Saturday, 30 March 2013

Marrickville Eisteddfod

The first Marrickville Eisteddfod was held at the Railway Institute Hall (Chalmers Street, Surry Hills) from April 6th to April 17th, 1935.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Wednesday 6 February 1935, page 17

The Eisteddfod's were originally established for Railway employees and their families (later being opened to the public) and lead up to the Annual Railway Eisteddfod.

During the first Marrickville Eisteddfod, talented photojournalist Samuel John Hood took a number of photographs of the children who had preformed at the Eisteddfod.

These photographs are now part of the Library of NSW's collection and can be viewed online, along with his other photographic collections.

Here are just a few of the wonderful images of Marrickville children captured by Hood.

Image Source: Library of NSW

Image Source: Library of NSW

Image Source: Library of NSW
Image Source: Library of NSW


Monday, 25 March 2013

Tempe House Open Day

Image by Laurel Horton: Source
Price:  Entry: A gold coin donation.
Time(s):  10.00 am - 4.00 pm Both Days.
Event type: Open Day
Heritage Category: Historic
Organiser: Australand, Ross Berry (Historian, Tempe House Estate) and Artist Pamela Griffith

Contact Details

Name: Tempe House & St Magdalene's Chapel
Phone: 02 9562 1666

Tempe House and St Magdalene’s Chapel will be open on the weekend of Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 April. The St George Historical Society will be conducting talks and tours of both fully restored buildings which sit on the banks of the Cooks River.

Marrickville Heritage Society will be set up in one of the rooms, so drop by and say hi!

Tempe House is an exceptional and rare example of Neo-Classical Georgian architecture designed by leading colonial architect John Verge who was commissioned to do the work in 1831 for Sydney businessman (Alexander) Brodie Spark. Since that time the house has had a significant history. Caroline Chisholm, the renowned philanthropist who appeared on the old five dollar note, leased the house in 1863 and ran an educational establishment for young ladies on the site. (You can read more about Caroline on this post).

In 1884 Catholic nuns, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, bought the site for a women’s refuge and built St Magdalene’s Chapel.

This is the one open weekend of the year.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Street Names: Harrison Street & Woodbury Street

Harrison Street was named after James Start Harrison who was the owner of Woodbury.

Woodbury was built in the 1880s and the land it stood was subdivided after James' death in 1902.

Image Source: National Library of Australia

From 1907 to 1914, the house functioned as Ermelo Private Hospital, before becoming the Lisgar Children's Home. 

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Saturday 15 December 1923, page 13

Lisgar Children's Home relocated to a house in Albert Road, Strathfield in 1929. After relocation of the home, the property on Harrison Street was subdivided.

By 1932, the building was demolished and replaced by six brick cottages. 


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Photo Histories: Marrickville Council Steam Rollers & Trucks

Our local heritage is not always bricks & mortar. These photos show some of the vehicles uses by Marrickville Council in times past.

Image Source: Marrickville Council

This photo was taken in Stanmore Road in 1925.

The National Museum of Australia says that Marrickville Council used a Aveling & Porter Model O, No 12539, Quick Reverse Tandem Steamroller in the 1920's. This type of machine had a vertical boiler in the middle, a roller a both ends, and power steering.

It was designed for use with the first hot mix road surfaces but they had a very short working life because they were superseded by diesel powered rollers. This particular type was known as a 'coffee pot' roller because of its shape.

Image Source: Marrickville Image Library
 This photo shows Harry Quinnell ex council employee driving the council's steam roller in the late 1940's or early 1950's.

Image Source: Marrickville Council

This photograph was probably taken in the 1940s. Marrickville Council's truck fleet numbered six trucks and four are lined up here on parade at the Council's depot in Cecilia Street, Marrickville.  Marrickville Town Hall can be seen in the background.
From the 1920s onwards Marrickville Council gradually replaced its horses and drays with motorised vehicles. Council did use horse vehicles into the late 1940s, particularly during World War Two when petrol was heavily rationed. Council usually contracted out to local carriers when a horse and cart was needed for works.
Council also owned a few horses, which were stabled at Riverside Park (now Marrickville Golf Course). The last Council owned horses were rounded up and sold in 1958. Unfortunately during the "last round up" two horses bolted. They were later successfully rounded up on the Princes Highway at Tempe after causing a massive traffic jam for two hours.
The Council depot at Cecilia Street, Marrickville was also sold. The site was redeveloped for home units in the late 1990s.

National Museum of Australia
Marrickville Council History Services

Friday, 15 March 2013

Heritage Lost: Brockleigh Mansion

Sometimes heritage is lost through neglect. Sometimes it's not been valued enough.  Brookleigh House at 86 Illawarra Road was lost through an act of vandalism.

The mansion, built in 1886, was home to Theodore Anthony Clark, brother of retailer Henry Marcus Clark. It was one of few Victorian villas left in the area. While ostentatious in size, it was remarkably restrained inside. It had a large hall and a broad staircase leading to the upper floors. Set back from the road on a large piece of land, the front of the home was enhanced by two palm trees, which were also bulldozed.

On Saturday 13th June 1987, Leo Tsekos, in total disregard to the Heritage Act began to demolish historic Brockleigh Mansion. He was half way through the demolition when stopped by police. He stated to them that he would not proceed any further. However the demolition was completed at about 6am the following Monday (15th June) by a contractor who was most likely unaware that Tsekos had not given the appropriate notice to the Heritage Council.

The case appeared before the Legislative Council where it was made known each defendant would be charged in front the Land & Environment Court with demolishing the building, and aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the demolition.

Image: Chris Meader via Marrickville Image Library

NSW Parliament Hansard Record
Cashman, R & Meader, C (1990). Marrickville Rural Outpost to Inner City. Petersham: Hale & Iremonger Pty Ltd. 37-38.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Winged Victory - Missing in Action

Image Source: War Memorials NSW

For the second time since it was erected, the Winged Victory Soldier's Memorial outside the Marrickville Town Hall has gone.

Locals know it has been MIA for several years now, but the most popular question asked of us at the Marrickville Festival is "When will it return?".

The simple answer is, who can be sure? She went missing for over 26 years only to turn up in a council works depot in Petersham.

Picture taken by Gilbert Doble 1919
Image Source: Australian War Memorial
Since it was reinstated in 1988 as part of the Bicentennial Celebrations we can only guess the council have special plans for 2015 to coincide with the 100 years commemorating of the ANZAC campaign. Let's hope they're not waiting for 2019 to celebrate the Winged Victory's 100th birthday!!

The reality is the Winged Victory as we know her is sadly gone. She's half the woman we know and may never be the same again.

The Winged Victory is the angel on top of the granite column. Designed and erected by Gilbert Dobel in 1919, she stands over 4 metres tall and symbolises victory by holding a laurel wreath in her right hand and an upraised sword in her left.

Image  Source: War Memorials NSW

Image Source: War Memorials NSW

The memorial was dedicated on 24 May, 1919 to the 457 Marrickville soldiers who died during the First World War. They die that we might live - Hail and Farewell! All Honour give to those and nobly striving nobly fell that we might live.

The Sydney Morning Herald , Monday 26 May 1919, page 9

15, 000 people watched the unveiling of the Winged Victory and a parade of returned soldiers and boy scouts welcomed her to Marrickville.

Opening Ceremony 1922
Image Source: Marrickville Council

She stood grand and regal, her height on top of the 8 metre column seen from many places around the suburb until 1962 when she was removed for safety reasons. The main issue for the Winged Victory is that it is a brass sculpture set upon a granite plinth. The metal around the base was fatiguing and threatening to topple below.

For some reason the upgrades were not carried out and through lack of funds or lack of care, she became forgotten amongst scraps of wood and metal until just before 1988 when, on the strong advice of the Marrickville Heritage Society (after it was formed in 1984) she was restored and re-erected as part of the Bicentennial project.

During the restoration the bottom half of the Winged Victory was replaced with a replica cast. An interesting series of photographs following the restoration and resurrection can be found here.

These photos show that the bottom half was missing when found in the Petersham work sheds.

Image Source: Marrickville Image Library

Image Source: Marrickville Image Library
Image Source: Marrickville Image Library

The Winged Victory lost her own battle though. The statue was taken down again in April 2009 due to public safety concerns. Large cracks appeared in the statue and concerns about its stability and the potential for injury to members of the public were the reasons cited.

Wax clay sculpture in progress in Kolozsy Sculptor
studio. Missing lower part recreated in wax clay.
Image Source: Kolozsy Sculptor
The council called for tenders to repair the statue but this has proved to be harder than imagined. Scans of the metal show that restoration will compromise what is left of the original sculpture and there will be need for more repairs in the future. Subsequently, it is cheaper for the council to commission a lighter replica of the Winged Victory to replace the original.

Marrickville Heritage Society has a vested interest in the return on the Winged Victory, after all, it is our logo and the council has acknowledged her importance to us. Our latest  members' newsletter talks about the current fate of the Winged Victory.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that this post is aimed to give a historic recount of what has happened to the Winged Victory over time. We understand that Council has had a number of closed door meetings about the statue. It is not the post author's intention to have an opinion on what may or may not be happening in council meetings. The following references show where the sources of information were collected for this post. 


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Heritage Lost: Mastertouch Piano Roll Company

After having written the post about the Stanmore Fire Station and it's subsequent sale to the Mastertouch Piano Roll company I sadly received an email saying the former owner of Mastertouch (and a MHS member), Barclay Wright had passed away peacefully on 25 February, 2013 after a short illness.

The Sydney Morning Herald - September 7, 1975

The Mastertouch Piano Roll Company was established in Sydney in 1919 and established a showroom at the Petersham address in 1975. It manufactured and sold piano rolls until its closure on 1 July 2005. It is highly significant both to the state of New South Wales and Australia as a whole as the longest running and only piano roll manufacturer to be operating in the country. It was also only one of two remaining large scale piano roll manufacturers in the world, the other being QRS in the USA and the only one to maintain a traditional method of manufacture giving it international significance.

Interior of the Mastertouch Piano Roll Company July 2005
Image Source: Powerhouse Museum
The Mastertouch Company is also extremely important for the role it and its owner, Barclay Wright, had in attempting to maintain the history and tradition of this major form of popular entertainment and its place in Australian culture, creating a private museum of these items. Since working in the company since 1957, Wright had not only maintained the machines in perfect working order but had also collected items from other music roll manufacturers in order to preserve some of the history of roll making in Australia. This conscientious attitude also contributed toward the collecting of keyboard instruments to help preserve the history and development of roll played music. In the 1980s when several local and long established box making companies in Sydney closed, boxes for music rolls were still necessary, so Wright bought the old machines and established a box making section in the Mastertouch company which made boxes not only for piano rolls but also for a variety of other products and artefacts.

Piano Roll Recording Machines, 2002
Image Source: National Library of Australia
Mastertouch also had an important public role in the preservation of roll music recording and manufacture generally and conveying this to the public through visits, tours, lectures and music entertainment nights. Many attempts and negotiations were made to find support and funding from various bodies to allow Mastertouch to operate as a working museum. Although this was not to be Mastertouch played an important role in disseminating and educating the public about piano roll technology. This is an important point to stress as although piano roll technology has been superceded by digital forms, there are very strong links between digital data storage and encoding of music today and data storage and encoding found in piano roll technology.

The Powerhouse Museum now holds a number of artifacts and photos about Mastertouch in their collection.

Barclay contributed an article about the Mastertouch Piano Roll Company in our journal Heritage number 10 (1998). An obituary for Barclay Wright in the March MHS newsletter (2013). Our MHS newsletter is published 11 times a year and is delivered to members as part of their subscription.


Powerhouse Museum

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Then & Now: 64 Chapel Street, Marrickville

Image Source: Australian War Memorial

During World War II, 64 Chapel Road, Marrickville was the home of the Marrickville Ordance Store No 1.

It was a unit of the 2nd Central Ordance Department.

The Australian War Memorial image collection includes exterior and interior pictures of the property.

Image Source: Australian War Memorial
Image Source: Australian War Memorial

The windows have been boarded up and the paint is probably much brighter, but the building has not changed much. Today it houses Kennards Self Storage.

Image Source: Eatability

*This post has been edited to show the property as 64 Chapel Street, Marrickville. Thanks to Kate for pointing out this is the official address.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Fire Stations: Stanmore

Originally named Marrickville Fire Station and located in Petersham, Stanmore Fire Station holds an important part of Sydney's history by being the first Fire Station built for the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.

Stanmore Fire Station 1912. Image: Marrickville Image Library

All fire stations were given a number as they were built, starting with Headquarters or No 1, but City of Sydney was not actually the first fire station built for the MFB, the honour going to  the new Marrickville Fire Station.

It opened 29 May 1886 and was the first suburban and district fire station to be permanently manned. Subsequent extensions to the building and its staffing made the station the second largest in New South Wales (after Headquarters in Castlereagh St). The celebrations in 1986 marked 100 years of continual occupation and permanent manning of the station, a feat unrivalled in Australia at that time.

The Headquarters station was the first of the three original City brigades, and grew out of the Insurance Companies' Brigade and its successor the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, originally housed in Bathurst St. In 1887 the brigade moved to the newly-constructed Headquarters station in Castlereagh St, the facade of which still remains today as part of the modern, expanded City of Sydney Fire Station.

Stanmore Fire Station 1936. Image: Marrickville Image Library

The Stanmore Fire Brigade building was closed in 1991 and sold in 2000 to the Mastertouch Piano Roll Compnay who remained there until 2005. The Mastertouch Piano Roll Company had been established in 1919 in Sydney and manufactured and sold piano rolls until its closure on 1 July 2005.

History of Sydney Fire Stations
Powerhouse Museum

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