Thursday, 8 August 2019

The Much Loved Mr Newman

One of Campbelltown's most loved and respected teachers was Patrick Newman. Born in Ireland in 1832 to parents Joseph and Alice, young Patrick arrived in Australia in 1852 on the Herald of the Morning.

Patrick's first connection with Campbelltown came twelve years later in 1864 when he took charge of the Catholic School on Old Menangle Road. This building is known today as Quandong. The very popular teacher attracted students to the school and by 1880 enrolments had reached 140. Then in August 1880, amidst much controversy, the popular headmaster was transferred to Campbelltown Public School. Prominent Campbelltown citizen and politician John Kidd was largely behind the move. Enrolments for the Public School were falling and Kidd was aware of Patrick's reputation. Many Protestant children transferred from the Catholic School to the Public after Patrick's transfer, such was the high esteem that he was held in. The Catholics of Campbelltown were furious at what they saw was a deliberate attack on their school. Despite the protests, the Minister of Education refused to take any action.

The relationship between John Kidd and Patrick Newman became closer on his appointment. This relationship got Patrick into trouble on one occasion however. In 1880, not long after his transfer, Patrick drove Kidd to a political meeting at Narellan because Kidd's horse was lame. As attitudes to public and private morality were demonstrated most clearly in reactions to local schoolteachers, Newman was accused of political bias. Teachers were not allowed to express political opinions. The incident, in reality, didn't seem to affect Patrick's popularity with most of the community.

There are a couple of memories of past pupils of Campbelltown Public that provide an insight into Patrick Newman's term at the school. Cricket was a favourite game played by the boys. Mr Newman would not allow them to drive stumps into the ground, but he did allow them to use a stump of a box tree, after they had chopped the tree down, sawn it into logs and stacked it in his backyard. Can you imagine this happening today! One lesson, which Mr Newman insisted upon, was the identification of various snakes, especially venomous ones, and also the treatment of snake bite. He believed it was necessary because of the bush surrounding Campbelltown and a number of boys went shooting at weekends. He advised them, when going into the bush, to always carry in their pocket a length of string, a knife and a sixpence. In case of snake bite, the string was to be used as a ligature and the knife to scarify the wound. If they became lost and came out near a farmhouse, the sixpence was to be used for a meal and possibly transport home.

He had a reputation of being strict and used his cane frequently. Despite this, he was also considerate, especially to children who often became sleepy during lessons because they had to rise early, milk cows and then walk long distances to school.

By the late 1890s Patrick's formerly neat handwriting had become shaky. He was now in his 70s and had been the leading educational figure in the town for 37 years. Mr Newman eventually retired with six month's long service leave in 1901 to his home known as 'Tara" on the leafy hilltop overlooking the school and town he had grown to love. This house still exists on the corner of George and Condamine Streets.

Patrick Newman passed away on October 19, 1909. He was buried in St John's Catholic Cemetery. He died a year after his wife Elizabeth. Patrick took a great interest in the volunteer force and two of his sons served during the Boer War.

The only photograph I could locate of Patrick is this grainy image below. Taken around 1890, it shows Patrick and Elizabeth on a horse drawn buggy somewhere in the local area.

(Watson Collection. Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)


Burns-Wood, J
Campbelltown Public School 1876-1976

Catholic Press, Thursday 28 October 1909, p29

LISTON, Carol 1988
Campbelltown: The Bicentennial History

Campbelltown Public School
Pamphlet Collection
Local Studies Collection
Campbelltown City Library

Monday, 29 July 2019

Killed by Lightning

It would have been a typically hot and steamy February morning in Campbelltown. By midday on Sunday, February 11 1883, the skies over the small village has darkened and, in a matter of moments, so too were the lives of the Denmead family.

The Denmead family, including parents James and Eliza and their children, had moved to Campbelltown by 1857. It was during the 1870s and 1880s that the family lived at Emily Cottage. James Denmead was a butcher in town and possibly had his shop adjoining the cottage. Two of his daughters living there in 1883 were Emily and her sister Mary.

This is how the Evening News of 16 February 1883 and a number of other newspapers around the country reported what happened that fateful day:

At about midday on Sunday last, while a Miss Denmead was standing at her bedroom window at Campbelltown, a flash of lightning struck the bed in the room, burning part of the curtains and killing Miss Denmead on the spot. An inquest was held on Monday last, when the jury found that the deceased had been struck dead by lightning.

It was poor Mary that was struck. She was only 21, not married and a whole life ahead of her. There have been many stories over the years that claimed it was Emily that was struck, however this is untrue. Similarly, many have believed that Emily Cottage was named after Emily Denmead, but this cannot be proven. There is another story that a retired sea captain lived at the cottage in 1865 and that he named the cottage after his brig Emily.

Emily Cottage taken in 2004

There are as usual, claims that ghosts have been sighted at the cottage. Two girls, an older and a younger one, are supposedly Emily and Mary. As well as claims of seeing a girl at the window, there are also claims of seeing a woman and a young girl dressed in nineteenth century clothing emerge from the back of the cottage, walk to a lemon tree, pick some fruit and return to the cottage.

Emily Denmead would later marry Ted Wearne in 1891. This was a controversial marriage, as Ted was from a staunchly Protestant family and Emily was Catholic. She died in Stathfield in 1944 aged 73.

Mary Denmead was buried in St John's Catholic Cemetery on the hill, along with other members of the Denmead family. (see below)

Next time you are passing Emily Cottage, that much loved icon of Campbelltown at the intersection of Camden and Old Menangle Roads, spare a thought and perhaps reflect back on that terrible day for Campbelltown and the Denmeads.


Emily Cottage
In Grist Mills, Journal of the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society, Vol. 30, No. 2, July 2017

RENWICK, Manoa 2001
Emily Denmead and Ted Wearne of Campbelltown and Liverpool

Friday, 12 July 2019

The Women's Rest Centre

Long before parenting rooms became popular; there were women’s rest centres, buildings specifically built, often in the heart of town, for women and mothers to do just that, rest.
Becoming popular in the 1950s, they provided areas to lounge, wash, toilet and feed children whilst older children could play as mum enjoyed a nice quiet refreshment. It meant that mothers no longer had to rush home halfway through shopping to feed or care for their babies.
Women in Campbelltown were quick to express their appreciation of their new rest centre, opened on 21 March 1969 at a cost of $54,000, a beautifully designed and appointed building, it was the third building erected in the Civic Centre Complex, its position was chosen so that it would be as close as possible to the railway station, planned new bus terminal and proposed new library building, and was designed by architects Messrs. Davey, Brindley and Vickery, who had designed all of the Council’s new buildings.
The newly constructed rest centre looking towards Railway Street with the old Police Station visible in the background
Open each weekday from 9.30am-5pm and Saturdays 9am-12noon and serviced by an attendant, the centre included a lounge, powder room, facilities for preparing baby food and warming bottles, private cubicles for baby feeding and changing. Tea or coffee was available for a moderate charge and parcels could be checked into a cloak room, there was also a sheltered outdoor walled garden where older children could play. The rest centre proved extremely popular with local mums, travelling mums and pensioners, with many becoming regulars, dropping in each day for a cup of tea and a chat, perhaps this was the beginning of a mothers group or a new friendship.     

The interior showing modern facilities

Sadly as the years went by and shopping centres were built, the provision of a women's only rest centre was a duplication of more modern facilities available in these nearby shopping centres, the rest centre was converted into a training centre for Council employees and later demolished around about 2013 to make way for a car park.
Written by Samantha Stevenson
Sources: Campbelltown-Ingleburn News

Friday, 5 July 2019

The Three Brothers

A well-known landmark as you approach Campbelltown from the freeway is Hollylea House. This two-storey sandstock brick house was built by Nathaniel Boon next to the Plough Inn on Campbelltown Road about 1829, although this date in uncertain. With the realignment of Campbelltown Road, the old inn is now in Hollylea Road.

This photo of Hollylea House was taken in 1980
The building hasn't always been known as Hollylea House. In 1830 Nathaniel and his wife Sarah were proud parents of boy triplets, Nicholas, James and Jonathan. Someone having triplets today is quite newsworthy, so one can imagine how this caused huge excitement in the area in 1830. Capitalising on this considerable publicity and excitement, Boon licensed his inn under the sign of The Three Brothers in 1832.

Drama and controversy seemed to follow Nathaniel Boon all his life. Some of the dramas included:

  • Indicted in a London court for stealing a watch and chain. He was found guilty and sentenced to transportation to NSW.
  • Fred Fisher took Nathaniel Boon to court, claiming he refused to honour an agreement. But Boon satisfied the court that the signature on the agreement was forged. Boon then declared his intention to lay charges against Fisher for forgery.
  • Boon standing for trial for the murder of John Phillips on Long Cove Bridge on Parramatta Road. He was heading towards Campbelltown. Boon was found not guilty.
  • When convict Jane New escaped gaol in 1829 she made her way to Amos Crisp's house at Upper Minto. Three constables came searching the house and Jane Nathaniel Boon's house! Boon had a connection to Amos Crisp through his mistress Sarah.
  • His son Daniel was hanged for murder at Wagga in 1876.
  • Boon's lifeless body was found in 1839 with marks on the throat caused by the effects of suffocation, brought on by drunkenness.

The Three Brothers Inn became known as The Traveller's Home in 1854, after it was licensed by William Ray. The inn closed its doors in 1858 after the railway line between Campbelltown and Liverpool was opened. It became a private residence known as Borobine House. It was renamed Holly Lea by parliamentarian John Davies after he purchased it in 1884. Today it is spelt as Hollylea.


FOWLER, Verlie 1991
The Legend of Fisher's Ghost

FOWLER, Verlie
Hollylea, Leumeah
In Grist Mills, Vol. 25 No. 3, November 2012

Friday, 21 June 2019

The Myths and Truths of Margaret Farley

The story of John Farley is well-known, as the man who reputedly saw Fred Fisher’s ghost. His wife Margaret also has an interesting story.
An article in a Sydney newspaper of 1892 by the Hon. James Norton relates a tale his father, an early colonial solicitor, told of a young country girl who obtained a position in London, was wrongfully accused of stealing a silk ribbon from her employer, and sentenced to death. Her sentence was commuted to transportation for life after the intervention of some “humane persons”.  After arriving in the colony, this young woman continued her domestic duties in the service of James Norton Snr. Mr Norton had a client, one John Farley who had become a prosperous and respectable man. Norton claims that “it is obvious that Mr Norton (Snr) must have acted as friendly mediator, and thus started on its course one of the most beautiful romances of the early colonial days”!!!
This got me started on some research about Margaret Farley, which rather debunked these romantic assertions!
Margaret Shuttleborough (also written as Chittleborough) stood 5’ 3 ½ in. tall, had a dark complexion, dark hair and hazel eyes. She had been tried in the Old Bailey in October 1810. Her theft was not of a silk ribbon, but rather she had stolen quite a number of items from her then employer Samuel Ballin and his wife Hannah of Great Prescott Street, London. Margaret stole and pawned a watch, a shawl handkerchief, a silk cloak, two gold brooches, two handkerchiefs, a pair of gold bracelets, two shawls, four caps, a pair of stockings, three gowns, eight yards of lace, and a pair of bracelet snaps! Samuel spoke to both his servants about the missing items, after which Margaret absconded from the house. Samuel found Margaret at Bishopgate Street, and made her return with him to his home. Police were called for and after some enquiries she was taken into custody. She was tried, found guilty and sentenced to death.  Her sentence was commuted to 21 years.
Margaret arrived in Sydney aged 19 on board the Minstrel, on October 25th, 1812, 10 months after John Farley’s arrival.
Somewhat problematic is the claim that James Norton may have been instrumental in the marriage of Margaret Shuttleborough and John Farley. Their marriage took place in Sydney on February 2nd, 1814, and James Norton Snr did not arrive in Sydney until 1818. The tale told by James Norton is a pretty one, if not factual! Margaret and John married at St Philip’s Church of England, which stood where Lang Park is in Sydney today.
St Philips Church of England 1817 (

The Farleys did not have any known children. John died in 1841, and Margaret received an absolute pardon in 1842.  She stayed on in Campbelltown and became the licensee of the King’s Arms in 1843. It was reported that after her husband John’s death, she claimed that he had invented the sighting of Fred Fisher’s ghost because he had been drinking with Fisher and Worrall the night Fisher disappeared, had seen them walk home together and suspected that Worrall had something to do with Fisher’s disappearance. The ghost story was put about to provoke some action.
 It is here that Margaret’s trail disappears. I could find no death record, no re-marriage. I would love to know what happened to Margaret, as she came into quite a bit of money and property after John died. 

Written by Claire Lynch


Friday, 14 June 2019

Emma Hume's Diary

A treasure we hold at the library is the diary of Emma Hume. Emma lived a large part of her life at 'Beulah' on the Appin Road, not far from Campbelltown. The diary (actually a number of diaries), written between 1895 and 1912 describes the trials and tribulations of what it was like living on an isolated country property at the turn of the century.

Emma Johnston Clayton was born on April 25, 1843 at Gunning and was the daughter of Benjamin Clayton and Francis Broughton. She married John Kennedy Hume in 1873 at Campbelltown. They had one child named Ellen. In 1884 Emma, her husband and 10 year old daughter Ellen returned to live at Appin after living at Cooma Cottage at Yass. Emma moved back to 'Beulah'. John Kennedy Hume died there in 1905, Emma in 1919 and Ellen, who never married, in 1936. After Ellen's death, the property and various items including the diaries were given to the RSPCA. They were then passed to a private collection.

Emma's diaries indicate she had a quiet life at 'Beulah'. She records the small daily routines of looking for ferns in the creek, endless ironing, reading in the summerhouse and getting the piano tuned. There were entries almost daily describing her and Ellen walking to the gate and back! She also regularly mentions spending time in the garden, which 'Beulah' became famous for.

I am yet to locate a photograph of Emma Johnston Hume. Further enquiries will hopefully locate one.

The diary is available on microfilm at HJ Daley Library.

'Beulah' photographed in 2015 by Kevin Rixon (Rixon Collection)
HUME MACDOUGALL, Jennifer and GRIEVE, Prudence 1991
                       Beyond the Borders: An Anecdotal History of the Hume and Related Pioneering Families in Australia

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Terrifying Train Trip

Camden Train besides Narellan Road at Kenny Hill travelling towards Campbelltown in 1962

It's amazing to think that a steam train called Pansy once puffed its way very close to Narellan Road. How useful would a train along Narellan Road be today! The last ride happened on 1 January 1963. The older generation of locals regularly share fond memories of riding on the Camden "Tram", as it was known. One former driver and fireman connected to the local railways wrote down his memories of  Pansy in a book titled 'Recollections of Pansy (The Camden Train)', published in 2013. Most of Malcolm Pearson's memories of Pansy are fond ones however one particular memory scared the pants off him!

Malcolm recalled the day that Pansy tore down the hill into Campbelltown with such force, he thought his days were over. He explains in his book "As soon as the train had made its way over the crest of Kenny Hill and onto the steep downhill grade, the brakes would be applied before the train was able to gain any significant momentum". He went on further to explain that "it was not difficult to hold the train to a slow speed so long as the brakes were applied soon after reaching the top of the hill, but if the train was allowed to gather too much pace, then it was almost impossible to reduce its speed and for the rest of the descent the train would be virtually out of control." Well, this did happen to him! Surprisingly it was a driver who was familiar with the line that was responsible for Malcolm's hair raising journey.

Malcolm was working that day on the train and explained that a large amount of coal was collected and added to the milk pots and carriage to make it a maximum load. He had intended to settle down in his seat and relax for the ride back to Campbelltown. That's not how it worked out however. The driver, who was in control of the brakes, did not follow the usual practice and apply the brakes soon after reaching the crest of the hill. The train had gathered a great deal of momentum before he first used the break and this had no affect on slowing the train down. Kenny Hill was an extremely steep gradient. So steep in fact, it was regarded as the steepest gradient used by adhesion locomotives in Australia. Not the hill you would want to be going way too fast down! In an effort to regain control of the train's speed, the driver had no option other than to thrust his brake valve handle into the emergency position.

Despite reaching the flatter part of the line at Maryfields Station (where Narellan Road today passes over the Hume Highway) the engine did not slow up. By the time it reached a place called Gus' Mudhole (about where the turn off to the UWS is and on the northern side of Narellan Road), Malcolm became extremely worried. As he described in the book, "it was one of the worst feelings I have ever endured." He was convinced, as the train came to close to Kidd's Hill (about where Blaxland Road intersects with Narellan Road), that the train would be unable to negotiate a right hand bend. By some miracle it did, although there was much jerking and squealing. Eventually, after crossing Bow Bowing Creek and the level crossing, the train incredibly came to a stop. Malcolm's knees were shaking and he could hardly stand. He and his colleagues confronted the driver but he couldn't explain what happened and could only offer an apology.

I was amused about him describing how when two girls got off the train, they turned to him and his colleague to wave and smile, completely oblivious to what had just happened!

This is just one of many interesting and funny stories associated with the 'Camden Tram', known affectionately as Pansy. This same train can be seen today at the Thirlmere Railway Museum.

An undated photograph of Maryfields Station which was the last station on the line before reaching Campbelltown


PEARSON, Malcolm 2013
Recollections of Pansy (The Camden Train)