Blog Archives

Henry Lawson in the Park

City of Canada Bay will be marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henry Lawson with a performance of some of his best known works in Henry Lawson Park on 17 June 2017.

Henry Lawson Park at Abbotsford was officially dedicated on 3 September 1938 by Alderman Jacob Henley, Mayor of Drummoyne (on the left), Honourable William McCall, Federal Member for Martin and Alderman Thomas Higham. To mark the occasion, three trees were planted near the foreshore by Eileen M. Buckley of the Henry Lawson Literary Society, Bertha Lawson, his wife and Mary Gilmore, his friend and fellow poet. The tree planted by Mary Gilmore had a plaque with an original verse by her:

‘As weeds grow out of graves and vaults
So from his broken heart his faults
And yet so marvellous his power
His very faults brought forth in flower.’

Bookings for the free event ‘While the Billy Boils – 150 years of Henry Lawson’ can be made at: http://whatson.canadabay.nsw.gov.au/

A round of golf

The Concord Golf Club can trace its history back more than 120 years.

It began as the Sydney Golf Club in 1893 and established a course on the ‘home paddock’ of Eadith Walker’s Yaralla estate, at the corner of The Drive and Concord Road, Concord West. This site was abandoned in 1898 but in the following year the Concord Golf Club was formed and a course established on the western side of the railway line, extending to Homebush Bay.

In 1905 Concord and Strathfield Golf Clubs combined to form the Concord Golf Links Limited with the purpose of purchasing 46 hectares, known as the Police Paddock from the Estate of the late Thomas Walker. This, together with 12 hectares leased from Eadith Walker, formed the nucleus of the present Concord Golf Course.

The photograph shows members of the Strathfield Golf Club in 1898, playing at the original Yaralla course. The Lodge at the entrance to the estate, which can be seen in the background, was used as a club house. Thomas Frizell, seated at the far left, and Alex Orr, standing at the far right, both served as club presidents.

A park fit for a queen

Queen Elizabeth Park was given its name 60 years ago this week.

During the 1954 Royal Visit of Australia, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were greeted by 30,000 school children at Concord Park before going on to visit Concord Repatriation General Hospital. Concord Park had been reserved for public use in 1887. In 1957 it was decided that Concord Park be renamed as Queen Elizabeth Park in honour of the royal visit to Concord.

Queen Elizabeth Park was officially renamed by Lieutenant-General Sir John Northcott, Governor of NSW on 24 May 1957 to coincide with Empire Day as it was then known. In an echo of the Queen’s visit some 1,500 children from local schools were given a half-day holiday to welcome the Governor.

Backyard innovator

The Second World War was a time for individual resourcefulness.

Locally, Kenneth Beames turned his passion for astronomy and building his own telescopes to making optical equipment for the war effort. In the backyard of his home at Russell Lea he made rifle sites, periscopes, reflectors, sighting telescopes and munitions. He constructed his own grinding and testing machinery and even built his own furnace to make his own glass when supplies of lens-making glass ran out due to war restrictions.

After the war he created the largest privately owned telescope in Australia and went on to build his own observatory at Linden in the Blue Mountains which still survives as a testament to his ingenuity. It is believed that he created at least 450 telescopes during his lifetime.

The tear-sheet from Smith’s Weekly in 1941, rightly ranks him among the ‘important people’ who contributed to the war effort in Australia.

Canada Bay and the Second World War

This year marks the 75th anniversary of several significant events of the Second World War.

The impact of the Second World War on the local community in Canada Bay is, in many ways, a reflection of the experience of Australia at that time. It was an ‘all-in’ war, placing extraordinary demands on everyone. Parts of the local area became training grounds for Australian and American soldiers, while local industries were geared to war production, producing everything from ships (and the paint to paint them with) to ration packs for soldiers. It was a time of long hours and hard work. The war affected the lives of every man, woman and child in the community.

To coincide with Australian Heritage Festival, the Local Studies Librarian will be speaking on the involvement of industries and people of our area during the Second World War at the City of Canada Bay Museum, 1 Bent Street, Concord on Saturday, 6 May at 1.30pm for 2pm start.

The photograph shows the launch of a ship at Brays Bay built by Tulloch during the Second World War.

Remembering the fallen

Local services marking Anzac Day this year include special recognition of the Battle of Bullecourt at the Breakfast Point War Memorial.

Of the many First World War battles those at Bullecourt in northern France were amongst the most horrific. Four experienced Australian divisions of I ANZAC Corps were part of the British 5th Army under Sir Hubert Gough. The general wanted to attack at Bullecourt to support an important offensive by the adjoining British 3rd Army to the north and the French Army further to the south. However poor planning resulted in heavy losses. The first attack launched at Bullecourt on 11 April 1917 was a disaster. Despite this a further attack across the same ground was ordered for 3 May. The Australians broke into and took part of the Hindenburg Line but no important strategic advantage was ever gained. In the two battles the AIF lost 10,000 men.

The Breakfast Point War Memorial lists the names of eight local men who died at Bullecourt.

The photograph shows the unveiling of the Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) war memorial by Sir Dudley de Chair, Governor of NSW in 1926. It has since been replaced by the Breakfast Point memorial.

Henry Lawson remembered

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henry Lawson who captured the spirit of Australia through his short stories and poems.

An exhibition to mark the occasion at Five Dock Library highlights his association with the City of Canada Bay. Born in Grenfell on the 17 June 1867, he spent the last period of his life at Abbotsford, where he died on the 2 September 1922. He was also one of the more famous patients at Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital at Concord which he described as ‘a stately home of Rest’ in his poem The Unknown Patient.

Today he is remembered by Henry Lawson Park at Abbotsford and a memorial and hall named in his honour at Abbotsford Public School.

There will also be talk about Henry Lawson’s life and work by Susannah Fullerton at Five Dock Library on Tuesday, 2 May at 6pm for 6.30pm start. More events are planned by the City of Canada Bay in June in Henry Lawson Park.

Above is a sketch of Lawson’s cottage at Abbotsford by John Barclay Godson (read more under comments).

Tell us your story

A strike for equality

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During the Second World War women were called upon to fill the factory jobs left vacant by men who had enlisted in the armed forces. Their role became vital in ensuring that factories continued to operate and produce goods and materials essential for the war effort.

While women were expected to fill positions previously held by men, usually the pay was only about half the wages paid to men. In January 1942 forty women working in the shoe cutting department of Dunlop’s factory at Drummoyne went on strike for equal pay. They were amongst the pioneers of the movement for equal pay for women. The men had been paid £4 19 shillings 6 pence per week while the women were only receiving £2 14 shillings per week, with one junior female receiving just 26 shillings for her week’s work. The strike was ‘settled’ by a lift in wages, however, the women still only received 84 per cent of the male rate of pay.

In 1977 Dunlop closed its factory at Birkenhead Point and the site was redeveloped as Birkenhead Point Shopping Centre which opened for trading in 1979. Read more about the story of Dunlop at Birkenhead Point, below, under comments.

Great works at Mortlake

EPSON MFP image

Local Studies recently received a wonderful donation of photographs of the AGL (Australian Gas Light Company) works at Mortlake from GML Heritage. It includes a series of AGL images taken prior to the redevelopment of the site as well as some interesting early images of the gasworks.

AGL purchased 32 hectares of land at Mortlake in 1884 and commenced gas production two years later. The gasworks dominated the Mortlake landscape for over a hundred years until its closure in 1990 when the site was redeveloped for medium-density housing and today is known as Breakfast Point.

The photograph, above, is from about 1900 and shows AGL’s first Retort House (on the left) which was at the heart of the gas manufacturing operations. At this time the gas was made using coal which was transported to Mortlake from Newcastle by colliers, known as ‘sixty milers’ (the distance between the two locations). On the right can be seen the Blacksmith’s shop which has survived and been restored to become the Breakfast Point Sales Office.

The collection donated by GML Heritage will be digitised and added to ‘Canada Bay Connections’.