Newletters 2017


Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc

Series 3, No. 83 – October 2017

Upcoming events

Polish Community 1951 St Vincent’s Church in Bland Street Photo supplied by Halina Dallas one of the three little girls in the front row .

The 50 Year History of the Polish Community in Ashfield


73-75 Norton Street Ashfield Sunday
29 October 2017

2 – 4pm

Members of the Polish Club have agreed to host members and friends of our Society to a special afternoon at their Club where Eva Habijanec and other members will talk about how a large number of ‘displaced’ Polish people gathered post-war to live near to Ashfield in the late 1940s and 50s and finally established the Polish Club.  Eva’s parents came to Australia separately from Poland and Siberia.  Her father initially worked on the Snowy Mountains Scheme and her mother worked at Kims on the Beach at Toowoon Bay before they met and married.  Please take a close look at the photograph to see if you can identify anyone.  Halina and current members of the Polish Club have a few names but would like to know more.  If you can help please let her know at the upcoming function or email us with the information.  Thank you in advance.

We will be treated to afternoon tea at the Club and shown around the buildings.  There will be some photos and memorabilia on show.  

Heritage News

As noted in the last newsletter, alterations and additions to dwelling houses continues to comprise most of the DAs referred to the Society for comment. Increasingly these applications are at a cost to useable ‘backyards’, so necessary for the play space and outdoor recreation that many applicants with young families actually need. An example is the DA for rear two storey additions to Sunnyside , 10 Arthur Street Ashfield , which was approved by the Inner West Planning Panel on the 10th October.

Sunnyside and its pair Daisy Cottage (8 Arthur Street) are heritage items being built by the same builder Benjamin Newton in 1884 and 1885 and both are in substantially original condition, maintained as three bedroom family homes on good sized blocks. While an earlier DA for additions to No. 10 was withdrawn earlier this year, a slightly scaled-back revision has now been approved, the landscaped setting and backyard being sacrificed for what the Panel considers is accommodation ‘necessary for the current needs of a family in the present day’. The Society’s written submissions to Council and address to the Panel feel on deaf ears.

Recent Acquisitions

Late in August the Society received a wonderful donation from the Marrickville Heritage Society.  One of their members had passed a musical program on to MHS Treasurer, Diane McCarthy, who thought the program would be better held in our collections.  Yes, she was right!  The souvenir program was for the production of ‘Little Nellie Kelly’ by the Rowe Street Musicals which was performed at Ashfield Town Hall in July 1945.  The Rowe Street Musical Society was based in Rowe Street, city for over 40 years but when the street was demolished to make way for the Theatre Royal and the MLC Centre, Ashfield Council offered it a home and it became the Ashfield Musical Society, which is still operating today. 

The program is very relevant to the history of performing arts in Ashfield and greater Sydney.  Thank you Diane and the MHS.

A newly published book still ‘hot off the press’ has just been given to our Society.  A friend of the Society, Jennifer Walsh, has very kindly donated a copy of Club Ashfield, A History of Ashfield Catholic & Community Club, written by well-known author Mike Davis, who has written previous books on both Lidcombe and Liverpool Catholic Clubs and histories of many other Sydney sporting, RSL and other clubs.  This impressive book tells the 50 years’ history of the Club from its humble beginning in 1963 when it was incorporated but did not have a clubhouse.  The purchase of J.A. King’s engineering workshop at 7 Charlotte Street Ashfield in 1964 and the later purchase of Nos 5 & 9 Charlotte Street has allowed to club to become what it is today.  However, Mike Davis tells the social history of the club – what the meeting place has meant for the large local Catholic community and its great support for the local Catholic Schools: St Vincent’s Primary, Bethlehem and De La Salle.  The Club has always held its main cause to assist the community and it has been supported by strong membership in return. Club Ashfield’s history book is amply illustrated and tells the story of the small humble local club that did ‘not outgrow itself’.  Copies of the book are available for purchase at the Club.

ADHS member, Valerie Wotton has donated a book on photographer Frank Hurley:  Once More on My Adventure, The Life of Frank Hurley written by Frank Legg in collaboration Hurley’s daughter, Toni Hurley. The book is not new, as it was published over 50 years ago in 1966 but it shared 1st prize in the Sydney Journalists’ Club competition for biography that year.  It was to be Frank Legg’s last book as he died as a result of an accident in March 1966.  Frank Hurley was a sought after photographer by explorers and adventurers such as Douglas Mawson, Ernest Shackleton, Frank Birtles and others to accompany and photograph their travels.  His work was, and still is, known worldwide but it is a little known fact that Hurley had many early associations with Ashfield before the outbreak of WWI when he was a leading member of the Ashfield & District Amateur Camera Club.  This biography is excellent in its research and very readable, for the tales of his adventures are told in such an exciting and engrossing style.  Thank you Val. Society member Allan Jones has a good eye for history, and found a photograph published in the Daily Telegraph on 2nd July this year which he saved and passed on to us.  Allan also scanned the photo and digitally sharpened the image for us.  The photograph shows NSW Police Constable John Dainer ‘ready for duty on his 1939 model Indian sidecar motorcycle’.  It was taken at Ashfield Police Station in 1950 and was sent in to the Daily Telegraph by John Dainer’s son, Michael.  Thank you Allan.  The photo is a beauty!

Bits and Pieces

Financial ADHS members – Please collect your book. 

Milleewa and the Milleewa Boys’ Home

Chris Pratten together with our Society recently launched his book on Milleewa and the Milleewa Boys’ Home at a thoroughly enjoyable function held at the Pratten Park Bowling Club.  For those financial members who were not able to make it to the launch and collect their free copy of the book, you are requested to call in to our research rooms on the second and last Saturdays in October between 11am and 4pm.  

Thank you!

We were recently treated to a presentation by Vince Taranto and Daniel Percival:  The Fascinating History of Gladesville Bridge which was organised by Society Committee man Murray Cleaver.  The illustrated talk by Vince Taranto included interesting detail about the land and buildings acquired to make way for its construction, the architect, and much more.  Did you know that the Gladesville Bridge was the first in the world where the architect used a computer in the design process?  It was also the longest single span bridge in the world for a time.  Daniel Percival played oral history sound recordings of people who were workers on the bridge all of whom, without exception, were proud of their achievement.  They looked back with fondness on that time for the camaraderie between the workers and long term friendships they made, making it a career highlight.  Thank you one and all for such a great afternoon.

Data Projector – Fundraising Raffle

At the recent function, the Pratten Park Community Club and our Society held a raffle to raise funds for a data projector.  Society member, Hilary Coolican, won the prize of a gift boxed bottle of gin and a scarf and the raffle raised the sum of $255.00.  Between the Club and the Society, we hope to have a data projector for use soon at future illustrated talks and presentations.  We will keep you posted.

A New Exhibition

Captured: Portraits of Crime, 1870-1930 is an exciting new free exhibition at the State Archives and Records Authority of NSW, Western Sydney Records Centre, 161 O’Connell Street Kingswood, which will run until 28 April 2018.  The exhibition reveals case studies of men, women and children who were incarcerated in NSW gaols between 1870 and 1930 which give insights into the history of the criminal justice system of NSW.  An online version of this exhibition can be viewed at