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.