Wymston was one of many gracious nineteenth century homes in the City of Canada Bay area.
Dr George Fortescue, amongst the first surgeons appointed to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, built Wymston at Chiswick, possibly in the early 1880s. He named his home after Whympston in Devon, the ancestral manor of the Fortescue family.
After Dr Fortescue’s untimely death from typhoid in 1885, the home had a succession of owners, among them noted engineer Henry Deane Walsh, commemorated by Walsh Bay in Sydney Harbour. Susan Rowe explored the story of Wymston while researching her recently published book on Henry Deane Walsh.
The photograph was taken at the time Henry Deane Walsh and family were resident at Wymston, from approximately 1903 to 1906. In 1922 the Wymston estate site was taken over by the Co-operative Box Factory and the house appears to have been demolished about that time.
The name of Wymston Parade at Chiswick is a reminder of this gracious old home.
Chiswick Baths and adjoining Chambers Park were developed largely through the efforts of the local community.
The Chiswick Progress Association suggested a pool and public reserve at Blackwall Point Road in 1944. At that time the population of Chiswick was ‘scarcely 220’.
It was not until 1956 however that the Chiswick Baths were finally opened. The pool was maintained through community volunteers with financial and material support from Drummoyne Council (and later the City of Canada Bay). The original wire netting used to section the pool off from the Parramatta River was purchased from the nearby Lysaght factory.
Sixty years on the tidal pool remains a popular spot with locals.
On Sunday, 20 November 2016 from 10am to 1pm there will be a range of activities to celebrate 60 years of fun and enjoyment.
The recent project ‘Chiswick Changes and Connections’ sought to capture the vibrancy and strong sense of belonging felt by the community living on the Chiswick Peninsula.
Part of the project involved mutimedia specialists Olev Muska and Angela Pasqua interviewing and recording the recollections of local residents. Selected highlights of these interviews can now be viewed on City of Canada Bay’s youtube channel.
The photograph above is from the ‘Two of a kind’ Chiswick photo comp held last year. Michael Ianniello’s photograph ‘Yesterday and today’ shows an original timber gate post from BHP Wire Mill (also known as Lysaght Bros Co Ltd) against a backdrop of apartments at Chiswick.
Last month, Five Dock Library exhibited the stunning images produced by the ‘Two of a Kind’ photography competition. The images have now been added to Canada Bay Connections and feature on our flickr page.
The competition was part of a wider local history project, ‘Chiswick Connects’ and encouraged people to snap moments of ‘now’ for future generations.
The photograph, above, ‘Finding old Chiswick Wharf’ is by Mia Chahoud and was the winner in the Secondary Student category. The photograph references Chiswick steps and wharf.
Some of the stories gathered as part of the ‘Chiswick Connects’ project will be featured at ‘Movies under the stars’ to be held at Lysaght Park, Chiswick on Friday, 27 November 2015 from 7.30-10pm. The main feature will be the Australian film Paper Planes .
Currently Olev Muska (who worked on the North Strathfield Neighbourhood Stories) and Angela Pasqua are working on an exciting multimedia project focussed on Chiswick.
‘Chiswick Changes and Connections’ seeks to add vibrancy, create connections and establish a strong sense of belonging for the community living on the Chiswick Peninsula.
Olev and Angela are gathering local oral histories and impressions of living in Chiswick from both old and new residents. They will then prepare a set of short films to upload onto City of Canada Bay’s website. A selection of these will be projected at an outdoor event in October.
Come along to the community consultation this Saturday, 11 July, 10am to 2pm, outside Blackwall Café, Blackwall Point Road shops, and share your story of Chiswick with Olev and Angela. If you can’t make the consultation or you know of someone who may be interested, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The photograph, above, was taken around 1920 from the Nestlé factory chimney at Abbotsford and shows Chiswick and the Lysaght factory.
Cut into solid rock, the Chiswick Steps originally led to a wharf which was serviced by ferries plying the Parramatta River. There was a ferry service to Chiswick from 1905 until 1928 when it was superseded with the introduction of a bus service.
In 1914 when the Tulley family moved to Blackwall Point Road there were only about twelve houses at Chiswick. The Tulley’s operated a general store at Chiswick from 1928 until 1987. The Tulley Brothers, Jim and Bill, recalled having furniture delivered by the ferry and the difficulties experienced in getting it to their home via the 72 Chiswick steps.
The wharf was damaged by fire in the 1940s and finally removed in 1958. Of the original 72 steps, only 62 remain today. The aerial photograph of the Chiswick Steps was taken in about 1980.
Before the advent of supermarkets and shopping centres, the corner store provided for the basic shopping needs of the community.
Corner stores were often seen as not just a business but a focal point within the community. The corner store however has declined with the development of supermarkets, changing shopping hours and, more recently, convenience store outlets at service stations.
Tulley’s General Store, 92 Blackwall Point Road, Chiswick opened in 1928 and was operated by the family until the shop closed in 1987. James (Jim) Tulley, aged about 83, and his younger brother William (Bill), aged about 78, can be seen behind the counter. Another view of the store’s interior is on flickr.
While the store no longer operates, the shop’s faded signs are still visible in Blackwall Point Road today.
The Sydney Wiremill was established by Lysaght Bros & Co on the Parramatta River at Chiswick in 1884.
While a range of wire products were produced at the factory, there was a huge demand for wire netting for fences as rabbits had reached plague proportions in agricultural areas in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Steamships brought the wire feed from Germany to Sydney where it was unloaded onto barges before being transported along the Parramatta River to the Wiremill. The raw materials were then pushed on trolleys along rails to the machines at the top of the ridge. The factory layout utilised gravity to assist in the transfer of materials through various processes and bringing the finished products back down to the wharf for dispatch. The wire making looms were powered by steam produced on the site prior to electricity being used.
Following the opening of the BHP Steelworks at Newcastle in 1915, Sydney Wiremill replaced imported steel rods with BHP steel. By 1925 the factory was consuming over 35,000 tonnes of steel annually. The size of the labour force reached a peak of 1,300 in the 1930s at a time when jobs were scarce.
The Sydney Wiremill became a subsidiary of BHP which operated it until December 1998 when the factory closed.
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.