Monday, 14 May 2018

The Drunk's Express

In the 1940s an old liquor law was re-introduced that meant anyone was forbidden to drink at a hotel on a Sunday unless they travelled more than 25 miles. They were regarded as "weary travelers". Occasional raids were made by police to check identity cards which would prove where they lived. As Campbelltown was 32 miles from Sydney it was seen as a prime target for drinkers. This was good news for hoteliers looking for business and thirsty out-of-towners after a weekend drink, however it also proved to be a nightmare for hotel owners at the same time. It was also understandably unpopular with thirsty locals.

The train that the town came to dread was the arrival of the 1.30pm at Campbelltown Station. It became infamous as the "Drunk's Express" or the "Ghost Train" as it was packed with hundreds of loud-mouthed city louts that invaded Campbelltown every weekend. One hotel that attracted these louts was the Royal, located inconveniently or conveniently depending on your situation, next to the railway station. The licensee of the time, a Mr Knap, commented "They're the roughest crowd I have ever seen in my life. They come in hundreds. I slam and lock my doors at 3pm on Saturdays, and they stay locked until 5.15. By then they are nearly all gone again, but in the meantime, they nearly kick my doors in."

In January 1944 a sailor and two female companions travelled on the 'ghost train' for a drink at the Good Intent Hotel. They ended up spending a night in the lock up after they were charged with various offences after a boozy brawl. Newspaper reports describe there being about seventy people inside the pub and several waiting to get in. The magistrate for the hearing said "that shortly there will be a beautiful argument about the question of bona-fide travelers. It is apparent that most of these people come to Campbelltown only to get drink, and I have very grave doubts about most of them being bona-fide travelers."

The Good Intent Hotel was one hotel that attracted huge numbers of 'travellers' in the 1940s (Steve Roach Collection)


Truth, 16 January 1944, p22

Campbelltown Clippings by Jeff McGill 1993

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Nurses and Hospitals

It's hard to imagine that up until fairly recently it was expected that when a woman got married she would give up her career. This was certainly the expectation in nursing. Recently we interviewed Elsie Evans, who began her nursing career in the early 1940s.
"...I went from that to the theatres and I stayed in the theatres until about '48, and then I moved over to King George which was the obstetric hospital attached to PA. I stayed there until I was married because then you had to resign."
One way for these women to continue their nursing career was to set up a private hospital. Elsie explains - "That's why you saw a lot of these obstetric hospitals set up by nurse so-and-so. They would just get a house and set it up as an obstetric hospital but you couldn't work in the public system."
Historically Florence Nightingale had given the vocation of nursing respectability for women. She had also, supported by Sir Henry Parkes, been in favour of the idea of matrons managing hospitals, not being subordinate to doctors.
With no hospital in Campbelltown, one of the earliest of these private hospitals was at Mrs Huckstepp's home "The Pines", in Innes Street. Run by Nurse (Mrs) Rachel Huckstepp, it provided maternity facilities for expectant mothers. Mrs Huckstepp's eldest daughter would be sent to fetch Dr Mawson when a birth was anticipated, and Mrs Huckstepp would also accompany Dr Mawson to more distant properties when he attended women giving birth at home.
Rachel Huckstepp (photo CAHS, donated by Judy Coppini)

A number of other hospitals were operating, including "Kyla" in Lithgow Street, run by Nurse Newbury, from the beginning of WWI and "Norma" in Warby Street, under the care of Nurse Brock and Nurse Wilson in the 1920s. Nurse Wilson would later move to "Nattai" in Lindesay Street.
Two of the more well known private hospitals were "Avro" in Coogan Lane, and "Milby" in Queen Street. "Avro" operated during the '30s to the '50s and "Milby" from the '20s to the '50s. "Milby" was primarily a maternity hospital but did take other types of patients.
Also in the '50s were "Bramwell" and "Braemar".
If anyone has any memories of these early private hospitals we'd love to hear from you!

Written by Claire Lynch

Elsie Evans oral history - Campbelltown City Library
Grist Mills Vol.12 No.1 "The Huckstepp Family"
Campbelltown - The Bicentennial History - Carole Liston
From Nightingale nurses to a modern profession : the journey of nursing in Australia - Dr Georgina Willetts

Monday, 23 April 2018

Hack Races

What better way to spend an Easter weekend in Campbelltown than to attend a hack racehorse meeting. Run on the course opposite the King's Arms in 1848, a number of races were set down for the Easter Sunday for the amusement of the townsfolk. Each race involved untrained hacks that had never won a prize. When "Jackey" won the first race on the card however there was much speculation over his credentials considering his great superiority over his rivals. Having survived the enquiry, 'Jackey" was declared the winner. The best riding of the day went to Hugh Byrne.

According to "Bell's Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer" the following day witnessed a few sports, such as running for watches, hunting a grunter with a shaved tail, and other amusements, which, coupled with the exhilarating draughts of Tooth's entire, effectually dissipated any appearances of ennui. If anyone can shed any light on what running for watches involves, please let me know!

The day was spent in good humour and it was hoped to run a similar one for the "Whitsuntide" and the next holiday season. For the record, the course opposite the King's Arms would have to have been the site of today's Mawson Park. The King's Arms was on the site of today's City Hotel on the corner of Queen and Dumaresq Streets.


Bell's Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer, 29 April 1848, p2

Monday, 9 April 2018

Ingleburn Weir

What exciting news it must have been for the people of Ingleburn when they found out they were getting a pool built in the George's River for them. This was pre World War Two and ahead of its time compared to other councils in Western Sydney. The pool proved to be very popular with Ingleburn families, with almost every child from then on recalling fond memories of the Ingleburn Weir as it was known.

The first reference to building the Ingleburn Weir is in the Ingleburn Council meeting of 10 November 1936 when it was resolved that "the clerk [HJ Daley] be authorized to obtain information and estimates for the construction of a weir across the George's River for the purpose of providing a swimming pool". A recommendation to proceed was adopted the following month. Council records indicate that the weir was constructed between 6 March 1939 and 22 January 1940.

Above photograph: How Ingleburn Weir looks today
The weir was constructed by local Fred Goodsell. According to Arthur Hounslow "he was a builder of sorts and he lived locally and he was given the job." It is believed that stone for the weir was quarried in an area off Cumberland Road. Bert Wallace was the overseer.While Fred Goodsell was responsible for building it credit for organizing its construction is given to Harley Daley. Peter Benson explained that unemployed people were used to help with the building the weir. It became known by Ingleburn people as "Harley's Folly".
The weir became the recognized swimming hole in Ingleburn in the years after its construction. Scouts would regularly attend camps near the weir and it was used for swimming events. This remained the case for many years.
Campbelltown City Council have identified Ingleburn Weir as having local heritage significance. The weir has also been identified by the Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries) as a high priority site for remediation work to facilitate the passage of fish, which may impact on the heritage significance of the weir. Despite its heritage significance, the weir was in a dilapidated state until conservation works were undertaken in recent years.
Ingleburn Weir Heritage Impact Statement, November 2007
Leishman, Alan J. July 1997
Ingleburn Weir: History and Status Discussion Paper

Monday, 26 March 2018

The Haunted Harrow

Almost everyone in Campbelltown would be familiar with the story of Fisher's Ghost. Not many however would be familiar with "The Harrow"- the pub where John Farley ran to 'in great fright' to break the news of his ghostly tale. The Harrow therefore played an important part in Campbelltown's history. This is why I was fascinated by a discovery I made on Trove last week of an article from the Australasian Chronicle in 1841, just 15 years after the Fisher's Ghost legend was born. It appears that The Harrow became well known for other ghostly experiences other than those related to Fisher.

The Chronicle describes a letter written to the editor about "great alarm and sensation" in the village arising from strange experiences in the old pub.The letter explains that "...some unusual noises were heard, at unreasonable hours, in an old house occupied by Messrs. Shields and Patrick, in which is conducted the butchering business. These parties have been obliged to leave the premises every night, in consequence of the rumbling noises heard all over the building, and take shelter in adjoining houses." It went on to describe how a man named Baker had once lived there but had to vacate the premises because of the hauntings. The letter further stated that "I have often heard him say he could not get one night's rest in a week from the rattling and tumbling heard aloft when the serial beings were conducting their midnight orgies." I love the language.

The old Harrow actually survived for approximately another 118 years. It was built probably in 1822. Prominent businessman and ex-convict John Patrick owned the license shortly after the Fisher's Ghost experience. David Patrick researched the pub's history extensively and managed to pinpoint its exact location. He wrote an article in Grist Mills in November 1998 outlining his results. After John Patrick's ownership, the building would be used for various shops including a general store owned by the Graham Brothers in 1896, a fruit shop for G. Packer in 1915, C.W. Parker's Store in the 1920s and Romalis' Fish and Chip shop and cafĂ©. It disappeared without trace after this. It is now the site of the Campbelltown City Centre in Queen Street, directly opposite Lithgow Street.

The Harrow became C.W. Parker's Store. This photograph was taken by Tom Swann in 1920. (Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)
Australasian Chronicle Saturday 27 November 1841, page 2
The Harrow: the Fisher's Ghost Pub
In Grist Mills 11 (3), November 1998

Friday, 16 March 2018

The "Gut Factory" - an update

After publishing our previous blog about the "Gut Factory" at Ingleburn, we were lucky enough to be contacted by a grandson of Wilhelm Klages, who was able to give us some more information about the family.
Wilhelm Klages was born in Elberfeld, Germany, on the 17th September 1885.  He studied Chemistry at the University of Kiel. He married his first wife Katarina Roeser at the age of 22 in Berlin in 1908. They had a son, Frederick, but after Katarina and Wilhelm divorced, Frederick lived with his Roeser grandparents for some of his early years.
Meanwhile, Wilhelm moved to Switzerland and married Dora Ziegler, gaining Swiss citizenship. He returned to Germany to reclaim his son Frederick and took him back to Switzerland.

Wilhelm Klages (Campbelltown City Library)
In 1921 the family moved to Japan. There, Wilhelm worked for the Tansan Kobe mineral water company. Whilst there, the family lived through the Great Japan Earthquake of 1923.
During 1927 and 1928 the family, Wilhelm, Dora, Frederick, and Frederick's three half-brothers Ulrich (later known as Eric), Arthur and Arnold moved to Australia.
It was from this time that the family settled in Ingleburn and Wilhelm started up the gut factory - (see previous blog).
The boys grew up during the years between the wars. Unfortunately, all but Frederick had Swiss citizenship, so when WWII broke out, Frederick was interned while his son James was still a baby, being sent to Alice Springs and Butlers Gorge in Tasmania.
Thanks so much to James, Frederick's son, who provided this great information to us!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

A Conscientious Objector

Demonstrations outside the Ingleburn Army Camp in support of Simon Townsend (State Library of NSW)

Most of the older readers of this blog would remember Simon Townsend, mostly famous for compering the children's television show from the 1980s called Simon Townsend's Wonder World. However some of you would be unaware that Simon was also famous in the 1960s for disobeying the call-up notice to join the Vietnam War. It was at Ingleburn Army Camp that he was incarcerated as punishment, causing friction in the community and resulting in a demonstration march at the camp that attracted a huge crowd.
In the mid 1960s whilst living at Woy Woy and working as a columnist for a community paper he became a conscientious objector against the Vietnam War. He gained national prominence on his anti-conscription stance, saying "I suddenly decided to be a ...objector to the Vietnam War. I then went to Sydney, I met people, I joined the groups and I read. And suddenly I had an intellectual basis for my objection to the Vietnam War. And that was when I got very busy, objecting, going to court, and I ended up in Long Bay Gaol for a month. And in 1968 I ended up in the army prison for a month. I was court-martialed while I was there. "
Simon was one of the first to go to gaol for acting contrary to the National Service Act 1964. According to local military historian Brian Battle, it was reported that Townsend commenced his confinement in the cells at Bardia Barracks. He was placed in solitary confinement for 48 hours, to be woken up every half hour. He was released on 14th June 1968.
As mentioned, Simon Townsend's confinement at Ingleburn caused quite a stir and a demonstration march was organized to show the community's disapproval. Photographs from the Tribune show large crowds demonstrating and plenty of passionate speeches in support of Simon. Interestingly, local media didn't bother to cover the occasion.

Part of the large crowd at Ingleburn Army Camp in support of Simon Townsend (State Library of NSW)

Sources: Wikipedia
Nashos in Australia 1965-1973