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