Category Archives: houses

Sixty-Six Years Young

After World War Two finished in 1945 and ex-servicemen returned to civilian life, many couples married and began buying their own quarter acre blocks (around 1,000 square metres) in Berowra.

One such couple was Jack and Kath Molyneaux who bought 47a Woodcourt Road in 1949 and six years later purchased number 47.

Building materials were in very short supply so instead of building a large garage in which to live, as many couples did, Jack and Kath built the left hand end of their future home. This took nearly two years and by then their eldest child, Chris, had arrived.

Roof titles were available only after being on the waiting list for about six months so a temporary “roof” of “Malthoid”, (two ply felt impregnated with bitumen) was used instead. (pictures 1 and 2) It was held down by battens, but one day huge hailstones punched holes in the “Malthoid”! Imagine the mess!

Finally, by 1953, the rest of their home was completed. (picture 3) If you look at 47a today, you’ll still see the chimney but because the house has been extended over the years the chimney is now in the centre of the dwelling!

Picture 4 shows Chris, in the corner, cooling off in Molyneaux’s concrete wading pool, with some young neighbours. The pool converted to a sand pit in winter. Note the old 44 gallon drum, with lid and brick, used as an incinerator.

Shirley Collins

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A Unique And Mysterious Vase

Unknown maker, late Victorian hand-painted glass vase

Unknown maker, late Victorian hand-painted glass vase

This unique glass vase was purchased by long-time Berowra resident Merle Davis at auction in 1984 from one of the first homes built in Berowra circa 1895, called The Laurels. The auction comprised an extensive list of antiques and collectables; it attracted a huge crowd on the day with many bidders and spectators vying for some spectacular items. The Laurels was a well-known guesthouse in its heyday, a welcome retreat for people mostly escaping the hubbub of city life on the weekends. Unfortunately the house no longer exists due to the recent redevelopments happening in Berowra.

An exceptional piece of hand-blown glass made during the turn of the last century, the vase is stylised in what is known as the ‘grotesque’. It was fortunate that my mother-in-law then gifted us the vase, which remains a great talking piece with our visitors due to its unusual design. One friend suggested that perhaps a collective of glassmakers around the1900s had made it. She could see it as an experimental piece, its production would have been done after hours by hands utilising the left over’s of the working day. I have found no other vase comparable to this one and certainly agree that this late Victorian vase in the spirit of its making has stood the test of time.

Can you add any information?


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Those Steam Cars in Hillcrest Road Berowra

Note the two tramcars exposed

Note the two tramcars exposed

The 2 tramcars 72B (built 1891) and 93B (built 1889) ceased service in 1932 and were later stored at Randwick Tramway Workshops. Both tramcars were purchased later that year and for the next 65 years 93B served as 2 bedrooms whilst 72B was fitted out as a dining room, kitchen, and bathroom/laundry/toilet.

On arrival in Berowra they were placed along the land on pre-built brick piers with space between to build a lounge room. An overall roof was built which in retrospect contributed to the preservation of the tram bodies from the elements.

Three families were associated with the life of this ‘tramcar house’. Then in 1997 a new owner decided on a demolition in order to build a modern home.

The demolition was undertaken by The Steam Rail and Preservation Society after agreeing to purchase the 2 tramcars and demolish the remainder of the house and leave the block clear. Approximately 500 man hours were recorded in this task undertaken between 4 January 1997 and 10 March 1997.

The cars were loaded onto semi trailers and taken to Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum for storage and eventual restoration. 93B re entered service in 2005 after being restored while 72B awaits restoration.

Looking down into lounge and car

Looking down into lounge and car

Information taken from the Archival Material held by The Steam and Rail Preservation (Co-op) Society Ltd. Tuscalum Road  Valley Heights, New South Wales.

Courtesy of Peter Stock



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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.



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The Springs – Margaret Preston’s Berowra Home

Harold Cazneaux, Distant view of Margaret Preston's house at Berowra, 1936

Harold Cazneaux, Distant view of Margaret Preston’s house at Berowra, 1936

William and Margaret Preston moved to Berowra in 1932, and it is believed that the artist was recovering from surgery performed in 1929 as a result of breast cancer. The anticipation of the retreat into the bush coupled with the first ownership of property by the Preston’s would have provided Margaret with a great sense of comfort during that difficult period.

Arthur Rickard throughout the previous decade had been promoting the health benefits of Berowra in the Sydney Morning Herald. Many people like the Preston’s became aware of seeking an exodus from city life as beneficial to health and well being, in Preston’s case a time for reflection and contemplation.

We witness a striking development in the architectural style of Preston’s house as compared with that of the Federation style of such homes as ‘Sunbeam’. Preston’s house was extremely modern, based on the California Bungalow with a low-pitched roof, it’s architectural structure was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement. The Preston’s made additions to the existing structure – it is believed that Margaret used the concept based on “design for living” principles when the additions and refurbishments were undertaken. Effectively, Preston created flow between the outdoor and indoor living spaces as she was known to often work on the verandah which overlooked the gardens and bush land area. Life and art merging within the everyday – one of the many inspirations of Berowra.


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Berowra Salvation Army Hall

The Salvation Army Hall circa 1995

The Salvation Army Hall circa 1995

Berowra has many historic buildings, often overlooked by the community. Many are now private homes, and their history is all but forgotten. This week, I want to take a look at one of these buildings.

The building in the picture below is now a private residence, but in its heyday, it was a hive of activity.  In 1929 the land was donated by Doug Chappell of the local Tannery for use as a Presbyterian Church. After 1978, when the Methodists and Presbyterians amalgamated to become the Uniting Church, it was sold to the Salvation Army Church, one of the many religious communities which were active in the Berowra community. The Salvation Army Church in Berowra was established by Ted and Audrey Melville, as otherwise the nearest Salvation Army Citadel was in Hornsby. Many struggling Berowra families have fond memories of the “Op Shop” which they ran from the Church. While some of these religious groups are still going strong in Berowra, the Salvation Army Church was closed and the building  sold many years ago.

This week, Roy was going through the fridge and discovered a couple of scrappy bits of blue cheese lurking in an out of the way corner. He didn’t want to throw these bits of cheese away, but they were a bit old to just eat as is. He thought it would be the perfect time to try out an old fashioned Potted Cheese recipe. Potted Cheese is a traditional English recipe, and a great way of using up leftover cheese. Traditionally there is some sort of alcohol included in the recipe to help preserve the cheese, but you can leave it out if you prefer, or if you don’t want to keep the cheese for long. So this week, Roy Creates Potted Blue Cheese.  You Will Need: •Scraps of blue cheese •About half that quantity of butter, softened •	A teaspoon of Dijon mustard •	3 teaspoons of port •	Salt and pepper to taste. Method: •	Cut any ‘suspicious’ pieces off the cheese, including the rind or paper around the outside. •	Roughly chop the cheese and put into a food processor •	Add the butter, Dijon mustard, port, salt and pepper and process until you have a smooth paste •	Transfer the cheese mixture to a pot or bowl, cover and store in the fridge for at least 12 hours to mature.  •	Enjoy with bread or crackers

The Salvation Army Hall today

Melville Close, off Yallambee Road Road, Berowra commemorates these much loved local identities.

Melville Close today

Melville Close today

If you have information or images you can share, please let us know!


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A Golf Course For Berowra

The first golf course location mentioned to  berowralivinghistory was in the vicinity of Nalya Road. Longtime Berowra resident Peter Huett recalls working on the proposed 9 hole golf course. World War II bought the project to an abrupt halt.
View From The Golf CourseImage courtesy of NSW State Library

View From The Golf Course
Image courtesy of NSW State Library

 Time passed and then the following appeared in the Berowra District News July 1972 (published by the Berowra Progress Association)
Golf Course Proposed
A further public meeting to pursue the Berowra Golf Course proposal will be held 1st August at 7.30pm following the interim committee inspecting and making preliminary enquiries on the status of the project. In 1968 the department of Lands gave Hornsby Shire Council firm indication of making available a large parcel of land at the end of Turner Road “which would be suitable for a golf course”
Discussion at the meeting was to include debate on a Public Golf Course of 18 holes, & an associated licenced Golf Club.
Meetings continued but the newspapers reveal little progress. In 1973 a public notice advised a Foundation Membership of $5.00!

What happened?  Can you tell us?


Monthly Mystery – November

Have you seen this house?

This months mystery object is a little different. The object is not the photo – it’s the house it shows!

The photo above shows just one of Berowra’s beautiful heritage houses. It was taken in about 1938 and was donated to us by Eileen Prosser. She was originally a Ferguson and it was her family who built this house, then known as Yuruga.

The house still stands on Berowra Waters Road. Can you pick it out?


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One Of Jim’s Childhood Homes

Home of Jim Hatfield, near todays Clinton Close

This image, circa 1938-39, comes from the collection of a long time Berowra resident, Jim Hatfield. It shows Jim as a young boy, second from the right with some members of his family and a friend, on the far right. While the young woman and the girls and boys line up at the back of their house, the pet dog claims a spot in front of its kennel.

The house which was rented from a Mr Warne, was located near present day Clinton Close. Two chimneys are shown, the one at the rear of the house was for the kitchen, the other was in a more central position on the side of the house and provided warmth for the main body of the building. Internal walls were made of corn sacks white washed with lime. You will be able to make out a couple of other houses in the vicinity. Such a different scene today!

Self- sufficiency and improvisation were very important in those challenging times.  The whole family, like most in Berowra, had plenty to do.  The house was set in at least five acres of land. In the centre of this land was a gully which carried water after rain. Jim remembers an orchard of mainly stone fruit trees with a couple of citrus trees. Vegetables were grown and poultry were cared for, plus a few pigs, cows and calves to supply for the needs of the family. Meat was first eaten fresh and the remainder corned. It was stored along with dairy foods in a cool area under a water tank.

Imagine growing up in Berowra in the thirties and forties. Imagine the hard work and the carefree adventures of the five and their dog shown in this fine picture. We will have further stories to share. Maybe you have some of your own!


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