Sunday, 16 July 2017

"Dennarque" - an early history of Raith

The home known as "Raith" still stands today, bounded by Fern Avenue and Airds Road Bradbury. It was not always known as Raith, and has been through several incarnations.
In 1903 "Dennarque" was built for Herbert and Wilhelmina Merewether, on 55 acres on Appin Road.
Wilhelmina Rosina Arran Gore was born in 1883, the third daughter of Augustus James Gore, manager of the Commercial Bank in Campbelltown. Brought up in the manner of a young lady by her mother Katrina Gore, Wilhelmina, known as Nina, was a talented singer and pianist.
Nina's older sister Silvia married Frederick Merewether in 1901, and on November 18th 1903, Nina married his brother Herbert. The Merewether brothers were from an illustrious and wealthy family from Bondi.
"Dennarque" was named after Herbert's father's property Dennarque at Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains. The new home was a large sixteen room Indian bungalow-style house, designed by Wardell and Denning and built by D.McIntyre & Sons of Sydney, at a cost of 3,000 pounds.

Laying the foundation stone for "Dennarque" in 1903. Photo courtesy Campbelltown & Airds Historial Society Inc.
  An indication of the esteem in which Herbert Merewether was held is shown in the following snippet from the local paper "... the townspeople may congratulate themselves that a man of his stamp has been attracted to the place".
The following year, 1904, Nina and Herbert had a daughter Mabel, known as Maisie. Life at Dennarque was social and gracious. Nina advertised for maids and a general hand, and events such as balls were held there. Herbert was a keen sportsman, involved in the local cricket team. He was also involved in local shooting competitions, the formation of the cycling club, and was on the committee of the A.H. & I. Society.
A completed "Dennarque". Photo courtesy Campbelltown & Airds Historical Society Inc.

 Sadly he died on March 5th 1920 at the age of 54, and was interred at St Peter's Campbelltown. By July, Mrs (Nina) Merewether was advertising in the papers a sale of all her household belongings, "on account of the disposal of her residence". She would later remarry and move to the two storey house on the corner of Lithgow and Oxley Streets.
By 1930, "Dennarque" was owned by Hannah Elliot Plaskitt, and renamed "Raith", opening a new chapter in the history of the property.

Written by Claire Lynch
Sources -
Glimpses of the Gores in Campbelltown by Bev Harrison
Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society
Campbelltown Library pamphlet files

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Golden Arches

Campbelltown's first McDonald's restaurant dates back to 1976. This was one of the first McDonald's restaurants in the Sydney metropolitan area. The original restaurant was located at the same position as today's building on the southern end of Queen Street. CC Tyre Service occupied this spot prior to McDonald's. The restaurant opened for business on Monday 5 January, 1976. More than 80 local people were employed to staff the new McDonald's which was built at a cost of $250,000. The building in Queen Street was considered to be a modern design and a significant improvement on the company's other restaurant chains. The new manager Tony Puccio estimated that the restaurant would turnover $15,000 weekly. Compare this to today! Take a look at the advertisement for the new "Queens Street" chain that appeared in the local newspaper, the week it opened. Imagine paying 25 cents for French Fries (described as "chips" for the uninitiated) and 25 cents for a coke!

It seemed Campbelltown was gripped with McDonald's fever after it first opened. On 7 February, a month after the opening, an enormous record-breaking crowd was drawn to an appearance by Ronald McDonald at the restaurant.

When the Queen Street McDonald's was taken over by Ken and Maureen Tagg in August 1984, they changed the restaurant's image, transforming it to depict Campbelltown's pioneer origins, complete with a homestead style verandah. Ken Tagg became one of the town's leading business identities. He had already opened a McDonald's at Minto in 1982 and by the late 1990s would own a dozen local outlets. He invented the Happy Meal and his generosity to local groups saw him voted Citizen of the Year in 1994.

The Queen Street restaurant made a number of improvements over the years, including a new drive-thru service on 5 January, 1981, exactly five years after it opened. This was regarded as cutting edge technology for the day. In 1983 a bomb hoax made headlines after the restaurant was forced to evacuate.

In 1987 a new location was opened in Woodbine. The Queen Street building was demolished in 2005 for a new restaurant on the same site. This new building was set further back from Queen Street.

The original "Maccas" built in 1976. Note how close it was to Queen Street.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Horan's Hounds

Poor old Cec Horan.  It didn't matter how much he trained his racing dogs, they just wouldn't win for him. So desperate for them to win, the Wedderburn character hired a priest to bless the dogs. His hopes raised and with tremendous anticipation he watched...and they still didn't win.

Cec Horan was one of this area's wonderful characters from a bygone era. Not much else is known about him apart from one humorous story recounted by a Mrs Rees. Cec would regularly walk up the street with his underachieving dogs. He'd have three on a leash in one hand and the same in the other hand. Sure enough one day the dogs became excited by some furry creature and all hell broke loose! "You should have seen him, what a mess", recounted Mrs Rees. "It's a wonder they didn't rip his arms out. Some went one way and some went the other, and poor old Cec Horan stuck in the middle."

Cec sold the dogs not long after he had them blessed by the priest, and after the new owner took over they won! Some people just aren't meant to be dog trainers I suppose.


Lawrence, Richard 1985
Why Campbelltown?: interviews

Friday, 16 June 2017

Zillah's Fortunate Life Recalled

Zillah Dredge photographed in 1931 (Sue Dredge Colection)

Zillah Dredge had much to tell about her amazing life when she was interviewed in 1979. She had endured hardships like the First and Second World Wars, The Great Depression, suffered the shattering loss of a child and the premature death of her beloved husband. Yet she had many joyous moments mixed in with the tough times. Her long life, lived entirely in Campbelltown, saw many changes to her beloved home town and she recalled some amazing stories and characters in her interview to the library. I thought I'd share some of her thoughts with you.

She was born Zillah Victoria Cooper in a house on Camden Road in 1897. Her father drove a bullock team. Not long after the family moved to a house in Broughton Street, then to Allman Street and then again to Airds Cottage, where the Campbelltown Craft Society now meet. She referred to it as the Red House when she was living there. Her first school was the Catholic School on Old Menangle Road where Quondong is today and then at Miss Clark's private school in Cordeaux Street.

Zillah recalls how her mother would tell her the story of how her grandfather allegedly saw the ghost when returning home from the markets on his bullock dray one night. 'I think the spirit he saw was more of the drinking variety than ghostly" she said. "We sort of grew up with Fisher's Ghost; it was something that we always accepted".

Zillah met her husband Ray during the war years. She recalled that it was a war romance which was "pretty hard to take". She continued: "I can remember coming home crying on the mail train and someone saying "it is so sad", but you got accustomed to it". The happy couple married after the war and first lived in a house next to the Club Hotel (today's City Hotel). They then bought a milk run which they ran almost up until World War Two. In this time she and Ray lived in three more houses: in a brick house on the corner of Oxley and Dumaresq Streets; in a house in the middle of Queen Street that belonged to Sam Bursill; Queen and Dumaresq Streets where the 7-11 stands today.

The Depression hit the family hard and Ray was forced to supplement his income by trapping rabbits at Douglas Park, selling the skins and providing local butchers with the carcasses. Families like the Dredges had to improvise just to live. Zillah's daughter Joyce recalled picking blackberries to make jam and catching rabbits to put in a stew. In the late 1930s, just as things were beginning to pick up, their two horses and the cart were stolen. With no money to replace them, Ray had to give up the farm and sell their milk and ice run business.

Zillah and Ray had nine children. The youngest Royce died when he was only two in 1935. Zillah recalled that this was the only unhappy time in her life. Her third youngest was son Doug who, according to Zillah, got into more trouble than the others put together. She recalled an amusing story about him in her interview: "For instance the old Camden tram. He was keen on mushrooms and he was out mushrooming and he was coming home and was caught on the bridge and the tram was coming. He lay down and the tram went over him. He had a silk shirt on and I searched high and low for that shirt and never knew where that shirt went to until we moved the wardrobe and there was a small crevice behind it. Right pushed against the wall where you couldn't possibly reach it was that shirt covered in oil where the tram went over him. He said he had to do something so he lay down."

The family moved again in the late 1930s to 303 Queen Street in the house now known as Dredge's Cottage. Zillah lived here until just before her death in the late 1980s. She spoke fondly of her days here. One day that wasn't so pleasant was in 1972 when a truck loaded with roof tiles crashed through her front door. "Fortunately I was next door with Mrs Taylor who had the shop next door". She had been talking on the telephone for about ten or fifteen minutes before the truck came crashing through. "The truck had swerved to miss a car, hit the car and swung it around about three times, came in directly over the veranda and right in".

Zillah took an active interest in sport and making bark paintings. She was involved in the CWA and Legacy. Her husband Ray died in 1966.

Zillah's long and happy life came to an end in June 1988. She was buried with her family in St Peter's Cemetery. The house in Queen Street, Dredge's Cottage, became the Veteran's Recreation Centre.

Zillah in her garden at the back of Dredge's Cottage after the land was sold to Campbelltown Mall (Sue Dredge Collection)


From the Trenches to Sewer Lane: A Story of the Dredge Family by Des Lowe

Zillah Dredge Interview at Campbelltown Library in 1979

Thursday, 8 June 2017

More about that photo

Our mystery photo from Wednesday's blog will now be identified. It was taken during Campbelltown's celebrations for Campbelltown's sesquicentenary, Captain Cook's Bicentenary and the Festival of Fisher's Ghost. The date was April 11 1970 and was a memorable one for the town. The highlight of the day was the opening of the newly renovated 'Glenalvon' in Lithgow Street. At 1.30pm an arrival of an historic train at Campbelltown station brought mayoral guests which were then conveyed from the station to 'Glenalvon' by coach. One of the coaches in this photograph was more than likely used for this. The official opening of 'Glenalvon' took place at 2.20pm and slides of historic Campbelltown were shown for the rest of the day at the house. The celebrations for the three milestones lasted for two weeks, concluding with the crowning of Miss Spirit at Bradbury Oval on Sunday the 19th of April.

The photograph was taken outside Campbelltown Railway station, looking in a southerly direction. The three buildings in the photo are long gone. The building on the right was the old station master's house that was demolished the same year. The other two houses in the background were in Patrick Street. The larger house on the left was 'Carmel' owned by the Vardy family.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Where is this?

Can anyone identify where this photograph was taken? Can you guess what the occasion is? I'll give the answer to you on Friday in this blog. (click on the image for a larger version)

Thursday, 25 May 2017

A Trio of Penfolds

The surname Penfold has been synonymous with Campbelltown for many years. Father and son Max and Robert Penfold left a significant mark on the town as did another Penfold, not related, but associated with the famous Penfold wines.

Max Penfold

Max Penfold first became a court officer on May 22, 1928 beginning his career at Leeton and, for a period of 21 years, literally went everywhere in the state on court work. On September 26, 1949, he became Clerk of Petty Sessions at both Camden and Campbelltown. He remained at Campbelltown until 1965 when he accepted a promotion to the court relieving staff. He received further promotions on the court relieving staff in New South Wales until his death, although his home was always in Campbelltown.

Max was greatly loved and respected. He was affectionately described as someone who never had to give an order because those below him had so much respect for him and automatically headed his wishes. Top people in the legal profession also respected his opinion. Norm Campbell tells the story about him being at the Sydney Cricket Ground during a cricket test and one of the Supreme Court judges said "Oh there's Max over there, I must go and talk to him". They would go to him- Max didn't go and talk to them.

Max was good at solving people's problems. His inquisitive nature was probably the reason behind this. He wanted to know exactly what was going on so he could deal with it. At first people thought he was nosey until they realized he had helped with their problem. He was also a bit of a character. Norm described the day a fire siren went off in court and Norm, being a fireman got up. He said before you approach the bench I want to say something: "If any member of the jury wanted to attend I will excuse them, but there is a catch. What you have got to do is report to Mr Campbell that you have attended. Now if you don't and he comes in tomorrowand tells me that you didn't attend, then I will deal with you." With all that the jury got up and left and there were people coming up to Norm saying you'll tell the judge won't you?

Max died on November 1, 1972. He lived in Broughton Street, Campbelltown.

A young Robert Penfold working as a reporter for the Campbelltown Ingleburn News
Max's son Robert Penfold would be known to many as a reporter on Channel Nine. Robert left school and started working as an assistant pay master at Campbelltown Council, a role he says left him "bored out of his mind". He then got a job with the Campbelltown Ingleburn News newspaper as a cadet journalistat age 21. "It took a friend of mine to tell me that I was a journalist". On his first day he was called to a bloody accident on Appin Road. It was a real baptism of fire but Robert made such an impression with everyone that day. In 1976 he joined Channel Nine and has since gone on to lead a distinguished career. He has covered some of the great stories of the last 40 years and earned multiple distinctions.

Frank and Gladys Penfold Hyland
Another well-known Penfold associated with the Campbelltown area was Gladys Penfold Hyland. She was a businesswoman and collector of antiques. In 1921 she married Frank Astor Penfold Hyland, governing director of Penfolds Wines Ltd. He opened a branch of Penfolds in Pitt Street in 1901. Frank and Gladys made many trips abroad publicizing Australian wines. It was while they were travelling that they developed an interest in antiques and paintings.

Gladys was a domineering woman who kept tight hold of the family purse-strings. She dressed in beautifully tailored suits, often with initialed brass buttons.

Following Frank's death, she inherited his majority shareholding in Penfolds and was chairman of the board. Her later years were spent at Chateau Blanc, her farm near Ingleburn. The beautiful French provincial-style home was the setting for her magnificent private collection of art treasures and antiques. The home had a wonderful courtyard and was framed by black iron gates, flanked on either side by two antique lamps. The house had a view from one of the highest points of the area, with colourful gardens. Gladys would sometimes hold special lunches their with the very best champagne cocktails. She died there on July 11, 1974 and was buried in the church of England Cemetery, Denham Court.

Chateau Blanc today in Denham Court Road, Denham Court