Monday, 16 October 2017

A Bird's Eye View

Local identity Lennie Hayes recently donated this wonderful aerial photograph of Campbelltown taken about 1959. The scene is dominated by Crompton Parkinson's factory in the foreground built in the 1940s. It was the first major company to build in Campbelltown. Many of the buildings have sadly been demolished. Some streets such as Milgate Lane (first street to the left of Crompton Parkinson) and Railway Street (extreme left) have lost all their buildings. How many buildings do you recognize?

Thanks for your donation Lennie and saving the photo from the scrapheap!

Friday, 6 October 2017

"Enough and to spare" - Mrs McMullen of Moreton Park.

As mentioned in the earlier post "The Old Swagman of Wedderburn", swagmen, or 'swaggies' were not an unusual sight in rural areas of Australia during the 1800s and the early 1900s. Itinerant workers who carried their whole lives in their swags, they travelled between pastoral stations throughout the countryside looking for work, a meal, and somewhere to sleep for the night.
Two swagmen resting beneath a tree, Australia,
c1887. J.W.Lindt, NLA
One person who was known to look after swaggies was Mrs McMullen of Moreton Park. Ellen Rosetta McMullen was known to be a most generous and kind hearted soul. She came into possession of Moreton Park in 1858, and for the next fifty years would provide wayfarers with food and shelter. Her generosity was known thoughout the state.
Her family history is by turns complicated and fascinating. Born in 1828, Ellen Rosetta Hughes was the daughter of John Terry Hughes and Esther Hughes, and the granddaughter of Samuel Terry, a convict transported for theft who had arrived in the colony in 1801. By 1807 a freed Samuel Terry was well on his way to making a great fortune. He arranged for John Terry Hughes, his nephew, to come to the colony to join him in his business endeavours. John married Samuel Terry's step daughter Esther.
Ellen was brought up in one of the family properties "Albion House" in Surrey Hills. She married a cousin, Samuel Hughes in 1847 and they had four children. Through her various inheritances, which included the ownership of Moreton Park, Mrs Hughes became a very wealthy woman. She and her husband built the house at Moreton Park which still stands today.
The kitchen was described as "...a beautiful old kitchen and beside it, it had the storerooms, and the places where all the hams and bacon hung and all that, and the great big spit and the old ovens, 'cause they'd be cooking an immense lot at night time, there'd be thirty or forty swagmen there some nights. But over the top of this big fireplace she had written into the stone "Enough and to spare". It's still there. " The swaggies "....were supposed to come to this enormous table, and they could have their night meal and their breakfast, and then go down the sheds, and then they were to move on, but some of them were there for weeks!"

Moreton Park
Ellen's husband Samuel died in 1868, and her second marriage in 1874 was to Franklin McMullen with whom she had one child. Sadly, Ellen would outlive all her children, although she did have a number of grandchildren.
Moreton Park was run with tenant farmers, and other examples of Ellen's generosity included Christmas gifts and a Christmas party every year for all the children of the tenants. In 1896, during serious drought conditions, Ellen, now Mrs McMullen, suspended rent from her tenants for six months owing to the losses they had sustained.
Ellen Rosetta McMullen died in 1914, and was buried in St John's Cemetery, Camden. Such was her reputation that even years after she was gone swaggies would continue to show up at Moreton Park hoping for some of her famous hospitality.

Written by Claire Lynch
Oral History with Mrs Cora Wrightson, Campbelltown City Library
Mountbatten Group at Moreton Park Conservation Management PLan 2013

Monday, 25 September 2017

Did a Campbelltown Man Shoot Down the Red Baron?

Photo courtesy Australian War Memorial

There is still argument over who shot down the Red Baron- Captain Baron Manfred von Richthofen in a fierce World War I battle over France on April 21, 1918. Some believe that a Canadian pilot in the Royal Air Force, Captain Roy Brown had the distinction. However two US aviation historians claim that it was Australian gunners that were responsible for the shooting down of the Red Baron's plane. One of those gunners, Rupert Weston, claimed that it was him that shot down the Red Baron. Rupert lived the last 41 years of his life in Campbelltown.

The two American authors published a book in 1969 called "Who Killed the Red Baron" in which they firmly argue that Gunner Weston and G.B. Popkin ended the life of the Red Baron. The battle took place over the Australian artillery lines near Vaux-sur-Somme in April 1918. The authors corresponded with Rupert Weston for seven years before the book was published and a photograph of him appeared in the book. The official war historian CW Bean backed the author's claim by writing that ground fire from the Australian lines brought the Red Baron down.

Rupert Weston was born in Victoria in 1888 and married and moved to Sydney after his return from the war. The couple eventually moved to Campbelltown in 1937 before Rupert tried unsuccessfully to enlist in World War II. His heart condition and World War I injuries ruled him unfit. At the time doctors only expected him to live for three months. He lived, however, until he was 90!

After World War II he became part owner of Weston Son and Curnow, a mixed business and hardware store in Queen Street. He was a keen bowler and had a strong link with the Campbelltown Bowling Club. Rupert died in 1978 still adamant it was him that shot down the most famous war pilot in history.

Members of the Campbelltown City Bowling Club. Rupert Weston is standing in the middle row on the extreme right. (W. Wilkinson Collection).


Campbelltown-Ingleburn News, July 11, 1978

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Old Swaggie of Wedderburn

When I think of old swagmen from our country's distant past, the photo above is the sort of image that my mind conjures up. There was always something mysterious about them. Like they had no name and didn't come from anywhere in particular and weren't planning on going anywhere special. I remember my grandmother relaying stories of swaggies who visited her shack in the bush during the Great Depression and how they would often 'scare the blazes' out of her and her siblings. They're such a fascinating component of that time when life was so difficult and every day proved a challenge just to survive.

I recently discovered an interesting account of such a swagman in one of the library's resources. Hollie Rees (nee Knight) was born in Warby Street Campbelltown around 1924, but spent her childhood at Wedderburn. She describes her memories as a small child and that of a swaggie well-known at Wedderburn during the height of the Depression. It's compelling reading. Rather than me summarizing it, I thought I would provide her full description in this post. I've no doubt you'll find it enjoyable.

Once a year there used to be an old swaggie. I used to love that old swaggie. He used to come up opposite where the church is, there used to be an old building called the dump. It was a big square place where people that didn't have a lot of fruit used to put it there and the man in the truck used to call there first and he knew if it was Rice's fruit he didn't have go to Rice's, if it was Thompson's fruit he didn't have to go to Thompson's or wherever, and the swaggie used to camp in there.

He had this beautiful cattledog. He came there every year for about four or five years and we all used to race up after school and we'd see the smoke from his fire and we'd say oh, he's back. We never ever found out his name. His dog was blue, and he would disappear the same as he arrived. He'd have a rest and about three or four days later he would just disappear. We never knew where he went or where he came from, but he was a nice old bloke.

He carried his bedroll rolled up, it was a grey blanket with a red stripe, and everything rolled up in it with his billy hanging off the side. It was over his back with two leather straps and practically everything he owned was in that. He just slept on the ground with his dog to keep him warm and he had a bigger billy as well, that was all he had. To us he was ancient, but I would say he may have been maybe his mid-fifties , early sixties, with a beard. He was ruggedly built with vivid blue eyes, I'll always remember those eyes. They would look right at you, he was real happy, he was always laughing. Just happy. He always used to greet us with "Hello kids, been to school again. He'd say "Good, learn what you can".

The old billy was used as a cookpot, I think it used to be stew cooking in there, but what he ate the dog ate. I have never ever seen him go to a shop or anything, he carried it all with him in that bedroll.


"Why Campbelltown?" Interviews


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Way We Were- Part 5

The next series of then and now photographs were taken around Campbelltown and Bradbury on September 11 2017.

The top photo is of an unknown street parade moving down Lindesay Street in Campbelltown.

The same spot today near the corner of Dumaresq and Lindesay Streets.
 Garnet Jennings and Frank Monaghan at St. John's Prepatory College for Boys. Photo taken in 1926.
91 years later and little has changed here. It's now St. Patrick's College for Girls.
Newly built houses in the 1960s in the new suburb of Sherwood Hills.
The same scene in 2017. Sherwood Hills later changed its name to Bradbury. The street is Lawn Avenue.
Quondong taken in 1960
Today Qoundong is the Tourist Information Centre. The environment around it has changed dramatically since the 1960 photograph was taken.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Building Our First High Rise

High rise development in our city is a topic that is currently dividing opinion. The latest controversial proposal is the construction of high rise next to the old CBC Bank and later Macarthur Advertiser building in Queen Street. However the arrival of high rise to Campbelltown dates back to the early 1960s with the building of Campbelltown Council's brash new administration centre. The library has in its collection a number of fascinating photographs of the construction of this building that I wanted to share with you.

The administration centre opened on Saturday, 28th November, 1964. It was easily the highest building in the town and was seen for kilometres around Campbelltown. The design was seen as "providing a strong vertical emphasis to the Civic Centre". Mayor Fraser at the time called it "a symbol of our faith in the future". The first stage of the Master Plan was prepared in early 1961. The first sod for construction was turned in June 1963 and by November the steel frame had begun to take shape. Work continued on through 1964 and by July the building was near completion.

The following photographs show the various stages of construction. They were taken by Jim Waugh. It's interesting to also look at the built environment around the administration building, most of which has disappeared.

This is the earliest construction photo we have in our collection and would've been taken in late 1963. The photo is looking towards Broughton Street. In the background to the right are the old ambulance station and to the left of the construction is the old milk depot. Both buildings no longer exist.

The next photograph above shows workman pouring concrete. These are the days before WHS became an issue! This would be in early 1964. In the background is the milk depot which stood on the adjacent to the railway line in Broughton Street. It was burnt down in 1969.

The above image is looking south west with the railway station in the background.

This one shows a lone worker perched precariously on a steel girder. The view is looking east and shows the old Macquarie Cinema in the background that was demolished in 1979.


McGill, Jeff 1999
Campbelltown: A modern history 1960-1999
Campbelltown: Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society

Campbelltown Ingleburn News Tuesday, December 1, 1964

Friday, 1 September 2017

Campbelltown - Remembering our Pop Culture

Campbelltown City Library is celebrating History Week from the 2nd - 10th September. This year the theme is "Pop Culture", and we remember some of the trends that have helped to shape Campbelltown over the years. From the advent of live entertainment at the Catholic Club, the transition from balls and debuts to discos and nightclubs, leisure activities including roller skating and swimming, and the changes from humble milk bars to more sophisticated dining, we take you on a trip down memory lane. Please drop in to the H.J.Daley Library to take a look at our display celebrating Campbelltown's Pop Culture this week.