Friday, 24 January 2020

The Bookworm

Ronald Winton was born in Campbelltown in 1913. He was the youngest of three boys to Bob and Lily who owned a shop in Railway Street. As a boy he was nicknamed Johnny Head-In-Air by his brothers after a character in a comic picture book.

Ron was born with a congenital deformity of the foot, making walking for him as a child very difficult. After surgery to straighten the foot at the age of three or four, he could walk reasonably well, but not jump, run, hop and play games naturally easy like his mates. One thing Ron turned to was reading. He grew to love the small library that was once at the back of the old town hall in Queen Street. The library was run by Ted Bamford with the assistance of Mr Gamble. In his autobiography titled 'Johnny Head-In-Air', Ron wrote how the library seemed to receive little attention from the council or citizens and as a result, most of its books were old-fashioned and outdated in style and content. Still, he derived much pleasure from reading them.

Ron grew particularly fond of William Shakespeare's works. He developed a fascination for anything the bard wrote, regularly borrowing numerous old-fashioned volumes and lugging them home to Railway Street- deformed foot and all. His love of all things Shakespeare continued for the rest of his life. Similarly, his affection for the small musty library and Ted Bamford's kindness towards him also stayed with him for the rest of his days.

Ron Winton became a qualified doctor and served in the Second World War. He was awarded an OAM in 1997 and in 1977 was awarded the Gold Medal of the Federal Council of the Australian Medical Association. After leaving Campbelltown early in his life and going on to achieve many notable achievements, Ron never forgot Campbelltown and that tiny old library at the back of the old town hall. He died in 2004 aged 90.

Ron Winton is standing second from the left in the third row. (King Collection)

The small library was located where the window on the far right is. You can just make out the word library on the window. This was taken in 1892.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

It's all in a name - The Forbes Hotel.

In 1816 Daniel Cooper was sent to NSW after being convicted of stealing. Soon after arriving he was granted a conditional pardon, and by 1821 an absolute pardon. He was engaged in a number of ventures and became a highly successful businessman. Daniel’s involvement in the Macarthur area was firstly as the builder and owner of the Forbes Hotel in Campbelltown (opposite Mawson Park), with his license dated 9th July 1830. He is recorded as being the first land developer in Campbelltown area.
So why did Daniel Cooper name his hotel “The Forbes Hotel”? According to several sources it was named for Chief Justice Francis Forbes.

Chief Justice Francis Forbes
Francis Forbes arrived in Sydney in 1824 having been appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in NSW. Daniel Cooper would have come into contact with Justice Forbes when he presided over the infamous 1827 Fisher murder trial, at which Daniel Cooper was called as a witness. Then in 1828 the First Court of Quarter Sessions was held in Campbelltown in 1828 – it’s reported that this was presided over by Justice Forbes.
Justice Forbes became instrumental in instituting trial by common jury of twelve inhabitants, who had come to the colony as free men or had been born in it, for the first time in Australia. Daniel Cooper took an active part in the campaign to have emancipists accepted for service on juries; when it was won in 1829 he was one of the first to serve. Justice Forbes supported this campaign.
Shortly after this Daniel Cooper built and named his hotel in Campbelltown the Forbes. I would imagine that Daniel, an emancipist and self-made man, would have appreciated the support of Justice Forbes.

Berry's Forbes Hotel, 1894 (Sedgwick Collection, CAHS)
Berry was the proprietor in the early 1890s. 

Written by Claire Lynch
“Sir Francis Forbes : the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of N.S.W.” by C.H.Currey
Australian Dictionary of Biography

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

God's Little Acre

The small cemetery at the St Mary The Virgin Anglican Church at Denham Court, regularly referred to as God's Little Acre, dates back to the 1830s. The first interments were Richard and Christiana Brooks and were made several years before the graveyard existed. The chapel was erected over their graves in a vault under the sanctuary. Determining what burials occurred soon after becomes complicated as some burials were recorded by other parishes. The records of St Luke's at Liverpool show that a William Roberts was buried there in 1837. This appears to be the burial that follows the Brooks burials. Another early burial from the St Luke's Register is that of baby William Hush aged 7 weeks and buried in 1838. The first burial at St Mary's recorded in the Church's own burial register was that of a free settler, Mary Goodall. She was aged 75 and buried on 2nd April, 1845. She was buried only a couple of days after the cemetery was consecrated by Bishop Broughton on his way home from the Maneroo.

There appears to be confusion over the oldest monument in the cemetery. The State Heritage Inventory lists the oldest monument as George Cesley's in 1837, however other sources claim that Joseph Giles' monument dating to 1848 is the oldest. I'm planning another visit to the cemetery shortly, so I will give an update of my findings on this blog!

Pictured above is an early grave with a headstone for Mary Maxwell Atkinson who died in 1860 (Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

The original burial register contains 258 registrations, however research indicates that this is well short of the actual burials in the cemetery. This was probably because there were a large number of burials carried out when the cemetery didn't have a permanent clergyman. Some of the missing names may have been recorded in another parish.

Some years ago I was approached by the family of a well known Ingleburn identity named "Digger" Black. He passed away in the 1950s and was buried in the cemetery, but the location of his grave has been lost. Although a reasonably recent burial, the site of "Digger's" grave was not recorded, leading to much frustration and heartbreak for his family.

Another mystery is that of a child's grave surrounded by an iron fence with the initials "W.C.F." inscribed on a small headstone. Mysteriously, the cemetery or church records have no details of a person matching those initials. There is a person who once regularly put flowers on this grave and it is not known if they did it through kindness or if they knew the person.

During the 1930s a young girl and a State ward died and was bound for a pauper's grave. She was saved from this fate by a generous and caring family named Gavin who allowed her to be interred in a section of their family plot.

As well as local pioneers, the cemetery contains the remains of notable people such as "Gentleman" Jack Crawford, one of Australia's greatest tennis players. He is buried with his wife, the former Marjorie Cox, who also played tennis at a high level.

A visit to this little place of serenity is highly recommended. There are many various monument types and styles, with each telling a story in some way of that person's life.

St Mary the Virgin Church with some of the headstones from the cemetery in the foreground (Trevor Richardson Collection).


The Anglican Parish of Denham Court and Rossmore Commemorative Booklet of St Mary the Virgin Denham Court with an overview of the Parish 1977

The Story of St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church, Denham Court NSW

Friday, 13 December 2019

Switching On

When the question of whether or not Campbelltown should get electric lighting back in 1921, the town was almost split down the middle. Campbelltown Council held a referendum to gauge support. There were 80 votes in favour and 65 against. Many people were a bit afraid of this "new-fangled business". Three years later however, electricity was turned on for the first time, lighting up the town like a Christmas tree.

The honour of flicking the switch fell to Mrs Hannaford- wife of Mayor Charles Hannaford. This occurred on the evening of 23 January 1924 at the power station in Cordeaux Street. An excited crowd of 1000 people gathered to look at the illumination of hotels and shops in Queen Street. A number of business houses that included The Club, Federal and Royal Hotels, Reeves Emporium and the Railway Station, were decorated with dazzling lights and flags.  The mayor's house, named Miramichi, situated next to the court house, was also decorated with rows of coloured lights.

The Electric Power Plant and Power Station was the first of this particular type in New South Wales to produce energy on the alternating current system and fed by crude oil. It was a source of loud noise and could be heard all over town when it was started. It therefore ran only at certain times of the day and night.

The Electricity Power Station in Cordeaux Street (Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

The two diesel-powered generators installed in the power station had less than one hour's down-time in four years, but they soon became obsolete and in 1929 Campbelltown was connected to the Railways Department electricity supply system. The electricity station was located about where the front yard of the Catholic Presbytery is today. A cement slab remained for many years until the new presbytery was built on the site. It's likely that remains of concrete pylons to the immediate left of the presbytery's front door are connected to the electricity station. It was demolished in 1931.

Ingleburn eventually got electricity in 1930 and loans raised were able to extend it to Macquarie Fields, Glenfield and Denham Court in 1936.


ALLEN, Andrew 2018
More Than Bricks and Mortar
Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society

Charles Newton Hannaford
In Grist Mills: Journal of the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society
Vol. 27, No. 3, November 2014

Switched On In The West

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Victim of Progress

(Bruce Hatfield Collection)

I have written about Railway Street in Campbelltown before and how it has transformed over the years. This photograph was taken in the 1980s. The view looks east and shows the police station and residence, as well as a group of shops, including a hairdresser and an electrical contractor. Lack's Hotel is on the corner and the Royal Hotel is just out of the picture on the right. Lack's Hotel was demolished in 1984, so it probably dates to the early 1980s. All of the buildings and plants in this scene have vanished. Only the plants in Mawson Park in the background and the court house (the chimney can just be made out in the background on the left) still exist. The new court building on the left and a car park on the right now dominate this same view.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Historic Loo

It's not often that a toilet block is honoured with a permanent conservation order. In February 1982 this rare event occurred when a disused four-seater lavatory at Denham Court was recognised for its heritage significance. The "four seater" model outhouse, hidden for decades by a bougainvillea, was believed to have been built in the early days of Queen Victoria's reign, when Denham Court homestead was converted to become the Miss Lester's Seminary for Ladies. The two-room timber construction is about six by three metres and each room has a bench with two holes suspended over a deep pit. It was believed to have been built between 20-30 years after the homestead and, as it seemed to big to belong to the house, must have been associated with the school. The design suggested it could have been a demountable structure to be moved to another location if the occasion arose.

The four seater "dunny" at the Denham Court property pictured in 1994 (Photo by Alex Goodsell, Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

The Heritage Council originally planned to put the order on the entire Denham Court property but the owner protested saying that only the house and the lavatory justified preservation. It was decided that all the other outhouses were not of historical interest.


Campbelltown-Ingleburn News, February 16 1982

[Denham Court] by [Ruth Banfield]

Sydney Morning Herald, February 10 1982

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Latest Then and Nows

These images are taken near the intersection of Appin Road and Woodland Drive, St Helens Park. The above shot was taken in 1983. St Helens Park House can still be seen through the trees.

This shows St John's Catholic Cemetery taken in 1984 and today. The 1984 service was for the Sesquicentenary of the church.

The service station in the above 1981 photograph has gone replaced by the front lawn of Council's Civic Centre.

Many changes in this comparison shot. The Quest Campbelltown now blocks out the view of the two-storey Hollylea on the left of the 1980 photo.

The older images come from our recently acquired Trevor Richardson Collection.