From the Windsor & Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 13 January 1900
To wind up the picnic held in connection with the R. C. Church on New Year’s Day, a dance was held at night which was very largely attended. The following ladies were present :- Misses I. Kane, black skirt, pink blouse; Hickey, buttercup and black; Wheeler, white; Campion, white and buttercup; Standford, white; E. Hickey, white skirt, silk blouse; M. Hickey, holland, white braid; J. Kane, green and white; Joseph, green and floral muslin; R. Miller, white; P. Marlin, white;
R. Hendy, white and pink; P. Wonson, cream nuns veiling; Flannigan, cream silk; M. Mason, white; D. Bush, cream and green trimmings; Mesdames Amour, Morrison, E. Stanford, McCutcheon, Butel, Skinner, Preston, Cobcroft, Freeman, Mercer, Ritchie, and a host of others. Splendid music was provided, and a good night’s amusement was afforded to all.
A game of ‘two up’ as reported in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette 10th December, 1910.
An awkward squad of 11 men from Riverstone filed into the court to answer a charge of playing a game in a public place, to the annoyance of the public. They were some of the ‘boys’ from Riverstone meat works, looking very sorry, and were prepared to plead guilty.
It seems 1st Class Constable Auckett, in company with Constable Langley from Rouse Hill made a raid at the balmy hour of 3-00 am and were mingling with the men around the ring before they were aware of it.
Mr Walker— who appeared for the defendants, said these men were all respectable and had never been in trouble like this before. While work was going on at the meat works, a certain time elapses while they are waiting for the trucks. There was an electric light which gave plenty of light, and the men were just having a game while waiting for something to do. It was similar to having a game of cricket in the street. They were on meat works property and got together to have a game. Some of the men charged were taking no part in the game, but were only looking on.
They have all pleaded guilty rather than offer a defence. If there was a small fine inflicted, he promised on behalf of the men, that they would never indulge in the game again. The maximum fine is 2 pounds, but he thought if a nominal fine of 1 shilling was inflicted it would meet the case; and be sufficient to make the men refrain from playing the game again. They were not blaming the police, and were sorry for what they had done.
Senior Sergeant Norris — Two up has been going on there for the past three months, and he would ask for a more severe penalty.
Mr Walker— Some of the men have only been there three weeks, and there have been no prosecutions before. The P.M. said that on assurances given, he would treat the men leniently. If they carried on in the game the police would take more drastic action. The police had been very generous, as he understood they could have laid further charges. He would inflict a fine of two shillings and six pence, with six shillings costs.
All the ‘boys’ looked startled at the leniency of the court and got out quickly. As a sum of three shillings and tuppence had been seized Snr Sgt Norris wanted to know what to do with it. It was decided to hand it over to Windsor Hospital.
The police are to keep the ‘kip’ as a remembrance of the event.
From the Windsor & Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 3 February 1900.
A RIVERSTONE INDUSTRY
During a recent visit to Riverstone we looked in at Mr H. J. Williams’ smithy. In addition to the blacksmithing business, Mr Williams goes in for the wheelwright’s business, and we had often heard of the good vehicles he turns out.
He does tyring work on a new plan of his own invention, which undoubtedly possesses many advantages over the old system. The platform is a cast iron plate 3 inches thick and 7 feet across. As soon as the heated tyre is put on the wheel, the platform is flooded by means of an ingenious device. A large square box is by means of a lever sunk into a pit filled with water, which flows over on to the platform, the water supply coming from a brick tank 10 x 12.
There is no smoke or charring of the wheel as under the old plan, and we were informed that a tyre 3½ in. x 1½ in. can be put on without any inconvenience in the way of smoke, or any damage being done by burning. Mr Williams pointed out to us the frame of a cart which hung in his shop. It has been there four years without paint, varnish or oil, and it is impossible now to see where the joints went together.
One of the best spring carts in the district is that which was turned out of this establishment for Mr James Ouvrier. This is said by competent judges to be a fine piece of workmanship. Seven new drays have recently been turned out for Mr Ouvrier and one for his brother, Mr John Ouvrier, of Windsor, and they are admitted to be as good as anything in the country.
Messrs James Kilnane and W. Fitzgerald have sulkies made at Williams’ factory which would be a credit to any tradesman, and we heard of another of his sulkies which has been running for seven years without having the tyres cut.
Horse-shoeing is also a branch of the business, and in this line, too, Mr Williams is a competent tradesman. In fact there is no manner of work in the trade of blacksmithing, wheelwrighting, and painting vehicles that he cannot do, and such a good all-round tradesman deserves to be patronized.
People often speak of the special character or feel about Riverstone. Some of the character of the town extends to animals and when ‘Prince’, a well known local dog died in 2004, the following article appeared on the noticeboard in Marketown. It brings a tear to the eye.
Last Thursday, 18th November, Riverstone lost a special character – Prince – ‘the Commonwealth Bank Security Dog’ died. A title created for him, and printed on his dog tag, by the engraver who had a stand outside the bank. Prince was a unique dog who could only exist in a small community like Riverstone. Some 12 years ago he was a stray who shared his time between the Bank, the TAB and the hotel. He decided to adopt a family in West Parade and although he settled into his new home, he already had a busy life of his own in the town and no fence could contain him. After the family left for work and school each morning, he would jump the fence and make his way to his position in the bank. He had a calm and loving nature and welcomed the attention of a generation of toddlers as their parents did the banking.
During the day he would do his rounds, visiting the takeaway food shops and the greyhound/pet shop in Pitt Street for a chat and snacks. Later in the day he would move over to the TAB where staff and patrons would welcome him. The TAB was Prince’s second home and there was always a bowl of water, light snacks and a kind word for his free spirit; although in later years when his arthritis became very bad they had to limit the treats as he had to keep his weight down to keep the strain off his back. When Prince had a bad fall a few years ago, it was the TAB who took up a collection to help pay his vet’s bill.
The doctors and nurses at the Riverstone Veterinary Hospital have been extremely kind to Prince over the years. In 2002 Prince’s family had to go up north for a funeral and Prince had been booked into the vet’s for a stay. He couldn’t be found when the departure date came and it was a family friend who finally found him lying in the culvert opposite the hotel. Geoff Gibbons, the vet, carried him out and took him back to his surgery where Prince’s indomitable courage and good nursing from the staff gave him a second chance.
He was never quite as strong after his fall, particularly over the last six months when he couldn’t jump the fence any more, but he was always on the look out for an open gate so he could shuffle over to visit his friends at the TAB. One of the nurses at the Vet’s tells a story about stopping the City train as Prince struggled across the road.
On behalf of Prince we would like to thank the people of Riverstone for their kindness over the years. He will be sadly missed.
I have fond memories of the Wattle Milk Bar in the 1960s and 70s. The Wattle was a place of treats like milk shakes served in metal containers drunk through a paper straw. (With that special satisfaction of ‘slurping’ the last of the contents hoping that your mother didn’t hear you.)
Who can forget ‘Big Charlie’ bubblegum with thirty centimetres (or a foot back then) of bubblegum that made your jaws tired to chew? Choo Choo bars, little lolly cigarettes in a cardboard packet, Redskins and Milkos. Football cards, with a thin stick of bubblegum and the aim to collect the whole series then turn the cards over and put together a complete picture of the previous grand final. (Did anybody ever achieve this?)
Merchandising extended from football cards through to Coca Cola and Fanta yo yos and later “Ding Bats”. All purchased from the Wattle with carefully saved money.
My mother recalls her father and uncle buying lollies for the family on a Friday night on their way home from work in the 1930s. For over fifty years residents of Riverstone shopped at the Wattle Milk Bar, but the retail history of the site extends back even further.
According to Clarrie Neal, the Wattle site is thought to have been the location of the first store in Riverstone, when J. J. Lepherd set up a store in a tent in the 1880s. Next Alfred Bambridge and Mr Taylor built a two storey general store on the site. They were later brought out by Llewellyn John Darling who enlarged the store in 1893.
Mr Darling sold the lease to M. M. Cohen who in 1923 sold to Lyle Rosenthall and Stewart Filmer, the store known as ‘Lyle Stewarts’. When Mr Rosenthall bought out the Filmers the store became known as ‘Lyle Rosenthalls’. They sold groceries, papers, mercery, drapery, medicines, shoes etc. In 1929 Rosenthalls moved to new premises on the corner and the old double storey shop was taken over as a milk bar by Mr and Mrs Morgan, with the Gough family occupying an adjacent store.
In 1932 the shops were destroyed by fire. The ferocity of the fire was described in a report in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette of 9 September 1932: ….The outbreak was the most spectacular seen at Riverstone for many, many years, and completely reduced the two buildings to ruins. Scores of people turned out to the fire, the majority clad in their night attire. The heat from the burning building was so terrific that people were unable to pass along the footpath on the opposite side of the road without being severely scorched….
Until a new building was constructed by local builder Ray Vaughan, the Wattle operated in temporary premises as the following ads in the Church of England paper The Church News show.
The next operator of the Wattle was Mrs Roberts. Clarrie Neal records that the Wattle was… Occupied by Mrs Roberts until 1942, when it was taken over by Horrie Kelly and his wife Pat. Horrie was a building contractor from Punchbowl engaged to build the new incinerator for the Meatworks in the paddock opposite Hobart Street. Horrie used to go to this milk bar for his lunch every day, with the conversation between him and Mrs Roberts leading to an unusual swap. The house at Punchbowl was swapped for the Wattle Milk Bar and residence at Riverstone. Mrs Kelly operated the milk bar and delicatessen until 1952, with staff including Jean Phillis and Judith Drake.
Noeleen Abell (nee Kelly) remembers moving to the shop in Riverstone: I was only five when we came to the shop at Riverstone around 1943. I remember it being very dark and dingy, with lots of cockroaches.
One thing that has stayed in my mind is the showcase that had the lollies in it. There was a block of wood in front of it that the children could stand on.
Mum put a lot of work into the place, cleaning it up, having it painted. She was very particular and she always had the place spotless. She also had a large refrigerator installed. It went across the length of the serving counter. It was quite something and people came from near and far to see it.
I only worked at the shop on a Saturday night at intermission and after the pictures and on Sunday. I didn’t ever get to see the end of a picture, Mr Murrell used to come and let me know when the picture was about to end and I’d rush down to the shop to get ready to serve. Milk shakes, ice cream and lollies were the most popular things. The Peters ice creams used to come in big green canvas bags cooled with ‘hot’ ice that steamed. People could buy milk from us, they used to bring their own billy for the milk to be ladled into.
Mum loved the footballers and young people. She used to put the raffle prizes in the window for people to see and she kept the shop open late on football training nights. She didn’t serve though, Bill McNamara and Brian Doolan used to get behind the counter and serve the customers while Mum did the cleaning or bookwork.
There was a little room at the end of one of the counters near the front window where the cold meat was stored. Through the week Mum made and sold sandwiches. She always made some sandwiches for Jockey Stephens, but she never charged him for them.
It was hard work and long hours operating a shop. We were open seven days a week. I can’t remember Mum, Dad and I sitting down to tea together as someone always had to be in the shop. Mum employed Mrs Martin up in Crown Road do our washing. The clothes used to be packed into a case and sent up on the bus of a Thursday night, then they’d come back washed and ironed, on the bus on Saturday night. After we sold the Wattle, we moved to the Carrington Hotel at Windsor.
Jean Strachan (nee Phillis) worked at the Wattle from 1949 until around 1954: The job was full time and I was there sometimes seven days a week and picture night as well. We used to be very busy in the afternoon as they got the crowd from the Works. Some went to the Pub but some who didn’t would come to the Milk Bar for a drink before they caught the train.
The set up was always much the same in the shop. You went in the front door and to the left were a few tables and there was a counter to the side with lollies. Then there was the main counter and over the other side there was another counter and they had a few groceries and there used to be a machine that used to cut the meat and the bread to make sandwiches.
They sold pies as well. The manager of the Commercial Bank, Mr Prior, used to come in for lunch every day. There was only him and one teller in the Bank in those days.
Some nights I’d be at the pictures and at interval I’d help out at the shop. I didn’t have to, but I’d go down there and they’d be flat out so I’d get in there and start serving. It just became a habit.
After Mrs Kelly got sick I worked there seven days a week. Horrie, Mr Kelly used to say to me ‘hold the fort’ and he’d be off for a drink and I’d be there until we closed up at nine o’clock at night. I’d be working from nine to nine. I’d put the day’s takings in a billy can in the kitchen.
Horrie Kelly was a good humorous type of bloke. He loved music and there used to be a program on the wireless, the John Harper show. It would have dance music and Horrie would be swishing over the floor with the mop to the music. Mrs Kelly used to come out and turn it off and tell him it was too noisy.
Around 1952 the shop was sold to Jim Donoukos and the Kellys moved to manage the Carrington Hotel at Windsor. In 1954 the Wattle was purchased by Jack Notaras. He kept the shop as it was and various members of the Notaras family worked there over the next 27 years. Finally they decided to close the shop in order to take a long earned rest.
In March 1981 the Wattle ceased to be a Milk Bar and the renovators moved in. Several months later, in May 1981, the premises opened as a hairdressers operated by Geoff Pfister.
Since then the shop has operated as a medical centre, clothing shop, manchester shop and now houses a home loan business. The building is still owned by the Notaras family, some fifty years after they purchased the original business. Although the Wattle has not operated for over twenty years, the name still brings back a lot of fond memories for several generations of Riverstone residents.
This article was compiled from information supplied by Clarrie Neal, Jean Strachan, Noeleen Abell and Emanuel Notaras.
A Wretched School of the Worst Bush Type
by Ron Mason
1848 was a turning point in the establishment of a general system of education in NSW. Four years earlier a Select Committee of Inquiry had found that 50% of children aged between four and fourteen were receiving no education. In an effort to redress this, a dual system of schools based on the Irish National system was established under two separate boards – a Board of National Education and a Denominational or Church School Board. The Denominational School Board created four separate administrative units representing each of the main denominations. At the time denominational schools were far more numerous than secular schools.
Just prior to this, the popular and visionary Irish priest John Joseph Therry and the settlers of Nelson and Rouse Hill contributed £13 8s for the erection of a chapel at Vinegar Hill which was to be known as St. Cosmos and Damien.1 There is no evidence that the chapel was ever built. However, in 1865 Archbishop Polding (the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney), Patrick Hallinan, (parish priest for Windsor) and Samuel Mason (a local farmer and a Protestant) purchased ¾ acre from Samuel Henry Terry for the erection of a school house which was also to serve as an occasional place of worship.2 The land which was part of Terry’s Copenhagen Estate was located in Old Pitt Town Road adjoining Samuel Mason’s farm, Iron Bark Park. The purchase price was ten shillings.
Twelve months later the school house and teacher’s residence were completed and the Denominational School Board approved the transfer of James Cusack and his stipend from the Cattai Creek Denominational School.3
According to family tradition, James Cusack was one of the Irish teachers recruited to teach in the colony by Archbishop Polding but like most family stories this is only partly true.4 Cusack did become a school teacher and taught several generations of children at Nelson and Cattai. However, there is no evidence to support the belief that he was recruited for this purpose in Ireland. Cusack arrived in Sydney as an assisted immigrant on board the bounty ship Fortune in 1853. He was 29 years of age, single, and although he identified himself as a farm labourer, he was able to read and write – skills which were sufficient for him to be accepted by the Denominational School Board as a pupil-teacher and after seven months training as the teacher at Cattai Creek.5
The new Nelson school cost £140 to build – a substantial sum in those days, and although a grant of £50 was sought from the Denominational School Board the Board only agreed to pay £40.6 The school room “was 12 foot x 17 foot [about 3.6 metres by 5.2 meters] in the clear and [the attached teacher’s residence] had four large rooms”. 7 It was built of “Posts and slabs, [had] 2 stone chimneys, [and a] roof [of] shingle.” 8 It also had a 5 foot wide verandah along its long side and a detached slab kitchen with a bark roof. On 22nd February 1867 J. Cobur inspected the new school for the School Board and provided a more detailed description:
“This school was established in December 1866; and was opened on 15th of that month. The number of scholars – of both sexes – present today was 30 – out of a total of 34 on the roll. The building is quite new, is used for Divine Service occasionally, constructed of wood, sufficiently large, well lighted and contains a dwelling – house of four rooms under the same roof. There is also the necessary offices at the rear.
The school furniture consists of two desks and six forms; of apparatus there is no sign; the stacks of books and map is very fair.
The work of teaching is carried on by a master [James Cusack], with the occasional help of his wife [Mary Brady]. Considering the short time the school has been at work and the backward state in which most of the pupils were found by this Master, his method of teaching and maintaining order may be called fair.” 9
By the standards of the day the Nelson School was reasonably well equipped. Not only did it have books and a map but in 1867 James Cusack requisitioned “a blackboard and small easel, 1 dozen 8 inch x 6 inch slates and a box of slate pencils”. 10
In 1880 the Public Instruction Act took effect – severing the tie between the church and state school systems and withdrawing state aid from church schools. As a consequence many church schools were transferred to the state. The Nelson School was no exception and late in 1882 Dr Sheehy, parish priest for Windsor, advised the Department of Public Instruction that the church was prepared to lease its Nelson school to the Department provided James Cusack was retained as its teacher. The Department agreed and a two year lease at an annual rental of £12 was signed on the 1st January 1883.11
Six months later James Cusack retired and subsequently built a cottage in Sydney Road Riverstone where he lived out his life. His contribution to the development of the Nelson-Cattai children is impossible to assess. However, one of his daughters and quite a few of his grandchildren and other descendants went on to follow in his footsteps by becoming teachers. Another of his grandsons, Frank Mason, was the long serving Town Clerk of Windsor.
Cusack was replaced by Mrs Sarah Sheehy. Sheehy did not adapt to conditions at Nelson very well. Six days after her arrival she wrote complaining that the Nelson school:
“…was a denominational school of the worst bush type and the wretchedness of itself and surroundings can scarcely be imagined…
A slabbed half roofless miserable hut for a school and no residence for me, except one slabbed room covered with calico to prevent a full view of the heavens above.” 12
Mrs Sheehy’s claims were refuted by the District Inspector and she was censured for gross misrepresentation. However, it is noteworthy that less than two years later when the school lease was being renegotiated the Department reported that the school buildings “are so wretched a character and so dilapidated [they] should not be leased for more than a year”. Notwithstanding this the Department agreed to lease the school for a further three years at an annual rent of £26. 13
Throughout this period the school was under constant threat of closure because it could not achieve a satisfactory level of attendance – a gross enrolment of 40 and average of 30. As early as 1878 the local Board was warned that the school’s certificate would be withdrawn. This may have been what prompted Mrs Sheehy to falsify the school attendances – a misdeed she was charged with only two months after her arrival. In her defence she wrote:
“There are three families, brother’s children named Mason, and two families of Smith’s brothers children coming to this school, each family of children bearing the same Christian name as their cousins, then I being a stranger and did not know one from the other and in my sad state of health the mistakes must be made in these cases.” 14
The Department was not persuaded by her excuse and transferred her to Lower McDonald Public School. At the time there were 44 pupils enrolled at Nelson – 27 Catholic and 17 Anglican and Wesleyan.
Pressure continued for the closure of the Nelson School. In 1888 a new school was opened at nearby Rouse Hill and the Department of Public Instruction was keen that the Nelson children should attend there. At the same time the lease on the Nelson School expired. The District Inspector reported:
“families of P. Hession, R. Smith, T. Hession, John Mason, James Mason and Robbins are clustered around the [Nelson] school, the children of the families of school age amount to, including R. Smith’s children, to 20; of these 17 would have to walk a little over two miles by road [to the new Rouse Hill Public School] but not so far across the paddocks.” 15
However, the Nelson community continued to resist all moves to close its school and as a consequence the lease was renewed.
In 1890 Robert Smith jnr wrote on behalf of the local community advising that it now supported the establishment of a new school at Nelson and that a one acre site was available at the Swinging Gate (in Nelson Road near Mark Road).16 The Department of Public Instruction acted on this advice but purchased a larger site of four acres from Bridget Hession and her son Thomas.17 It also accepted a tender of £328 10s from a Parramatta builder to construct the new school. 18
The new school was soon ready for occupation and on 30th June 1891 the old Denominational School closed and according to family legend, was dismantled and the timber slabs used to build Thomas Hession’s house in Nelson Road. However, in 1935 the Windsor & Richmond Gazette published an obituary for Annie Mason [the last of the Mason family to live at Iron Bark Park] in which it reported that “her parents Samuel and Harriet Mason, had built a school room and living room for a teacher…The old school still stands, strong and sound, after over 90 years.”
It is unlikely that we will ever know exactly what happened to the school, however, it would be surprising if it survived the disastrous 1939 bush fire that swept through Nelson and Box Hill destroying a number of farms including the Iron Bark Park and its out-buildings. We do know, however, that the school site remained in the ownership of the Riverstone Catholic Parish until 10th March 1984 when it was sold by public auction as a house site.
Student numbers at the new Nelson School declined and in 1902 the school’s inspector recommended that it be closed and the children transferred to Rouse Hill.
This was not, however, the end of the Nelson community’s struggle to retain its own school. In 1903 a scheme of Subsidised Schools was introduced to assist isolated families. To obtain a subsidy of up to £25 two or more families had to engage a private teacher and to provide the teacher with lodgings and a place to teach. In most cases the teacher was a young girl just out of school. In the early 1920s some of the Nelson settlers took advantage of this scheme and a Subsidised School was opened in the home of Mrs James Hynds jnr (formerly Carrie Roberts) – a feisty campaigner for the retention of a local school for the Nelson children. However, most subsidised schools had only a brief life and this was the case with the Nelson Subsidised School. The teacher at the school was a Riverstone girl and cousin of many of the surrounding families – Monica Mason. Monica taught for about two years before leaving in 1923 to pursue a career in nursing. She left with the good wishes and encouragement of William Kennedy the Parramatta Inspector of Schools who described her new career as “no nobler profession for a girl”. 19
1 List of subscribers for the erection of the Vinegar Hill Chapel, Sept. 1847, St. Patrick’s College Archives, Manly, Information supplied by Mary Rachael Mason. 2 NSW LTO, Book 96, No. 670, dated 29 December 1865. 3 NSW AO, Denominational School Board, Miscellaneous Correspondence, Application to establish a Den. School at Nelson, 14 December, 1866. 4 Oral Information supplied by Cass Mason (1891-1985), grand daughter of James Cusack and Rose Brady. 5 NSW AO, Miscellaneous Letters – Denominational School Board (185255), Minutes dated 7 December 1853 from Archdeacon McEncroe, 1/313. 6 op. cit. 7 op. cit. 8 op. cit. 9 NSW AO, Council of Education – Misc. letters, Vol. 14, 1/748, Report by Inspector J. Cobur, 22 Feb. 1867, p.268. 10 ibid, Requisitions for School Materials, 2 October 1867, pp. 269270. 11 NSW AO, Nelson School File, 5/17086.1 12 ibid, letter dated 16 July 1883, Mrs. S. Sheehy to Dr. Forrest of Balmain. 13 ibid, Inspector’s Report dated 2 March 1885 and Agreement dated 25 April 1885. 14 ibid, Evidence by Mrs. Sarah Sheehy dated 10 September 1883. 15 NSW, AO, Nelson School File 4/17086.1, Inspector’s Report dated 18 October 1888. 16 ibid, letter dated 4 July 1890. 17 NSW, LTO, No.314, Book 461. 18 NSW, AO, Nelson School File 4/17086.1 Inspector’s Report dated 28 August 1890. 19 Letter from William Kennedy Inspector of Schools to Monica Mason dated 7 April 1923.
The Davis family story begins in the late 1880s when William Davis (b.1857) and Mary Hannah Clemson (b.1867), of the Agnes Banks – Castlereagh area, married in Penrith and travelled to Dalmorton, near Grafton. It is not certain what work William undertook but it is known that he held several gold mining leases, so it is probable that he was prospecting at times.
It was at Dalmorton that their first seven children were born, with two of the boys dying in their infancy – George b.1896, d.1896, and William b.1897, d.1898. The five surviving children were Elvy Eliza b.1894, Edward (Ted) b.1899, Henry (Harry) b.1902, Archibald Cecil (Archie) b.1904, Robert (Bob) b.1907. Around 1908 William and Mary left Dalmorton with their family and moved to Gundy, near Scone, where William got a job on the Rocky Crossing contract.
It was at Gundy where their youngest child Eva Flora was born, on the 8th September 1909. Just six weeks after Eva’s birth, William developed pneumonia and died on the 18th October 1909, leaving Mary destitute with six young children to raise. With no relatives in the area to assist, the townspeople of Scone rallied to the aid of the family with various fund-raising events. In March 1998 the Scone District Historical Society published the following article in their Newsletter –
The Davis story is one of tragedy and a sympathetic district that rallied to help. William Davis and his family had only been in the district about 18 months when he sadly died from pneumonia on the 18th October, 1909, leaving a wife and six young children aged from six weeks to fourteen years old. They had no relatives in the locality so the people of the area started a relief fund for the unfortunate family.
Many people from all parts of the shire donated money and held fund – raising events such as socials, sports days, and band recitals. Collections were taken up in several of the shearing sheds of the district where shearing was in full swing at the time. People of all walks of life donated money or helped the plight of the grieving family in some other way.
A person was designated to take up collections in each area of the district for the cause. The money was deposited in the savings bank and a suitable allowance was made weekly to the family. Hundreds of pounds were donated. The family was living at Gundy where Mr Davis had been working on the just completed ‘Rocky Crossing’ contract. The widow and children continued to live at Gundy but eventually left and it is not known where they went.
Also with the above article, is a story of a sales docket from the Victoria Hotel, Moonan Flat, issued to Mrs M. Davis who purchased three pairs of trousers for ten shillings and sixpence, a packet of bobby pins for a penny, and traded in three possum skins for one shilling and three pence.
Greg Davis (a great grandson) who provided the Scone Historical Society with the sales docket, also has in his possession family records that show the community of Scone raised a total of 162 pounds ($324 ). This was a huge amount of money for those days, especially when one considers a house built 13 years later for the Davis family in Park Street Riverstone cost 110 pounds ($220).
Because employment opportunities for the boys were better at the meat works, Mary decided to move the family to Riverstone in c1911. Post cards in the family’s possession indicate the first house they rented was in Crown Road, with electoral records showing the family living in No. 8 Oxford Street from 1912 until they moved into their new home at 41 Park Street in 1923.
Besides caring for her family during the 1914 – 1918 War, Mary gave much of her time to helping the soldiers who enlisted from the district. At the end of the War, in 1919, the returned soldiers of the district presented Mary with a beautiful framed collage of themselves, inscribed with the words “Presented to Mrs. Mary Davis by the Returned Soldiers of Riverstone and District in appreciation of her voluntary services rendered during and on their return from the Great War 1914 – 1918”.
However, tragedy was again to strike the family when Mary died on the 16th October, 1921 at the age of 53. Mary was buried in the cemetery at Richmond. At 26 years of age, Elvy became the family ‘mother’, and at 21 years Ted became the family breadwinner, along with younger brother Harry. The family bought several acres of land bounded by Piccadilly, Market and Park Streets and built their new home at 41 Park Street in 1923 at a cost of 110 pounds ($220). Later they bought a paddock bounded by Piccadilly, Wood, and Elizabeth Streets.
No. 41 Park Street was to be the family home for the remainder of their lives, along with their orchard, poultry pens, a ploughed paddock for their crops, and a paddock for their horse and the milking cow. The four boys were held in high regard by the community for their hard working ethics, be it at home or at their workplace. Of the six children only Archie and Bob were to marry and leave that home. Elvy continued to care for the family until her death on the 13th June 1957.
Ted, Harry and Bob all spent most of their lifetime working on the mutton board at the meat works. Ted was a butcher, who for many years also worked week- ends doing the emergency slaughter of injured animals after they were unloaded from the stock trains.
In the late 1940s Ted did not take too kindly to the State Government Housing Commission wanting to resume his land in Wood Street, compensating him only a fraction of its real value. Ted discovered he was powerless to prevent the resumption. In the 1950s the Housing Commission wanted to resume the family’s other land surrounding their home in Park Street, again at a very low price. Ted resisted all their offers until 1962 when the family finally accepted the Housing Commissions offer.
However, it was to be poetic justice that in 1954 Ted won first prize of 6,000 pounds in the State Govt. lottery. Ted passed away on the 7th July 1961 and was buried in the Riverstone cemetery.
Harry was the most outgoing member of the family, involving himself with many of the towns organisations and sporting clubs. He played tennis and cricket, coached several of the ladies Vigoro teams when that sport was popular during the 1930s, and had a lifetime involvement with the Riverstone football club as a trainer and masseur.
Riverstone Rugby League Club in 1930 had such respect for Harry that they presented him with a Gold Medallion for his services to the club. This medallion is still often worn today by Greg’s wife.
In 1956 the club presented Harry with a blazer with pockets showing all the competitions Riverstone won from the 1930s through to the 1960s. The blazer is in immaculate condition and, having been donated by the Davis family to the Historical Society, is now on display at the local museum.
Harry was an active member of the Buffalo Lodge and also on display at the museum is his Initiation certificate. Many residents may not realise it but they have probably sat on Harry’s knee at some time in their lives, as he was the town’s Father Christmas for many years. Harry passed away on the 30th October 1964 and was buried in the Riverstone cemetery.
The third son Archie left school to work at the meat works for a short period before he decided to change his career. He left the meat works and began training to become a motor mechanic with Dalgetys, importers of the Essex motor cars. He later worked at Waddingtons, (later known as Commonwealth Engineering), and then at the Clyde Engineering factory.
He also worked for several years at Lopez Engineering in Sydney as a mechanic, and after completing his St. Johns Ambulance Certificate also as the company’s First Aid Officer. Another not so well known side to Archie was that at times he liked to write poetry.
Archie became recognised as one of the best mechanics in the district and started repairing cars in an old shed at the side of his home in Railway Terrace. Soon demand for his services became such that he left his job at Lopez and began working in this shed full time. Archie bought an Indian Scout motor bike in 1927 and was a familiar sight riding it around the streets of Riverstone.
Archie married Vera Gwendoline Woods from Pitt Town on the 21st March 1925 in Sydney. They eventually bought a house at 16 Railway Terrace, Riverstone and it was here they raised their four children May, Horrie b.16/6/1927, d.31/1/1967, Betty b.10/6/1934, and Fay b.8/2/1937. Archie died on the 4th March 1970 and was cremated at Pinegrove, Rooty Hill.
Bob was the third member of the family to work on the mutton board, and like Harry and Ted, worked most of his life there. During the slack season on the mutton board, Bob, to help the family budget, would work on the farms at Windsor picking such crops as corn, potatoes, beans, etc.
Bob married Enice Ida Watton on the 26th December 1931 and they lived in Castlereagh Street where they raised their son Alwyn. In 1950, Bob and Enice purchased land on the corner of Piccadilly Street and Park Street opposite the old family home, and built their new home.
Unfortunately Bob was never to live in their new home as he died on the 2nd October 1951, aged 44, and was buried in the Riverstone cemetery. Enice and her son Alwyn moved into the new home in January 1952 and Enice continued to live there until she passed away in 1990.
Following Elvys’ death in 1957, Eva continued to care for Ted and Harry in their Park Street home. After their deaths Eva lived alone, continuing her social activities and outings with the Senior Citizens Centre, though in later years she became housebound with arthritis. When she died on the 24th May 1987, she was buried in the Riverstone cemetery and, being the last member of that generation of the Davis family, the house was later sold, after 65 years of continual ownership.
The Davis family was a family that saved everything – postcards, newspaper clippings, charity day buttons and badges, trophies, medals, certificates, all sorts of trivia and memorabilia. There are show ribbons from the Riverstone shows held during the 1930s, cigarette card collections, birthday cards, a birds egg collection in a glass case that today adorns a wall in the home of Greg Davis.
Compiled by Clarrie Neal September 2000, from information and photos provided by Alwyn and Greg Davis, and Fay Graham (n. Davis).
During my search for information on the Windsor Police Station Hazel Brown from Richmond contacted me. At the time her name didn’t mean anything to me until she mentioned that her father had been a Policeman for many years. I was very interested when she said that he had been stationed at Windsor during the War years but what immediately caught my attention was when she mentioned that her maiden name was Crawford and all of a sudden the memories came flooding back. The only Policeman I ever remembered at Riverstone was Senior Constable ‘Charlie’ Crawford. Anyone who grew up in Riverstone from 1947-1955 will remember the tiny building that served as the Riverstone Police Station. This unique Police Station is now located at the Australiana Village at Wilberforce as a reminder of days past.
Just as familiar to the older residents is the Lock-up keeper who lived in the residence during those years, Senior Constable Charles ‘Charlie’ Crawford who for many years kept the lawbreakers of Riverstone in check.
Crime was not particularly rampant in Riverstone in those days, but drunks, fights, drowning, lost children, thieving and the odd domestic kept him occupied. Constables who assisted him over the years were Allen Sergeant, Colin ‘Babyface’ Evans and Karl Egeroff. Often however he went out by himself in his familiar motor bike and side-car. So over the usual ‘cuppa’ at her residence in Richmond, Hazel related her memories of her father’s years of service as Lock-up Keeper at Riverstone Police Station.
My father Charlie Crawford was a country boy born in Dubbo NSW on 9th September 1901. He and his wife Florence Alethea settled in Maitland where he worked on a farm. In 1933 with a wife and family to support and in search of a better life for them, he decided to join the New South Wales Police Force. He was a big man over six foot and well built; he maintained his fitness with strong
His training for the Police seems very frugal in comparison to to-day’s standards, six weeks at Redfern was all that he required and then in his new Police uniform, hand-cuffs, a Smith & Wesson pistol, a rubber baton and a Police whistle he presented himself at Parramatta Police Station for duty. His registered number was 2897. Dad rented a house there and so we moved to Parramatta and the family settled in.
Parramatta was not kind to Mum and Dad, they lost a baby son at five weeks old and not long after a three-year-old daughter. Deeply hurt by these events Dad applied for a transfer and in 1934 he took up General Duties at Windsor Police Station. While at Windsor he suffered the first of two motor bike accidents. Coming back from a duty run to Parramatta he attempted to pull over a drunk driver who refused to stop and rammed him into a guide post breaking his leg. He remained at Windsor until 1947 and then took up the Lock-up keepers job at Riverstone.
Originally the officer assigned to Riverstone was Constable Beyh who was being transferred from Coonamble. However when his wife visited the house at Riverstone she refused to live there, as there were only two bedrooms and they had a growing family. As we were grown up and on the verge of marriage and only our brother remained at home Dad, agreed to do a swap and move to Riverstone.
It is thought by some older residents of the town that the first Police Station in Riverstone was in Castlereagh Street the second house on the right hand side where Mrs Dan Doolan used to live. In the 1920s a new residence was constructed on half an acre of land on the corner of Railway Terrace and Elizabeth Street. On the western side of the house a small wooden building served as the Police Station. It was approximately 2m x 2m having room only for one desk, two chairs, a typewriter and telephone. An even smaller verandah across the front completed this unique Police Station.
The residence was originally built of brick with a slate roof, however in the 1980s the roof was stripped and replaced with tiles. A verandah with unusual curved walls, and a picket fence across the front completed the building. Although comfortable it was only four rooms with two stone cells at the rear. The front door opened onto a hallway, on the right hand side was the lounge room and second bedroom and the left hand side the main bedroom and the kitchen. The rear entrance to the house was via the kitchen. Outside the kitchen window was a well, which had been boarded up. Not long after the Crawfords moved in, a small bedroom was attached to the lounge room.
The residence at Riverstone did have its drawbacks, the main one being that prisoners had to be walked through the bathroom at the rear of the house to get them into the cells. Many were the times that a guest had to make a quick exit from the bath to enable a prisoner to be brought through. Also, if a particularly fractious prisoner kept banging on the cell door, anyone sleeping in the second bedroom was kept awake all night. Later on they moved the bathroom and added a new entrance to the cells with a closed in courtyard.
The people who occupied the cells were mostly drunks and two who are remembered by Hazel were ‘Jockey’ Stevens and ‘Poppy’ Cameron. Most offenders only stayed overnight and Mum would cook them a good breakfast in the morning, usually sausages, eggs, bacon, toast and a mug of tea.
Hazel also recalls: Often on a Friday night Dad would have to attend a local dance at the old RSL hall and no doubt there would be a fight. If the local boys thought that an outsider was paying too much attention to a Riverstone girl then a ‘blue’ would be on.
Dad always said to troublemakers when he stopped a fight, “If you’ve got any fight left in you come down to the station in the morning and meet me in the exercise yard.” I don’t recall anyone ever taking him up on this offer.
Dad was called out at all hours of the night often to Schofields where ‘Poppy’ Cameron lived with his Mother. If he was drunk and fighting Dad would go out in the middle of the night by himself, never knowing what he was going to find when he got there. He always had his gun and hand-cuffs with him but I don’t recall him ever using the gun. He was very protective of Mum who did not keep
very good health, so he got a kelpie dog named Pal to stay with her when she was by herself. Sometimes when he was out on a call, the locals would walk past and run a stick along the wooden fence, this drove Pal into a frenzy of barking.
It was while at Riverstone that Dad suffered his second motor bike accident. The sidecar came away from the bike when the coupling broke and Dad was thrown from the bike onto the road. The injuries he sustained eventually led to his retirement from the Force.
Hazel also recalled one of the saddest moments in 1951 when she came to Riverstone for six months to look after her Mother who was very ill. Constable Clive Williams had finished his shift for the day and as he was leaving the station on his motor bike she called out to him “Be careful”. He called back “only the good die young”. A few minutes later he was killed in a motor vehicle accident at Vineyards. The service took place at Windsor Methodist Church, it was a Police funeral, very impressive, and the biggest funeral in Windsor Hazel has ever seen.
Hazel continues: I often asked Dad in later years why he never applied to be a Sergeant and he replied that it wasn’t worth it for 6d (5c) a day extra and if he obtained a Sergeant’s position he would have had to leave Riverstone. However in 1955 it was decided to upgrade Riverstone station and therefore a Sergeant would be required to supervise. Dad then decided to transfer to Richmond Police Station.
On his departure from Riverstone the local Chamber of Commerce presented them with a silver tea service which I still have. Dad then transferred to Richmond Police Station and he and Mum lived in the old Police residence at North Richmond. It was here that Mum passed away. On 24 March 1957 my Dad, Senior Constable Charlie Crawford retired. He passed away at his sister’s house in Parramatta on 13 November 1965. His funeral service was held at St. Paul’s Church of England, Riverstone and he was laid to rest with Mum at Marsden Park cemetery.
For many years it was thought the Riverstone club was born in 1915; with the following article printed in Rugby League Week in July 1977.
Riverstone is a peaceful, sleepy little town lying at the foot of the famous Blue Mountains, 56 km west of Sydney. The Riverstone club was born during one of the most turbulent times in world history. As World War 1 broke out the Riverstone Butchers, as they became known, got off to a modest beginning, but no one knows exactly when the club was formed. The clubs records only go back to 1915 , but some claim the club was formed shortly before World War 1, others argue it was as early as 1911.
The Windsor & Richmond Gazette on the 28th April 1900 noted that 22 members held a meeting to form the Riverstone Football Club and the club’s colours were Blue, Black and Gold. However, as Rugby League was not played in Sydney until 1908, it is likely that this reference is to the Rugby Union code that was occasionally played in the district. Match results do not appear in the Gazette until 1907 when Riverstone played two games against Windsor and another against Glebe Island.
The following article appeared in the Gazette on the 3rd September 1910 – The Riverstone Football Club will hold their annual picnic at an early date, and in the evening a dance will be held. Mr Harry Smith will take the opportunity by presenting the best player during the season with a handsome trophy, which is now on view at the Riverstone Hotel. Thanks are due to Mr Smith.
Riverstone Rugby League Club has seen many changes in their 90 year history and have played in three district competitions. From its inception until 1946 it played in the Western Districts (under the control of Western Suburbs), from 1947 till 1966 it played in the Parramatta District , and has played in the Penrith district from 1967.
It is not certain what the club’s original colours were, some believed the guernseys were all maroon, others believed the club’s first colours were black with gold bands, old photographs seem to confirm both to be correct. An undated photo shows a plain guernsey and photos taken in 1922 clearly show the black and gold bands that were the colours until c1930 when it became a maroon guernsey with a gold V. The gold V remained until 1955 when it became a narrow gold band on the maroon.
The Butchers first two playing fields were cow paddocks, both located on the meat works property. It is believed their first field was at the rear of the houses in ‘Butcher’s Row’. Later they moved to another paddock, 200 metres down the road and opposite the railway station. The club used voluntary labour to build a pavilion on this ground which later became the site of the Riverstone Showground.
‘Tiger’ Locke, Claude Schofield, Dennis Rosa, Dick McCarthy and Dick McDonald were all players from this era who played grade football with Western Suburbs. ‘Tiger’ played for Wests in 1927 and was considered by many to be the best halfback to ever play in the district.
Life in Riverstone has always revolved around the Riverstone Meat Co. and over the years a large majority of the footballer players worked there – hence the club being known as the ‘Butchers’. Another identity from this era was Billy Teale, the undefeated AIF heavyweight boxing championwho was a regular player in the 1922 ‘A’ grade side. He later became a fight trainer and a referee at Sydney Stadium.
Teams playing in the 1920 Western Districts competition were Parramatta North, Parramatta Endeavours, Granville, Lidcombe, Auburn, Windsor, Wentworthville, Blacktown, St Marys, Emu Plains, Penrith and Riverstone.
The club had many successes in these early years winning the ‘A’ Grade competition three years in succession, 1931-2-3. Their ‘C’ grade team won the competition three years in a row, 1937-8-9. These ‘C’ grade teams featured such names as McCarthy, Ward, Asher, Anderson, Drayton, Whelan, Schofield, and McNamara and were coached by ‘Tiger’ Locke.
Frank Crowley, (who was better known as Toodles), wrote in an article in the Penrith book ‘Bound For Glory’ recalling the old pavilion being built. He also recalled Riverstone’s ‘Mr Rugby League’, Basil Andrews building the showers at the end, and the copper boiler that was used to supply the hot water (sometimes).
This pavilion was moved to the site of the present ground in the 1940s by placing it on log rollers and a truck owned by Dick Stacey was used to drag it across Garfield Road. to the site of the present oval. The stand remained there until it was reduced to ashes one bonfire night.
Frank recalled the club in the 40s attracting crowds of 300 – 400 to their home games, a very good crowd for those days, with the club being able to buy new guernseys, to replace the old ones that had become tattered and faded. Over the years Riverstone was very fortunate to have the services of committee men of the calibre of Frank Crowley, Basil Andrews and Charlie Harris, all of whom gave a lifetime of service to Rugby League.
Frank Crowley, after playing football, was club Secretary for many years, became a referee, and remained a club official in his later years. As a reward for all these years of service to Rugby League, Frank was made a Life Member of the Riverstone Club. He was also made a Life Member of both the Parramatta and Penrith District Junior Rugby Leagues for his efforts to those clubs.
Basil Andrews was a foreman at the meat works and the club secretary who was born about the same time the club was founded. Basil was considered to be one of the ‘fathers of the club’; such was his love for the Butchers that while fighting with the AIF in New Guinea he sent money back to Australia to buy a shield for which clubs from the Western Suburbs could compete. He spent much of his time working for the Riverstone club and was rewarded with Life Membership.
Basil Andrews was also made a Life Member of the Parramatta Junior League and later became the Penrith Junior Leagues first Life Member; a just reward for the many hours he spent working for the Junior Leagues in the district. Charlie Harris, after many years service to the Riverstone Club and to the Penrith J.R.L. was another who was rewarded with Life Membership of both organisations.
One of the Butcher’s most colourful supporters was a Mrs Britton, an elderly lady who always sat in the same spot on the sidelines at the Riverstone games. Mrs Britton was regarded as a health hazard to the opposition players. She often used her umbrella to trip players running up the sideline and several times clobbered them with the brolly.
Wally Brown was another interesting Riverstone personality. Wally owned a pig farm at Rouse Hill and always ran to training and back home again, 7 km each way in his army boots.
The Butchers ‘A’ Reserve grade side had an outstanding record when they won the premiership in 1947. They scored 301 points and conceded only 31 that season as they swept all before them. Captain Coach of this team was Noel (Butch) Drayton.
In 1952 there were so few players in the area that Riverstone was forced to unite with Richmond; they met with only mediocre success that year and in 1953 their coach was Bernie Becke. Things were much better when in 1954 Riverstone were able to secure the services of Freddy Brown as a playing coach. Freddy was a top class player who had spent a few years playing with the Balmain & St George 1st grade sides in the Sydney competition. His guile and leadership led the team to the semi-finals that year.
The following year 1955, the team coached by Jack Mundey won the 1st grade Premiership, defeating Richmond in spectacular fashion. After trailing 11-0 at half-time and down 14-0 midway through the 2nd half, they produced a whirlwind finish scoring 5 tries and 2 goals to win 19-14.
The 1950s was a golden era with the club winning both the ‘A’ Grade and ‘A’ Reserve premierships in 1956, and the following year the ‘A’ grade were beaten in the Grand Final. The ’56 and ’57 teams were coached by Bobby Hobbs. Training became a serious task in those days and Des Cartwright recalls after training Mick Woods boiling up a large pot of meat extract for the boys to enjoy.
Jack Mundey was to become a controversial figure later in his life as the leader of the NSW Builders Labourers Federation, figuring prominently in the Green Bans disputes of the 1960s. Being a member of the Communist party, he was savaged by the media of the day; he was thrown into gaol, but he is a survivor and is now credited with having saved the historic Rocks area of Sydney for the general public to enjoy. He is now the widely respected President of the Historic Houses Trust of NSW.
Several players of this era went on to play Presidents Cup and district football with Parramatta – Bob McHugh, Des Cartwright, Bobby Hobbs, Brian McNamara, Colin Crouch, Charlie Sandilands, Ron Neal and Mattie Johnston. Mattie was captain of Parramatta club’s first premiership winning team, the 1964 third grade.
A promising player from this era was Johnny Waters, some believed he could have played for Australia one day. But fate struck a cruel blow when Johnny was killed in a car accident just after he played in Parramatta’s Presidents Cup team.
Another very promising player of this period to have his career cut short was Eric Magennis, who became a paraplegic after a motor cycle accident. But this setback did not dampen Eric’s enthusiasm for sport and in 1972 he won two Gold Medals at the 1972 Paraplegic Olympics held in Munich, and another at the games held in Toronto, Canada in 1976.
Another man who has contributed greatly to the success of the club is Bill McNamara. After several years as a player he became a member of the committee and then served as the club Patron for many years. Throughout his life he continued this interest in football and gave up much of his valuable time to manage and coach the junior teams.
He was the man responsible for building the Footballers Hall at the corner of Creek Street and Garfield Road. He organised the removal of two army huts from Ingleburn and then provided much of the labour to help the volunteers to assemble it. The hall was opened in 1957 and was widely used for Balls, dances, wedding receptions, parties, club meetings etc. for the 30 years it existed.
It was a source of amazement to many people as to how such a small settlement as Riverstone could compete so successfully against teams from areas with much larger populations. Riverstone in the early 1950s was playing teams that represented Wentworthville, Merrylands, Guildford, Liverpool, Blacktown, St Marys, Penrith and Richmond. No doubt the support the club received from the community was a big factor, in the 50s the town would be deserted whenever there was a home game. This support was still evident in the 1970s when the Riverstone High School team played in the University Shield, a competition between teams from High Schools from all over the State.
These matches were usually held on a Friday afternoon and when held at Riverstone, local shops have been known to close to allow supporters to attend. For some unknown reason industrial unrest would develop at the meat works, resulting in a strike from midday. Needless to say there was always a huge crowd at the oval to support the local school that afternoon.
When Penrith was admitted into the Sydney competition in 1967 Riverstone came into their Junior League organisation. Ron Bates became involved with the club at this time.
Names from some the older families of Riverstone still appeared in the programs – McNamara, Britton, Smith, Watton, Johnston, Drayton, Parkes, Wallace and they were now joined by such names as Petrow, Olejarnik, Poniewierka, and Wolffe.
Charlie Wheeler, after coaching the junior teams for several years took control of the ‘A’ Grade and was an immediate success, with the club winning both the ‘A’ grade and ‘A’ reserve premierships in 1971 and 1972. Ron recalled the celebrations lasted for weeks.
1971 was the clubs most successful year when from 12 teams they had 7 teams reach the semis and 5 won their premierships. But the year was also tinged with sadness when the club lost its greatest supporter, Basil Andrews.
The ’70s saw a large increase in the number of junior teams and the club was fortunate to have a willing group of supporters to coach and manage these teams. Names that come to mind are Johnny Judge, Eric and Barry Crouch, Ron Bates, Des Cartwright, Alan Drayton and Rob Shepherd. Ron recalled the Windsor/ Richmond games against Riverstone which were always a tough battle, characterised by a real love-hate relationship, but all were the best of mates.
Throughout the ’70s the club won more than its share of premierships and also won the club championship in 1976 and 1992. The club again won the ‘A’ grade premiership in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Players from Riverstone that went on to play grade with Penrith include Roy West, Ken Wolffe, Geoff Pfister and Zac Olejarnik.
By the 1980s the club grounds received a big boost with the construction of new amenities and grandstand. The oval was fenced and underground watering was supplied. The work was done by Blacktown Council with a lot of help from club members.
Ron said one friend he did want to give special thanks to was Russell Magennis – a mate who was always there to lend a hand. He has coached and managed teams, marked the fields, became club president, was the club’s best seller of raffle tickets, you name it, he’s done it.
Ron Bates was Secretary of the Riverstone club from 1968 to 1982 and was rewarded with Life Membership. He was also made Life Member of the Penrith District J.R.L. for his years of service to that club.
His best memories of the club include – the presentation days for the kids at the end of the season, the trips away with the kids teams, selling raffle tickets at the Tourmaline Hotel, the selling of doubles on the Commonwealth Bank corner on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. He also has good memories of the Bowls days and socials held at the Bowling Club, the barbecues after the home games and the many celebrations held in the footballers hall.
The backbone of any successful club is the committee, Riverstone has always been fortunate to have many members who have been prepared to give a lot of their time to the club. The club has recognised many of these members with Life Membership and they are – Charlie Harris, Basil Andrews, Bill McNamara, Frank Crowley, Bobby Parkes, Eric Gunton, Geoff Binks, Ron Bates, Eric Crouch, Barry Crouch, Alan Drayton, Des Cartwright, Eric Martin, Johnny Judge and Bill Denman.
The Riverstone Club changed its name to the Riverstone Razorbacks in the year 2000.
When the Penrith Panthers defeated the highly fancied Sydney Roosters in the 2003 Grand Final, the team comprised two players who had played all of their Junior football with the Riverstone Club. They were Shane Rodney and Joel Clinton; Joel continued his outstanding season by being selected to tour with the 2003 Kangaroos to England.
Compiled by Clarrie Neal from information and photos provided by Bobby Parkes, Ronnie Bates and Des Cartwright in February 2000. Later details have been added as they eventuated. Many of the old programs on display at the museum were provided by Geoff Binks, another grand supporter of the club from the late 1940s to the 1980s.