Tuesday 7 May 2024

Cordeaux Street- A travel back in time

Cordeaux Street, like Railway Street, Browne Street and many other Campbelltown streets, has changed enormously since the early days of the town. The southern side of the street in particular has completely changed from what it looked like even 50-60 years ago. Not one building between Queen Street and Moore-Oxley Bypass from before 1970 remains on that side of the street. Fortunately, we have photographs, newspaper articles and personal memories that help keep the memory of what it once looked like. 

The street was named after William Cordeaux, a government commissioner and wealthy owner of Leppington Estate. He built Leppington House on this property. 

I thought I would recreate what Cordeaux Street between Queen Street and Moore-Oxley Bypass would have looked like from the period of 1920 to around 1970. On the southern side, beautiful houses once dominated the street. The exception to housing was the Club Hotel on the corner of Queen Street. The Venture store building completed and opened in 1974 started the move from residential to commercial occupation. However, the northern side of this part of Cordeaux Street has changed little over the years. Mawson Park, St Peter's Anglican Church and St Peter's Rectory have dominated the northern side for either most or all of Campbelltown's existence.

Let's travel back in time and explore Cordeaux Street. We will start with the Club Hotel on the south-east corner of Queen and Cordeaux Streets. A hotel was built on this site as early as 1830 by Thomas Hammond. He named it the King's Arms. From 1832 the licence was held by John Hurley. It was then called the Sportsman's Arms and rebuilt in 1893. In 1865 it was supposed to have displayed the body of bushranger Harry Mann's before it was buried in St John's Catholic Cemetery. The hotel was later called the Club Hotel, until its demolition in 1986.

Club Hotel in 1926.

Moving up the hill on the southern side of the street at number 3 was a house referred to as Byrne's House or 'Roselle'. There is a photograph of this house taken in 1871, but I am unable to identify who lived there then. From the 1920s to 1943 it was lived in by Mr and Mrs William Joseph Byrne. They called it 'Roselle'. Byrne was a retired farmer from Appin, and he had moved from Dumaresque Street. William died in 1942 and his wife the following year. I am unable to determine when this ancient house was demolished. The site later became the Nepean River County Council Office until the change to the Prospect County Council Office. This building was demolished in 2016 and is now a vacant block.

Byrne's House. Photo not dated.

Adjacent to Byrne's house was another building with an interesting history. This house at number 5 was once part of a private school run by Miss Clarke. The school was a very large room at the back and attached to the house. Miss Clarke ran the school and lived in the house. Her sister, Mrs Tallentire, owned the home and lived with them. The house and attached school were photographed in 1885. By the 1930s, William Loftus and his wife were living here. William was a sergeant of police. After the Loftus', the Langdon family moved in. The house became a guest house for bank workers and teachers and the Langdon's named it 'Rema'. Muriel and Everett Langdon were known in town for their kindness and generosity to those less fortunate. The front of the house was later used as a doctor's surgery before it was demolished around 1975-76.

"Rema" at number 5 Cordeaux Street. (Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

This view is of the back of number 5 (left) and number 7 (right). This is an interesting view as it shows Miss Clarke's school at the rear of number 5. (Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

At number 7 was the residence of the Marlow family. They were living there as early as the 1930s. A staunch conservative, Percy Marlow was a dedicated Mayor of Campbelltown, serving three terms for a total of 13 years. He was a prolific photographer and also excelled at carpentry. Percy and his wife Annie owned a general store at the corner of Queen and Lithgow Streets in the early part of the 1900s. In later years Percy loved visitors and would encourage people he knew to sit on the bench on the verandah of number 7 and chat about what was happening in the world. He died in 1971 aged 93 and he was still living at number 7 Cordeaux Street.

7 Cordeaux Street. (Bagley Collection, Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)
The Marlow family in the garden of their home at number 7. Percy Marlow is on the left. (Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

Number 9 Cordeaux Street was a building familiar to most Campbelltown residents. This was the residence and surgery of Dr William Mawson and his assistant Dr Karl Owen Jones. The building was known as 'Mulwaree' and was built by Mawson in 1913. William Mawson was the brother of Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson. Dr Mawson possessed a great singing voice and had a lifelong love of music. The house and surgery were later used by that wonderful character Dr Ivor Thomas. Dr Thomas was remembered for his love of fast cars and fast driving, his stutter, and smoking whilst performing medical procedures, with the ash from his cigarette always threatening to fall somewhere on the patient's anatomy! Dr Parnell later practiced here in the 1970s.

"Mulwaree" at 9 Cordeaux. (Bagley Collection, Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

The next house up the street belonged to Fred Walter Wilkinson. He was a plumber and had served his country in the First World War. His plumbing workshop was nearby in Queen Street. Built in the early 1930s, the house at number 11 had a dark sandstone frontage. Fred Wilkinson died in 1970.

Fred Wilkinson's house at number 11. (Bagley Collection, Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

Number 13 was occupied during the 1920s and 30s by the Baldock family. Alfred Ernest Baldock was an auctioneer and stock and station agent and appears to have moved to Cordeaux Street around 1920. The house was named 'Kia-ora'. Alf Baldock died in 1936.

"Kia-ora" is on the right and "Hyman's Cottage" on the left. Photo is not dated. (Bagley Collection, Campbelltown and Airds Collection)

The Baldock's neighbours at number 15 were the Hyman family. Albert Augustine (Bert) Hyman was a clerk who worked in Sydney and whose wife Mary ran a shop in Queen Street. Bert was of slender build and an accomplished singer. The Hymans were in this house as early as 1928 and they continued living there after Bert's death in 1954.

"Hyman's Cottage" with Mrs Hyman (left) and Mrs Briedale (right). Photo is not dated. (W.Wilkinson Collection)

The last house on that side of the street before what was then Oxley Street was a house known as 'Roseangeles'. It was built in 1923 and owned and occupied by Andrew Lysaght and his family. Lysaght was Attorney-General in Jack Lang's NSW Government from 1927-1931. The huge weatherboard house was surrounded by a fine garden and a number of tall palm trees. Sadly, the house was demolished in 1970.

Roseangeles (Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)
Another view of Roseangeles (Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

As previously explained, the northern side of the street was very different. It was dominated by Mawson Park and St Peter's Church. The park has been an open space since Campbelltown was settled in 1820. The church was completed in 1823 and once stood adjacent to Howe Street that ran all the way to Cordeaux Street until the late 1960s. The first St Peter's Rectory was built in 1840 and it stood close to the church. It stood slightly to the south of the present rectory. In 1887, the old rectory was sold on the condition that it be demolished and removed. A new rectory was built soon after.

A view of Cordeaux Street from St Peter's tower in 1928 showing numbers 1-7 Cordeaux Street (Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

Written by Andrew Allen


McGill, Jeff et al 1995

Campbelltown's Streets and Suburbs

Allen, Andrew 2018

More than Bricks and Mortar: Remembering Campbelltown's Lost Buildings

McBarron, Ed

Campbelltown 1930-40. Patrick Street and Environs.

In Grist Mills Vol.4, No. 1, pp3-9

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