Friday, 28 September 2012

Old Marrickville Hospital Site: Early Works Begin

Preliminary and preparatory works at the old Marrickville Hospital site will commence in the first week of August.

These works, which include the demolition of two dilapidated non-heritage buildings (the old surgical theatre and boiler room), the removal of hazardous materials, and improved fencing and securing of the site, are a clear demonstration of Council’s strong commitment to the construction of a new iconic library on this site.
The work will be managed by Council’s Major Projects team with expert assistance from the successful tenderer.

Following extensive community feedback, Marrickville Council staff are currently reviewing design and funding options for the New Marrickville Library to identify potential cost savings, while still maintaining the vision for the Library that was developed in consultation with the Marrickville community.

SOURCE: Your Say Marrickville

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Publication: Marrickville Potteries 3

The Marrickville Heritage Society has a range of publications, which are for sale with shipping nationally.

Robert Hutchinson (editor) Three Potteries of Marrickville (2005) is available for the price of $26 (plus approx $3 p&h).

If you are interested in purchasing this book please contact the society by emailing to confirm the current cost of postage.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

MHS In the News

The following article relating to the MHS's Book "Marrickville: A Past Worth Preserving" appeared in the Inner City Weekend, Friday December 16, 2011. St Peters Church is the topic being presented at MHS's next meeting.

You can see a larger version by clicking on the newspaper link below.

Picture from Inner City Weekly (online)

The Hanging of the Bushrangers who Murdered Dr Wardell

Those of us living around Marrickville have heard the name Wardell, mostly because of the road that leads from Petersham to Earlwood. 

Named for Dr Robert Wardell, a barrister who, along with William Wentworth (Blue Mountains explorer), ran the colony's first private newspaper: Australian. 

Early in the afternoon of Sunday, 7 September 1834, astride his hack, he left his cottage at Petersham to inspect his estate. Near the Cook's River boundary he spotted an unauthorized little humpy, from which on his approach emerged three bushrangers John Jenkins, Thomas Tattersdale and Emanuel Brace, who, he suspected, correctly as it transpired, were convicts unlawfully at large. After a few inflamed exchanges, John Jenkins, the leader of them, shot him. His body was found next day. The three men were arrested about a week later. Brace, the youngest of them turned approver and the other two were executed. An expertly finished marble tablet, on which is moulded, in alto relievo, a side view of the head of Wardell, may be seen on the southern wall of St James's Church, Sydney. It is said to be a good likeness. [1]

The trial of the three bushrangers spurred community interest and was comprehensively reported in the newspapers. The bushrangers of the 1830s were often former convicts rebelling against their harsh treatment. Many had escaped and became known as 'bolters'. Most did not live for very long in the bush as it was very different from anything they knew and they lacked the skills and knowledge necessary to survive. They robbed travellers, coaches and houses. Some sympathisers within the local community would help them with supplies and avoiding the police. To be a successful bushranger you needed to know bushcraft, be a good horseman and be able to work with others in a gang.

Jenkins actions at trial and his consequential hanging are "the thing of legends". His actions however also opened up public debate into the "freedoms of convicts". The following article published November 13, 1834 in The Sydney Herald [2] recounts Jenkin's and Tattersdale's hanging and hints at Jenkin's "devil may care" attitude to what he had done.

EXECUTION.—The extraordinary and reckless conduct of the culprit Jenkins on his trial made, such an impression on the minds of the Public, that, on Monday morning last the time appointed for his execution, the neighbourhood of the goal was crowded to a degree never before observed on any similar occasion, to witness the last scene of one of the most depraved of the human species. At the usual time, the culprits were led into tho yard, to the foot of the scaffold, attended by their respective Clergymen. Tattersdale entered first, accompanied by the Rev W. Cowper, and testified the most sincere repentance and devotion through the melancholy scene; Jenkins followed, staring wildly around on the spectators, and seeming perfectly indifferent to the ignominous fate that awaited him. McCormack appeared penitent, but his demeanour on the whole, seemed to indicate extreme despair and dejection. The prayers being ended, the Under Sheriff read the warrant which consigned them to their fate ; when Jenkins ascended the ladder with the greatest expedition, and on arriving on the scaffold went over to one of the ropes suspended from the fatal beam, and struck it with his hand in a playful manner ; the dreadful preliminaries being adjusted, Jenkins addressed the felons in the yard to the following effect, " Well, good bye my lads, I have not time to say much to you ; 1 acknowledge I shot the Doctor, but it was not for gain, it was for the sake of my fellow prisoners because he was a tyrant, and I have one thing to recommend you as a friend, if any of you take the bush, shoot every tyrant you come across, and there are several now in the yard who ought to be served so. I have done several robberies, and for fear that any innocent man should suffer on my account, I have made a confession to the gaoler and given such marks and tokens as will prove it was I that committed the acts. I robbed a man named Mills at Kissing Point, and also a man on the Liverpool road, named Farrell, and a man at Liverpool whom I stabbed; he may be since dead for aught I know ; I have heard that he was missing since that time, and it is most probable he has been eaten by the native dogs, I have told where the property is, in order to show that I have told the truth. I have not time to say any more lads, but I hope you will all pray for me." This address being ended, the rope was secured round his neck, and the other culprits shook hands, but Jenkins turned away from Tattersdale with disdain, and said something like, " let every villain shako hands with himself," at the solicitation of the Rev. Mr. McEncroe, he consented to shake hands with him, and as he approached his unhappy companion in crime, who appeared to be absorbed in prayer, .and making pious ejaculations, he said come, come my lad, none of that crying, it’s no use crying now ; we'll be all right in ten minutes time, be then gave him a hearty shake of the hand, and took his hand. The clergymen having retired and the arrangements being complete, the   platform fell, and the world closed on one of the most ruthless assassins that over in fated the Colony. The case of these Convicts show in a striking point of view, the absolute necessity for an unrelaxing system of restraint on the Convict population.

[1] Currey, C. H., 'Wardell, Robert (1793–1834)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,
[2] THE CONVICT SYSTEM. (1834, November 13). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved September 26, 2012, from

*** An interesting journal article "Whatever Happened to Emanuel Brace?" has been written by Kate Dunbar about the fate of the informer Brace. It can be found in the MHS's Book "Marrickville: A Past Worth Preserving".
The book is on sale for $35 and is available at MHS meetings or by post. Cheques or Money Orders for $35 (made out to the Marrickville Heritage Society) can be sent to MHS, PO Box 415, Marrickville 1475 

Another article was written about Dr Wardell "A Bloodstained Inheritance: The Pioneers of Petersham" by John Edwards in the MHS's Heritage 12 journal.  
Contact the society about details of this journal. ***

Upcoming Event - Story of St Peters Church, Cooks River

Local historians Laurel and Bob Horton discuss St Peters, a rare example of a primitive Gothic revival church and the first built south of Sydney.

The oldest building in Marrickville Municipality turns 175 next year.

The Hortons have written several books and articles about the church and the local area.

Time: 10:15am-12:00pm Oct 27
Cost: Free Venue: Herb Greedy Hall, 79 Petersham Rd, Marrickville
Enquiries: Marrickville Heritage Society (02) 9557 3823

Photo: Trevor Bunning (Dec. 2008)

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Fanny Durack

Fanny Durack at Stockholm Olympics 1921. 
CLICK for Link to Uncropped Photo

Congratulations to Marrickville Council for marking the centenary of Fanny Durack’s historic 1912
Stockholm Olympic swim (which made her the first woman to win a swimming gold medal at any Olympics) at Petersham Park near the Fanny Durack Pool on Sunday 15 July.

Olympic gold medal won by Miss Fanny Durack 
at Stockholm 1912 
gold; diameter 3.3cm
Pictures Collection
National Library of Australia

Both MHS and the Cooks River Valley Association had stalls whilst children took part in ’heritage’ races and a sausage sizzle was provided. Display boards and speeches further honoured Fanny who spent the last 30 years or so of her life living in Stanmore. A celebratory ‘gold medal’ was given out, the bonus being able to eat the chocolate inside.

Contrary to the claim of real estate reporter Jonathan Chancellor (Title Deeds Domain, SMH 18/9/04, p. 3H) and cited in the October 2004 and the last newsletter) Fanny’s family never lived in Marrickville.

Another Durack family, possibly related, lived at 5 Esk Street.


* Members of the MHS receive monthly newsletters as part of their subscription.]

Girl Guides Photo

Marrickville Heritage Society recently received this lovely photo.

It appears to that "Brown Owl" is swearing in some new members to the local troop. Looking at the age of the girls, it is possible that they are Brownies.

We would love to hear if anyone has more information about this wonderful photo and where it was taken.

It would then be interesting if this is a photo to go with this news article appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday 26 May 1924, page 8.


Comparing other photos, it appears that this may have been taken at Abergeldie, the home of Sir Hugh Dixson and his wife Emma Elizabeth Dixson who were avid supporters of the Guide and Scout movement in Dulwich Hill. Lady Dixson having been inspired after attending Lord Baden Powell's troop displays in London. (See Trove Article). Mrs Dixson had her "Own Troop" and built headquarters for them at Lewisham Street, Dulwich Hill in 1921.

Photo Courtesy of Walk Sydney Streets

Anyone having more information, or a story to share, about the early days of Guides in the Marrickville area are encouraged to comment to this post.

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