Joseph Parrington

by Judith Lewis

Joseph and Johanna Parrington

Reading about Riverstone in the local papers of the latter part of the 19th century you come across the name of Joseph Parrington on many occasions, yet little is known of his early life.

We have no record of when or where he was born but we do know that he married Johanna Barry in 1873 in the district of Newtown. Joseph and Johanna are shown in the photo to the left.

They had two children, Ann (b. 1875) and Henry (b. 1877). Their births were both registered in Sydney.

Joseph’s first connection with Riverstone shows him, from 1879 to 1882, as the builder, owner and licensee for the first hotel in the town, the Riverstone Hotel.

On 21st August 1879 Joseph Parrington is described as a publican and butcher (the butcher’s shop was adjacent to the hotel).

The hotel stood diagonally opposite the railway station. It was demolished in 1915 and in 1925, Conway’s Newsagency was built there. A hairdressing salon now occupies the newsagency building.

Year unknown, the hotel and butchers shop constructed for Joseph Parrington.

It was also on 21st August 1879 that a local committee, comprising Joseph, Thomas Cuneen and John Schofield, representing the residents of Riverstone, applied to the Council of Education for the establishment of a Public School. The school was promised but it wasn’t till Joseph and John Schofield Jnr. wrote, on 19th August 1881, to the Minister of Education, that a site was settled on. Plans were completed, accepted in March 1882 and the school was finally opened in January 1883.

An article in the Australian, Windsor, Richmond and Hawkesbury Advertiser on Saturday 5th March, 1881 was headed Sunday Selling and stated, “Joseph Parrington, keeper of a public house at Riverstone, was charged with selling liquor during prohibited hours to one Edward Parsons, on Sunday, 13th February last. Defendant pleaded not guilty. Michael Murphy gave evidence as to giving Parsons money, and asking him to go into defendant’s public house, and when he came out he smelt of drink. Edward John Parsons said he was served with drink (beer and syrup), for which he paid 3d. (three pence); he went to school, but never learned the clock, and cannot tell it. Mr. Dargin said he was not prepared to fine defendant on Parson’s evidence. The majority of the Bench fined defendant 20s (shillings), and 7s 8d costs.”

Later that year Joseph Parrington was advertising for men to split wood and that he could supply in any quantity Ironbark posts and rails, Stringy and Ironbark saplings and Stocks. The timber could be seen at Riverstone Railway Station and application had to be made to himself, hotel and storekeeper, Riverstone. As well as running the sawmill, Joseph owned a great number of properties in and around Riverstone, including “a fine orchard on the road to Schofield’s Siding”.

On Wednesday, October 18th 1882 Joseph was before the court again, this time the Metropolitan District Court, where he was claiming, from the Commissioner for Railways, the sum of £30 (30 pounds or $60) for the value of a horse. Both parties were represented by solicitors with Parrington’s solicitor, Mr. Bruce Smith being instructed by Mr. Freehill and the defendant by Mr. Edmonds, instructed by the Crown Solicitor. Smith & Freehill charged that the Railways were negligent in looking after the railway gate, leaving it open so that the plaintiff’s horse was permitted to stray across the said railway so that it was knocked down and killed by the defendant’s train passing over it. The defendant’s evidence was that whilst the horse was found dead on the railway line there was no evidence of its having been killed by a train. They also proved that the animal had been in the habit of trespassing on to the line and that the owner had been warned of this and threatened that it would be impounded. There was also evidence that the horse had been seen to jump the railway line fence. His Honor (sic) gave his verdict to the defendant and costs were awarded to three witnesses.

On 8th December 1882 Joseph advertised that he had sold his business of Publican and Storekeeper to Mr. George Ireland. It sold for £3,500. In October 1883 he advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) for bricklayers to tender for the laying of 55,000 bricks. It was in 1883 that his four terraced houses in Garfield Road were completed. They are still standing and, today, are used as commercial premises as show below. Local have always referred to them as “Parrington’s Terrace”.

“Parrington’s Terrace”

In June 1884, from his sawmill near the railway station, he advertised in the SMH “to woodcutters and others” the sale of machinery, tools timber etc. “no reasonable offer refused, as the owner has no more use for it”. Other business ventures of Joseph included an orchard opposite the railway line between Riverstone and Schofields

Joseph remained active in community life. At a “large and influential meeting”, in October 1884, to elect a permanent Progress Committee, to “represent the interests of the district…and also co-operate with Windsor and Richmond in their railway agitation” Joseph was elected Treasurer. On 14th March 1885 a paragraph in the Hawkesbury Chronicle and Farmers Advocate makes the following comment “…To our mind, Riverstone is a very accessible place for a man who wants to live upon his own bit of land cheaply, and get out of crowded, expensive Sydney; and we conclude that Mr. Parrington, who made his pile on these “diggings”, and Messrs. West, Wood, Lepherd, Mitchell, Showler, Ireland, and others who are making theirs, think as we do”. Joseph was also an active member of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows Lodge.

Joseph also kept up his involvement with the Riverstone Public School he had worked tirelessly to see established in 1883. In July 1886 he was Chairman of the Committee that had organised a school picnic. The Hawkesbury Chronicle and Farmers Advocate reported that Mr. Joseph Parrington’s “advice was imparted to the children impressing upon them the advantage to be gained by paying attention to their teacher. A vote of thanks was then given to Mr. and Mrs. Langton (the teacher) by acclamation”

On 7th November 1885 Joseph’s Mountain View Estate Riverstone was advertised for private sale. It was an area of 24 acres, close to the railway, with three frontages, a good view over the township of Riverstone and the mountains, divided into nine paddocks, 2 large dams, 13 acres in cultivation, with a large frontage to the railway and including an eight roomed house, verandah on three sides, well elevated. In the 1885 Parliamentary Return of Landholders for Riverstone he is listed as owning 26 acres with 1 horse and 20 pigs. On 21st March 1886 the SMH advertised an auction, on behalf of Mr. Joseph Parrington, of 130 pure Berkshire pigs and about 100 pairs of poultry and other items, including lease of premises. The property was again advertised in March and April 1889. Joseph’s orchard was still in operation in December 1894, as evidenced by this entry in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette (the Gazette) “… Mr. Joseph Parrington’s red may peaches realized the highest price in the Sydney market… Mr. Parrington dispatched 62 gin cases of those peaches in one week.” In March 1895 the SMH stated “SACRIFICE £2000, less than cost price – Grand HOMESTEAD”.

Hard times saw most of Joseph’s Riverstone properties, the Homestead, the Terrace Houses and a 2 acre block having frontages to Railway Parade and Carlton Street put up for auction by Mr. F. Wheeler Auctioneer of Riverstone, on 30th November 1895. A further auction, by Mr. W. Gosper of Windsor was held on 11th April 1896. They must have had some success as the Gazette commented on 2nd May “Referring to the auction sales held here lately, one must come to the conclusion that times are gradually getting better financially. The prices realized at Mr. J. Parrington’s sale astonished some of those who attended.” On 20th June the same paper advised, “Mrs. Grace’s cottage has been let to Mr. Joseph Parrington, who has now given up his orchardist’s occupation, and had taken to dealing”.

In February 1898 Joseph’s fortunes looked like changing with the following paragraph in the Gazette, “it is stated that Mr. J. Parrington, of this town, has a chance of possessing a fortune in the near future. He has received word that he and his brother are entitled to £100,000 bequeathed by a relative. The amount is in Chancery in England.”

No further mention is made of this good fortune and in June 1898 the Gazette relates that Joseph Parrington of Riverstone had applied for and been granted a packhorse licence. It further comments, at an unknown date, “A fair trade is being worked up by Mr. J. Parrington, who has started in the hawking line. He is selling the best goods”. Later we read “A few days ago Mr. J. Parrington, who was on his round near Kenthurst, put his horses in an enclosure for the night, but on his looking for them the next morning found they had disappeared. They reached home early next morning, and they were taken back to where they got loose”.

The Gazette of 15th October 1898 commented “Mr. Joseph Parrington, who has resided in Riverstone for the past 20 years, is about to remove to Seven Hills, where he intends to start business near the Railway station. Mr. Parrington has always been known as a straight goer, and his many friends will be glad to see him succeed in business there”. Two of his good friends, Messrs J and T Shoular placed Joseph’s furniture on the train for him. Joseph’s son, Harry, remained at Riverstone for a time. Again it was the Windsor and Richmond Gazette reporting, “Mr. Joseph Parrington, late of Riverstone, is now the proprietor of a very nice looking store at Seven Hills railway station. His many friends here wish Joe a return of the good fortune which deserted him some good few years ago at Riverstone.” Meanwhile, back in Riverstone, Mr. Frank Wheeler, auctioneer, reported the leasing of Mr. Parrington’s late homestead and orchard to Mr. Frederick Morris, of Glebe Point, Sydney. The Parrington Homestead finally sold in January 1905 to Mr. Hy. Wood, who intended to reside there.

The Parrington’s daughter, Ann, accompanied her parents to Seven Hills. Their son Harry, who had been employed as a slaughterman at the Riverstone Meatworks, left Riverstone at the beginning of 1899 to sail to New Zealand where he was again employed as a slaughterman. There he met Mark Sullivan and other Riverstone “boys”. Harry returned from there in April, accompanying one of the “boys”, Will Hansell. He then resided with his family at Seven Hills.

Good fortune did not find Joseph at Seven Hills. He had, for many years, suffered with acute rheumatism. In his latter years he also developed Bright’s Disease and heart trouble. In 1899 he spent considerable time in Parramatta Hospital and was now practically an invalid. In 1902 Joseph Parrington was declared bankrupt. The bankruptcy sale of his furniture etc. “brought marvellous prices” (for the buyers), good furniture such as beds and chests of drawers being “knocked down at 6d each. In 1902 the Parringtons had “removed into Mr. Cassidy’s house beyond the Eastern Creek”. Ann accompanied her parents and, as Harry, considered a very good footballer, was listed as a player for Riverstone playing against Erskineville in November, it is presumed he did also.

Joseph Parrington died on 11th July 1903. His funeral was “largely attended”, with members of his Lodge, the GUOOF, signifying the esteem with which he was held, by marching in full regalia. He was buried in the Church of England section of the Riverstone General Cemetery. The Riverstone people rallied to the family’s support and a benefit concert and dance in the Oddfellows’ hall was held on Saturday, 14th November. A sum of £5 was raised.

A memorial card for Joseph Parrington.

In May 1904 Mrs. Johanna Parrington was to accidentally scald herself very badly and her daughter, Ann, who had been living in Sydney, came home to nurse her mother. Two years later Ann was “quietly married in Sydney, to Mr Alma (Alymer) Mellish, son of Mr Edward Mellish, of Windsor”. Johanna moved to Windsor to live with Annie and Alymer. She was to pass away, in Windsor Hospital at age 75, in October 1909. She had been born in Ireland and was buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery in Windsor. At the time of her death her son, Harry, was living at Glebe Island.

The Gazette, in October 1916, reported “Private H. Parrington, brother of Mrs. Alymer Mellish, of Windsor, has just had his final leave, and was on a visit to his sister for a few days … He expects to sail for the front shortly”. In April 1918, under a heading “Welcome Home Boys Who Have Done Their Bit”, the Gazette listed Private Harry Parrington as one of those “soldiers who have recently returned from the blood-stained battlefields” being present at a welcome and send-off, held in the Windsor School of Arts and organised by the Win the War League. Harry’s death, at Lidcombe Hospital, is recorded as occurring on August 14th 1930. The only family member mentioned in the SMH funeral notice is his beloved sister, Mrs. Alma (sic) Mellish of Windsor. Harry was 53. One may then assume that Harry had no family which means Joseph’s line of the Parrington family did not have any descendants carrying on the family name.

Ann was to die on 31st January 1937 at Windsor. She was the dearly loved wife of Alymer Mellish and fond mother of Gordon, Vera and Edward and was 61. Both Harry and Ann were buried at Windsor.

These days many Australians are said to be of the ilk that delights in “cutting down tall poppies”. It says much for the character of Joseph Parrington and of the Riverstone townsfolk of his time that, throughout Joseph’s life, the Riverstone townsfolk continued to hold him in high esteem.

A History of the Richmond Railway Line 1864 – 2014

by Judith Lewis

On 21st January 1862 the Sydney Morning Herald reported a loan of £60,000 ($120,000) had been authorised for the “a horse railway from Blacktown to Windsor and Richmond”. It was to be the first country branch line to be built in NSW.

SMH 1-3-1862

As the ad above shows, in the ensuing year a Horse Railway Engineer was advertised for, a Mr. Weaver, former Colonial Architect, was selected to construct the contemplated lines of horse railway (Apr.) and tenders were called for the “Clearing and Fencing, Windsor and Richmond Line” (May). The line was to be the length of 16 miles, 11 chains and 40 links (approximately 26kms.) and to run from immediately opposite the Blacktown Road Station to “land supposed to belong to William Bowman, adjoining the Market-square in the town of Richmond” (Nov.).

Empire 15-1-1863

In December that year tenders were called and, on Thursday, 15th January, 1863 a ceremonial turning of the first sod took place at Windsor, with a special train carrying visitors, including the Premier, Charles Cowper; Minister for Works, W.M. Arnold and Captain Ward MLC; from Sydney to Blacktown from whence they were conveyed to Windsor by horse drawn vehicles. A large festive crowd was in attendance, with the day being set aside as a public holiday. Although originally intended to lay down rails for horse traction it was announced that light locomotives would instead be used.

Earthworks for the portion of line between Blacktown and Windsor were contracted in Dec 1862. When they defaulted the contract was awarded to Messrs. Iredale and McNamara (Sept. 1963) and that between Windsor and Richmond to Mr J. Gwyneth. (Dec. 1863). The Chain of Ponds viaduct contract was let to J. Atkinson Jnr. (May 1863) and the South Creek viaduct contract was let to J. Taylor (July 1863) and the permanent way (Mar. 1864) to Messrs. J and B. Thurston. Disastrous floods, higher than any the district had experienced in 45 years, occurred in July 1863, carrying away portions of the banks at South Creek and impeding the work. The total distance from Blacktown to Richmond was 16 miles 19 chains.

Work on the railway offered employment for many men. In September and October 1863 respectively advertisements appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald for “100 good BUSHMEN to split sleepers” and “twenty pair of sawyers, to cut sleepers on the Windsor and Richmond Railway”. By April 1864 contracts had “been taken by Mr. Elphinstone for the erection of the stations and goods sheds at Windsor and Richmond” and there would be signal stations at Eastern Creek (Riverstone) and South Creek (Mulgrave). A sum of £15,000 was “placed on the additional estimates for 1864, for completing the Windsor and Richmond railway” £5000 for three locomotives and £10,000 to cover the cost of altering the line from a horse railway to a locomotive one. In October 1864 tenders were called for stations at Riverstone, Mulgrave, Windsor and Richmond and for seats at Windsor and Richmond railway stations.

The Sydney Morning Herald of 30th November 1864 reported “the branch railway from Blacktown… to Windsor and Richmond was officially opened yesterday”. This was a preliminary to the public opening on 1st December. “In order that the gratifying and auspicious event might be fittingly celebrated, invitations… had been sent to his Excellency the Governor and suite, the Ministry, the Members of the Legislative Council and of the late Assembly, a number of Government officials, and other gentlemen”. “Spirited preparations had been made, both at Windsor and Richmond… showing that the inhabitants of the Hawkesbury district properly appreciated the advantages they are about to derive from railway communication with the metropolis”.

The special train left Sydney shortly before 10 o’clock, arriving at Blacktown Junction about 10:40am. At Blacktown the train was divided into two portions, one part preceding the other “at a tolerably rapid pace”. The Herald describes the scenery as “forest land…where cattle were seen depasturing in the thickly growing grass” the train winding “its way between numerous gentle eminences whereon the trees were less numerous…the herbage more and more infrequent. Long reaches of level lands came next, where the swampy oak, mingled with the eucalyptus and bush scrub, showed the land was swampy and poor… chains of ponds by the roadside…lofty wooden bridges, spanning sluggish and insignificant creeks…fine rolling country once more, some in its natural state and some cleared and under cultivation. Snug little farms with their green peach orchards, their gardens and their haystacks – the well pleased owners and their families running out to give a welcome to the steam horse…and so the first railway train came at last into the Hawkesbury district and was received with loud shouts by the assembled population of Windsor”.

The Windsor folk “had made all due preparations” expecting the train to stop at Windsor to “let them see the Governor, the members of parliament and the other celebrities”. “Numbers of them were quite ready then and there to ride on to Richmond in the first train” but “the iron horse…did not stop at Windsor, but rushed with unabated speed to Richmond”. “On leaving Windsor…there was for the most part open country…alluvial land under cultivation, comfortable English looking homesteads, with adjacent shady trees and distant mountain scenery”.

The train came into Richmond at about 11:30am and “with loud cheers, as at Windsor, the pretty little village of Richmond” welcomed the visitors. Mr George Bowman, chairman of the Reception Committee, read the address, which he then passed to the Governor Sir John Young, marking the event as “of vast importance to the prosperity of our District”. Sir John responded, “… I rejoice that railway communication has been opened between the metropolis and this charming district.” The official party then “visited the residence of Mr. William Bowman, and drove through the village, which presented a gay and festive appearance. On the green the tall wiry yeomen and shapely bright eyed lasses of the Kurrajong district, mounted on their rough-looking fast-going horses, collected in large groups”. Others gathered round a roasting ox, visited the church and churchyard or the inn close to the station.

The train had returned to Windsor to collect those people wishing to travel to Richmond and upon their arrival the breakfast was commenced. The train travelled to and from Windsor several times during the early part of the day. With free passage on offer, many availed themselves of the opportunity.

The official party and several others, at 12 o’clock, enjoyed “an excellent breakfast laid out in the goods shed”. Many of the Sydney people then travelled back to Windsor and “sauntered the little capital of the Hawkesbury”, where the official dinner was to be held that evening. Politics came into the picture when “a number of influential residents” assembled in front of McQuade’s hotel, read and presented an address, signed by 60 or 70 gentlemen, to the Honourable Charles Cowper, M.L.A, Member for East Sydney. Mr. Cowper responded thus. “…The undertaking was commenced by my colleagues and myself, and was far advanced towards completion before we left office”. (Nothing much has changed in the past 150 years?) Elections must have been in progress for he further commented, thanking them for their congratulations on the results of the Sydney elections and hoping that the country electorates would “follow the example of their Sydney friends”.

The dinner that evening, in Windsor, took place in the School of Arts, “at the lower end of town…The viands were provided by Mr. Cripps ” with the Member for Windsor, Mr. Walker, taking the chair. The usual toasts followed – to the Queen (Victoria), the Prince of Wales and the other members of the Royal family, the Governor, Sir John Young, the prosperity of the Windsor and Richmond railway, the health of Lady Young and the ladies of the colony and, finally, the Parliament of the Colony. Each toast was duly followed by an appropriate musical air. Mr. Cowper, in responding to the final toast, let it be known that he “had taken a deep interest in the promotion of railways in this colony, and had done so as long ago as 1846 and … might truly say they owed much to him for the progress of railways in the colony, and their special extension to that district”. (A true politician?)

This terminated the proceedings at the dinner. The Governor and many guests then proceeded to the railway station to return to Sydney. A ball, commencing shortly after 8pm., was held at Cadell’s Brewery, in one of the cross streets. Master of Ceremonies was Mr. W. Clark.

The railway was open to the public on Thursday, 1st December. A sale, on Saturday 3rd December, was held for the Riverstone Estate, as land was available on both sides of the railway that “now runs through the estate”. “Long credit” was on offer, as was “short and perfect title”.

In December the SMH advertised that day excursion trains to Riverstone, Mulgrave, Windsor and Richmond would leave Sydney at 9:00am and 11:00am and return from Richmond at 4:00pm and 6:45pm, calling at all stations.. The offer was available for 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th of December. Fares from Sydney to Riverstone were for 3 classes and were 18 shillings ($1:80), 10s. & 6d. and 5s. & 6d. Trains leaving Sydney at 9:00am were scheduled to arrive at Riverstone at 10:30am. The earliest available public timetable, 1st September 1866 showed 2 return trips each weekday, 1 on a Saturday and 2 on a Sunday.

Locomotive No 29 with a luggage van and second class passenger car

The photo above dates to about 1867 and shows one of the original Richmond Line trains. Locomotive No 29 is seen with a luggage van and second class passenger car. The photo and information from The Railway News October 1989. Photo SRA Archives, ref. PR. 863B.

ADDENDUM: This photo would have been taken some time between 1872 and 1876. The locomotive was rebuilt with the larger saddle tank in 1872, and in 1876 it was transferred to one of the Tramways and was fitted with a longer chimney. Other data from the early carriages tends to indicate that this is more likely about 1875-1876. (Information courtesy Martin Hartley via email 6 February 2022.)

According to the Hawkesbury Historical Society Web page, Engine No. 29 was originally Engine No. 15 and was named Windsor until 1865. (The engine was scrapped in 1923.)

If you would like to see a locomotive and the type of carriages used on the Richmond line, Locomotive No 1 is on display at the Sydney Powerhouse Museum. Between 1857 and 1887, this locomotive was used mainly for hauling goods and passengers between Sydney, Campbelltown, Richmond and Penrith. (Locomotive No 1 by Margaret Simpson Powerhouse Museum.)

The 1867 June flood, the largest on record, (it was stated a boat could be taken from Riverstone to the Blue Mountains – 15 miles, or from Pitt Town to Kurrajong – 20 miles) caused havoc along the line. Only 2 houses escaped the flood in Riverstone and the railway engine could not approach within half a mile of the Riverstone station.

Two days after rail communication ceased the stationmaster at Blacktown received a message that 9 people were surrounded by water at Riverstone and in great danger. A special engine, with 2 boats, was sent. A mile from Riverstone it was unable to go further so the boats, with Mr. Owen, railway manager and Mr. Collins, Blacktown stationmaster, each in charge of a boat, pulled to the home of farmer Mr. Carberry, his wife and 5 children who were in the attic of their home where they had removed shingles and were waving a white sheet and firing guns.

This flood saw the timber viaduct completely covered by floodwaters and the line closed for considerable time. It was replaced by a higher structure in the mid 1870s and remained in use until a steel girder structure on concrete piers, was built for the electrification project in 1984. In 1987 the Chain of Ponds (Rickabys Creek) timber viaduct was replaced by a pre-stressed concrete bridge.

1965. Goods train on Rickabys Creek viaduct showing the massive timber supports and wide floodplain. Photo: John Ward via Alan Strachan

From the time of the opening of the line Riverstone was provided with a station and a loop siding. The platform, adjacent to the loop siding, was of brick construction. A single brick building housed the booking office, waiting room and a residence for the stationmaster. At the northern end of the loop, a dead-end siding served as a goods siding and a loading point for timber from the adjacent mill. Riverstone became the busiest of all the stations along the line with several sidings added, the first of these, in 1879, was to serve the abattoir established by Ben Richards. It came to be known as Richards’ Siding. At its busiest there was 6996ft. of siding space within the meatworks complex.

In 1880 a new station building was constructed at Riverstone. All railway functions were transferred there and the original structure became the Post Office, which it was to continue as till 1942 when the present one was completed. The Station Master had to man the Post Office until 1879 when a Post Master was appointed.

c1907 layout of the station and the railway yards. The Meatworks
can be seen in the distance.
c1907 photo from the Meatworks looking back towards the station and the town.

In 1916 the loop siding was extended and became the platform loop and the goods siding was renamed the stock siding. A new goods’ siding was constructed on the western side of the station opposite the platform and a goods’ shed was built to protect freight either awaiting despatch or pick up. The water tower at the gates’ end of the Riverstone station first appeared on maps in 1916. It is not known exactly when it was built but it may have been as early as 1894 when the meatworks built the first weir across Eastern Creek behind the works. The railway tank was filled with water from the meatworks supply.

1916. Riverstone Post Office.

In July 1939 a new platform was constructed on the western side. In September 1944 the crossing loop and platform were extended and Richards Siding, instead of making its junction with the main line, was connected with the goods’ siding.

1956 photo above shows the two platforms and the wooden railway gates.

The 1956 photo above shows the two platforms and the wooden railway gates. The station master’s house was located close to the railway crossing to allow the station master to open/ close the gates for trains or cars. The photo shows the water tank used for filling the steam locomotives with water.

In 1968 flashing lights and half-boom gates were installed at the Garfield Road level crossing. These have been upgraded several times, the most recently when the traffic lights were installed.

Other Stations along the Blacktown – Richmond Line were erected as follows:-

Marayong, an aboriginal word meaning “emu” was opened on 2nd November 1922. The original platform of 270ft. (approx. 80 metres) was eventually extended to 453ft.

Quakers Hill was originally known as Douglas Siding with a small wooden platform constructed in 1872. On 30th March 1905 the name was changed to Quakers Hill, after a local geographic landmark. On 22nd June 1939 Quakers Hill became a staff station with a crossing loop with a small platform provided on the crossing loop. During World War 11 intermediate signals were installed between Quakers Hill and Schofields as the line passed along the eastern extremity of HMAS Nirimba airbase, particularly runway No. 3.

Terry and Steve Infield Mrs McCann on Quakers Hill station
Quakers Hill Station 1937 in 1938 Photos: Weaver family.

Schofields station opened in 1870. It was named for John Schofield, local landowner and was known then as Schofield’s Siding. A goods’ loop siding was laid on the topside of the main line opposite the platform. The goods’ siding was abolished on 27th August 1973. On 29th October 2011 the controversial new Schofields Station was opened on a new site and the original one demolished.

1940s. The second Schofields station. Walter Williams is on the station. Photo: Nell Moody

Vineyard was named for the vineyards there. The platform was opened on 17th July 1935. The only protection from the elements was, and still is, a waiting shed.

Vineyard Station in the 1950s. (Photo: Alan Strachan.)

Mulgrave was named after Baron Mulgrave, an English statesman. The station was provided from the time of the opening of the line, with a loop siding installed on the up side of the main line, a goods’ siding at the Blacktown end and another short dead-end at the Richmond end. The platform was stationed on the loop siding. A single station building, partitioned into a waiting room, booking office and stationmaster’s accommodation, was constructed adjacent to the platform. In 1900 the original platform was demolished and replaced by a larger structure complete with a station building and two outbuildings. The earlier building then became a residence. A goods’ shed and cattle race were added. In 1912 a new brick platform, on the eastern side of the level crossing, replaced the 1900 structure, the loop siding became a goods’ siding and Mulgrave became an island platform. In 1922, between the viaduct spanning South Creek and Windsor, a siding was erected, serving the Windsor Milk Company (later known as the Hawkesbury Dairy and Ice Company).

Windsor’s original platform was replaced in 1883 by a larger brick structure, which remains in place today. A goods yard consisting of two short sidings was located at the north – western end of the station. Around the turn of the century George Street was diverted to the east, passing under the railway, which now spanned the relocated roadway via a timber trestle bridge. In April 1995 a new bridge of steel girders replaced the timber bridge.

Clarendon was originally known as Hawkesbury Racecourse. In 1876 a new platform was built “to serve the punting public”. It was named Clarendon after a local property owned by G. Evans. It had a crossing loop and a long goods’ siding. Clarendon underwent many alterations during World War 11 to allow for additional traffic to the airbase.

East Richmond was opened in July 1939 to allow residents in that growing part of town easier access. It was only 27chains (just over ¼ of a mile) east of Richmond.

Richmond, in similar fashion to the other original stations, consisted of a waiting room, booking office and station master’s residence. An engine run-round loop was provided on the southern side, opposite the platform. Being the terminus of the line, the yard at Richmond was large with a locomotive depot, goods’ yard, a turntable and numerous sidings.

In June 1923 work commenced on the line to Kurrajong. The line, built around the back of the original platform, crossed East Market, passed through the park and continued down March Street on its way to Kurrajong. This line opened on 20th November 1926. The weather led to its line closure in July 1952 after several periods of heavy rainfall in quick succession caused several landslips that severed the line. There were stations at North Richmond (1926), Phillip (1928) and Kurrajong (1926) and Halts at Red Cutting, Kemsleys, Thompsons Ridge, Nurri and Duffy (all 1928).

Significant Dates of Richmond Railway Line History

    • 1878 – Timetable of 6th July shows dedicated goods services scheduled on the line. The first timetabled crossing of trains was planned.
      On a Saturday evening No. 4 down passenger train crossed No. 3 passenger train at Mulgrave.
    • 1883 – An additional early morning train, arriving at Richmond at 1:45am, took late night revellers home.
    • 1893 – The 18th December timetable introduced through trains from Sydney terminal and Parramatta. Pick-up goods trains were mixed trains allowing the carriage of passengers between Clyde and Richmond. A fast meat train was timetabled daily, except Sunday, between Riverstone and Darling Harbour
    • 1939 – 17th July, the second platform was opened.
    • 1954 – Line to Blacktown electrified. Steam trains continued to operate to and from Sydney to Richmond in peak hours. In off peak hours rail motors were used between Blacktown and Richmond.
    • 1969 – 25th October saw the last steam-hauled service to Richmond. Diesel-electric locomotives hauled the goods trains. The last stock trains into the meat works ceased in the late 1960s and the last refrigerated meat train in the1970s
    • 1975- 22nd May the first electric train arrived at Riverstone and diesel rail cars continued the service from Riverstone to Richmond.
    • 1991 – Electrification of the line to Richmond was completed.

PHILLIS, Rosemary compilation., The Railway at Riverstone, Riverstone and District Historical Society, 2003.
PHILLIS, Rosemary compilation., Richmond Line Newspaper References 1862-1889, Riverstone &m District Historical Society.
ATTENBOROUGH, Peter and others, Byways of Steam 24, Sydney, Eveleigh Press, 2005.
(Byways of Steam 24 contains a comprehensive history of the Richmond Branch Line and many photographs. Copies are available for sale through a number of sources including the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum phone: (02) 4681 8001 or e-mail

World War 2 Air Raid Sirens in the District

by Rosemary Phillis

The arrival of a former WW2 air raid siren at the Museum prompted some questioning about air raid sirens in Riverstone. We have assembled what information we could find, but are interested in any further information or photos that people may have to share.

In 1995, Joyce Wood, whose father, Hugh O’Kane, was the Chief Warden in Riverstone, recalled: When notified of an air raid or practice, the air raid siren was activated from our home (9 Oxford Street Riverstone). The siren was located in Garfield Road on a telegraph pole between what was recently an antique shop and Dr Rose’s surgery.

The following 1942 newspaper item from the Windsor and Richmond Gazette explained to residents what the various air raid sounds signalled.

After the war National Emergency Service air raid sirens were supposed to be returned to the Department of Public Works. Some local fire brigades requested through their local council that the sirens be donated for the purpose of signalling a fire or emergency.

The Windsor and Richmond Gazette 6 March 1946 reported that the Richmond Council was unsuccessful in requesting to keep the siren and triple set of hooters used at Richmond. Later that year the Gazette of 27 November 1946 reported that the Windsor Council was granted permission to hand over their remaining NES siren to Oakville Bush Fire Brigade.

Close up of Oakville Rural Fire Brigade siren in April 2013.

Oakville Rural Fire Brigade siren on pole at the back of their headquarters in April 2013

The Garfield Road Riverstone Siren
The former Riverstone siren which stood in Garfield Road remained in place until the 1950s. In 1995 Doreen Ross, Secretary of the Schofields Bushfire Brigade checked the minutes of the Brigade. They recorded that the Riverstone siren was donated to the Schofields Bushfire Brigade and installed next to their building on 18 December 1956.

Year unknown, the Schofields Bushfire Brigade shed, showing the siren in place and the old Schofields Railway Station on the other side of the line. Photo: Doreen Ross

Although no longer in regular use, the siren can still be seen on a metal tower behind the current Brigade shed at Schofields, as shown below in the photos taken in March 2013.

Another siren in Riverstone.
Clarrie Neal recalls that when his family purchased a house at 13 Brisbane Street, Riverstone there was a pole attached to the top right hand side of the house with a small horn attached. This was a former air raid siren operated by Ron Allen, who was a Warden during the war. Unfortunately the siren rusted away over the years and was disposed of.

The Neal family home in Brisbane Street. The siren is was gone by the time this photo was taken, and if you look very carefully you can see the piece of timber attached to the front right hand side of the roof of the house. Photo: Clarrie Neal

A Riverstone Meatworks Siren

by Rosemary Phillis

World War 2 air raid siren

In 2013 a siren which was used at the Riverstone Meatworks was donated to the Historical Society.

According to former Meatworks employees, it was a World War 2 air raid siren, though we don’t know if it was used in this capacity at the Meatworks during the War.

Prior to the installation of this siren, the start and finish of shifts were signalled by a steam whistle connected to the old boiler house.

When that building was replaced around 1946-47, this siren was installed on top of the newly constructed Dry Rendering Department lift assembly.

The siren remained in use until the 1970s when it was replaced by a newer model. The siren was removed when the Meatworks was demolished in 1994.

The siren was given to a member of the Oakville Bush Fire Brigade as spare parts for their siren. Modern technology has replaced local Fire Brigade sirens and this siren was of no use to the brigade. It remained in Raymond Powe’s shed until being donated to the Historical Society in February 2013. The siren is pictured above at the Riverstone Museum.

1990s. Photo of the air raid siren in place at the Meatworks above the lift assembly.
Photo: Rosemary Phillis

The siren motor is shown above without the metal cover.

The manufacturers plaque reads:

Crompton Parkinson (Australia).
M/c Number: 5643954 (we believe).
2.75 HP 2900 R.P.M. 3.8 AMPs
400/440 Volts 3 PH 50 CYCLES

Another plaque details the supplier:
Supplied by Noyes Bros (Sydney) Ltd

The photo below, taken in the early 1990s shows the siren from the front of the Meatworks. Although it looks small in the photo, the siren is large and stands around a metre tall. The sound was so loud, that if the wind blew from the west the siren could be heard as far away as Box Hill.

The siren from the front of the Meatworks as shown by arrow

Sister Monica McNamara OAM

Obituary by Ana Yeo
Hawkesbury Gazette 2012


Sister Monica McNamara O.A.M.

She dedicated her life to the church and the teachings of others, now Sister Monica McNamara, formerly of Riverstone, has been farewelled with a Thanksgiving Mass at St Joseph’s Chapel, Baulkham Hills.

Sister Monica OAM was born in Riverstone in 1930 as one of six children to Henry and Olive McNamara, and at the age of 22 joined the Sisters of St Joseph of Sydney at the Stella Maris Novitiate in Australia.

This began what was to be a successful and selfless career for Sr Monica, who from 1981, began a career in teaching that took her to all corners of the globe.

Sr Monica studied at Catholic Teachers college in North Sydney where she received her diploma in Theological studies in 1967.

From 1979 to 1981 she studied for and received a certificate in social welfare at the NSW Technical and Further Education Commission.

Later Sr Monica did the Life’s Journey Experience in Douglas Park in 2001; the Wells of Living Water program in New Zealand in 2002; and the Journey in Faith Freedom program from 2002-2004.

Sr Monica had served as an elementary school teacher for more than 20 years when an extraordinary opportunity came her way.

While visiting California, she interned for six months at the St Madeline Sophie Training Center for developmentally disabled adults in El Cajon.

While she had never previously felt drawn to this work, it wasn’t pure accident that she explored this area.

She studied all that she could about serving people with a disability.

Sr Monica encountered the SPRED program (Special Religious Education program) in Oakland and then travelled to Chicago to study SPRED program in more depth.

In April 1985, Sr Monica was asked by Bishop Kelly of Toowoomba, Queensland, to start the SPRED program in his diocese.

While setting up and directing the program, Sr Monica continued learning and establishing connections within the SPRED program by travelling to Switzerland twice, in 1994 and 1997, to attend SPRED conventions.

The quality of the ministry program she designed and in which she trained others, was attested to by the fact that in 2006 she received the Medal of the Order of Australia.

She was nominated by Major General Michael Jeffery, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

It was given to her for “service to people with intellectual disabilities as a spiritual educator through the Special Religious Development Ministry of the Catholic Church”.

According to her Australian Sisters, Sr Monica was “generous, a willing worker, ready to help out with any of the hard work and was the best bathroom cleaner in the business”.

“She laughed readily and was a good companion to everyone in the group,” a spokesperson said.

“She loved to perform, and had the very best educated English accent to render poems she knew”.

The Mass of Resurrection for Sr Monica was celebrated in Orange, California at the Motherhouse Chapel on May 18.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Sr Monica’s name were made to the Sisters of St Joseph of Orange for the support of their ongoing ministries.

Sister Monica McNamara O.A.M.

The McCarthy Girls

by Heather Smith

Katie (Kathleen McCarthy) aged about 18

Kathleen Marie McCarthy, born on the 2nd August 1923, was the seventh of nine children born to Cecily Anne (Miller) and her husband Herbert Eugene McCarthy. The family comprised seven girls and two boys.

Cecily was born in St. Marys and Eugene at Bega. Times were tough, so like many hundreds of men before him Eugene travelled to Riverstone to obtain employment with the Riverstone Meat Co. It was here that he met and married Cecily. Their children were born in the family’s tiny two bedroom cottage in Hunter Street, Riverstone. All except the youngest, Patricia, who was delivered by the midwife Sister Barnes in her maternity hospital in Garfield Road.

Life was very different in the early 1900s. There was no town water or electricity, no government assistance for widows or child endowment, and wages were low. Many families were very poor and life was harsh. Tragedy struck the family when at the age of 48 their father Eugene died from tuberculosis.

Cecily was left on her own to rear the five youngest children by taking in washing and ironing. The children all attended Riverstone Public school and Kate (Kathleen) went on to attend high school at Parramatta. She left school at 15 years and obtained work at the meat works in the boning room and preserver. When Australia entered the Second World War like all available workers she went to work in the munitions factory at St. Marys making incendiary bombs. Once peace was declared Kate soon obtained work in Sydney in the large department store Marcus Clark & Co.

The McCarthy girls Gwen, Joan, Thora, Eileen, Helen, Kate and Patsy had all matured into very glamorous and attractive young women much sort after by all the young men in the district at the local dances. Each Saturday night they danced either in the Masonic hall Riverstone, to the music of Dick Stacy’s band with Dick on the piano, Tommy Greenhalgh on drums and Billy Miller on the saxophone or they were off to the many dances held around the district. This was all done under the watchful eye of their mother who chaperoned her girls and refused to let them wear lipstick until they turned 18.

If Kate was working late her mother would be waiting at the station with a torch to accompany her on the walk home. She always made sure her girls were safe. She was 91 when she passed away and is buried in the Catholic section of the Marsden Park cemetery. Kate was now working in the show room of ladieswear at Marcus Clarke each morning including Saturdays. She travelled by train to the city, always immaculately dressed and, with her petite figure and striking good looks, was often called upon to model clothes supplied for the buyers.

It was at a dance at the Richmond School of Arts that Kate met Keith Pead, her future husband, who lived in Richmond and worked at the RAAF base. In 1946 they married and two children followed Vicki and Kerry John. Keith then decided to take up a well paid position in the Lighthouse Service.

Their first posting was to Montague Island lighthouse situated nine kilometres off the coast of Narooma. It was one of only two island lighthouses in New South Wales. Back in 1873 a decision was made to build a ‘First Order Fixed and Flashing Light’ on Montague Island. Construction of the lighthouse and keepers’ quarters were started in 1878. On completion of the building the kerosene and optical apparatus was installed and the lighthouse was first illuminated on 6 October 1881.

The intensity of the light increased when a new lamp was installed in 1910 and again in 1923. In 1969 a new electric lamp, powered by a diesel generator, raised the light to one million candlepower.

Keith and Kate and their two young children moved into the lighthouse keeper’s quarters, a comfortable house on the island. Life on the island was a new adventure for Kate. Supplies were ordered from McIlraiths’ store at Narooma and delivered once a week by the supply boat to be packed into the store room. This included the coal for their stove!

It was a quiet life but a very busy one. Katie schooled her children via correspondence, baked her own bread, biscuits, cake and made her own ice cream as well as cooking all the meals for the family. She returned home for the birth of her 3rd child Michael who was delivered at Craignish Maternity hospital in Windsor and her annual holiday was always spent with the family in Riverstone.

Often family members would travel to Narooma to spend a holiday on Montague Island. Finally after having shone every night for almost 105 years the light was turned on manually for the last time in September 1986. The original apparatus including the lens was removed and replaced by a new automatic light powered by solar panels. The house where Kate and her family spent many happy years is now a very expensive tourist destination costing up to $3,000 for a two night stay.

Their next destination was a transfer to Norah Head lighthouse situated on the central coast. In the late 18th century shipping between Sydney and Newcastle was perilous. Thick fog, fierce gales, jagged rocks and black-out conditions, often encountered along the coast, claimed the lives of many seamen. The lighthouse was constructed by the Public Works and completed in 1903 at a cost of about £24,000. Fitted with a vaporized kerosene burner and mantle, the light emitted 118,000 candlepower and in clear weather it could be seen 19 nautical miles out to sea.

Life at Norah Head was very different. The children attended school at Toukley and Kate quickly made friends and was able to enjoy a more social circle. When the kerosene burner was removed in favour of mains electricity, Keith and Kate and family decided to once more return to Riverstone after being away for ten years. They settled in their new house in Piccadilly Street. Keith obtained work at the timber mill in East Richmond and Kate commenced as a cost clerk in the boning room at the meatworks.

However Kate’s experience as a sales lady at Marcus Clarke shone through when she took over the ladies section of the general store in Garfield Road at Rosenthal’s. When Mr and Mrs Rosenthal retired she was retained by Haslems and then Martin & Haslem.
Rosenthals was a typical country store, a large two storey building with family accommodation upstairs. It is still standing on the corner of Garfield Road and Railway Terrace today, however it has undergone many changes. It was stocked with groceries, dry goods, manchester and ladies, mens and children’s wear. Kate served there for 20 years and without a doubt was one of the most popular and best known figures in the town.

Sad times were ahead for Kate. Keith took sick and in February he was diagnosed with cancer and Kate nursed him, but sadly he passed away in December 1983. Kate was inconsolable. After 52 years of happy marriage she had lost her life partner and for 18 months refused to leave the house – a different Kate from the bubbly and happy girl that everyone in the town knew.

Finally her sister Helen, a keen bowler, persuaded her to join the Riverstone Ladies Bowling club and to this Kate attributes her gradual return to life. She was drawn in by a wonderful group of friends, ladies who were determined that the ‘old Kate’ would be resurrected. She began to enjoy a social life again and proved very adept at bowls, winning championships in pairs, triples and mixed pairs.

Kate became a stronger personality, for in September 2000 she had to handle the loss of her youngest son, Michael Keith, to epilepsy.

Kate has always considered friends her greatest asset and none more so than Dave Greentree whom she had known since she was 17 years old. They formed a strong friendship that lasted for 26 years until he passed away on 20th March 2013.

The McCarthy family of nine children was typical of large families in the early 1900s but those nine children have gone on to marry and still their descendants have built up the town of Riverstone. Many of them do not realize what a battle their great grandparents undertook for the survival of these families. The families of Gwen Beutel, Joan Knott, Thora Smith, Eileen Berg, Helen Gosden, Katie Pead and Patsy Moulds, also Sidney John aka “Manny”, all owe their history to Cecily McCarthy who took in washing and ironing so her children could enjoy a more prosperous life than hers.

Back Row: L.R. Thora Smith, Gwen Beutel, Cecily Ann McCarthy (90) Joan Knott, Eileen Berry.
Front Row: L.R. Patsy Moulds, Katie Pead, Helen Gosden. Photo: Katie Pead

The Raw Prawn

by Bernice Cook

2013 photo turned into pop art by a Raw Prawn customer.

The Raw Prawn opened just in time for Christmas, December 1990. Since “Day 1” The business has always occupied the shop on the Corner of Pitt Street & Garfield Road at Riverstone (opposite the P.O.). It was a record shop prior to that, however Dad thought it was prime digs for setting up a family run Seafood/Fish’n’Chip shop.

Mum and Dad, (Rex & Ellen Thompson), opened the family business and ran it for 12 years. They moved from Winston Hills (family home where we grew up) out to Box Hill looking to “open spaces” and a few acres to breed Quarter Horses. Dad was self employed in the Aircon/Refrigeration trade and Mum had opened up the Laundromat in Pitt Street. When the shop on the corner became available Dad decided to hang up his Aircon tools and set up an “old style” Fish’n’Chip shop. They soon realised it was too hard to run both businesses so Mum sold the Laundromat and they focused on making the Raw Prawn a standout seafood business, no hamburgers or milk bar set up, just traditional Fish’n’Chips with a sideline to sell fresh fish, prawns and oysters.

They had no prior experience with fish’n’chips, however they both had experience in self run businesses. Dad had seen a few “speciality” fish’n’chip shops around Sydney (Manly, Bondi, Cronulla) as part of his Refrigeration work and was keen to set something along those lines here in Riverstone, because there was nothing like it out this way, where you can choose a fish from the display and have it cooked while you wait. It was a different concept to your average take away where everything is pre cooked or comes pre made.

Ad from Blacktown Advocate dated 17 May 2000.

Mum and Dad retired in February 2003 and Garry and I took over the business. Dad stayed on with us for a further 12 months, but he was tired, and more than ready to retire to look after Mum who has been successfully battling cancer for 20+ years, but was at a point where she required assistance at home full time.

Why did we decided to take over the business? Mum and Dad had tried to sell the business for some time, however, the market wasn’t there and they really wanted to see it pass on in the family. We were at a point in our life where we were looking for a “sea change”…. We had been living in Melbourne for 10 years with Garry’s last posting in the Army. We were wanting to come back to Sydney once he retired from the Services and for family reasons and thought why not take over the family fish shop!!! I was with Telstra and negotiated a transfer to Sydney and Garry had always wanted to try his hand as a cook, it just kind of fell into place.

I hadn’t really helped out in the shop in earnest before that because we were always posted interstate or far away, however, when we visited we always would end up down there at the shop.

Over the years some of the things we have sold has changed. As with all businesses you have to reinvent and renew a little along the way or you don’t grow and keep up with current demands and expectations of your customer market. The business was hit by a few major changes over our history.

1) Direct impact when the Meat Works closed and the Air Force pulled out of Riverstone. We had to review and down size a great deal because the customer base diminished drastically. Basically Mum and Dad reduced the staff by three and cut back on the product offering, no longer supporting the fresh seafood market side of the business and just featuring cooked fish’n’chips but continued to stock prawns and oysters.

2) The new “healthy lifestyle” boom hit where customers became more health conscience and fish became popular again. Fresh produce was in demand and the market for Grilled food vs. Fried food was on the rise.

We changed to once again stock a wide range of fresh seafood sourced from Pyrmont Fish Market and incorporated a line of Grilled fish and Salad options on the menu as well as premium lines such as Salmon, Swordfish, Lobster etc . Due to the growth in Riverstone and a direct change in operating processes and new product lines our staff numbers have increased by three again.

As we are a small business it is impossible to stock everything that say DeCosti would stock. However, we do offer customers the service of sourcing whatever they may require as per special request. We do a produce run to the fish market every Tuesday and Friday morning armed with a list of special requests from customers and do our best to accommodate their desires be it whole Kingfish/Snapper/Red Emperor, Live Mud Crabs, Alaskan King Crab, Sea Urchins, Jumbo Pacific Oysters… We have had many wonderful requests and can usually hunt them down.

We have stayed true to our original core product and will continue to only offer fresh and cooked seafood produce. We believe this is our strength and as the saying goes, “if it’s not broke don’t fix it”

On average we are out of bed by 4:30 am on market days (Tuesday and Friday) travel into the city to be at the markets by 6:30am. We hand pick our fresh fish fillets, Prawns, Oysters and other required seafood products from varied wholesalers and retailers at Pyrmont. We arrive back at the Raw Prawn around 9am and begin to set up for the day, setting the window and prepare fillets etc. Open at 11am each day close at 7:30/8pm each nite. Clean up after closing and home by 9pm at night. Tuesday, Wednesday are by most the busiest weekdays and of course Friday being the traditional take away night in town.

The highest trading periods are always Christmas and Easter for obvious reasons and we are 24 hour busy preparing and servicing customers at these periods. On average at Christmas we usually turnaround approx. 300 kg of prawns and around 150 doz. Oysters, 100 lobsters & approx 15kg of crabs. We manage this mainly through customer pre orders but we are at full capacity at this time. Easter time the queue’s are primarily for cooked fish n chips as we are under the pump, we basically do a two weeks trade volume in the space of eight hours. But it’s very rewarding because our customers are happy and truly appreciate the effort we put in to the day and don’t mind the 45-60min wait for dinner!!

Contrary to popular belief winter is not our strongest trading season. Seafood is a summer food and no one likes cooking after being on a train or in traffic on a hot summer day, hence the fish’n’chips fall back. We close early at 2pm on Sundays because you just have to maintain some sort of life balance and we normally eat out somewhere to keep a finger on the pulse.

We are pretty much running to capacity 80% of the time so I don’t have plans to “grow” the business so to speak. However, there is always room for change so I am open to whatever tomorrow may bring. If we were to make any change it would be to improve the outdoor dining experience and provide an established seating area. This would cause some operational changes and also impact on staffing which comes at a cost. We are very sensitive in the current economical environment so when/if the demand occurs we will review the need for change.

Bernice and Garry at work at the Raw Prawn in 2013.

A Stitch in Time – Mary Frances Cusack’s School Sampler

by Ron Mason 28th June 2013

Laurie Hession [1923-2004] was a collector. He collected stamps, coins, bottles, farming implements, household appliances and lots of other things that some people would dismiss as junk. Laurie was also a local historian with a great enthusiasm for the heritage of Nelson, Box Hill and Riverstone. Not surprisingly, his collection included many items that are important in helping us to understand the history and way of life that characterised these small farming communities – an understanding that will only become more important as these communities are displaced by Sydney’s urban growth.

Earlier this year, Laurie’s family invited the Riverstone and District Historical Society to view his collection and to nominate items that the Society felt were appropriate for inclusion in the Riverstone Museum collection. As a consequence the family generously donated a number of significant items to the museum.

Sampler embroidered by Mary Frances Cusack during her days at Nelson.

This sampler is an important addition to the Museum’s collection because it is a rare and well-preserved example of a 19th century, school-girl’s needlework. It is also important because it is one of only two known existent artefacts associated with the Nelson Denominational School, which operated from 1866 to 1883 and was most probably the earliest school in the district. Finally, it is important because of its associations with two of the district’s pioneering families – the Cusack and Mason families.


In the days before the ready availability of cheap, mass-produced clothes and when hand embroidered and crochet doilies, milk jug covers, tablecloths, cushion covers and other pieces of needle craft were found in most Australian homes, sewing and embroidery were considered to be essential skills for all schoolgirls. Indeed the revised “Timetable for National Schools” introduced in 1851 required girls to devote one hour each day to needlework 1 . This requirement applied to all NSW schools regardless of whether the school was a rough slab and bark building accommodating a handful of farmers’ children or a prestigious city school.

To demonstrate that they had satisfied the requirements of the syllabus girls were expected to produce an embroidered sampler 2. These samplers served several purposes. They were a record of the stitches and patterns learned as well as a demonstration of the student’s needlework skills. They were also a means of teaching the alphabet, numbers and even multiplication tables.

Typically school samplers were of a kind known as band or marking samplers. These were worked in bands or rows usually with a repeat border design and commonly incorporating the alphabet, numbers, motifs and sometimes a verse or quotation 3. It was also usual to include the student’s name, their school and the date on which the sampler was produced.

These samplers could be quite elaborate and finely worked and many became cherished family keepsakes that were handed down from generation to generation. The sampler, now in the Riverstone Museum is one such example.


So who was Mary Frances Cusack? The short answer is that she was the Nelson Denominational School master’s daughter and her mother was the sewing teacher.

Mary’s father James Cusack arrived in Sydney as an assisted Irish 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 Denominational School 4.

While at Cattai, James Cusack met and subsequently married another Irish immigrant, Rose Brady. Rose had travelled to Australia, with her two sisters and two brothers, in 1854 to join another brother, James, who had arrived some time earlier. James subsequently acquired land on the banks of Cattai Creek not far from the Cattai School and so the Brady family and James Cusack became neighbours. In more recent times, the Brady farm became a popular picnic spot known as “The Willows Picnic Park”.

In 1858 James and Rose married and set up home in the slab and bark residence provided for the teacher. They had six children, including Mary, and all were born during their time at Cattai.

Mary Frances Cusack (1864-1936)

The following photograph was probably taken during the early 1880s before her marriage to Samuel Mason Jnr in 1886. It was copied from an original Tintype (also known as Ferrotype) that was in the possession of her granddaughter, Ronnie Huxley nee Mason. The invention of the Tintype in 1854 brought the reality of photography closer to the mass population.


Eight years later a new school was built at Nelson and the Denominational School Board approved the transfer of James Cusack and his stipend from Cattai Creek 5. A history of the Nelson school was published in the Society’s 2005 Journal.

The new school was located in Old Pitt Town Road on 3035 square metres of land purchased from Samuel Henry Terry. The school had a single class room and an attached teacher’s residence which had four large rooms 6. It was built of “Posts and slabs, [with] 2 stone chimneys, [and a] roof [of] shingle.” 7 It also had a verandah along its long side and a detached slab kitchen with a bark roof.

One newspaper report credited Samuel Mason senior with having built the school and although it was located only about a hundred metres from his farm house, “Ironbark Park”, it is more likely that the whole of the Nelson community contributed to its development. Certainly all of the local children attended it, irrespective of their denomination.

Mary Cusack, who was just two years old when the family moved into the Nelson schoolhouse, was to spend the next seventeen years living there and it was during this time that she embroidered her sampler – almost certainly under the guidance of her mother. It was also during this time that she would have met a fellow student – Samuel Mason junior, whom she was to marry some years later.

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 2 year lease at an annual rental of £12 was signed on the 1st January 1883 9.

Six months later James Cusack retired and as a consequence the family had to vacate the school master’s residence. Where they lived for next few years is not known although when Mary married in 1886 she gave her place of residence as Nelson.


In 1886 Mary Frances Cusack married Samuel Joseph Mason. Samuel was the second son of Samuel Mason and Sarah Hession and was the third generation of the family to bear the name Samuel.

About twelve months before Mary and Samuel married, Samuel’s father purchased a saw mill at Riverstone and throughout the early years of his married life Samuel junior, as he was usually identified, worked as the benchman at his father’s mill and in later years took full control of it.

This car, believed to be a 1928 Buick belonged to the Norquay family.

On 25 July 1891 James Cusack purchased this land in Sydney Street, Riverstone. This photo was taken in 1930 by family friends who had emigrated from Ireland with James, W.W. Norquay.
The car, believed to be a 1928 Buick belonged to the Norquay family.
The Cusack family lived in the house until about 1935 when it was demolished. (Copied from a photo from Brian Mason.)

It was also during this time that Samuel and Mary purchased two blocks of land in Crown Road, Riverstone on which they built a modest slab cottage. Twelve months later Mary’s father purchased a neighbouring property in Sydney Street –and so Mary’s parents, her unmarried siblings, Will, Sarah [Sadie] and Kate, and her maiden Aunt Theresa Brady were living just a short walk away. Both families expanded their land holdings over the years and both continued to live there until there were no longer any surviving members.

Rear of cottage

On 8th August 1890 Samuel Mason purchased two blocks of land in Crown Road and built this modest, white washed slab cottage. The photo shows the rear of the cottage. To the left is their 2nd house.

The man on the left is Vincent Mason (teacher Annagrove school) and his brother Joe. The boy is one of Joe’s sons. (Original photo from Ronnie Huxley.)

These would have been goods days for Sam and Mary. Their family was expanding and Sam had steady employment at the mill. However, by 1899 the Mason mill had ceased operations and Sam became the benchman at Jim Ouvrier’s Riverstone mill. It was then that he suffered a serious accident that was to end his days as a sawyer and to cause great hardship for the family. The local newspaper reported that while he was working at the bench of Ouvrier’s mill “Three fingers and the thumb of the left hand were severed, part of the hand also being cut off.” 10

For a comparatively young man with a wife and six young children, the youngest of whom was only four weeks old, this was a devastating event. He was unable to work and there were no such things as workers’ compensation or unemployment or disability payments. However, the people of Riverstone rallied to their support. The press reported that “The Riverstone cricketers have taken it upon themselves to assist Mr. Sam Mason in his distress, and are organising a concert … Riverstone is certainly one of the best hearted and most charitable communities we know.” 11 Despite this help, their life became a struggle. Mary’s only daughter, Cass Mason, recalled many years later that the family “was very poor, she wasn’t sure how they survived – although things got better as the family grew up and went to work”. 12


Mary and Sam had eight children – seven boys and a daughter. Four of the boys: Joe, Austin, Ambrose and Vincent, followed in their grandfather’s footsteps by becoming school teachers – all at country hamlets. Their fifth son, Frank, became the long-serving Town Clerk of Windsor while Jim, their youngest, remained at Crown Road where he became a poultry farmer. However, Jim can claim some connection with schooling as the first, purpose-built school building to be erected at St John’s School Riverstone is named the “James Mason Memorial School” in his honour.

Cass, who was the longest surviving member of the family, was sent to secretarial school in Sydney. In later life she “wondered how her parents could afford to send her to Sydney to learn shorthand and typing”.13  She also recalled that “at the place she attended they gave her an extra free lesson after lunch because she had to travel so far [from Riverstone to the City].”

Clearly, it was of great importance to Mary and Sam that their children should receive a good education and they were prepared to make sacrifices to ensure that this happened. It is tempting to speculate that this ethic resulted both from lessons learned during Mary’s childhood as a schoolmaster’s daughter and from their later life experiences, particularly the hardships that resulted from Sam’s injuries.

The other tragedy that was to be a defining event in Mary’s life was the death of her son, Ambrose, during the First World War. Like so many other young Australian men, Ambrose volunteered for service in the 1st Australian Imperial Force – the AIF. Initially he was posted to Egypt for training before joining the 1st Battalion on the Western Front. Seven months later he was killed during what became known as the First Battle of the Somme.

Ambrose’s body was not found for some time and as a consequence Mary desperately clung to the belief that he had been taken prisoner by the Germans. This belief originated from mistaken evidence given to the Red Cross stating that he had been captured. The uncertainty about what had happened to him seems to have been further exacerbated by what appears to have been at best incompetence or at worst a callous indifference on the part of the military bureaucracy. The Red Cross continued to make enquiries on Mary’s behalf and in August 1917 was able to advise her that it had received unsubstantiated advice that Ambrose’s body had in fact been recovered four months after he had been killed and that he had been buried on the battlefield sometime between February and April 1917. Mary provided this information to the Army’s Base Records Office seeking confirmation. However, this was not received until the publication of the 380th casualty list in January 1918.

Both Mary and Sam died at their home in Crown Road. Sam had been an accomplished cricketer and was at a cricket match being played on the old Nelson cricket ground when he became ill. He never recovered and died about twelve months later on the 5th July 1923. Mary lived for another thirteen years. Her death, in 1936, was reported as “somewhat sudden, and was quite unexpected by those near and dear to her.” 14 Both Mary and Sam are buried in Riverstone cemetery.


In 1972 ownership of the family home passed to Cass Mason and in 1976 following the death of her brother, Vincent, she decided that the time had come for the property to be sold. Vincent had been the last member of the family to occupy the Crown Road house.

This decision inevitability meant that the contents of the house – the accumulated family possession, papers, photographs and memorabilia had to be disposed of. This included Mary’s sampler which had remained a cherished family keepsake for just over a hundred years.

Knowing of Laurie Hession’s interest in conserving the past, Cass entrusted the sampler and a number of other items to him for safe keeping and now Laurie’s family have in turn passed the sampler on to the Riverstone Museum for its safe keeping.

    1. Jan Burnswoods & Jim Fletcher, “Sydney and the Bush – A Pictorial History of Education in NSW”, NSW Department of Education, Sydney 1980, p57.
    2. Ibid, p65.
    3. NSW Powerhouse Museum, “Statement of Significance – Embroidered Sampler by Eleanor   Anderson, 1900”,
    4. NSW AO, Miscellaneous Letters ‑ Denominational School Board (1852­55), Minutes dated 7th December 1853 from Archdeacon McEncroe, 1/313.
    5. NSW AO, Denominational School Board, Miscellaneous Correspondence, Application to establish a  Denominational School at Nelson, 14 December, 1866.
    6. NSW AO, Miscellaneous Letters ‑ Denominational School Board (1852­55), Minutes dated 7th December 1853 from Archdeacon McEncroe, 1/313.
    7. op. cit
    8. The Catholic Press, 8th August 1935, p27.
    9. NSW AO, Nelson School File, 5/17086.1.
    10. Windsor & Richmond Gazette, 16th February 1901, p12.
    11. Windsor & Richmond Gazette, 2nd March 1901, p3.
    12. Cass Mason, Riverstone, 11th July 1982, conversation with the author.
    13. Cass Mason, Riverstone, 11th July 1982, conversation with the author.
    14. Windsor & Richmond Gazette, 6th November 1936, p3.


Edward Vaughan

by Rosemary Phillis

Edward Vaughan

Born on the 3rd of March in 1867, Edward Vaughan grew up in Balmain. He was 17 when his family came to Riverstone around 1884. It is no exaggeration to say that he was one of our finest citizens. In his time he was referred to as the “Father of Riverstone” and “Daddy Vaughan”.

Known as Ted, his energy was limitless and for years he was involved in just about every community event and organisation. Some of his major contributions include:

    • 60 years a Warden of St Paul’s Church of England, Riverstone.
    • 59 years of the St Paul’s Sunday School.
    • 57 years Financial Secretary of the Loyal Pride of Riverstone Lodge Cumberland District of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows.
    • Over 50 years Trustee of the Church of England portion of the Riverstone Cemetery.
    • 10 years president of the Riverstone Public School P&C.
    • 6 years vice president of the Riverstone Public School P&C.
    • Vice president of the Riverstone Debating Society, Church of England Temperance Society, Riverstone Literary Institute and the Riverstone Progress Association.
    • Alderman on Windsor Council from 1925-1929.
    • Treasurer of the Back to Riverstone committee.
    • Justice of the Peace.
    • Local Shopkeeper and businessman.

Ted’s association with the Church of England commenced when his family came to the town. He attended the first planning meeting for the Church of England and it was the start of a long connection with the Church that extended to his parents, brother and sisters. To this day, 128 years later, one of his sister’s grandchildren is still a member of the congregation.

Apart from running various organisations, Ted had a good singing voice and performed at many local events. He sang both serious and comic songs and was often applauded to perform an encore.

After a concert in Rouse Hill the reporter in the Gazette of 16 February 1895, wrote….Our genial friend, Ted Vaughan…, was in good voice, and was encored. This is his usual fate – all about here know a good song when they hear it – and are not satisfied, but, like little Oliver Twist, want more….

Ted played in a local cricket team. The Gazette in December 1889 listed him in the Riverstone second eleven which played against the Prospect second eleven. Ted scored two not out and took a catch to dismiss the top scoring Prospect batsman for 28.

Ted organised community and social events and if the snippet from the Gazette of 24 December 1892 is an indication, when Ted was involved, a good time was generally guaranteed. Mr E. Vaughan presided over a good meeting of those who intend journeying to Clydesdale on Boxing-day for a picnic. All arrangements have been made, and the pleasure-seekers will assemble at the Temperance Hall for a start between 9 and 10 that morning. Mr. Vaughan will be there, so they may expect plenty of fun.

The Oddfellows Lodge officially opened in the Riverstone Temperance Hall at Riverstone on Monday the 11 July 1892. Five months later the Gazette of 10 December reported Mr. E Vaughan has been elected secretary for the local Oddfellows’ Lodge, vice (sic) Mr. Bert Hibbert who resigned….It was the start of 57 years in the role of Secretary in the Lodge. Few people would be a member of an organisation for that length of time, let alone a major office bearer.

Ted was a District Grand Master for two years c1910. His work was recognised in 1910 when he was presented with an illuminated address and a suit of regalia by members of the Grand Lodge.

In 1896 Ted married Mary Matilda Dawson (known as Minnie) at St Paul’s. Prior to his wedding the teachers and pupils of St Paul’s Sunday School presented him with a marble clock, Bible, and an illuminated address, which read in part…. to show our appreciation of the whole hearted manner in which you have, for many years, held the position of Superintendent of the Sunday school. The regularity of your attendance and the great interest you have taken in the children, have been the means of encouraging both the teachers and children in their work.

Ted and Minnie had three children, Raymond (1897), William (1901) and Jack (1910). The family lived for years in a cottage in Wood Street. They lived in Riverstone for all of their married lives except in 1917, when they moved to Harris Park/Granville. They returned to Riverstone in 1918.

Ted worked in the grocery business. He worked for Charles Davis, collecting and delivering groceries. The Gazette of 22 June 1895 chronicled, Mr E Vaughan met with an accident one day last week. It appears he was delivering goods at the meat-works, when something startled the grey mare which he usually drives in the grocer’s cart…

The Gazette of 2 November 1907 had a brief note that Mr E. Vaughan is now employed at Mr H. Smith’s store. Both stores are shown in a postcard from around 1903.

His daughter-in-law Dorothy remembered that he worked for Tillocks Grocery Warehouse in Sydney, travelling on the 5.50 train every morning to the City.

Around 1922 he went into business with Lionel McCutcheon in a General Store located on the corner of Riverstone Parade and Market Streets in Riverstone. The store was purchased from Mr H. Smith.

Ted on one of the ponies he rode to collect orders.

Ted rode a pony named Roany around the district, collecting and delivering orders. Lionel McCutcheon spent his time serving customers in the shop. They employed locals to help out in the shop including Hector Alcorn, Dot Beazley and Jessie Schofield. Besides groceries they sold a little haberdashery, manchester, men’s and children’s wear.

Vaughan and McCutcheon’s Store on the corner of Riverstone Parade and Market Streets.

From 1925 to 1929 Ted was elected as a Councillor on the Windsor Council. In the lead up to the election, a journalist at the Gazette on 4 December 1925 summarised his credential as follows:-

… A wise and intelligent man in the commercial life of the “Chicago of Australia he would make a good alderman. “Ted” Vaughan, as everyone calls him, is very popular in the town where he has spent many years of business activity. He is a prominent man in the Friendly Society work, and his well-known business acumen and good work in the interests of the public will secure for him a good measure of support at the election on Saturday.

Ted was the President of the Riverstone Public School Parents and Citizens Association from 1925 to 1935 and Vice President from 1931 to 1941. He would have continued, but the P&C disbanded for several years during World War 2. One of his major achievements was the establishment of a new school on the corner of Garfield Road and Piccadilly Street, which opened in 1929.

In 1929 Ted was appointed as a Justice of the Peace. He retired from Council the same year. During his time as an Alderman on Windsor Council, along with Aldermen Lawson and Rosenthal, he worked hard to have a water supply and electricity connected to the town. Their attempts through Windsor were unsuccessful, so they worked to sever ties with Windsor. Eventually Riverstone became part of the Blacktown Shire. This ultimately led to water and electricity arriving in 1933-34.

Such was the importance of the arrival of these services that a Committee formed to decide how best to celebrate the momentous events. According to Mr E. Crouch Sen. in a letter to the Gazette of 1 July 1953….A sum of £300 was raised, then land purchased for a park, and after fencing, etc, was completed the amount raised had totalled some £723 due largely to the efforts of the late Mr. Vaughan. I had the honour to work with him as organiser on that occasion. Yet not even a vote of thanks to him was recorded…..

Ted’s contributions to the Church of England were recognised when he was given the honour of switching on the newly installed electric light.

Gazette 29 June 1934

The Vaughan and McCutcheon business closed in 1933 owing to bad times and unpaid debts. Ted’s eldest son Ray had become a builder and constructed many substantial buildings in Riverstone and the district. In 1934 the Gazette advised We hear that Mr. Edward Vaughan…, intends to open up a cash and carry store in new premises being built in Garfield-road by his son, Mr. Ray Vaughan. The Gazette later reported: Mr. E. Vaughan is removing from Oxford-street next week-end to a new shop in Garfield-road where he intends opening up a grocery business. It is interesting to note that he would have been about 67 years old when he opened the shop!

Early 1980s. The shop built by Ray Vaughan and operated by Ted.

The following advertisement shows that he sold more than groceries.

The mid 1930s saw Ted continue with his Lodge and Church work, as well as being a committee member on the 1937 and 1938 Riverstone Show Committees.

The war years were a sad time as his wife died in 1943 aged 70. The war did not stop his community involvement and in 1944 he obtained his St John’s Ambulance First Aid Certificate.

In 1950 Ted was presented with the Secretary’s Jewel. This was the first to be presented in the Cumberland District. The Gazette reporter wrote that at a special ceremony at the Riverstone Lodge of the M.U.I.O.O.F., that he had been financial Secretary since joining some 57 years earlier. At the gathering he was presented with a Secretary’s Jewel – the first presented by Cumberland District in more than 100 years. Bro. Clarke said, in his own personal tribute, that Bro. Vaughan’s books were “a credit to him” and “he not only works for the Lodge in this district, but for the Sunday School and the Church as a whole.” “There is not a man amongst us who is loved and respected more than Bro. Vaughan.” Bro. Clarke added. “Wherever his name is mentioned it is respected.”

Ted in his regalia at his grand daughter Val’s debut

Once Ted retired he kept busy. His daughter-in-law Dot recalled “he was active to the end of his life, helping people fill out forms and writing references for young people. He jokingly referred to himself as a ‘Philadelphia lawyer’ for all of the advice that he gave to people over the years”. Dot also recalls people referring to him as the “Father of Riverstone” or “Daddy Vaughan.”

Edward Vaughan passed away on 30 May 1953 aged 86. His obituary in the Gazette of 3 June 1953 read …A leading figure for very many years in public movements in his community, and in church and friendly society work, Mr. Vaughan was regarded in affectionate esteem by all who knew him…

Fittingly, Edward was buried in the Riverstone Cemetery, where he was a cemetery trustee from 1893, representing the Church of England until the last years of his life.

In a letter to the editor of the Gazette of 1 July 1953 edition, Mr E. Crouch called for subscriptions to “perpetuate the memory of the late Mr. Vaughan”. He likened Ted to two Prime Ministers, his letter read in part:- Sir, – Of late Australia has mourned the loss of two great men, the late J.B. Chiefly and the late W.M Hughes. Now we have the passing at Riverstone of that grand old man known and esteemed as “Ted” Vaughan – comparatively , in a more restricted sphere, as great as the two other men mentioned – after half a century in office in church work and as an officer of his lodge…..

The call for subscriptions grew and on 2 October 1955, a memorial service was held at St Paul’s Church of England where a brass tablet and bell reproduction system were dedicated to his honour.

The people of Riverstone owe much to Edward “Ted” Vaughan. He was a remarkable man and one of our finest citizens.

The Museum Building – Happy 130th Birthday

by Rosemary Phillis

The rooms which make up the Museum were constructed over many years. The original building started life as the Riverstone Public School. Construction commenced in 1882 and the school opened to students in January 1883.

Notice from The Australian, Windsor, Richmond and Hawkesbury Advertiser of 13 January 1883.

The initial building consisted of a school room and a two roomed teacher’s residence. The following sketch from an 1880s Boyd and Kings Grantham Estate sale booklet, provides some idea of what the original school looked like at the time.

As soon as it opened, the school was found to be too small. Built for 42 students, within six months the enrolment climbed to 75. To alleviate the overcrowding problem, a two-roomed weather shed was constructed in the grounds and was used as a classroom.

Hawkesbury Chronicle and Farmers Advocate 1 December 1883

Attendances continued to grow and accommodation became tighter. In 1887, a schoolroom measuring 36 x 17 x 11 ft, along with a classroom for an infants class, measuring 16 x 12 x 11ft, were added. These two rooms now form the main hall of the Museum. The teacher’s residence was expanded into the original schoolroom as the two roomed residence had never been big enough for a teacher, his wife and six children.

In 1893 another classroom was added to the back of the building, followed by another room in 1907. The newest classroom can be seen in the Charles Kerry photo below (c1907) with the paler coloured roof. These two rooms now form one long display room at the back of the Museum.

In 1913 renovations to the school saw the installation of a folding partition between the second schoolroom and the infants classroom. This allowed an adjustment to the internal size of both rooms. At the same time another window was added, along with additional vents and a heating stove.

Sketch showing the layout of the classrooms in 1913.


In 1914 the four rooms that had formed the original schoolroom and kitchen were changed into two rectangular spaces for a library and reading area and the two rooms comprising the original teacher’s residence became a long manual room housing a training room.

Sketch showing proposed 1914 alterations. Garfield Road would be at the bottom of the sketch. The rooms marked “B” shown behind the word Plan are now our entry room and library. The rooms shown as “Manual Training Room” were originally part of the teachers’ residence. Although the rooms have long been demolished, some of the foundations can be seen in the current driveway at the Museum.

In 1929 a new Public school opened on the corner of Garfield Road and Piccadilly Street and in 1931 the old school was sold to the Riverstone Masonic Temple Limited. The lodge arranged renovations to convert the former school into a Masonic Temple.

The long windows in the 1893 and 1907 classrooms (some of which can be seen on the left hand side of the photo above) were bricked up, leaving only high clerestory windows which remain to this day. The external door used by the teacher on the eastern end of the building was also bricked up. A new room was added at the front of these rooms to form an entry foyer to the Masonic Lodge. (It is this room that has the date 1932 on the front above the door.) The cloak room at the front still exists in part and inside the Museum you can still see the clothes hooks used by the students.

In 1987 the site was purchased by Blacktown Council. After significant renovations, the building opened in 1988 as the Blacktown and District Bicentennial Museum.

In 2002 during renovations, the foundations of the original teacher’s residence were uncovered. When you look at the small size of the rooms, shown below, you can’t imagine how they would have have housed two adults and six children.

In 2009 a large two roomed display shed was constructed on the back half of the site. It was officially opened on the 7th of February 2010.

2013. Inside the new display shed. Kevin Lewis, Blanche Buchanan, Glenn Wood and Jim Buchanan admire our latest display case which was hand made by John Watton and Graham Britton.

In 2011 a new toilet block was built to the eastern side of the 1893 classroom and an awning attached to the back of the 1893 and 1907 classrooms. The photo below shows the additions as at 2013.

Blacktown Bicentennial Museum Mini Conservation Management Plan. September 2005 by Rosemary Broomham.