Monthly Archives: February 2013

Learning the ropes

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In 1921 the Navy League established a cadet training unit for boys at Drummoyne, under the leadership of Arnold Mellor. Despite a promising start, by 1928 it was at a low ebb with ‘only 16 cadets, a portion of a boat shed and three battered old boats’. The following year leadership passed to Leonard E. Forsythe who envisaged the depot becoming a living memorial to the HMAS Sydney, renaming it the Sydney Training Depot. Soon numbers had increased to 70 cadets.

In 1932 due to the costs of maintaining the depot at Drummoyne it moved to Snapper Island. The cadets, mostly aged under 15, were largely responsible for transforming Snapper Island into the shape and design of a training ship. The boys constructed a wharf, several buildings and a sea wall around the island.

Local Studies recently received a donation of photographs from Valerie Imrie whose brother Arthur Parton was involved in the Navy League. Valerie wanted the photographs to be shared with the community through Canada Bay Connections.

Mortlake Punt

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The Mortlake – Putney Vehicular Ferry, commonly known as the Mortlake Punt*, is one of the few remaining car-carrying ferries operating in New South Wales and the only one in the metropolitan area. Over the years most punts have been replaced by bridges.

When it opened in May 1928, the Mortlake Punt provided an important link for workers travelling to the AGL (Australian Gas Light Company) works at Mortlake. The background scene of the 1988 photograph, above, has changed dramatically as the AGL site has been redeveloped for housing.

Another punt operated at Rhodes beween Blaxland Road, Rhodes and Meadowbank from the nineteenth century until 1935.

The box factory

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The Co-operative Box Company moved its operations from Balmain to a new mill at Chiswick in 1922. The company made wooden boxes for butter and was known locally as the ‘box factory’.

The Story of Drummoyne 1890 – 1940 described it as ‘one of the outstanding examples of secondary industry in our municipality’, noting that ‘the wages bill invariably exceeds £30,000 per annum, and as most of the employees reside in the municipality, it will be readily realised that the box company is a most important factor in the economic life of the community’.

Operations at the site were later taken over by Galleon Hardwoods Pty Ltd and in the late 1960s the site was redeveloped for home units.

In the photograph above from 1940, the old Gladesville Bridge can be seen in the background. A later view of the box factory with the present bridge can be seen on flickr.

The view from above

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Canada Bay Connections includes many aerial photographs which provide a fascinating perspective of our area.

The photograph above shows the Parramatta River looking towards Cabarita and Mortlake. The huge gas storage tanks of the Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) can be seen dominating the landscape.

AGL purchased 32 hectares of land at Mortlake in 1884 and commenced gas production two years later. Following the closure of the gasworks in 1990 the site has been redeveloped for medium-density housing and today is known as Breakfast Point.

The photograph is by Milton Kent (1888-1965) who specialised in oblique aerial photography over Sydney in the 1930s. The image is believed to have been taken in 1939.