Category Archives: In Their Own Words

Mystery Solved October – Mount Colah Grammar School

This building was once part of the Grammar School

This building was once part of the Grammar School

Like today, in years gone by many children in Berowra and the surrounding area left the immediate suburb to attend school. In the mid 20th century, one school available to local families was the Mount Colah Grammar School which was once located near Mount Colah Station. The Grammar School was originally located in Berowra itself, but moved to Mt Colah where it shared the land with St George Church Of England. You can read a little about the Grammar School during it’s Berowra years here.

Beverley Gibbons attended the school at Mount Colah from the age of ten and recalls:

The Mount Colah Grammar School was a Church of England School run by Mr and Mrs Sidwell. Some people called it Sidwell’s School. All of the buildings were made of fibro, including the little Church which we went to every morning. I remember lining up outside the Church for my first funeral.

It wasn’t a big school. The house which is left is where the Sidwell’s lived and also where Mrs Sidwell taught kindergarten. She had a little Pekinese dog which she used to carry around with her – it yapped and yapped, but she loved it. Mr Sidwell taught the older children in another big building which was nearby – it might have had two rooms. He took classes from 3rd or 4th I think, right through to high school (which was three years then).

We had a school uniform and I remember for the girls it was a brown serge tunic with box pleats and a belt. We wore a white shirt underneath and also a green tie. In later years, for Summer, there was a bone frock with green buttons. We wore felt hats in Winter and in Summer we had straw panama hats.

There was quite a lot of land, and it sloped down at the back into the gully. We had a playing field down there, but there were also a lot of caves, which were very deep.

The school ran for at least 20 years I think, and closed down perhaps in the late 1950s or early 1960s. I think it closed when one of the Sidwells died.

Does anybody remember attending this school, or know of local children who attended? Leave us a comment!

Elissa

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Day Trippers To The Waters

Image courtesy of the Hornsby Library Collection, courtesy of Hedley & Del Somerville.

Image courtesy of the Hornsby Library Collection, courtesy of Hedley & Del Somerville.

This interesting photograph from the 1920’s features W E (Billy) Wall great/grandson of Mary Wall with visitors at Berowra Waters. In the background is the Kiosk of his mother-in-law, Ada Foster Jones.

The following extract is from  An Entertaining Life -Memories of ‘Mr Don’ by Don Wall son of W E Wall.

‘..During my early childhood I can vividly recall watching my dad convert his tabletop truck from an ordinary vehicle into a bus.He would back the truck into a special stand,release the U bolts and by the use of jacks lift the tabletop off the truck’s chassis and secure it .He would then drive the truck out,minus the tabletop and reverse it into a nearby stand,where the bus top was in position,then lower it onto the truck’s chassis and secure it with U bolts.It was fascinating to watch the transformation. On completion of the exercise he would drive the bus to Berowra and transport weekend holiday-makers,mainly fishermen and people enjoying a day on the river,to and from Berowra Waters. The roads were not sealed and with solid rubber tyres,the bus trip was not as comfortable as we enjoy today.

Everybody was in a holiday mood and after travelling to Berowra by train,boarded the bus,which carried about 30 people.The journey generated a lot of fun.On the Monday, following the weekend’s activities,he would reverse the process and use the truck for his transport business. .’..

Robyn

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In Their Own Words – Super Shopping

Weller Photo 1

Once, in a time before it was common for all of your shopping needs to be available online, waiting to be delivered to your home, an enterprising Berowra family provided a much needed service to the community. Karla Weller recalls:

In 1959 Hans and Karla Weller of Turner Road (since 1957 and still there) started Super Shopping Service – who remembers ????

It was then a novel idea: collecting orders every Tuesday and delivering them to customers in Berowra and Mt. Kuringai (and later Cowan, Mt. Colah and Asquith) later in the week.

The goods delivered comprised groceries, meat, fruit and veges, delicatessen, bulk store goods (then in vogue), dry cleaning and much more.

It was a welcome service in an area with few shops and little transport and for people without their own transport. Especially the elderly were happy to have their orders delivered. In those days it was even possible to leave the door open so that goods could be put in the kitchen and the meat in the fridge! So the customer did not have to stay home to take delivery.

weller photo 2

As the business grew a shop (later demolished) was opened at the Cross roads and later they bought Max Taylor’s(?) fruit shop next-door (also gone – now Homebiz).

The idea was ahead of its time: it would have been simpler to run with a computer and mobile phones – then non-existent.

It was a period in which the banks were tight-fisted and so a point was reached where necessary extension was not possible and of course new competition from supermarkets made business less profitable, despite the hard work that went into it.

So after Christmas 1965 the fruit shop was sold and the delivery service closed.

The type of business was ahead of its time and would now be a bonus for working mothers and seniors in the community in this era.

We wonder who remembers the service or has it been completely forgotten?

Karla Weller

Images courtesy of Karla Weller

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In Their Own Words – The Box Brownie

Neil Davis with his Brownie Box Camera from the fifties      Photo: Merle Davis

Neil Davis with his Brownie Box Camera from the fifties Photo: Merle Davis

Long term Berowra resident, Neil Davis has some first-hand experience to add to our two most recent blogs:

In the photo showing an early Berowra Waters Ferry, operated by Hornsby Council and driven by local man Mr. Bill Ewings I noticed that our attention is drawn to the shadow of the photographer on the shoreline, which is showing a typical stance used when photographing with a Brownie Box Camera. I happen to have one of these in my possession. It is equipped with a flash light, which can be easily attached when needed. I suppose, rather than describing the workings of this camera, it would be easier for one to look up . . . The Brownie Camera @ 100: A Celebration. This is a very informative site. But I must say that these old cameras . . . apart from being almost indestructible, were very easy to use, and being cheap, were very popular.

Neil Davis with his Brownie Box Camera and Flash     Photo: Merle Davis

Neil Davis with his Brownie Box Camera and Flash Photo: Merle Davis

These quaint old “Punts” as we called the Ferries then, did a sterling job over the years while only travelling at a slow, steady pace. I recall, about 1948, not long after the war, a few of us young blokes swam across the creek from the Rex Jones boatshed to the western side punt ramp. We would then wait for the punt to start back across the river, dive into the water and grab the rear loading ramp of the punt to get a tow back to the eastern side. When Bill Ewings found us clinging on, he quite rightly gave us a severe dressing down about the dangers we had ignored. Probably, this would shock some people today but these sorts of things were part of growing up in Berowra and The Waters. Just like Peter Huett, working on the punt gates, when he was only 10 years old.

Neil Davis

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In Their Own Words: House Building At 21 Berowra Waters Road

Shirleys House

Every concrete block in the garage (finished 1946) and in the house (finished 1948) was made by my parents Bert & Thelma Hobday.

Cement was scarce (the war had just finished). So hence the slow build.

The blocks were made with sand, cement and ashes. The latter were got by the trailer-load from the ‘San’ hospital – the residue in their coke or coal fired (?) burners (for the heating of water for the laundry etc). Dad shovelled in the ingredients while Mum turned the concrete mixer by hand. When mixed, the ingredients were pressed into greased moulds for ‘curing’.

Photo (circa 1954) and words courtesy of Shirley Collins (nee Hobday)

The flowering Double Ornamental Peach tree in the foreground is a reminder that Spring 2014 cannot be too far away. Many blossoms & buds are already appearing in gardens around our local area of Berowra.

Robyn.

 

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In Their Own Words – Dr Rich

Dr Beryl Rich

Dr Beryl Rich

The following account comes from Dr Rich, who was the first doctor (that we know of) to work in Berowra. She worked here from 1951 to 1958.

My name is Beryl Rich and as far as I know, I was the first resident medico in Berowra. This was quite unplanned. I graduated from Sydney University in March, 1944. I worked in hospitals for several years and planned to specialise in Obstetrics. However, I got married and started a family which was the end of my specialist plans.

As older people will recall, housing was very scarce in the post war years and like many young couples, we were forced to live with my parents. This proved to be most unsatisfactory and when my husband heard through a colleague of a partly built house for sale in Berowra, we jumped at the opportunity. I had continued working part time in a hospital but had no clear plans for my future.

We moved to Berowra about September, 1950. It was only a small, rather scattered village at that time. The house we bought was in Alan Rd, but the post office general store, run by Ernie and Joe Foster was on the highway.

Dr Eric Giblin, whom I had known at University, had started a general practice, based in Asquith which extended to Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury. When he found out I was living in Berowra, he suggested I start a practice there and cover from Berowra to Brooklyn, so in 1951 that is what I did. We added a small surgery and waiting room to our little house.

At the beginning of 1953, a fully built house on the highway came on the market and we bought that as the highway appeared to be the centre of activity. The Crossroads had only a small general store and it was not realized then that it would become the busy centre it is to-day. The house was on a double block so there was plenty of room to add a surgery and waiting room.

Thank-you to Susan Lynd for the kind donation of Dr Rich’s memories of Berowra. If you have any stories to share, please leave us a comment or send an email to the team!

Robyn.

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In Their Own Words – An Old Vintage Car Comes To Light

Old Car 1

In one of my local rambles (or should I say “bush bashes”) off the Fire Trail at the end of Turner Rd, I made a surprising discovery. I stumbled across a rusted out, very old, possibly vintage car belonging to the 1930s period. Only the shell remained, the wheels and motor had long since parted company. This “rust bucket” was firmly wedged in amongst sandstone outcrops. A number of tall trees and shrubs were blocking the car in its final resting place, ensuring it was going nowhere! Indications are that it had been there for some considerable time possibly well over 30 years.

Old rusted car

All sorts of questions flooded my mind:

  • Did a local Berowra resident once own this car? If so who was it?
  • How long had it been lying there in state….20, 30, 40 years?
  • What make of car is it? (it has been suggested that it could be a Hillman Minx 1938.)

Are there any local “old timers” or expert “rev heads” who might recognise this car from the photos?

Ros Mort

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In Their Own Words – Enterprises On The Waters

“Yvonne J “, photo courtesy of the Jones family

“Yvonne J “, photo courtesy of the Jones family

In 1948, the “Yvonne J” was the third cruiser that my late husband, Max Jones built especially to hire to people who wanted to have a holiday on Berowra Waters and the Hawkesbury River. They were the very first of the hire cruisers in NSW.

  Extract from “Outdoors and Fishing”, March 1955, p.60 (price 2/6) Periodical donated to Berowra Living History by Neil Davis


Extract from “Outdoors and Fishing”, March 1955, p.60 (price 2/6)
Periodical donated to Berowra Living History by Neil Davis

During the war in the Pacific (1942-’45) many boats were shipped out from USA in kit form and assembled in boat yards around Sydney Harbour.

When Max was in Asia with Australian Water Transport Small Ships Company he saw many of these very small boats working in shallow rivers and bays as tugs and carriers. The boats were only 26ft long, good design and built of plywood. They were known as “Dories”.

The war ended 15th August, ‘45 and Max was discharged in April,’46. About that time the army was selling off surplus equipment through Army Disposal Stores. When boat kits came up for auction Max got 8 of them. The first two he assembled and fitted out as 4 berth cruisers and sold privately and the others he kept for hiring. Later he brought in larger 36ft, 6 and 8 berth boats. It was a very successful business that we both enjoyed – many of our regular customers becoming lifelong friends.

“Jones Bros Cruisers”, photo courtesy of the Jones family

“Jones Bros Cruisers”, photo courtesy of the Jones family

In the 70s, when we had been in the boat hiring business for nearly 30 years, the first fibre-glass houseboats were being built for hire. That’s when we decided to sell up and get out. By that time we had fifteen 4 to 6 berth hire cruisers each with a dinghy and some spares. We also had half a dozen 18ft half cabin boats for fishermen, complete with icebox for cool beer and fish.

Then there was my favourite – the work boat with its massive Thunderbird motor. It was very fast and powerful for towing.

Yvonne (Von) Jones

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In Their Own Words – Growing Up In Berowra

The team at Berowra Living History is fortunate to have the opportunity to hear about (and often also read) people’s memories of living, working and growing up in Berowra. Our community, not just those living here now, but those who have moved on to other homes and communities, have wonderful memories which we love to share. The account below comes from Cheryl Jepson, who lived in Berowra in the 1950s and 1960s.

Class 2A, 1964, featuring Janita Hilda, Cheryl Sinclair, Sheryl Starling, Annette Wells, Peter Shackleton. The teacher this year was Miss Tucker

Class 2A, 1964, featuring Janita Hilda, Cheryl Sinclair, Sheryl Starling, Annette Wells, Peter Shackleton. The teacher this year was Miss Tucker

I lived in 10 Rawson Rd, which was a dirt road at that time, with my parents, sister Lynne and baby brother Stewart. Dad built a shack down the end of the road in the bush in the 1950’s. Mum did the washing in the caves where there were beautiful rock pools and waterfalls, all of which emptied into Bakers Pond. At that stage we didn’t have electricity.

My best friend Ann Richards, my sister and I were always playing in the gully all day and would return home filthy, bare-footed and scratched. Wild blackberries were abundant and we certainly helped ourselves to these fruits. There were old trams down the track which we played in – there would have been snakes everywhere. Mum didn’t know where we were half the time.

We were always carving our names in some of the trees. Down the track we found suitcases with clothes and shoes within. I think people used that area for a dumping ground. We of course used the old clothes in our cubby house.

In Rawson Rd there was a very small fibro shack on the right-hand side. (Next to the old chook farm buildings, which later burned down). There were pots of paint within the shack which we used to splash everywhere.

The bamboo grew to gigantic heights and we used these to play in, also in Rawson Rd. We had a great life and memories growing up as children in Berowra in the bush.

In 1961 I was in kindergarten and the teachers name I remember was Miss Smith. The children had to have a sleep after lunch. She used to have a tray of ‘Smiths’ chips to share with the students.

1962 was transition for 1st Class. I remember we had a social and my mother made me an outfit, created from white crepe paper. We were made up to look like cats and danced to the music of the ‘Pink Panther’.

In 1963 my teacher was Miss Douglas and I was 7 years old. (I don’t have a photo of that year). At assembly we had to sing “God Save The Queen”.

We were forced to drink 1/3 pint bottles of milk in glass bottles with the silver tops. The milk was in crates, placed in the assembly area which unfortunately was also in the sun; therefore the milk was hot and I didn’t like to drink it.

The tree behind the school photos was a great climbing tree and all the children used it for that purpose. My sister Lynne and I always walked to school, regardless of the weather. I can’t remember how far but was quite a distance for a youngster.

Class 3B of 1965. The same people are featured

Class 3B of 1965. The same people are featured

Do you have memories you would like to share? We would love to hear from you, and include your recollections and images in our archives and upcoming exhibitions.

Elissa

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Berowra Enterprise And Determination

The Hornsby & District Advocate Thursday April 3,1952 (on microfilm Hornsby Shire Library-Local Studies)

The Hornsby & District Advocate Thursday April 3, 1952
(on microfilm Hornsby Shire Library-Local Studies)

The attached newspaper  story resulted in the stall being located on the unused footpath backing onto Railway land in High Street Hornsby. Dad (Bob Withers) & I operated it on Fridays and I operated the stall on Saturday, with product we grew at Berowra or obtained from other growers. We started the stall, because the three green grocers formed a cartel to offer us low prices for our products, when there was a sudden glut, the shops could not lower their prices until they sold their current stock, whereas we bought from growers and sold at low prices very quickly. We had a three ton truck and loaded it with 3 tons of beans and sold them 3 pounds for two shillings, whilst the shops still had them at four shillings for one pound, so they all sold in about 4 days, on another occasion we had 3 tons of Cauliflowers and pulled the same trick. In those days people pickled & preserved vegetables. I made my first money growing half an acre of Carnations & half an acre of lettuce at Woodcourt Road, and would sell them on the roadside on Sundays near the cross roads.

J. Withers

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