Wednesday, 22 November 2017

A Hazardous Journey

The Campbelltown to Camden train, affectionately known as 'Pansy', is remembered fondly by those who remember her. The train or tram service as it was known, played an important role in transporting people from both towns to their required destination. Its stations between Campbelltown and Camden included: Maryfields, Kenny Hill, Curran's Hill, Graham's Hill, Narellan and Elderslie. How valuable would it be today and in the future if the line was still functioning. From most accounts the service ran efficiently with the only occasional hiccup of the steep slope up Kenny Hill. Look a little further into the earlier history of the line however and a more troubled picture is revealed.

Incredibly, only week after its opening in March 1882 the train experienced its first accident. At about 5pm a train laden with people who had attended a land sale at Camden was approaching the main line at Campbelltown. The train on descending an incline smashed into a number of ballast wagons. Many were injured, including a Mrs Evans of Glebe who suffered the worst injuries.

Only a couple of months later on a dark night, the train was badly damaged after it ploughed into a large pile of logs, deliberately stacked against the line. The culprits or 'cowardly wretches' as the local paper described them, have always remained a mystery. Whether it was an angry farmer or drunken louts is unclear. The driver and passengers thought an animal had been runover. After the logs had been cleared and the train moved on a second obstruction was encountered. Another larger log was left on the tracks. Several passengers then chose to walk into Campbelltown rather than risk their lives further.

Tramcar used on the Campbelltown-Camden line at Moore Park in the 1880s (photo courtesy of Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

Accidents continued on the line in the ensuing years. In 1889 a valuable horse was killed on the line near Narellan and forced the engine to be thrown off the rails. A cow was killed by a tram a few evenings before that. In 1903 a gang of men employed on the line were returning one night from Narellan to Campbelltown on a trolly when it collided with a cow on the rails. The men were all thrown violently on to the metal and suffered serious injuries. The fate of the cow couldn't be ascertained!

In 1905 a man's foot had to be amputated after a serious accident. Mr A Clissold was on a tram that was on the wrong line causing a complete smash. Two years later the tram collided with a horse. A boy was riding his horse after a cow that had walked onto the line. He didn't hear the approaching train, which struck the horse and threw him on the roadway. The boy escaped with severe bruising however the horse had to be destroyed and a dog following the boy was unfortunately run over by the tram and decapitated.

Camden tram stranded by flooded Nepean River at Elderslie in July 1899 (Photo courtesy of Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

Further carnage occurred in 1914 when an engine collided with a number of carriages near Campbelltown station, causing injuries to two people. In 1919 the train crashed through a flock of sheep on the line. In 1956 a fatality occurred where the Hume Highway crossed the line at Narellan. A 20 Class engine was struck by a brand new truck. Tragically, the owners had invited two of their friends to accompany them when they picked up their new truck from Sydney. All four occupants of the truck lost their lives. No further dramas appear to have struck after this.

The line closed down in December 1962, with a special journey held on January 1, 1963- the last journey 'Pansy' would make.


McGill, Jeff 1993
Campbelltown Clippings

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

Various newspaper articles provided by Trove

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Way We Were - Part 6

Here is the next part of our "Way We Were" series.

Steve Roach Collection, c1960.
Above is the former Fieldhouse Store, later home to the Campbelltown News. Next door is the Jolly Miller Hotel built in the late 1840s, and later known as the Commonwealth Hotel, converted to residential flats in 1939.
Shown in 2017, now home to the Macarthur Legal Centre. The building next door was demolished in the early 1960s.
Oliver Collection, 1950
1 Minto Road, (corner Redfern and Minto Rds), William Harris' store, with Post Office and residence attached, built c1925 on land previously owned by the Porter family.
The shop now houses Minto Newsagents, and no longer sits alone on the corner!
Soiland Collection, c1945
Front view of the Minto store.
The same view 72 years on. A much busier corner than it used to be, with the railway station and a number of shops adjoining on either side.
Local Studies Collection c1983
Roadworks outside St Patrick's College. This site was originally a prep school for boys named St John's or "Westview". St Patrick's moved to this site in 1970. The original location of St Patrick's was in Quondong.
The same view in 2017, with a sealed road, much bigger trees and a new wall.

Written by Samantha Stevenson and Claire Lynch
Our Past in Pictures database

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

"The Legend of Fisher's Ghost" - musically speaking.

The legend of Fisher's Ghost has been celebrated in popular culture in many ways over the years. Related in countless newspaper articles, as well as poems, songs, books, plays, an opera, and film, it once attracted the attention of notables such as Charles Dickens, who published a version of the story in his magazine "Household Words", and entertainer John Pepper, who used it as the subject of one of his stage illusions in Sydney in 1879.
Campbelltown City Library is fortunate to hold a copy of one of these tributes - "The Legend of Fisher's Ghost", written by Catherine Fields musician Jimmie McFarlane, and produced by Don Watt at Earth Media Studios, Milsons Point. With Jimmie's band "Country Road" playing the backing, the single was released with another of Jimmie's compositions on the flip side - "The Camden Train".

The cover of "The Legend of Fisher's Ghost" 

The record was completely financed by the licensees of The Good Intent, Jim and Evonne Rook. On Thursday March 19th, 1981, they launched the record at a special event at the hotel.

Jimmie McFarlane sitting on Fisher's Ghost Bridge

Jimmie was born in Bulli, and spent some years of his life at Glenmore House, in the foothills of the Razorback near Camden. Writing "The Legend of Fisher's Ghost" was prompted by a strong interest in the local area and it's history. Sadly Jimmie died at the age of 46, but we are able to remember him though his work. We have very kindly been given permission to upload "The Legend of Fisher's Ghost" via the following link.

Written by Claire Lynch
Campbelltown Ingleburn News 1981
Macarthur Advertiser 1981
Special thanks to the McFarlane Family (Casey McFarlane, Glenda Wenban, Sandie McFarlane)

Monday, 23 October 2017

"The Gut Factory"

William (Wilhelm) Klages and his family arrived in Ingleburn as immigrants from Switzerland in 1928. Ingleburn was a small village at the time with a few shops, poultry farms and dirt roads. William established a factory with a compatriot, Adolph Bolliger, which used sheep intestines for the manufacture of medical sutures. This was known as the Olympic Gut Manufacturing Company and was situated on the corner of Kings and Fields Roads, Ingleburn.

William (Wilhelm) Klages (Truth, 27.11.1932)
Two years on, the partnership between Bolliger and Klages was dissolved and a new one formed between William and Paul Witzig. The business must have proved successful as permission was obtained to build a new factory and offices in Kings Road. In 1939 the company was renamed the Australian Suture Company - trading as ASCO. Johnson and Johnson later took over the company.

ASCO - the "gut factory" (Campbelltown Library Local Studies collection)

Margaret Firth of Ingleburn remembers her time working at the factory -
"Oh well, he used to make the surgical gut it was, he used to get the special intestine things from the abbatoirs, and they used to prepare them, sterilise them and all that sort of business, cut them up, and then we girls used to have to roll them, when it was dry, roll them and smooth them down, and they'd get it fine enough to sew eyes with, you know, and then the coarser stuff".
William's son Eric learned the trade after attending the local school, Granville Technical College, and then studying chemistry at Sydney Tech. He worked for the family business before building his own factory, designing machines for treating, stretching, polishing and manufacturing what was commonly known then as "catgut" - nothing to do with cats! He also branched out into the manufacture of tennis racquet strings and violin strings.

A 1946 advertisement for Spiroflex tennis gut strings.
Eric's business was known as "Spiroflex, and was on the corner of Carlisle and Cambridge Streets, Ingleburn. At one stage the factory was turning out 3 million feet of gut a year for surgical sutures alone, with more than 90% of the product for export.
Eric died in 1982, and the factory ultimately closed in 1986.
Eric Klages checking the quality of the material under manufacture.
(Macarthur Leader, 5.12.1972)
Written by Claire Lynch
Local Studies Pamphlet files
Grist Mills Vol.21 No.1
Margaret Firth oral history - Local Studies collection
"From many lands we come" by Hugo Bonomini et al.

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