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Canterbury’s People & Places

Recollections of Campsie                     Cecil Crockford

Audience at the Royal Pictures, Beamish St Campsie (almost opposite Ninth Avenue) about 1913.

Cecil was born in Lakemba 22nd June 1893.  The eldest son of Arthur Crockford and Florence Barnes. The family moved to Clissold Pde Campsie in 1897. The children's grandmother was horrified by this move as she believed that "the blacks would get her son and his family". Cecil lived in the area for over 80 years.

Mr Crockford was a store man and travelled by train to work. There was only one train in the morning and a return train in the afternoon. The Station Mistress would sell the tickets for the morning train, go home to sleep, have lunch and return for the afternoon train.

During the early years, Beamish St was a dirt track and the roadway had ruts a foot deep. Sometimes the horse drawn sulky wheels could not get our of them. Canterbury Rd basin was in better condition for it was a main artery. There were many houses on the northern side of the railway line, but these were scattered.

On the southern side of Canterbury Road opposite Beamish St there were slaughterhouses that extended down the hill to Clemton Park. On each side of Beamish Street were Beamish's Bush and Manewell's Bush. Beamish's Bush which had a wide variety of birds was on the Western side from Canterbury Rd extending to the present day Fire Station. Manewell's Bush extended from Beamish St to Wonga St.

From Beamish's Bush, in the hollow of Beaumont St, Evaline St, Amy St, Anglo Pde and right through to the Avenues there ran a creek. In the Avenues it formed into small ponds and the young boys fished for eels, using a short pole with a piece of thread and a bent pin. On the top of the hill in Anglo Rd was a goat herd where goats milk could be bought.

There was a large Army Camp on the southern side of the railway line between Campsie and Canterbury. This was in the area between Evaline St and the railway line and from the river to Harold St. Between 1900 and 1907 Army Reserves of National Service trainees used the camp, living in tents for the period of their training.

There were Chinese Market gardens all along the Cooks River from Enfield to Croydon Park and Canterbury. Cecil recalled that as children they used to sneak down and swim across the river to steal vegetable. He said they often got a charge of salt-peter fired at them.

There was a galvanised open-air picture theatre in Beamish St almost opposite 9th Avenue, which was owned by the Slater brothers. The silent pictures had plenty of flicker about them when you were sitting close. so it cost threepence (2 cents) at the front and sixpence (5 cents) at the back. If it rained you got your money back.

Cecil's Story; Unknown Author.

Photo; Brian J Madden & Lesley Muir, Campsie's Past

St Paul's Anglican Church, Canterbury

After the Sugar Works closed in 1854, the village of Canterbury suffered a severe recession with no local employment available. Many of the people left the district. The Methodist Church and school closed. Barnabas Hartshom, one of the shopkeepers and James Douglas, licensee of the Sugar Loaf Inn went bankrupt.

To provide at least some work, Sophia Ives Campbell who lived with her brother at Duntroon, Canberra engaged Edmund Blackett in 1858 to build a stone church and school on her land on the hill at Canterbury overlooking the village. Sandstone was quarried near the present railway line to Canterbury Station.

On 12th April 1860, the Bishop of the Diocese consecrated St Paul's Church of England. Miss Campbell donated the land and the  1,848 Pounds to build the Church. Her brothers George and John gave the communion vessels, font and furnishings. Miss Campbell also endowed the Church with 2,000 Pounds in perpetuity to help pay for the Rector's stipend. In return Miss Campbell received the right to choose every second incumbent. The first rector was Percy Jennings Smith.

The Campbell family built St Paul's Schoolhouse (behind the Church) in 1861. It closed as a school in 1877. From 1880 to 1882, the recently formed Canterbury Council used the building as Council Chambers.

(from information leaflet produced by Dr Lesley Muir & Canterbury and District Historical Society 2003)

 

Working at McPherson’s Shoe Store                                                 Noel Duncan; Vice President,                                                            Canterbury & District Historical Society

 

During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s I worked as a Junior Sales Assistant (you couldn’t be a senior until you were age 21) at McPherson’s Shoe Store, 122 Haldon St Lakemba, Phone no UL2335. The shop was open from 9am to 5.30pm Mon-Fri and 8.30am to 12 Midday on Saturdays. The shop’s customer base was from the suburbs of Belmore, Greenacre, McCallum’s Hill, Wiley Park, Nth Kingsgrove as well as Lakemba. Our competition was Crowe’s Shoe Store, on the same side of the street, but closer to the railway overbridge.

 

McPherson’s was deemed to be the superior store as they were the “Appointed Stockist” for the leading brands, Raoul Merton, Packard and Baxter shoes for men and Arcola and Jane Debster for women. The shop also stocked Betta and Grosby brand slippers as well as Gro –Shu and Robin school shoes for the children. Sports shoes and trainers as we know them today were virtually unheard of. Dunlop Volley O-C’s sandshoes were the sport shoe of choice.

 

The proprietor Harold A, McPherson ( a former mayor of Canterbury) was known to all staff and customers alike as Mr Mac. Mr Mac would be in the store most days, but always Friday afternoon and Saturday morning as these were the busiest trading times of the week. The staff consisted of the Store Manager and myself and three ladies to assist the women and children. At busy times, Christmas, Mother’s Day & Fathers Day we would employ a casual man on Saturday morning.

 

The store was divided by a large twin back to back bench running up the centre of the store towards the counter. The men went to the left and the women to the right and sat down to wait for assistance. The sales assistant would enquire as to your requirements and stock would be brought from the back of the shop. If the shoes were displayed in the window, it would be the left window for men’s shoes and the right for women.

Payment was by cash or money order, or if you were well known to the staff you could pay a deposit and them make progress payments fortnightly. A far cry from today’s self service and credit card payments

 

 

Campsie in the 1920's

Writing in 1950 James Jervis said: By 1920 Campsie had about 30 shops. Even then there was much open space in Beamish Street. A fruit stall run by one "Gobba" Smith stood on the site of the present day Selfridges Store. The buildings of that period were mainly weatherboard. Cook Bros. grocery store was on the site occupied now by the Sydney County Council Showroom. Drapers of the 1920 period were Hopkins Bros; Hockings, W.E. Quelch and Mrs Snape. A. Barden and Sons owned a butchers business. Grocers were Simpson and Cook Bros. Allen Leslie, mercer was a long time in business in Campsie. Harrison was dentist and chemist and later sold the pharmacy to Parle while he carried on the dental work. Another dentist of the time was Renton. Walter Butler estate agent was an old identity. Charlie Hawes one time alderman was another early real estate man. Rise in land values was in the main shopping centre was spectacular. Land sold for 1pound per foot could later have been disposed of for 150 pound per foot. Much development had taken place since 1925 and the business section of Campsie is one of the best in the metropolitan area. From Campsie's Past, A History of Campsie and Croydon Park NSW, Brian J. Madden and Lesley Muir

 

Ashbury:    Roslyn & Leith Streets

Roslyn & Leith Streets roughly follow the path of an old Aboriginal track which ran west from Long Cove Creek via Salt Pan Creek to the Georges River. The land was once part of the Canterbury Estate owned at the end of the 19th century by John Hay Goodlet. After his death his second wife subdivided and sold the land as a succession of separate estates. The eastern end of this precinct was actioned on 17th May 1924 as Goodlet's Estate no.6. The western end, Crieff Street to Croydon.  From "House Histories" compiled by past members of the Canterbury & District Historical Society

Belfield:     Clarence, Baltimore and Indiana Streets

These two former poultry farms totalling eight acres were consolidated into one holding in April 1929 by builders William Richard Henry Lalor and Ernest Hamilton Reid of Enfield. They subdivided the land into small allotments fronting the existing Clarence and Baltimore Streets, and created a new street, Indiana Avenue.

Lots 44,45,46,47,63,66,67,68 and 71 on both sides of Baltimore Street were first to be sold (1929-1930), probably as house and land packages. There were no further sales in the early years of the Depression, and in July 1933 several lots were transferred to Claude William Lillingstone Murchison of Rose Bay, grazier as a way of spreading the investment risk. In February 1934, many other lots were sold to Frederick Charles Robert Caines of Enfield, traveller. All these lots were bought back by Ernest Hamilton Reid, builder between February 1936 and the end of 1938.

The houses in Indiana Avenue and Clarence Street were built by Reid between 1935 and 1940 in his distinctive late Interwar bungalow style, with many variations in bricks and Art Deco headlight window. They were transferred gradually to their new owners, and mostly mortgaged back to Reid and to an Insurance Company, usually MLC or the CMLA, This appears to have been an early system of vendor finance.

ref CT.V1561f.222, v.4246 f110,4264 f.221-25-,v.4265 f.1-17       From "House Histories" compiled by past members of the Canterbury & District Historical Society

Ashbury

The area now occupied by Ashbury straddles part of the first four land grants of the Canterbury area. The upper third of Ashbury covers part of two land grants. The grants were made to James Hunt Lucas and John Clephan. Both men were Lieutenants of the First Fleet. The other two land grants were to Reverend Richard Johnson, Chaplain to the settlement of NSW arriving with the First Fleet.  Johnson's first land grant was for a farm of 100 acre and called Canterbury Vale. Part of Johnson's third land grant of 260 acres covers about half of Ashbury which he named Sheep Pasture Plains.

Excerpt from "Ashbury" Brochure available at Beulah Vista

Memories of Childhood - Leonard Walter Budd

Leonard Budd attended Belmore School, which was one of the first to have a Road Safety council. Leonard was the first president and went out after school to stand in the middle of Canterbury Road with a red flag to stop any cars. In 1931/1932 there weren't many cars to be stopped to allow the children to cross the road safely.

Leonard was one of four boys from the school who attended the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

At the end of primary school, Leonard was awarded his Q.C. (qualifying Certificate). He didn't go on to the Technical School, but was given permission to remain in primary school until he was old enough to leave.

Leonard's first job was with Bob Johnson on the milk cart. He received 5/- (50cents)  per week and a quart of milk (a little more than 2 litres). Each morning he would meet the cart in Harp St and they would deliver milk to the outskirts of Campsie, Belmore from the Lakemba side to the railway line, not as many houses as we have today.

Leonard was always barefooted no matter what the time of the year. The milk was warm as it was straight from the cows. The milk was stored in vats on the cart with taps at the back. Milk was measured in a quart or pint container and was put into a jug or billycan which was left outside each home. Often cans would be hung from nails inside the front fence or alongside the front door to keep them clear of animals.

The Tomkins Family

George Tomkins a stonemason built "Beulah Vista" in 1888. He married Florence Gifford in 1884 and they first lived in Petersham. Their doctor recommended that they move to Canterbury because of George's health, for this area was then considered to be one of the healthiest in Sydney.  George designed "Beulah Vista" as a replica of his childhood home in Dorset.  It is a Victorian two storey stone and brick house featuring a cedar timber staircase, cast iron valance and balustrade panels.

George and Florence had five children. Their son Sydney Tomkins was killed at Flers, France during WW1 in the winter of 1916.

The property is now owned by Canterbury Council and is the headquarters of the Canterbury & District Historical Society.

(from Historic Places in Canterbury Brochure)