Monday, 29 April 2013

Tracking Heritage: Loch Lomond, Marrickville's Oldest House

This post is an answer to a question, but it's also a way of showing how I track down the information used on this blog. References in bold, are regular sites I visit when trying to trace information.

Through Facebook, I was asked "Apparently 1 Myrtle st Marrickville is the first structure built in the area and was once home to the first mayor of Marrickville and his wife. Are you able to shed any light on this?"

My first thing when I was asked was to do a search of the internet and a few of my favourite places for helping me track down information.

I'm a visual person so I love looking in the image databases at maps & old photographs. You should know already how much I love Trove by all the newspaper clippings littering this blog!

First stop was Google. It showed me that the first Mayor of Marrickville was Gerald Halligan and via Sand's Directory I discovered he lived at Geraldine Cottage in Meeks Road from when he moved to Marrickville til when he died. The National Library of Australia provided me with a map to show that this was on the other side of the railway line to Myrtle Street. So unless he stayed at Myrtle Street while his home was being readied (The Marrickville Council site indicates he purchased the house, not land) ... I took a guess that the original resident wasn't Halligan. Information on 1 Myrtle Street was limited to a Marrickville Council Environment Plan that gave the address and details of it being a stone cottage, but nothing more.
Gerald Halligan. Image Source: Marrickville Council

Image Source: National Library of Australia

Next stop Marrickville Library Services digital collections catalogue. Here I was able to assertain that the area around Myrtle Street was known as Meek's Garden.

Image Source: Marrickville Library Services

 I had to assume that Meek's Garden belonged to Meek. A name I know has a connection with Marrickville (Meeks Road for example) .. but what connection actually? I really did realise I was ignorant about this important man/family in Marrickville's history.

Do you notice something else from this map?? Extra brownie points if you noticed G Halligan Esq's house in the corner of Meek's & Marrickville Road! The more I look at it the more I'm convinced the Good's line has been built on that property.

Now I felt I had a name so I went old school and grabbed my copy of Marrickville: Rural outpost to inner city.

Perhaps I should have grabbed it a little sooner, because all my answers were there waiting for me (on page 126) . And the answer to my original question:

Loch Lomond, 1 Myrtle Street, Marrickville, was built as the home of James Meek Jnr, probaly in the 1870s. James Meek Snr built a stone cottage in Harriet Street 1860 which was subsequently demolished. Loch Lomond was built by his son to the same design but on a larger scale. James Jnr, who married Harriet Fairburn in 1866, lived in Loch Lomond and raised their 8 children there until a new residence, Myrtle Grove, was built in 1887. The house was occupied by C.G. Neilson in the 1920s and he renamed it Stonehenge.
As usual that sparked me off to looking up other information. A post about Myrtle Grove will come after this one.

Who was C G Neilson? Well I searched here, I searched there. Births, Deaths & Marriages didn't give me any help. Perhaps this person was still alive in 1986? *LIGHT BULB MOMENT* .. let's try a different spelling. And there he was on the 1930 Australian Electrol Roll. George Charles & Aileen Neilsen living at 1 Myrtle Street, Marrickville - Electrician. I couldn't help myself so I found out via that A P Clapin is Adolphus P Clapien who resided at Fernbank, Victoria Road, Marrickville in 1890 and he was registered as a Clerk of the Legaslative Assembly in (Sands 1858-9).  Marrickville Rural outpost says he was an Alderman for Marrickville Council.

Next was the hunt for images. As usual Street View in Google Map was checked out .. though it was hard to see the house (a drive by photo shooting is in order I think!).

... And then the Marrickville Image Library where I found this interesting photo with 1 Myrtle Street on the far right.

Image Source: Marrickville Image Library
And finally ....... OF COURSE ... a newsclipping from Trove.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 5 January 1881, page 9
Image Source: Trove

5 Hours, 2 Blog posts later ...

The simple answer to the question is:

yes (probably) and no, I don't think so.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Girl Guide Photo Update - The Towers

We previously posted about a wonderful Girl Guide photograph (here) and wondered where it had come from.

We've managed to pinpoint the building as The Towers which was used by Trinity Grammar as their school from 1913-1923.

The Towers Image Source: Trinity Grammar School
Reverend Chambers laying the foundation stone of the new extensions at The Towers, 1917
Image Source: Trinity Grammar Flickr Stream

A newspaper ad from 1890 locates The Towers on a lot of land between The Boulevard, Toothill Street and New Canterbury Road, Lewisham.  Research has not been able to establish if this property has been demolished although a large Italianate residence with similar iron lace can be seen from The Boulevard. The original frontage of this property may face away from The Boulevard so it's not easy to see if this is the same house (No 31) with  a number of "modernfications".

The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 5 November 1890, page 3
Image Source: Trove

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Members Outing: Rookwood, Gallipoli Mosque & Auburn Botanical Gardens


In glorious autumn weather our group were met at Rookwood by our knowledgeable guide, Eric Sinfield (from the Friends of Rookwood) who explained the history of Sydney’s cemeteries leading to the opening of Rookwood Necropolis in 1868. First stop the sacred Sydney War Cemetery, founded in 1942, which honours some 734 servicemen who mostly died of their wounds in what was Concord Military Hospital. Sadly, a new interment – 32-year-old Sgt Brett Wood, a casualty of the Afghanistan war who died on 23 May 2011, reminds us of the futility of war.

Adjacent, the beautifully maintained NSW Garden of Remembrance, which was constructed in the 1960s but was later expanded. It ominously has provision for 100,000 plaques. Inside the Office of War Graves I observed, with respect, the photo of VC recipient John Mackey, an ex student of Christian Brothers High School, Lewisham, who joined the AIF by raising his age, and was killed in Borneo in 1945.

Our next stop was at ‘the Lewisham stones’. These are some of the headstones removed from the old
Petersham cemetery located in the grounds of St Thomas’ Church, Lewisham, which contained about 4400 interments. The first recorded interment was on 21 May 1865, prior to the opening of Rookwood Cemetery, but after the cemetery’s closure in 1885 by Petersham Council and resumption of cemetery land for railway, parish and hospital purposes, many of these old headstones were moved to Rookwood.

Image Source: Family Origins

We then drove past various sections and memorials, vaults, pauper burial plots and the Bea Miles family monument. Of particular interest was the damaged and empty stone gothic Frazer Mausoleum built in 1894 costing £5000. At the site of the former Mortuary Station No. 1 we saw nothing of relevance remains of the railway or the beautiful station which was closed in 1948. After falling into disrepair through theft, fire and vandalism, what remained was sold for £100 in 1957 and re-erected as All Saints Anglican Church at North Ainsley, ACT. We had lunch alongside the 1880s Serpentine Canal near where we saw many beautiful Victorian style and heritage monuments.

No.1 Mortuary Railway station, Rookwood Cemetery (NSW) - Funeral Train in Station
Image Source: State Records NSW

All Saints Anglican Church, Ainslie, Canberra.
Image Source: Past Lives of the Near Future
On arrival at the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque a funeral was in progress. Our Turkish guide, Ergun Genel, welcomed us and explained the funeral ceremony, the burial ritual and the reason for the separation of genders in their Islamic religious practice. The mosque was established in 1979 in four old houses. The present mosque was opened in 1987 and is currently being extended. The mosque is a miniature version of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. The two minarets are only permitted to be used once a year on open day. On Fridays, 2000 Muslims attend and during Ramadan this increases to 5000. We removed our shoes and entered the mosque where Ergun answered our many questions in a friendly and open manner. We learnt that mourners are not necessarily known to the deceased, and that passages from the Holy Koran are in Arabic which Turkish and other followers tend not to understand.

Following afternoon snacks (including Turkish Delight), we strolled around the Auburn Botanic Gardens which opened in 1977 on the site of a garbage tip. It was a perfect time to enjoy the Japanese gardens, walkways and lake with its peaceful, reflective beauty. The Avenue of Remembrance struck a chord with
our Rookwood tour. The adjoining fauna reserve contained wallabies, kangaroos, wombats and emus all in attractive bushlike enclosures together with native birds and lizards attracted to the area. The serene and restful atmosphere of the gardens was a fitting note on which to end our day’s excursion. Thank you Mary O and her team for organising this most enjoyable and stimulating day.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Heritage Lost: Holy Trinity Parish Hall

Sometimes an act of God leads to the loss of heritage. But what do we say when the act of God is on one of his own buildings?? Holy Smoke???

Last night the Holy Trinity Church at Dulwich Hill lost it's Parish Hall.

The hall was the original church building and was built in 1886. (Ref NSW Gov Environment & Heritage)

Image Source: Marrickville Image Library
It's had a strong connection to youth. Trinity Grammar School used it for 3 months in the early years of the school's history. Guides & Scouts have a strong association with the hall. The 2nd Dulwich Hill Scout Troop was run from the church and the names of those associated with it were displayed on the Parish Hall walls along with the names of those who helped establish the Girl Guides Group in 1922.  In 1994 the Parish Hall was converted into a full-time Youth Fitness Centre where gym equipment and a box ring were installed. (Ref: Holy Trinity Church).

Image Source: Holy Trinity Church Facebook Page

Sadly only the facade remains, but latest news reports indicate that these may not be stable enough to save.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Tranquil Waters - Cooks River

In 1891 a letter to the Editor alerted Sydney Morning Herald readers that a number of men and boys had taken to bathing naked in Cooks River. Standing on projecting rocks "without the slightest show of concealment" the writer goes on to say "something should be done to make this pretty little river bearable in the summer time".

The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 6 January 1891, page 6 (REF: Trove)

One would wonder if artist Sydney Long read the words "pretty little river" and rushed out to capture it (and it's naked bathers) resulting in his painting "By Tranquil Waters" which was finished and sold to the trustees of the Sydney Art Gallery  in 1894.

Image Source:

 Sydney Long painted a number of paintings depicting the "pretty little river" including the one below.

Summer by Sydney Long. Image: National Gallery of Australia

This wasn't the first time the Editor had received a complaint about skinny dipping in the Cooks though. The previous summer John Wales had written "At almost any time during the day men and boys may be seen at every turn of the [Cooks] river swimning in a state of nudity." He did not, however, leave the reader with a tranquil image of a "pretty little river" instead he painted a picture an image of a river littered with dead dogs and weeds. Wales, ironically predicted, though somewhat tongue in cheek, that Cooks River would soon  be an unfavourable place to swim.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 30 January 1890, page 9 Ref: Trove

 Well swim they did but not for long. In 1896 there was an outbreak of typhoid amongst the children who swam in the river. It was attributed to the sewer and street run off that entered the river after storms. (Ref Cooks River Org)

On the 19th May 1896 a public meeting was held about the poor condition of Cook's River. This lead to an act of parliament resulting in the enactment of the "Cook's River Improvement Bill". (Ref: Cooks River Org)

The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 19 May 1896, page 5 (Ref: Trove)

Inspite of this law, 100 years later the Cook's River is still not able to be swum in. In 2011 "The Cooks River Alliance" was launched creating an organisation to "effectively address the complex problems of the Cooks River in the long term". (Ref: Cooks River Org)

Let's all hope, it doesn't take another 100 years before we see some major improvements to a place that was once described as a "pretty little river".

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Marrickville Margarine Factory

The Marrickville Margarine Co Ltd was founded in Edinburgh Road, Marrickville by Charles Abel on 20 October 1908.
Image Source: Library of NSW

Abel had owned a bakery in Newtown, and inspired by a butter shortage he set out to manufacture a substitute for pastry and cake fat.

With World War I rationing and the lean times of the depression, the Margarine Company flourished. In 1921 the factory had machinery installed that could extract oil from peanuts. It opened up a side branch of peanut products having purchased the entire crop (123 tonnes from 119 hectares) production from the Burnett region of Queensland in 1922. In 1925 the company adopted the name ETA for its peanut products. ETA products were the first major peanut products in the Southern Hemisphere. Until this time, peanuts were being imported from China and Japan. This step boosted the local production and was responsible for the establishment of the Peanut Industry in Queensland.  Charles Abel was the one to encouraged farmers to plant peanut crops in the famous Kingaroy peanut growing area.


Friday, 5 April 2013

Comments Please!

Our statistics show that we have a reasonable number of readers and people searching for content that lead them to our blog.

Yet, we have had very few comments on this blog.

We would love feed back about how you think we're going, what else you'd like to see, or even if you have other information to contribute to the post (ie, perhaps you went to the Kings Theatre, tell us YOUR memories! .... How do you feel about the removal of the Winged Victory? ... Let us know!)

We currently allow annonymous commenting, so you don't even have to use an email to leave a response! Just chose annonymous from the drop down menu under the comments box.

Another way you can let us know how we're going is visit our Facebook page and either like us, or comment. Even better, share our page with some of your friends.

EVEN BETTER than commenting is joining us. Marrickville Heritage society has not increased it's membership prices in over 10 years. Membership provides you with a monthly newsletter delivered to your home, social events and invitations to special events and Member only Tours. From as litttle as $1 a month, this is really is value for money!

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.

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