language films. In 1967 it began showing foreign films only. It was closed in either late-1969 or early-1970. It was demolished in 1971 and the site was redeveloped. Today it is a strip of real estate offices and units.

Image Source: LJ Hooker
***Marrickville had three cinemas seating a total of 6, 200 people. You can read more about the Hoyts Cinema in the MHS' Journal 13 ***

Identifying Housing Styles

Today was Marrickville Festival, where the MHS had a stall.

Many of the visitors asked about housing styles, so as promised here are some links to help you identify your own home style.

We'd love to hear more from you, so please let us know via the comments what we can do to help!

Pictures: National Trust of Victoria

National Trust of Victoria: Housing Styles [PDF]
Marrickville Council: Housing Styles in Marrickville [PDF]
Wikipedia: Australian Residential Architectural Styles

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Street Names: Crystal & Palace Streets Petersham

When Petersham railway station was first opened in 1855 it was called Sydenham Station as the surrounding area was known as Sydenham Farms.

The Farms were split up and sold during the mid 1850s and around this time two streets were renamed after the Crystal Palace which was designed for the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 and built in the London suburb of Sydenham.  Cattle Road became Palace Street and Balmain Road (south of Parramatta Road) became Crystal Street.

The sketch below is from a map of the Plan of Sydenham, Parramatta Road, which was the plan for changes after the sale of the farms which began in 1854. The sketch shows the name of the station as Sydenham, but clicking the sketch will take you to the online map which also shows the road name changes and the location of "Sydenham Station" which we now know as Petersham.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Marrickville - a suburb history

First published in 2008 on the Dictionary of Sydney online website this article by local historian Chrys Meader is is about the history of the suburb of Marrickville rather than the greater Marrickville Council area. We hope you find this work informative.

Chapman & Hazlewood.
Marrickville [cartographic material] : valuable business
 positions,  desirable villa and cottage sites : close to site for
proposed  new railway station, only 4 miles by rail from the 
city 1895. MAP Folder 100, LFSP 1480.
Marrickville is the largest suburb in the Marrickville local government area, six kilometres southwest of Sydney. Most of the suburb of Marrickville consists of a valley – a natural low-lying saucer – that is part of the Cooks River basin. Marrickville railway station is a just 7.6 metres above sea level. The traditional owners of the land are Cadigal of the Eora Nation. The Aboriginal name for the area is Bulanaming.

Gumbramorra Swamp
Following European settlement, Marrickville was a place where runaway convicts could easily hide out in the bush or disappear quietly into the Gumbramorra swamp, which was a natural boundary between Marrickville and what now comprises the suburbs of St Peters, Sydenham and Tempe. The swamp was almost always impassable.

The role of the swamp wetlands played an important part in Aboriginal life as a source of plants and animals. It supported a dense growth of thatch reed, providing an excellent habitat for a variety of birds, particularly swamp hens, moorhens, ducks, gulls and the occasional pelican.

After European settlement its role in the ecological system was not fully understood or appreciated, and the swamp was drained in the 1890s to facilitate the industrialisation of the suburb.


In the first decades after European settlement Marrickville was simply regarded as a good source of timber for boatbuilding. Thomas Moore harvested the timber, which was sufficiently valuable for him to issue several notices in the Sydney Gazette in 1803 warning that 'trespassers intent on cutting timber would be prosecuted to the utmost rigour of the law'.

The status of the area changed with the arrival of the flamboyant Dr Robert Wardell, a wealthy barrister, who purchased more than 2,000 acres (800 hectares), including the former estate of Thomas Moore. When Wardell arrived there were still valuable stands of timber on the estate. Wardell employed his own timber-cutters, selling it mainly for firewood. Like Moore he had trouble with people sneaking onto his property and lopping down the trees and, similarly, he routinely thundered in the press about prosecuting those responsible. The Sydney Gazette of 29 May 1830 noted that Wardell's timber had been valued at the extraordinary sum of 40,000 pounds. The property comprises two or three thousand acres, and is, in some places, very thickly wooded. Incredible as the estimate may appear, we are inclined, from the increasing scarcity and dearness of firewood to think it was not much above the mark.

Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria [IAN25/02/74/28]

The life and death of Dr Wardell

Wardell lived the high life, entertaining prominent citizens of Sydney at his home, Sara Dell, located on Parramatta Road in Petersham – now the site of Fort Street High School. Wardell conducted hunting parties through the bush to Cooks River and, in an effort to recreate conditions of 'home', fenced his entire property and stocked it with imported English deer under the watchful eye of a gamekeeper.

Wardell had arrived in Sydney in 1824 with William Charles Wentworth. Together they established a weekly newspaper, The Australian, which was the first independent newspaper in the colony. Wardell had a brilliant mind. He was also pugnacious in promoting popular causes, repeatedly clashing with Governor Darling. He once fought a duel with Darling's brother-in-law.

Wardell was murdered by runaway convicts as he rode out on a Sunday morning, 7 September 1834. Two men, John Jenkins and Thomas Tattersdale, were arrested, tried and convicted. On 7 November 1834 they were hanged for their crime. The third person involved, Emmanuel Brace, a boy of 16, gave evidence against his former companions and escaped the death penalty.

Wardell was buried in the Sydney burial ground, now the site of Central railway station, but his remains were later removed and returned to England for burial in the family vault. In 1839 a marble tablet, showing a portrait modelled from his death mask, was installed in St James Church, Sydney.

Wardell's violent death came at a time when there was much concern about convict lawlessness. It caused a huge outcry and calls for increased penalties and police to protect the citizenry of Sydney. Since Wardell's brutal murder there have been several conspiracy theories about who really wanted him dead.

Agriculture and industry – Marrickville is established

The demise of Wardell opened the way for the first great era of subdivision in Marrickville. His estate, administered by Wentworth, was divided among his sisters, Anne Fisher, Margaret Fraser and Jane Isabella Priddle. The estate, which Wardell had protected so jealously from trespassers, was now unlocked.

Market gardeners found the area attractive because of its good water supply. From Scotland came the Meek, Graham, Purdy and Moncur families. They were joined by Chinese market gardeners such as Sun Hop Yin and Mow Chow. Other new arrivals included Italians, such as Nicholas Compagnoni.

Stonemasons with an eye for good sandstone also headed for the rocky outcrops of Marrickville. Adam Schwebel, a German migrant, arrived to quarry the sandstone cliffs along Cooks River and the ridge lines of the Marrickville valley. These early settlers formed the foundations on which multicultural Marrickville was built.

The year 1855 was a turning point in Marrickville's development. Thomas Chalder subdivided his Marrick Estate and laid down the village of Marrickville. Cottages, shops, churches and civic buildings rapidly appeared. Market gardens, dairy farms and stone quarries now dotted the landscape. Parts of Marrickville remained well timbered and were still referred to as Wardell's Bush.

Marrickville was a diverse area. Along with the market gardeners, stonemasons and dairy farmers, it was also home to architects, lawyers, members of parliament and senior public servants. The first mayor of the Marrickville Municipality, incorporated in 1861, was Irish-born Gerald Halligan, the chief clerk in the New South Wales Public Works Department.

In 1878 the first Marrickville Town Hall was built on Illawarra Road. It is the oldest civic building in Marrickville and the fourth oldest surviving town hall building in Sydney. It was sold to the State Government in 1920 to fund the building of the new town hall on Marrickville Road.

By the late 1860s Marrickville was described as a rural suburb with pretty scenery and handsome residences. There were many dairy farms catering for the growing local population as well as serving Sydney and adjacent suburbs. One of the earliest and largest dairies was Norwood Park, owned by John Neville. Although parts of it were progressively sold, the dairy operated into the early years of the twentieth century. The remaining portion was bought by the federal government in 1914 and developed as an army depot. It is now the site of Addison Road Community Centre.

The Warren

Marrickville's population may have increased and diversified but the suburb was not done with its millionaire residents. In 1864 Thomas Holt, wool merchant and politician, built The Warren, a castellated Victorian Gothic mansion complete with its own art gallery, on his 130-acre (53-hectare) estate overlooking Cooks River. Holt also built bathing sheds and a Turkish bath on Cooks River for his personal use.

Holt was an enterprising individual. He was a member of the colonial parliament and a founding member of the AMP Society, the Sydney Railway Company, the Australian Joint Stock Bank and (Royal) Prince Alfred Hospital. One of his favourite causes was an adequate supply of water for Sydney, which was essential for future development.

After Holt returned to England in 1883 his estate was subdivided. The Warren and 12 acres (five hectares) of land were purchased by a French order of Carmelite nuns. The Carmelites were evicted from The Warren in 1903 for outstanding debts. Eventually they were able to establish a new monastery in Wardell Road, Dulwich Hill.

The Warren was used as an artillery training camp during World War I. The property was resumed in 1919 by the New South Wales government and the house demolished. Sir John Sulman was engaged to build a housing estate for returned soldiers.

The Warren may be long gone, but it still exerts a powerful fascination. Residents, both old and new, often refer to their locality as The Warren. Its presence can be sensed in many ways. Two towers from The Warren stand on Richardson's Lookout in Holts Crescent. Ferncourt Public School is built from the stone of The Warren's demolished stables. On the banks of Cooks River, hidden behind concrete, are the remains of The Warren's burial vaults, where, for a little while, the Mother Superior of the Carmelite order rested in peace. A large amount of sandstone from The Warren, acquired by Marrickville Council, was recycled into retaining walls and kerbs and gutters throughout the suburb.

Brickmaking takes over

As Thomas Holt sailed back to England, Marrickville was still an area mostly taken up with market gardens and small-scale brickmaking. By the late 1880s many of the market gardens were converted into the more profitable brick pits, sometimes by the same family. The loamy clay soil once used to grow vegetables to feed the population was now converted to bricks to house it. At first the bricks were made by hand, but with the introduction of steam-made and then machine-made bricks, Marrickville took on a semi-industrial character. It became home to the largest brickmaking businesses in Sydney. In 1888 Johnston Brothers was producing up to 300,000 bricks per week.

Brickmaking had a lasting impact on the physical and social environment of Marrickville. Grand homes were demolished to make way for more and more brick pits, while the large estates were rapidly subdivided to provide cheap housing for the population needed to work in the brick pits or large potteries, such as Fowler's. Marrickville was now the suburb of the working family.

As the clay diminished, so did the brickworks. In the end the empty, desolate pits were left to fill with water and became dangerous places where young people took a gamble on a hot summer's day for the reward of a cool swim. Drowning tragedies occurred in almost every waterhole. Marrickville Council resumed the old brick pits for public parks in the 1920s and 1930s. Most parks in Marrickville, most notably Henson Park, are built over former brick pits.

The rise and fall of industry

From the 1890s large numbers of industrial companies were established in Marrickville including woollen mills, steel and metal operations and automotive and various service industries. With the rise of heavy industry the population surged ahead of neighbouring suburbs.

The first and largest woollen mill in Marrickville was Vicars, a family-run business established in 1893. Vicars advertised their goods as 'Made in Australia by Australians for Australians from Australia's pure wool only'. By the 1960s Vicars was suffering serious competition from other fabrics, and in the early 1970s the federal government substantially reduced tariffs on imports. Vicars Woollen Mills could no longer compete and the company was wound up. The Marrickville Metro shopping centre opened in 1987 on the site. Part of the factory wall was retained and the Vicars name is still proudly seen on the facade. The Mill House, built about 1860 and occupied by the Vicars family, was incorporated in the redevelopment. It is one of the oldest buildings in Marrickville.

Vicar's Wool Weaving Room (Marrickville Council Website)

The period between World War I and World War II saw tremendous industrial growth in Marrickville. Industry provided almost universal employment for local men and women. In the mills of Vicars, Globe and the Australian Woollen Mills, women constituted over 70 per cent of the workforce, mostly involved in spinning, weaving, combing and mending. Men did the dirtier and heavier, but better paying, jobs of sorting raw wool, dyeing and moving bales.

Whole families spent their working lives in the confines of one factory within walking distance or a short bus or tram ride from their homes. Marrickville was proud of its industry, holding regular industrial exhibitions of its home grown products.

By 1935 there were more than 130 manufacturing businesses in Marrickville. The mayor, Henry Morton, boasted in a poem that everything you wanted was manufactured in Marrickville. The goods he described ranged from chocolates to fishing lines and guitars through to saucepans and shoes, radios and rugs to heavy-duty machinery and mowers, margarine, bathtubs and boots. It was an interesting chronicle of ordinary household goods plus essential items for the building and manufacturing industries.

When the minister for labour and industry, JJ Maloney, opened the Marrickville Centenary Fair in 1961 he described Marrickville as an important industrial municipality with some 900 different industries and undertakings. Among the exhibitors at the fair was the Omega Trading Company, which made one of Marrickville's more peculiar claims to fame – Australia's first insecticide and deodorant blocks. They were an instant success.

The process of deindustrialisation began in the 1970s. Many of the larger concerns, such as the woollen mills and Fowler's Potteries, either closed or decentralised, moving their operations to cheaper land and larger premises on the suburban fringe. With the disappearance of the large factories the lure of plentiful factory work was gone.

The Australian Woollen Mill was demolished to build a school. The Globe Woollen Mill was converted into home units. The site of the Vicars Woollen Mill became the Marrickville Metro. There are still industrial zones within Marrickville but they are mainly populated by light industries employing smaller number of workers.

nla.pic-vn4697485 Kimbel, Wilhelm
Group portrait including Henry Deane at Marrickville station, Sydney, ca. 1890s [picture].
189-. 1 photograph : sepia toned ; 19.5 x 23.5 cm., on mount 22 x 26 cm.
Part of Henry Deane collection of photographs [picture]. [ca. 1880-ca. 1940]


Life in Marrickville was not all about slogging away on the factory floor. The building of the new Marrickville Town Hall in 1922 on Marrickville Road gave the suburb a first-class venue for dancing and other entertainments. Dances were organised three times a week by the 'Strollers', Bert Gibb and his son Hector. The dances were so popular that the local tramways inspector often had to put on additional trams to take patrons to the railway station at Sydenham or into Sydney.

Marrickville Town Hall also echoed to the strains of the Marrickville Municipal Symphony Orchestra under the musical directorship of Fred Hanney, a music teacher and a member of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The Marrickville Municipal Symphony Orchestra was established in 1930 and was the first council-supported suburban orchestra in Sydney.

In the sombre days of World War II, concerts by the Municipal Symphony Orchestra and the Strollers' dances provided much needed diversions. Many of the concerts raised funds to send medical aid to Russia under the auspices of the Lord Mayor's Patriotic Fund. The chairwoman of the fund's Russian Medical Aid and Comforts Committee was Jessie Street, a well known socialist, socialite and founder of the United Associations of Women.

Multicultural Marrickville

After World War II, Marrickville was transformed into one of the most diverse societies in Australia. The influx of mainly non-English speaking people, attracted by the availability of factory work and cheap housing, changed Marrickville over a very short period.

Greek-born migrants formed the largest postwar community in Marrickville. The Greek newspaper To Neo (March 1986) evoked the times, describing how wherever you turned, you heard Greek, wherever you looked you saw Greek shop signs.

The main shopping strip of Marrickville Road was dominated by Greek shopkeepers. Taking up business was not always without problems for the new migrants. Giannis (Jack) Cordatos, one of Marrickville's most prominent Greek migrants, had to resort to subterfuge to purchase the Classic Milk Bar. The owners did not want to sell to southern Europeans but were impressed by French speakers. Cordatos changed his name to Revel and won the sale. Marrickville became known throughout Sydney as 'the Athens of the west'. There remains a strong Greek presence in Marrickville. Vietnamese and Chinese migrants arrived in the 1980s and began to establish themselves as shopkeepers and restaurant owners along Illawarra Road.

Marrickville has a long tradition of receiving migrants and a new migrant is likely to be living beside an older migrant, who went through the same process a generation earlier. The establishment of Addison Road Community Centre in 1976 provided a venue for many multicultural groups to join with their communities and mix with others. The shared experiences of migrants in Marrickville generally built a tolerant and accommodating society.

There were spectacular 'rags to riches' stories. Vojtech Zimmer, born in Vienna, fled Austria at the beginning of World War II. He joined the free Czech forces but was torpedoed off Gibraltar. He then joined French forces in the south of France. At the evacuation of Dunkirk he became a British soldier. Zimmer arrived in Sydney in 1948 and took various factory jobs before establishing a company to sell Hungarian spices and condiments. The factory moved to Marrickville in the 1960s. Zimmer was affectionately known as the Paprika King, receiving in 1973 an Order of the British Empire.

The Indigenous population

There is a significant Indigenous population in the Marrickville area. At the 2006 census 1,078 people identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, 1.5 per cent of the total population of the Marrickville local government area, compared with 1.1 per cent in the Sydney Statistical District. Reports from workers in community organisations indicate that these people were under-represented in the 2001 census and this was probably the case again in 2006. The number of Indigenous residents continues to grow.

The Inner West Aboriginal Community Cooperative was incorporated in 1999. It is located in the former Marrickville Hospital, Lilydale Street, Marrickville. Since 1985, whenever it is the turn of the Aboriginal city sides to host the annual NSW Aboriginal rugby league knockout carnival, it has been held at Henson Park. In 1996 Marrickville Council formally recognised a Statement of Commitment to Aboriginal people.

Marrickville today

Marrickville's close proximity to Sydney makes it an attractive option for inner city living. Its streets are a mixture of architectural styles, with older terrace housing standing quite comfortably next to Federation bungalows. New unit developments are springing up on former factory sites. Previous service station sites are also giving way to unit and townhouse development. Marrickville is living up to its long established reputation as an area that embraces change. The population is changing too, with new settlers coming from the Pacific Islands, Africa and South America.

Marrickville celebrates its cultural diversity with fervour. Every September the colourful Marrickville Festival arrives and the community generally parties throughout the day to the beat of a variety of multicultural dance groups and musicians.

Marrickville Chamber of Commerce, 'Advance Marrickville: Grand Shopping Carnival April 21st to May 3rd, 1913', Marrickville Chamber of Commerce, Marrickville NSW, 1913

JG Henderson, 'Official souvenir, Marrickville Municipality: diamond jubilee, opening of new Town Hall and industrial exhibition', Marrickville Municipal Council, Marrickville NSW, 1922

Guardian and Newtown Daily, 'Centenary Supplement', 1961

Marrickville Municipal Council, 'A History of the Municipality of Marrickville to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary, 1861–1936', Harbour Newspaper and Publishing Co, Sydney, 1936

'Jubilee Souvenir of Marrickville', compiled by Marrickville Municipal Council, Marrickville NSW, 1912

'List of Manufacturers, 1947', compiled by Marrickville Municipal Council, 1947

'List of Manufacturers, 1965', compiled by Marrickville Municipal Council, 1965

'Marrickville Manufacturers Exhibition, 1935, March 28th to April 6th', compiled by Marrickville Municipal Council, 1935

Richard Cashman and Chrys Meader, Marrickville: Rural Outpost to Inner City, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1990

Chrys Meader, Richard Cashman and Anne Carolan, Marrickville: People and Places, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1994

If you wish to quote the article in a publication or report would you the please refer to the Dictionary of Sydney for help with citation.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Street Names: Liberty Street

Liberty Street, was formed prior to 1863.

Local legend says its name arose from people diverting here to avoid the threepenny toll for users of Cooks River Road (now King Street). (Sound familiar?)

Tollgate keeper Billy Meek at the toll-bar, King Street, at Newtown railway station c1870-72
City of Sydney Image Library

The St Josephs church history tells an anecdote of a certain judge who 'took almost childish delight in avoiding payment 'by driving through the pool that formed the boundary of the road' and then names Judges Forster, Josephson, Meynott and Attorney-General Therry.

Next time you're having to pay a toll .. remember this story:

The Newtown Toll-bar Case. (1880, June 19).
Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907),
p. 24. Retrieved September 29, 2012,

Thursday, 11 October 2012

HERITAGE LOST: The Last House in a Street That Doesn't Exist

"Heritage Watch" is one of the agenda items at the societies' monthly committee meeting.

We consider development applications submitted to Marrickville council that affect buildings or structures with heritage significance.

Development Application DA201100072 came to the attention of the society last year. The development application proposed to demolish the building Duncraggan (also known as J Milne House) at 1 Crescent Lane, Newtown in order to provide access and car parking for new units and a cafe being built in Enmore Road.

MHS opposed the application, but RailCorp's opposition of keeping the facade of the building in Cresent Lane outweighed heritage preservation.

In the end (April 2012) J Milne House was reduced to a pile of rubble and all that exists now are memories.

Lynette Walker in her Milne Family Story   reminds us that "it is the only house left from Crescent Street and now the front fence is on the railway line boundary".

Photo J Milne - Duncraggan. , 2003.courtesy of Trove

Now Crescent Street, and the last standing house are gone. A sad day indeed for the preservation of heritage.

Crescent Street in Enmore skirted the south side of the crescent-shaped rail line from the mid 1850s, but was resumed (ie, compulsorily acquired by the Government) to make way for the increased number of railway tracks. (From A Short History of the Streets of Newtown)

The beginning of the end for Crescent Street ... 
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) 10 Jul 1918: 7. Web. 27 Sep 2012 <>.

Higinbotham & Robinson.
Maps of municipalities surrounding the city of Sydney [cartographic material]
1890 - 1899. MAP RaA 40. Part 31.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Street Names: Hollands Avenue

Hollands Avenue was named after a developer who built houses in the area.

The Hollands Avenue area is part of the former Cooper’s Dairy at 197 Livingstone Road, Marrickville which was established in 1879. The dairy had a mixture of Guernsey and Jersey cows. The property stretched
from St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church on Livingstone Road up to the former Carmelite Convent on
Wardell Road and from Challis Avenue in the south to Marrickville Road in the north.

The farm consisted of the Cooper’s house including three tennis courts. Cooper built five tennis courts in the
area before selling in 1928. The Marrickville Council purchased the area relating to Hollands Avenue and then sold it on to a local building developer Mr Hollands who constructed the present development. The Marrickville Girls’ Club was built in 1944.

PRICE OF MILK. (1930, November 21). Windsor and Richmond Gazette
(NSW : 1888 - 1954),
p. 1. Retrieved September 29, 2012,

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Stead House, a grand Victorian Italianate residence located in Marrickville, was initially established as “Waterloo Villa” sometime in the early 1850s by Archibald Mitchell on part of the 30 acre grant known as “Wain’s Farm”.

"Frankfort House" 1905

Stead House is an excellent example of a remnant grand estate house that is the product of a series of alterations and additions by owner Samuel Cook, manager of The Sydney Morning Herald in the late 19th century.

Samuel Cook

The current Italianate presentation of the house to Leicester Street was carried out by Samuel Cook in 1892, as an embellishment of Mitchell’s “Waterloo Villa”, renamed “Frankford Villa” in 1864 and subsequently “Frankfort House” during Cook’s ownership. The Italianate makeover can be dated precisely due to detailed surveys found in the various field books of Public Works Department surveyor D. C. White who surveyed “Frankfort House” in 1891, and again in 1893.

1891 Frankfort House Survey

During Samuel Cook's ownership the house was set in a renowned garden with stands of exotic trees, a large Moreton Bay Fig, carriage loop and much vaunted rose beds to the east. Following the demise of Cook in 1910, his children subdivided the estate and sold it off, primarily as housing lots, but retaining a parcel of land associated with the house (including four house allotments to the north on Victoria Road, and one to the south fronting Leicester Street) at the corner of Victoria Road and the then newly created Leicester Street.

It was purchased by The Salvation Army in July 1911 at which time the house, renamed “Hopeleigh”, was used as a home for girls with "misplaced affections". They deemed it “...rather small and will allow only 32 beds for inmates...”. In 1912 a wing was added to the rear northern portion to increase accommodation and it was licensed as a hospital in November 1916. In 1926 an additional wing was added to the rear southern portion and included specialist medical/obstetrics facilities.

Hopeleigh Maternity Home, 1936

The ensuing years saw ongoing changes such as the enclosure of verandas and balconies and internal partitioning to increase capacity. The 1912 wing also effectually reoriented the building to present north to Victoria Road rather than east to Leicester Street and a formal garden was established with trellised walks between “Hopeleigh” and Victoria Road.

Northern Wing

The ensuing years saw ongoing changes such as the enclosure of verandas and balconies and internal partitioning to increase capacity. The 1912 wing also effectually reoriented the building to present north to Victoria Road rather than east to Leicester Street and a formal garden was established with trellised walks between “Hopeleigh” and Victoria Road.

The early post WWII period saw increasing pressure on accommodation and compliance with regulations. In 1955 construction of a purpose-built maternity hospital to the Victoria Road frontage commenced and that building was opened as the new Bethesda Hospital in March 1957. The former maternity hospital was refitted as nurse's quarters with some ancillary facilities, such as a kitchen and laundry, servicing the new hospital out of the basement.

Bethesda Hospital in turn became difficult to operate due to its size and ongoing compliance with regulations and hospital operations ceased in July 1973. “Hopeleigh” was named “Stead House” in honour of the matron of Bethesda Hospital, which was refitted as a convalescent home during the mid 1970's. Stead House continued as a hostel for female students and women of low income in the ensuing years however the difficulties of fire regulation compliance and ongoing maintenance costs, together with the closure of the adjoining convalescent home in 2007, prompted The Salvation Army to dispose of both the properties.

Stead House was listed on the State Heritage Register (SHR) in March 1999.

In recent years, the house has been redeveloped, bringing Stead House back to some of it's original charm.

Photo: Inner West Courier August 8, 2012

 Reference: Text & photographs adapted from wikipedia article (unless otherwise referenced).

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

AGM - Outgoing President's Report

As president my role is to report on the Society’s activities over the past 12 months but to keep it short and interesting. This is rather difficult as MHS is quite an active society so I will be selective. The core business of our work can be summed up as being concerned with both the promotion and protection of heritage in Marrick-ville LGA, and in general.

Without doubt the highlight of the past 12 months was the launch of Marrickville, a Past Worth Preserving in November last year, when we were honoured to have the CEO of RAHS, Maria Walsh, to do the launch. This publication represented great commitment both by the authors and the editors Keith Sutton, Lorraine Beach and Richard Blair, who sustained their interest for over three years to produce the document of which we are so proud. The book has been selling well. Marrickville Council has agreed to form a partnership with MHS to promote the book to all high schools in the LGA. Copies will be paid for by Council and be presented to all these schools.

The Society was very honoured to be nominated for and be presented in December 2011 with a ‘Heritage Heroes’ Award – a NSW Government Heritage Volunteers Award awarded by the Heritage Council of New South Wales. Five committee members attended the award ceremony at Parramatta on behalf of the Society.

Some other highlights of the society over the past 12 months include: Geoff Ostling’s Special Achievement Award at Council’s Marrickville Medal function in April; Ted Green being awarded a Certificate of Achievement at the RAHS annual conference in Maitland in October where we had three representatives; the MHS blog being set-up by Silas Clifford-Smith; being represented on Marrickville Council’s Heritage Promotions Committee; Bob Irving making a valuable contribution to co-judging the Marrickville Medal; and promoting the Society at the Marrickville Festival in October.

We’ve also been invited by Marrickville Council to participate at the centenary picnic in Petersham Park in July in honour of Fanny Durack, the first Australian woman to win a gold medal at an Olympic Games – in Stockholm in 1912. Fanny resided in Marrickville and Stanmore for much of her life.

In terms of heritage watch, the Society lodged numerous submissions to Council on heritage-affected DAs. Among the more significant projects we supported were: the GreenWay project; retention of the Stationmasters Cottage, Sydenham; retention of former Coptic Church building, Sydenham; retention of Henson Park Hotel, Marrickville; moves to address the problem of pollution of Cooks River where the most recent update is that two fur seals and a shark have been sighted in the river. We also promoted plans for a new Marrickville library and for the restoration of the old Marrickville Hospital key heritage buildings as
part of the plans.

Tempe Station Master's Cottage (Photo:

Marrickville Review of Potential Heritage Items: Volume 1: Final Report, June 2009)

We opposed removal of pews at St Clements Church Marrickville; demolition of the J Milne house, Newtown (on site of the TJ Andrews redevelopment on Enmore Road); the downsizing of Marrickville golf course; and the short-sighted closure of State Records City Office in The Rocks as from end of June 2012.

The events that we have enjoyed together include talks by Ian Hoskins on Sydney Harbour, Freda Backes on Australian Lebanese History Society, and Larry Writer on ‘Bumper’ Farrell. Diane McCarthy hosted our Show & Tell in February with Robert Hutchinson and Rosemary Wood the judges. We had three popular coach trips to The Hills District, Camden and Mt Annan, and Emu Plains and Penrith; our visit to the Mechanical Music Museum in St Peters attracted over 60 people. Nancy MacAlpine opened her house for the annual Pot Luck Christmas Dinner.

Mechanical Music Museum (Photo Courtesy Fairground Follies)

But MHS is more than the things we do; it is especially its members. The membership of the Society is responsive, interested and challenging; it provides the committee with important momentum and ensures its continued relevancy. This will continue to be achieved by your diligence in maintaining a watching brief to protect the heritage we all enjoy in our area. As we continue to enjoy an increasing membership – currently about 435 members – we are well placed to do this. 

Finally, I want to thank all the members of the committee: Iain Carolin has taken over being minute secretary and has done a wonderful job, giving Lorraine some space to focus on other matters like writing submissions to Council; Richard continued as editor of the newsletter and is a fount of inform ation and always generous in time and commitment; Robert and Silas have been vice presidents and ready to step in to represent, and carry out any tasks as necessary; Diane for her diligence as treasurer and for maintaining membership records, the stock of publications, her local knowledge etc; Vivien Wherry for being a very successful liaison person with Council, attending to the mail and generally a good all round secretary; Ian Phillips for being always there when you need him, and sometimes when you don’t know that you need him!; Pamela Stewart and Rosemary who are now key members of the committee after completing their second year; and Nancy for being game enough to rejoin us last year.

It’s been my very great pleasure to work with you all and I do thank you all for your generosity in time and commitment in maintaining a very high standard in promoting and protecting heritage in Marrickville LGA. I have enjoyed my time on the committee and being president of MHS. I am stepping down from the committee for a variety of reasons, along with Silas and Nancy, but we have threatened to come back again soon!

Sonia Laverty

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

New Life Member: Robert Hutchinson

At the AGM Robert Hutchinson was presented with a certificate for Life Membership of the Society. 

(Photo: Lorraine Beach)

The citation reads: ‘In recognition and appreciation of his unstinting dedication to the Society since 1993, as an ambassador for the Society and in promoting history and heritage in general.’ 

Richard Blair said: ‘Since joining the MHS committee in 1996 Robert has missed few Saturday meetings. Not only has he helped out at meetings in setting up the hall and cleaning up after, he has lined up speakers and has himself often spoken to the Society, as well as to other Societies and organisations; he produced Three Marrickville Potteries, a publication still in demand; as an avid collector of Australiana, local pottery and postcards he has opened his house for formal inspections; he often presents his latest postcard find at meetings; he brings homemade cakes to meetings; his Xmas cakes, always a prize at the annual potluck dinner, are sought after; he was MHS president for a year in 1999-2000 and has capably served as vice president on several occasions!’

‘You’ve probably guessed I am referring to Robert Hutchinson, who has also been involved with the Royal Australian Historical Society as a member of the Affiliated Societies Committee and he never misses an annual conference. 

Photos of Robert have regularly appeared in this newsletter, whilst his comprehensive knowledge of Australiana which he loves to share, his friendly manner and broad humour always leave one with a smile.’
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