Monday 23 December 2013

Australia's First Independent School: Old King's School Parramatta

Evolution of the place:

Pew – 1788: The Burramattagal people inhabit the area

1788:  Governor Phillip names the district Rose Hill due to its proximity to the river and lush landscape.

1806-1823: Rising land on the north side of the river is named Mount Betham by Governor Bligh.

1830-1831: The King’s School is established by Archdeacon Broughton.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Australia’s Retail History - the David Jones building Parramatta

David Jones car park, 1969, Parramatta City Council Archives

The David Jones building on Church Street Parramatta was a permanent fixture since the early 1960’s and was seen as a bright star in the DJ’s galaxy. Yet over the years this shining light unfortunately lost most of its sparkle and in September 2002 the Daily Telegraph even referred to it as being a … dark and spooky store.  In June 2013 the Meriton group had started the demolition of the building ending a part of Australian retail history.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Upjohn House - A Rare Reminder of Victorian Residences of the Period

Front view of ‘Upjohn House’, 1993, Parramatta Heritage Study: Inventory Photo No-335
The house at 59 (formerly 55) Kirby Street, Dundas, known as “Upjohn House”, is significant because it is one of the earliest houses built in the area and is a rare reminder of the Victorian residences of this period.[i]

The original 11 acres along Subiaco Creek was granted to James Warman on 7 July 1835.[ii] Warman was one of the first settlers in the district and possibly the organist at St Anne’s Church in neighbouring Ryde.[iii] 

The 1880s saw the first encroachment of suburbia into this otherwise rural setting. “Upjohn House”, or as the house was originally called, “Netherlands” [iv]  was constructed around 1885.[v] It was one of three villas built by a Mr. Brown which are all situated within view of each other. One is located at Marsden Road, Mobbs Hill, the second is used as a Cumberland Builders Bowling Club, in Dora Crescent, and the third is Upjohn House.[vi]

Wednesday 4 December 2013

The Parramatta and District Historical Society, 100 Years Old. Looking back to its beginnings.

Hambledon Cottage, home to PDHS
Parramatta Heritage Centre
On 4 December 2013 the Parramatta and District Historical Society (PDHS) will celebrate its Centenary. It is the second oldest historical society in NSW preceded only by the Royal Australian Historical Society founded in 1901.

The Society was formed at a public meeting on 4 December 1913 following several years of agitation by prominent members of the community. Its formation could be considered overdue recognition of the unique position Parramatta and district occupied within Australian history. Parramatta was 125 years old when the PDHS was created, still quite young in historical terms, but having achieved a great deal worth preserving and recording.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

World War One Trophy Guns for Parramatta

105mm L22 Howitzer, presumed to be similar to the Parramatta Trophy Gun,

At the end of World War One a number of weapons captured form German, Austria/Hungary, and Turkish forces were rounded up to serve as gifts to townships across Australia. While committees were set up to oversee the distribution to townships and cities some of these were selected to form what is now the Australian War Memorial collection, and others were given to Army units linked the guns capture. It was also suggested that some of the smaller weapons be allocated to schools, although it appears the then Minister of Education stepped in to stop this happening.[i] Even so guns did find their way to Scouts groups and to some private schools, like King’s College.

Friday 29 November 2013

'Estella' Private Hospital, Parramatta 1920 -1953

"Willow Grove", 34 Phillip St, Parramatta (2013)
Locals may be aware that  'Willow Grove' was once a private hospital known as 'Estella' or 'Nurse Davidson's Private Hospital' but we thought others may be interested in the background of this heritage listed building nestled in the heart of Parramatta City.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Overview of innovation in the heritage sector

Decades of Technology, image by vanhookc,2011

As part of my University industry placement at the Parramatta Heritage and Visitor Information Centre I was tasked with investigating the innovative use of technology and the internet in the heritage sector. 

This overview looks at what is currently being done in museums and at some of the technologies that may be of use to museums and the heritage sector in the future. It is not comprehensive but is meant to provide a starting point for others using technology and online packages in innovative ways to benefit their community. 

This document includes a list of links to information can be used build knowledge in the areas technology and innovation for museums, heritage centers, local history and family history libraries.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Parramatta Hails It's Golden Girl Betty Cuthbert

Betty Cuthbert won a place in the hearts of Australians after winning  three gold medals in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics . Winning the 100m, 200m and 100m team relay, the blue eyed girl from Ermington was the first Australian ever to win three gold medals at a single Games, earning the title of the nation's Golden Girl. 

Sunday 10 November 2013

The History of The Vineyard and Subiaco Estate – Rydalmere

View of Vineyard, Parramatta, between 1851 and 1858, image State Library of New South Wales

The Darug people

The Darug people, who are also referred to as the Dharruk, Dharung, Dharrook, Darrook, Dharug and the Broken Bay tribe, are the traditional owners of the Rydalmere area [1]. The Darug nation spans from Broken Bay to the northeast, the lower Blue Mountains to the west, the Southern Highlands to the southwest and the Illawarra to the southeast. John McClymont relates that "the traditional landowners, the Darug speaking Aboriginal Wallumetta clan, had subsisted for hundred's of centuries along the northern banks and hinterland of the Parramatta river… The clan ranged westward as far as the Subiaco and Vineyard Creeks where the Wallumettagal held corroborees on land granted to Phillip Schaeffer."

Tuesday 5 November 2013

The Parramatta Female Orphan School

On 13 May 1787, the First Fleeters sailed from Portsmouth Harbour - 1530 people consisted of officials and their wives, marines and their wives, the ships’ crews, male and female convicts, and children.

Total forty five children landed at Sydney Cove in 1788. These were the sons and daughters who were born during the voyage, or accompanied their parents on board the ships at Portsmouth. Twenty-three were the children of marines and ten were born during the voyage. The remaining twenty-two were the children of women convicts, and eleven of these children were born during the voyage to Australia.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Roxy Theatre - Australian Cinema Entertainment Program 1930s

Held in the cultural collection at the Parramatta Heritage Centre is an entertainment program from the Roxy Spanish Theatre.  This booklet lists a program of entertainment including a range of 1930s movies such as This is the Night with Cary Grant and No More Orchids with Carol Lombard.  There are many other films listed on the packed program as well as boxing matches, wrestling, vaudeville and an organ recital.

The Roxy Theatre opened on 6th February 1930 with a packed audience coming to watch Maurice Chevalier’s, Innocents of Paris.  An interested crowd of several thousand observed the proceedings in the street opposite.  The Roxy is one of the few remaining examples of the “Picture Palaces” that were built between the wars. 

Sunday 27 October 2013

Parramatta On Parade! 150th Anniversary Celebrations - 1938

It promised to be an event of a spectacular nature seldom before seen in Australia. Ten days of pageantry and carnival  at Parramatta from 27 October to 5 November 1938 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the second oldest settlement in Australia.

Poster publicising the Anniversary Celebrations
PRS16/001 Parramatta Council Archives
A management committee made up of leading figures from the district was formed a year before the event to begin the final preparations for an event that promised to produce a "galaxy of entertainment and historic features". It was an impressive array of entertainment which included a, Military Tattoo, Police Carnival, Chinese Fireworks Display, Dancing Under the Stars, Period Costume Garden Party, Venetian Carnival on the River, Swimming Fetes, Sports Gymkhana, Orange Festival, Street Parades, Massed Band Concerts, Grand Prix, and a Wild West Rodeo. There was even a Coronation Ball in which the Queen of Parramatta would be crowned.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Faust - an individual sense of style.

Ceiling Mural by Joseph August Faust, Collection of Parramatta Heritage Centre

There is much we don’t know about Joseph August Faust.  What we do know is that he was born in New York in 1871, of German heritage and spent his childhood in Pittsburgh.  He migrated to Sydney in 1887 and was working as a painter and decorator in 1890.  His first marriage to Mary Sparrow was in 1895 and they had a son Joseph Paul.  Mary died in 1925 and he subsequently married Beatrice Inch in 1929, followed by Ita Reeves in 1937.  He died in 1939 aged 67. 

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Parramatta No Longer a Town!

"NO longer a town! A City! That is the State Government’s present to Parramatta on its 150th birthday..." proudly declared a Sydney newspaper.1 And what a timely gift it was for Parramatta, when in 1938, on the eve of Parramatta's 150th birthday celebrations, the Parliament of NSW bestowed on Parramatta the status of City.

Tablet on the front of Parramatta Town
Hall  commemorating the proclamation of
Parramatta as a City and its 150th
Anniversary. Photo Peter Arfanis
For Parramatta it was a coming of age, a symbolic event that elevated Parramatta from being a suburb to City. But even though the headlines claimed this was a "present" for Parramatta, its elevation was deserving and did not come without a fight. As if it was a test of the resolve of Parramatta's character numerous requirements and red tape threatened to derail Council's attempt to be declared a city.

The Cumberland Argus, a key agitator for Parramatta's elevation to city status wrote; 

Whatever red tape may have required, commonsense and justice demanded due recognition of Parramatta's historic importance and of the great part it played in laying, as it were, the foundation stone on which this great Commonwealth has been built.2

Four months earlier, when momentum was building for a decision to be made, the Cumberland Argus had dared the state's leaders to act when it declared; 

The Mayor and Council of Parramatta, 1938

The Council of Parramatta, hand coloured silver gelatin print, photograph by Howard Harris, 1938
The men in this photograph were responsible for three seminal events in 1938. The first was the organisation of Parramatta’s sesquicentennial celebrations. Work on this had started 4 years earlier and the thousands who lined the streets were testimony to its success. The second was the successful campaign by the Mayor and Aldermen for Parramatta to be recognised as a city. This occurred on 27 October 1938.

The final event was the ‘Robing of the Mayor’ mentioned in the photograph’s title. Alderman Jeffrey successfully moved, “...that in order to bring Parramatta into line with the leading
municipalities of the State and add to the dignity of the position, robes of office, be provided for the Mayor and Town Clerk.”

Sunday 20 October 2013

Parramatta Agricultural Societies and Shows

On 5th July 1822, an inaugural meeting was held at the residence of James Robertson, jeweller and watchmaker, at 96 George Street, Sydney that the first Agricultural Society of N.S.W. was formed by a group of the colonial's elite including landowners, stock owners, and merchants. It would become the second agricultural society in Australia after the formation of the Van Diemen's Land Agricultural Society (the current Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania) on 8th December 1821.

Saturday 12 October 2013

The Man They Couldn't Hang: Joseph Samuel.

Joseph Samuel lived a very eventful but short life. He arrived in Sydney in 1801 on the Minorca/Canada after being sentenced to seven years in England for larceny at the age of fourteen in 1795. 

His life in Sydney was one of petty crime and unfortunate associations.  The events leading up to his attempted hanging included a large cast of characters and involved a complex series of events that included a robbery and a grisly murder. 

Saturday 5 October 2013

The Ship's Bell, HMAS Parramatta III

Ship's Bell from HMAS Parramatta III. Parramatta Heritage Centre
The ship's bell has a centuries long tradition of use in navy and merchant ships. Bells are used for timekeeping, sounding alarms, and ceremonies, including baptisms. It is Navy tradition for a ship’s bell to be used only for the one dedicated ship. Each new ship commissioned has a new bell.  

A ship’s bell is usually made of brass or bronze and inscribed with the commissioning date of the ship to which it belongs. It is unique to the ship and commemorates the service of that ship. In the possession of Parramatta City Council is the ship's bell from HMAS Parramatta III which was commissioned on 4 July 1961 and decommissioned on 11 January 1991. Parramatta III was the first of the Type 12 frigates built in Australia and saw active service during the Vietnam War as an escort for the fast troop transport HMAS Sydney and also patrol duties during the Indonesian Confrontation between 1964 and 1965.

Friday 4 October 2013

The HMAS Parramatta Memorials, One and Two.

The stern of HMAS Parramatta I which forms the Memorial
at Queens Wharf, Parramatta. Photo Peter Arfanis

With the upcoming HMAS Parramatta IV Freedom of the City Parade fast approaching it is worth paying a visit to the two HMAS Parramatta Memorials at the Queens Wharf, Parramatta.

The two HMAS Parramatta Memorials commemorate the service of all the ships to bear the name Parramatta in the Royal Australian Navy. The first of the ships was the torpedo boat destroyer which served with distinction in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean in World War I. The second ship, a sloop, served in the Far East, Red Sea and the Mediterranean. She was sunk by the German submarine U559 off Tobruk on 27th November, 1941. One hundred and thirty seven of her crew were lost in the action. Only twenty four crew survived. The third Parramatta, a destroyer escort, was commissioned in 1959 and  decommissioned in 1991. The fourth Parramatta was launched in the year 2000 and is still in service.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Fast and Furious. The 1938 Parramatta Grand Prix

Leaflet advertising the Parramatta Grand Prix.
Courtesy of Brian Darby's "Aussie Road Racing"
It was perhaps the first time such an event was to be held in Sydney - a Grand Prix in Parramatta Park. The event, conducted under the auspices of the NSW Light Car Club and Empire Speedways was to be held on 5 November, 1938, the finale of a series of events as part of Parramatta’s week long 150th Anniversary celebrations.

Interest from drivers and the public was enormous. Twenty five entries were received and included English driver Peter Whitehead fresh from his Australian Grand Prix win at the newly completed Mount Panorama circuit, Frank Kleinig (holder of the Australian speed record at that time),  Les Burrows and Hope Bartlett. Jack Saywell’s Alfa Romeo capable of speeds of up to 240 kph and John Snow’s Delahaye, two of the fastest cars to have been brought into Australia were also set to oppose each other at the Parramatta Park track, described as being ideal with a good straight and challenging corners.

A grandstand with a capacity for 1100 spectators was built at the start-finish line, one thousand reserve tickets had been sold and about 50,000 people were expected to turn up to watch this historic and adrenalin charged event.

Leading up to the race the safety of the track was reviewed and was tested by several drivers in the presence of police officers on Thursday 3 November 1938. Drivers had been practicing and all was ready for the first Grand Prix to be held in Sydney

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Boxing Match, Baulkham Hills, Jack Kable v George Glew, 1827

A typical 19th-century boxing match, often held in warehouses, courtyards of inns, or in open fields away from the eyes of local authorities. This painting was by boxer Jim Byrne's friend Jem Ward
The following blow-by-blow description of a boxing match at Baulkham Hills, near Parramatta, was taken from 'The Australian' and gives us an insight into the popularity of boxing in Colonial Sydney and the colourful language of the times. Jack Kable came to the attention of the press after beating Bill Clark in five rounds in a boxing match on Parramatta Road on 20 February 1824 and later he beat Joe Dargin at the Windsor Racecourse in 11 rounds.

"Black spirits and white, Red spirits and grey, Mingle, mingle, mingle, Mingle while you may."  
News of this long since anticipated ,"turn-up" being chalked down as a "dead certainty" for Monday morning last, spread like wild fire in a drouthy summer, and set the Sydney "kiddies" on their pivots all Saturday and Sunday. Every "gymnastified" amateur, each gentle and simple flat and knowing "un" that could muster a "prad," a "shay," or a "heavy drag," might be seen and heard, " like claps of thunder," rattling their "tits" along the streets and off along the Parramatta-road from peep o'day on Sunday, and for 3 or 4, and more than 20 hours after: and many a " cove " that would not, or could, not raise the wind, toddled it on " shanks mare," with, or without a "pal" to while away the journey.

Friday 20 September 2013

The Centennial Baths of Parramatta

The Centennial Baths Building on the left of the
Lennox Bridge, currently the site of the Riverside Theatre.
(State Library of Victoria H91.300/394)
By the early 1880s the residents of Parramatta felt it was time they had facilities for bathing. The river was polluted and the youth of the town had little chance to "practice the noble art of swimming." Council felt it couldn't waste any time to have "these necessary adjuncts to cleanliness and health erected".1 A deputation led by Mayor Joseph Booth waited on the Colonial Secretary on 15 June 1883 to request that a Bill be introduced to release a portion of land originally set aside for use as a market. The land in question is the current site of the Riverside Theatre next to the Lennox Bridge.

While there was urgency on the part of Parramatta Council to have the baths erected the process of passing the Bill was slow. In 1886 Mr Hugh Taylor, M.L.A., moved to bring in a Bill that would allow the Council of the Borough of Parramatta to construct and maintain a public baths and to borrow money to do so.  

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Parramatta's Rangihou Reserve and its Maori History

Rangihou Reserve and vicinity, Parramatta, Google maps, September, 2013 

The Rangihou Reserve in Parramatta was central to Maori activity in Australia in the early 1800s. This was mainly due to the support and encouragement of Samuel Marsden who set up a school and farm to be used by his Maori visitors. The site he chose was in the area surrounding the Rangihou Reserve, originally the territory of the Barramattagal clan of the Darug people.

Friday 23 August 2013

The Intercolonial Juvenile Industrial Exhibition, Parramatta and the Discovery of a New Talent

Front cover of  the Regulations for the guidance of exhibitors
State Library Victoria
Recently uncovered in a box amongst a number of publications at the Heritage Centre was an 1884 minute book of the organising Committee for the Intercolonial Juvenile Industrial Exhibition, Parramatta. The discovery of the minute book brought to our attention a significant and newsworthy event seemingly ignored in the history books on Parramatta.

The purpose of the Intercolonial Juvenile Industrial Exhibition was to provide boys and girls with unrecognized talents opportunities to show their capabilities and encourage personal growth and development. However, it was at the catastrophic expense of another institution that Parramatta was presented with the opportunity to hold this event. Initially plans were made for a Sydney Juvenile Industrial Exhibition to be held at the magnificent Garden Palace but unfortunately plans were “...thrown into disarray. At about 5.45 on the morning of Friday 22 September, 1882, the night watchmen on duty...entered the Garden Palace building and noticed smoke rising from beneath the statue of Queen Victoria. Within minutes the fire was so strong they were forced out of the building and within hours the whole building was levelled.”1

Wednesday 21 August 2013

A Chronological History of the Parramatta Female Orphan School

Female orphan School, Parramatta, 1870-1875, photographer American & Australasian Photographic Company

1791    60 acres allotted to Surgeon Thomas Arndell on north bank of Parramatta River, 
             east of Rose Hill (Parramatta).

1810  150 acres set aside for an Orphan School at Arthur’s Hill encompassing the former Arndell estate.

Tom Thompson Mural

Tom Thompson, Mural, Parramatta City Council, 2013
Hidden away in the old Council Chambers Building at Parramatta, is a colourful mural by Tom Thompson.  It depicts various colonial views and significant historical figures of Parramatta.  The mural is very large measuring 632 cm (w) x 183 cm (h), painted in watercolour or gouache straight onto an internal plaster wall. The mural was commissioned in 1957 to celebrate the opening of the Council Chambers building in May 1958.

The 'Red Cow' Inn Parramatta

Red Cow Inn, Parramatta
In colonial times most visitors to Parramatta would have had to choose between stopping over at one of its two most famous inns, The ‘Red Cow’ or the ‘Woolpack’. The first of these stood at the rear of the site of the present Commercial Bank in George street. While the name ‘Red Cow’ seems a little prosaic it was actually a very literal reference to the many red cows grazing in the pastures around the newly formed town. The earliest reference I could find to the inn was an 1803 advertisement posted by John Williams, a draper, who advertised his shop as being ‘... opposite the RED COW.’ One of its earliest functions was a supper held within its walls in October, 1814, to celebrate the victories of Wellington over the Napoleonic forces in Spain

Monday 5 August 2013

St John's Cathedral, Parramatta

St John's Cathedral, 1913, from publication Centenary Celebration's, Anglican Church, Australia, Heritage Centre Collections, Parramatta Council 
This site located just a few minutes from the Parramatta train station is the oldest church site in Australia in continuous use and is a significant component of the evidence of the early township of Parramatta.