Newsletters 2019


Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc

Series 3, No. 87 – January 2019

Upcoming Events

Pratten Park Bowling Club
You are invited to attend the

Annual General Meeting of the Society

to be held

Sunday, 17 February 2019, 1.30 for 2pm

Pratten Park Bowling Club

It is the Society’s custom to make our AGM an event rather than just a meeting and we invite you to join us for a welcome drink at 1.30pm.  This year we combine our AGM with a talk presented by:

Bob Bow

Architect & Summer Hill Resident on

‘Recollections of Growing Up in Summer Hill’


The Re-launch of our 1999 publication Summer Hill

An organisation such as ours is run on a day to day basis by a Committee and much of the work is done behind the scenes.  However, as an ‘Incorporated Society’ we are required to report annually to our members and present our reports in due course to NSW Office of Fair Trading.  Our meeting is run on formal lines with President’s and Treasurer’s reports, election of a new Committee for 2019 and a general business section.  We welcome members who wish to join the Committee in whatever way they feel they can contribute, so please self-nominate or speak to a member about being nominated from the floor.

We attempt to get through the meeting formalities quickly and efficiently to allow more time for our speaker.  Please stay for socialising and afternoon tea after the meeting.  Drinks after the meeting will be available for purchase at the Club bar.

To assist us with planning the catering we ask that you 

RSVP by Wednesday 14 February 

Ph. 9797 7004 or email When booking, please provide your name and a contact phone number.

Ashfield Park



24 February 2019
10am – 4pm

Our Society will run a stall at this year’s Carnival to engage with the community and promote an interest in our local history.  We will mount photographic displays showing images from our collections and our publications book stall is always popular.  We will also assist with historical enquiries using Sands Directories and other resources on hand.  

If you can volunteer to assist at the stall on the day, we will appreciate your help, even for a one hour slot.  It is always a social day and not demanding.  No experience necessary and you can learn on the job.  To volunteer, please email or phone Lois on 9797 7004.  You will be most welcome to join the team!

Recent Acquisitions

We thank Clare Herscovitch for the donation of the following reference books to our Library:

Monuments & Memorials, edited by Beryl Henderson

Soft Furnishings 1830-1930, by Elizabeth Wright

Significant Sites: History & Public Works in New South Wales, edited by Lonore Coltheart Towards the Dawn, by Trevor Howells & Michael Nicholson

Bits & Pieces


As all locals would know, Ashfield Pool has now closed for re-development after a protracted period of discussion and negotiation initiated by the former Ashfield Council and confirmed by Inner West.  

To commemorate the Ashfield Pool (1962 – 2018) the Society is planning a booklet to recount its history.  We invite anyone with memories of specific events held at the pool, personal stories, photographs, certificates, awards, contracts and other items which will help document and illustrate the pool’s value to the community, to please contact us.  Email:   post: ADHS, PO Box 20 Ashfield 1800 or to call in to our research rooms at Thirning Villa on our open days (second & last Saturdays of each month, 11am-4pm).


Thank you to Philip Lingard who has recently worked on the Society’s website by adding the contents and cover page of our 2018 publication, Houses of the Ashfield District, and also the 2019 membership form.

Thank you to Emma & John of the Sweets Workshop, 58-60 Carlton Crescent Summer Hill for allowing the Society to sell publications from their stall at the Summer Hill Neighbourhood Feast on 7 October last year.  The Sweets Workshop is a vibrant artistic hub where original art by many local artists depicting Inner West culture is showcased and sold on many mediums. You can shop and buy online at: or visit the shop.  Thank you also to David Rollinson, ADHS Vice President, who manned the stall.  

Thank you to our ‘Foot Soldiers’ who delivered many of our journals, Houses of the Ashfield District, to local members who could not attend the launch.  Your energy and generosity has saved the Society a significant sum in postage costs.  If any member (who was financially paid up for the 2018 calendar year) has not received their journal, please do not hesitate in contacting the Society or calling in to our rooms on an open day.

MOVING INTO THE REALM OF SOCIAL MEDIA ….  There is a very interesting FACEBOOK account owned by a long time resident of Ashfield which invites the sharing of memories, information, documents and photographs of Ashfield’s past.  We think it is a very good forum for those interested in the history of our area and some of us have already requested access (which has been granted).  Friends have contributed photographs, albeit many copied from our collections and publications, but also from personal family collections and from elsewhere, which have brought forward first-hand recollections and information which is of great value.  On Facebook, search: Memories of Old Ashfield 2131.  There are now over 680 members which will be sure to bring out much from the shoeboxes at the bottoms of their cupboards!

Houses of the Ashfield District

The Society is very happy to have received many emails, cards and comments expressing thanks and congratulations for our 2018 journal.  In turn, we wish to publicly thank and congratulate all of the authors of articles submitted for publication.  It is heart-warming that we have enjoyed the work of so many individuals on such a variety of ‘houses’ in such a range of approaches to history, making the publication rich and valuable.  

The topic of ‘houses’ is of general interest to the public for lots of reasons, and there are a great many ‘houses’ that should have gained the attention of an article, but missed out in our first issue on the subject.  So much so, that it is thought that a future journal will again be dedicated to ‘Houses of the Ashfield District’.  Several of our current members live in houses that should have their histories researched and written and so we put it to you out there, to think about.  Please contact the Society if you have an idea on a future ‘House’ research topic and would like to contribute, whether a photograph, information or an article.


The Pratto –  a new café at the Pratten Park Bowling Club.

I you feel like a cup of coffee, a meal, a snack (or even a beverage), the Pratto has opened in the Pratten Park Bowling club.

The café is a joint social enterprise, established by Metro Assist (a migrant and refugee support service) and the bowling club to provide employment for people who have graduated from hospitality courses conducted by TAFE at the club.  There is a yummy menu, which you can read about at this link:

The café is run from a modern commercial kitchen, made possible by grants from our local State (Summer Hill) and Federal (Grayndler) MPs.  So if you want something delicious to eat in friendly place, The Pratto is certainly worth a try.  You will be contributing to a really worthy cause as well. 

 Open: Friday 12pm – 9pm, Saturday 8am – 2pm, 6pm – 9pm, Sunday 8am – 2pm


We have been unable to identify a direct deposit into our Society bank account since April 2018 for $30.00.  The deposit was made by Kurt Wilson for whom we have no contact details.  If you know Kurt Wilson, would you please let him know that we need his contact to determine the reason of the deposit.  Many thanks.

Membership subscriptions for the 2019 calendar year are now due.

We value your membership and the payment of your subscriptions assists in supporting the work of the Society.

Membership subscriptions for the 2019 calendar year are now due.

We value your membership and the payment of your subscriptions assists in supporting the work of the Society.

Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc

2019 Membership Subscription (calendar year)

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Please find cheque / money order EFT for: 

$30.00 for standard household membership

$25.00 for concessional membership (student, pension, etc)

$10.00 Please add to payment if you receive your newsletters & publications by post.  

           I am happy to receive my newsletters via email only (recommended)

Please indicate if you would be prepared to assist the Society by:  manning the research rooms on open days / assisting at book stalls and photographic displays / researching and writing local history/ presenting a talk on history or heritage related topics / other



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If paying by EFT:  BSB: 062257, A/C 00900855, Ref:Your Surname, initials & ‘subs’.  Please ensure that you email us with any changes of your postal or email address.

Cash & Cheque payments can be made on open days at Thirning Villa. If paying by cheque, please make payable to Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc. and if posting, send to PO Box 20, Ashfield 1800.  Please do not post cash


The rooms are open on the second & last Saturdays of each month, 11am – 4pm. 

ADHS Newsletter produced by Ann O’Connell    


Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc

Series 3, No. 88 – March 2019

Upcoming Events

Thirning Villa. The location of the Ashfield & Districts Historical Society's Rooms in Pratten Park.
Thirning Villa. The location of the Ashfield & Districts Historical Society’s Rooms in Pratten Park.


Sunday 31 March 2019, 12 – 4pm

This Sunday the Society will open its research room to the public and have historical photographs on display to showcase the history of Ashfield.  This is in support of the Inner West Council’s organisation of the Artist in Residence Program Open Day.   

At the Open Day, the Refugee Art Project and New Moon are celebrating their joint residency and you are invited to join in a number of free activities including a large scale communal weaving project and a folk doll workshop.  There will be a complimentary BBQ and Greek/Turkish coffee flowing through the day.  

It is hoped that the new Australians who visit on the day will also learn about the history of their new locality.  Everyone is welcome to come along to the Villa on Sunday to see the great work being done by the Refugee Art Project and New Moon, and make sure you drop in to our rooms also.  


Sunday 14 April 2019, 10.30am
Meet at outside McDonalds, corner John Hopkins Drive & Missenden Road

In 1872 the University of Sydney Senate granted land to build a hospital for teaching their medical students and also for the training of nurses.  The foundation stone was laid the following year and RPA opened as a 146 bed hospital in 1882.  It was named after Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (second son of Queen Victoria) who was shot in an assassination attempt in Sydney while on an official royal visit to Australia in 1868.

The walking tour, led by Janette Williams, will look at the history and heritage of this important group of buildings and will enlighten us on their current uses.  The tour will be approximately 1.5kms in length and of about 1 ½ hour duration so please wear comfortable walking shoes.  A donation of $5 pp will go toward materials for hospital heritage facilities.  

History House

Where History Happened: Warragamba Dam

Wednesday, 3 April, 1-2pm History House, 133 Macquarie Street Sydney

This is a free daytime Royal Australian Historical Society lecture, which will be presented by Peter Spearritt, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Queensland.   Peter will speak about the flooding of Burragorang Valley, the building of the dam and the many issues involved in assessing our engineering heritage.   Book online at  or call 9247 8001

Book Launch

DHARAWAL: the first contact people

Saturday 27 April, 3-5pm
at the Sutherland Memorial School of Arts

We have been requested to publicise the launch of this important publication by the Sutherland Historical Society.  We have agreed as we feel that it will be of great interest to our members.  See full details on the flyer attached to this newsletter.

St David’s Church Haberfield
Advance notice:  A date for your Diary

Yasmar & St David’s Church Haberfield Open Days

organised by 
The Haberfield Association

11 May, 11am – 3pm entry free

This is a rare opportunity so do not miss out.  Entry from the lane between 124 & 126 Chandos Street Haberfield.  Pre-booking required or phone 0412 0708 898

Report on the ADHS Annual General Meeting

The ADHS Annual General Meeting was held at Pratten Park Bowling Club on Sunday 17 February. Our guest speaker was local architect Bob Bow, who gave an interesting and very personal presentation about his years growing up in Summer Hill.

He described his family’s strong connections to Summer Hill, and shared photos and fascinating memories of his childhood from the 1950s and 1960s. These included his daily walk to Summer Hill public school from his Sloane Street home on the north side of the railway station, his recollections of the social and commercial life around the now demolished Summer Hill theatre, and photos and memories of the various houses he lived in as a child.  He also touched on his restoration of houses where he has lived and worked as an adult in Summer Hill, such as the old bakery in Herbert Street.  

We also learnt that the beautiful jacaranda in the heart of Envy Cafe was planted by him on the birth of his daughter over 25 years ago.

Bob Bow then relaunched Summer Hill, the fourth print run of this popular 1999 ADHS publication, and its 20th anniversary of first printing.

Many thanks to all Society members who attended the AGM and to those, listed below, who have agreed to be part of the 2019 Committee.

2019 ADHS Committee

President Mark Sabolch
Vice President David Rollinson
Public Officer David Rollinson
Treasurer Heather Warton
Rooms & Activities Coordinator Lois Gray
Minutes and Correspondence Secretary Murray Cleaver
Research Officer Ann O’Connell
Heritage Officer David Rollinson
IT Coordinator Philip Lingard
Newsletter Editor Ann O’Connell & Clare Herscovitch
Journal Editor Ann O’Connell
Committee Members Carolyn Carter, Colin Webb, Rachel Davies, Mandy Keevil, Bernadette Williamson, Alex Lofts
Honorary Architectural Historian Robert Irving

Committee Goals for 2019

In January, the Society Committee met to discuss and articulate our aims and objectives for 2019 and we came up with the following which will be very useful guidelines to follow and hopefully achieve:

  • A publication on the history of the Ashfield Pool
  • Publish a compiled list of Ashfield’s WWI participants
  • Exhibit the restored historical photographs of the Ashfield Bowling Club
  • Complete at least 2 more oral recordings of local historical recollections
  • Re-establish a formalised working relationship with Inner West Council
  • Strengthen working relations with other history societies
  • Improve the interactivity of our Society website
  • Improve the security of our tenure at Thirning Villa
  • Progress the digitisation of our collections, especially photographs  Indicate evidence of renewal and growth in Society membership

Trial opening research rooms during a weekday.

Heritage News

The last twelve months have seen a decline in the number of DAs lodged for major building works generally but applications for alterations/additions to dwellings continue at a steady pace.  Of these the occasions where the Society’s Heritage Officer David Rollinson has felt the need to lodge an objection to a DA for a heritage property have been rare.

However, the issue of an approval by either a Council planner under delegation or by the Inner West Planning Panel at a regular public meeting is sometimes not the end of the story.  There have been instances where at construction stage changes have been made, typically when the project is under the control of a private certifier.  The dilemma then becomes – how and where to get recourse, where is a practical solution to be found and who has the power.  Members of the Society are encouraged to be vigilant and if they notice building work which does not appear to be in keeping with what was observed when examining the advertised DA plans, to contact Council and report these concerns. Two interesting DAs to report –  the recent approval of the ground floor shopfront of the (triangular) heritage building at 2A Junction Rd (cnr Old Canterbury Rd) Summer Hill as a specialist dental surgery for children.  The shopfront was last used as a showroom, of dental chairs and equipment! Currently a DA is being assessed by Council staff for the partial demolition and rebuilding/extension of the former Summer Hill Ambulance Station in Carlton Crescent.  The proposed new use is tertiary student accommodation (184 rooms with ensuites) in a 2/3/4 storey building.  The façade of the ‘Western Suburbs Ambulance’ main building is to be retained. 

Vale Jim Henderson

We are shocked and saddened to hear that Jim Henderson has passed away at his home in Grosvenor Crescent Summer Hill on 4 March 2019.  Jim, a retired Teacher Librarian of Canterbury Boys’ High School, was well known to the ADHS as he has been a member for decades and regularly attended events.  His diminutive physical frame defied his character and he was always outgoing and good company, recognisable in the street as the man with the four Scottie dogs or flashing by in his MG or Bentley cars.  Jim’s life was celebrated at the West Chapel, Rookwood on 18 March and several friends from our Society, family and friends attended.  RIP Jim.

Recent Acquisitions

We thank Gregory Ross for a copy of his thesis for his Diploma in Family Historical Studies, That’s Elliot with one ‘t’. This work is a great example of thorough research and the outcome is a biographical account of Robert Newton Elliot’s life.   See summary above.  

Thank you to new member Greg Batty of Summer Hill for his generous donation of a number of books on the Arts & Crafts style and notable proponent Charles Rennie Mackintosh. These beautifully illustrated UK publications include Tinniswood’s The Arts & Crafts House (1999) and Mayer’s In the Arts & Crafts Style (1993). Greg has also donated an illustrated book on Sydney architect/academic Leslie Wilkinson written by various contributors in 1982.  These books are a handsome and valuable asset to our library collections on architecture.  Thank you Greg! ADHS member Lloyd Birdsall recently sent us a photograph of a builder’s ‘mark’ which he found inside the roof cavity of his home, carved into the brickwork on the top of a wall.  The mark is clearly shown: JD 1910.  Lloyd is pleased to have found confirmation that his home was built by J. Denning in the year of 1910.  Thank you for sharing this interesting photograph with us Lloyd – we will all be checking out our ceiling cavities to see if we are as lucky

Bits & Pieces

Historical Revelation from 1788!   

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 11 March this year that the Australian National Maritime Museum had been the fortunate recipient of an important donation in May last year of the original log book of Lieutenant William Bradley.  The log book was donated by Anthony Gannon, a British man who had inherited it, having been passed down through several generations.   The log book chronicled Bradley’s voyage on the flagship HMS Sirius in the First Fleet through to his return to England in 1792, and included his early work in the early colony of NSW, charting the numerous estuaries of Port Jackson.

ANMM curator, Stephen Gapps had finished his book The Sydney Wars, which was the result of intense research into the conflict between the First Nations and the British Settlers.  Bradley’s log book presented a revelation to him:  on Bradley’s early chart of Port Jackson, he saw the name of ‘Bloody Point’ clearly shown at a spot jutting out at the end of Iron Cove.  Today it is the site of the Haberfield UTS Rowing Club at Dobroyd Point.  Stephen Gapps believes that Bloody Point is the location of where the bodies of two convicts William Okey and Samuel Davis were found after they had been killed by indigenous men in May 1788, only months after Governor Phillip’s settlement in Sydney Cove. 

Stephen Gapps and Bradley’s log book draws us to see the history of our locality in a different way, taking in more from the indigenous viewpoint.  This new information gives us an empathy with the First Nations who sought to defend their land, and it is understood that the two convicts would have been perceived as intruders.

A Research Topic to Test the experienced Researcher!

On two separate occasions over the last year, Gregory Ross visited the Society’s research rooms on his quest to find out all he could about the subject of his intense research on the Elliot Clan and in particular, one member, Robert Newton Elliot, who spent time in our local area.  

Robert Newton Elliot (b.1856) was an enigmatic member of the family who was highly intelligent and extremely active, changing his occupation, interests and addresses frequently in his lifetime.  After an almost frantic early life, Elliot left the teaching profession and came to Ashfield in 1885 becoming a timber merchant in Alexander Crescent and living in Frederick Street.  By 1887 he appeared in advertisements as a real estate agent while still operating as a timber merchant, while then living in Bogan Street Summer Hill.  His climb up the ladder escalated when in 1888 he was elected as an alderman for Ashfield Council on the Protectionist Party ticket, and actively served the community for the short period he stayed on Council.  He resigned as an alderman in November 1889 and following an election within the East Ward, Richard Stanton was elected as Elliot’s replacement.  In June 1890, when the Elliot family were living in Orpington Street Ashfield their five year old son, Victor, died of diphtheria.  At that time Elliot moved from the Ashfield district continuing in the real estate business, becoming a valuer.  He went on to take out gold leases, invented all manner of gadgets, registering patents for them and forming companies to market them.  The intense and no doubt exhausting flurry of activity of his life may have reached overload as he died suddenly in 1903 in Chatswood.  Gregory Ross has produced the result of his research, That’s Elliot with one ‘t’, in his thesis submitted to the Society of Australian Genealogists in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Diploma in Family Historical Studies that he has been undertaking.   Well done, Gregory!

A Recent Excursion to Rookwood

Many of us cannot resist passing by old graveyards without venturing in, and Rookwood Cemetery is perhaps the most enticing due to its immensity and historical importance.   On one such occasion Chris Pratten and Ann O’Connell visited the Old Independent Section to locate the grave of architect David Elphinstone who is responsible for the design of Chris’ home in Prospect Road Summer Hill.  Chris had paid to have the headstone put in place many years ago.  In close proximity were two other monuments of local interest: that of the Dixson Family of Abergeldie, where Sir Hugh, Sir William and other family members lie in peace, and the other belonging to John Hay Goodlet, great benefactor of the Ashfield Presbyterian Church and of other institutions.   It was alarming to see the unstable base of Goodlet’s monument and Chris is endeavouring to generate support from the church to get some maintenance work done before it topples.

Dixon Family Monument as Rookwood (Anne O’Connell, 2019)

Goodlet’s Family Monument as Rookwood (Anne O’Connell, 2019)

Memories of Old Ashfield 2131

In a previous newsletter we informed our Society members about a Facebook page which invites members of the group to share memories, facts and photographs relating to our local area; Memories of Old Ashfield 2131.  The FB page is booming thanks to its dynamic webmaster and the contributions from all its FB friends.   One of our Society members, Neil Palmer, has recently shared 1950s movie films taken by his father, showing the Queen Mother’s motorcade down Parramatta Road.  Another film shows a procession of vintage cars on Parramatta Road with views of old shops, car yards and advertising hoardings.    The webpage is also assisting us in gathering material for our history on Ashfield Pool so if you have anything to contribute, this is another way to share with others.  If you wish to join the Memories of Old Ashfield 2131 you need to request online access to the group.

Report on Carnival of Cultures 24 February 2019

In keeping with tradition, our Society took a stall at this year’s Carnival of Cultures held in Ashfield Park.  Our volunteers assisted the many interested visitors who asked questions about their house history and that of their locality.  It was wonderful to have so many of our members drop by to either stop and help or just show support – it made our day!  Of course our publications were of great interest and it is great to have had some new members join up. 

Welcome to you all!  

Many thanks to all of our supporters – we appreciate your involvement and assistance.

ATTENTION – Unidentified Payment

If you have paid your membership subscription of $30 on or around 11 February and typed in

‘ADHS Subscription’ as the reference – we do not know who you are.  Please email to confirm your payment.  It is important to place your name and initials as the reference when making a direct deposit payment.


Membership subscriptions for the 2019 calendar year were due in January.   Without the financial support of members’ subscriptions, we cannot continue developing our resources and collections or produce our publications.  If you have not yet renewed for 2019 we encourage you to do so.  $30.00 for standard household membership;   $25.00 for concessional membership (student, pension, etc).

If paying by EFT:  BSB: 062257, A/C 00900855, Ref: Your Surname, initials & ‘subs’.  Please ensure that you email us with any changes of your postal or email address.  Cash & Cheque payments can be made on open days at Thirning Villa.  If paying by cheque, please make payable to Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc. and if posting, send to PO Box 20, Ashfield 1800.  Please do not post cash.


The rooms are open on the second & last Saturdays of each month, 11am – 4pm. 

ADHS Newsletter produced by Ann O’Connell    


Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc

Series 3, No. 89 – June 2019

Upcoming Events

Houses of the Ashfield District
You are invited to join us for our 

Houses of the Ashfield District Walking Tour

Sunday 23 June 2019,
meeting at 12.45pm sharp
Walking Tour commences at:
Fermoyle, 29 Farleigh St, Ashfield

Finishing: Approx 4pm at a Summer Hill cafe

Cost: ADHS Members $2; Non-members $10

RSVP by Wednesday 19 June: Mark 0404-018-178 or Email:

In this special guided walk you will hear from ADHS members who will share their knowledge of some of the splendid houses featured in our ADHS 2018 publication, Houses of the Ashfield District, Ashfield History No 21.  

This easy walking tour will begin at Farleigh Street, Ashfield, amongst an enclave of Californian bungalows, and will meander through a diversity of architectural styles, towards Summer Hill. The tour includes an extraordinary example of Victorian Free Gothic, some wonderful leadlights, and we will ponder over the unique features of the Victoria Square development of 1879.  We will have the privilege to enter some dwellings that will be open for inspection, whilst others will be viewed only from the front yard. 

While all the dwellings visited are documented in full in the ADHS publication, this friendly tour will bring the buildings to life, by providing insight into local histories that have shaped the physical and social landscape of our suburbs.  It is essential to book your place by RSVP.  

If you haven’t got a copy, the ‘Houses’ publication will be on sale on the day for $25.

The Sydney Wars by Stephen Gapps
Invitation to a Revealing Presentation

The Historic Log Book of Lieutenant William Bradley

by Dr Stephen Gapps, Curator at Australian National Maritime Museum

Sunday 14 July 2019, 2pm,

Pratten Park Bowling Club

ADHS Members: gold coin on arrival, Non-Members: $5 (room hire & afternoon tea)

The close examination and interpretation of historic documents is an enthralling task for researchers but often they leave more questions than answers.  There have been many historians’ versions of the early days of British settlement in Sydney published, in which scanty snippets of documented history have been pieced together, but few attempt to tell the story of our Indigenous Peoples’ struggle with the settlers, until now.  

In 2018 Dr Stephen Gapps published The Sydney Wars about the interactions between the early settlers and the Indigenous Peoples.  At that time, the generous donation from the UK resulted in the ANMM receiving the logbook of the First Fleet Lieutenant William Bradley which had been passed down through generations of his family.  

In his presentation Dr Gapps will focus on Bradley’s logbook and reveal a discovery he made when examining an early charting map of Sydney Harbour.  This map tells us much about the early history of our locality, in particular, Dobroyd Point, Haberfield!  

The Sydney Wars will be available for purchase on the day $25 per copy (cash only)

This presentation is not to be missed, so please RSVP to  or phone 0403 555 864

The Subdivision of the Abergeldie Estate
Saturday 24 August 2019, 10.15 for 10.30am start

Abergeldie and the Dixson Family Legacy

Presented by ADHS President, Mark Sabolch

This is a join event with Marrickville Heritage Society

 More details will appear in our next newsletter regarding booking for this event,  but save the date now.

Abergeldie, located on Old Canterbury Road, was an extraordinary property owned by Sir Hugh Dixson from 1884 until his death in 1926. Today, although redeveloped into 157 residential lots in 1928, the area continues to have significant heritage value. 

Mark Sabolch, will share the findings of his research into the obsessions of Sir Hugh and Lady Elizabeth

Dixson, and their legacy.  Mark’s article on Abergeldie appears in Houses of the Ashfield District

(2018).  The presentation will expose the cross municipal wrangling for the property after Sir Hugh’s death by local political leaders, a feature just as common today as it was in the 1920s.  Hear how Sir Hugh’s son, William, generously donated significant cultural material to the Art Gallery of NSW after the Abergeldie Estate was sold. 

Heritage News

The Inner West Council is in the early stages of bringing about a consolidated local environmental plan (LEP) that will unify and update the three LEPs of the former Leichhardt/Marrickville/Ashfield council areas. Part of this process is consulting with the community on its vision for the LGA and members are encouraged to keep an eye on the Council’s ‘Your Inner West’ webpage plus the notices that appear, for when consultation is underway (and input is sought). Recently Council sought comment on some discrete sections of the various development control plans of the former councils. The Society took the opportunity to make a submission on two areas which it felt also needed attention – firstly, providing more specific guidance and explanatory diagrams on how to successfully integrate rear second storey additions to houses in conservation areas (particularly those on small and narrow blocks) and secondly, identifying appropriate external colour schemes for houses of the various periods found in the inner west of Sydney. A meeting was also held with Council’s Strategic Planning team where the characteristics of the many conservation areas in the former Ashfield LGA were stressed. The Society’s offer of on-going assistance and the resources and expertise that the Society has within its membership seemed to be appreciated, so we will see how things develop!

Recent Acquisitions

Sometimes after we publish our books and journals, new information and photographs emerge from sources that were previously either unknown or untapped.  Such is the case in regard to an article in our Houses of the Ashfield District journal, on the old house named Ellalong, originally built for George Kenyon Holden.  Sadly it was demolished in about 1920 and the land subdivided.  

One of the owners of Ellalong (that was later called The Grange), was Emily Scates and we are most fortunate that a descendant of the family, Mike Crowley, has uncovered wonderful photographs which he has shared with us. Three of these show different rooms within the house which are richly and densely equipped with ornate furnishings, light fittings and carpets and decorated with an array of pictures, ornaments, plants and other paraphernalia.  Three other photos are taken outside the house, one showing a view of the house from the carriageway, another of a woman sitting on a seat under a tree near to the house and yet another shows a cow grazing among trees and bamboo within the curtilage of the property. These are truly amazing insightful photographs.  Thank you Mike!


The rooms are open on the second & last Saturdays of each month, 11am – 4pm. 

ADHS Newsletter produced by Ann O’Connell    


Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc

Series 3, No. 90 – August 2019

Upcoming Events

The Subdivision of the Abergeldie Estate
You are invited to a talk

Abergeldie and the Dixson Family Legacy

Presented by
Mark Sabolch, ADHS President

Saturday 24 August 2019, 10.15am for 10.30am start

Herb Greedy Hall, 79 Petersham Road, Marrickville 

Abergeldie, located on Old Canterbury Road, was an extraordinary property owned by Sir Hugh Dixson from 1884 until his death in 1926. Today, although redeveloped into 157 residential lots in 1928, the area continues to have significant heritage value. 

Mark Sabolch, will share the findings of his research into the obsessions of Sir Hugh and Lady Elizabeth Dixson, and their legacy.  Mark’s article on Abergeldie appears in Houses of the Ashfield District (2018).  The presentation will expose the cross municipal wrangling for the property after Sir Hugh’s death by local political leaders, a feature just as common today as it was in the 1920s.  Hear how Sir Hugh’s son, William, generously donated significant cultural material to the Art Gallery of NSW after the Abergeldie Estate was sold. 

The talk will be followed by a light lunch.  This event is free. RSVP essential to:

You are invited to attend a presentation  by ADHS Member Neil Palmer

Glimpses of Parramatta Road from a Home Movie Camera

Sunday 22 September 2019, 1.45pm for 2pm
Pratten Park Bowling Club

Neil and his family have been living on Parramatta Road Ashfield for decades and his father was an avid home movie buff, a love of which, Neil has inherited.  We are to be welcomed into his world through viewing his old 16mm film while Neil gives his commentary on the passing Parramatta Road scenes of the 1950s.  See what changes have occurred and test your memories!  

All things 50’s

Members and Friends are also invited to bring along ‘all things 1950s’ whether it is old photographs, memorabilia of the Queen Mother, magazines, clothing or household items.  The more interesting, unusual, humorous, exotic or rare, the better!  A prize will be awarded to the most popularly enjoyed ‘exhibit’.  Cost: Members – gold coin, Non-Members – $5.    Afternoon Tea provided.

RSVP to Lois: Ph. 9797 7004 or E:

Tracking the Past
Save the Date
Sunday 13 October, 2pm-4pm

Tracking the Past

It’s two months’ notice, but worth it to note down the date now for an important event to take place at the historic Mungo Scott building at the former flour mills at Summer Hill.

The multi-facetted event will include:

  • A presentation about the history of the settlement and use of the adjacent section of Long Cove Creek (before it became a concrete channel)  
  • A speaker from the Australian Railway Heritage Society will explain why the railway goods line was constructed.    
  • Stories from former Allied Mills workers 
  • What’s coming up on the Greenway
  • Plus a chance to inspect the interior of the Mungo Scott building with its impressive timber columns!! 

We will provide more details in our next newsletter.

IN MEMORIAM – Patricia Rose a’Beckett (19/11/1920 – 26/4/2019)

It was with sadness that we received the news from Stefan Rose of the passing of his mother, Patricia Rose a’Beckett, whom many of our members will have known for many years as a noble lady with an enormous intellect.  Pat was a great-granddaughter of Arthur Martin and Emma Louisa a’Beckett, the original owners of Thirning Villa and the land around it as well as on the other side of Arthur Street.

Arthur and Emma’s son, Marsham a’Beckett’s daughter Jean was Pat’s mother who married a

German man, and so Pat lived in Germany throughout World War I and finally returned to live in Australia with her mother in 1925.  Pat enlisted in the RAN during World War II and afterwards worked at the Red Cross in Sydney.  As life and family rushed on, Pat maintained an ongoing interest in her family history and in her later years researched and wrote up biographies of her ancestors.  A late highlight of Pat’s life was attendance at the a’Beckett Family Reunion at Thirning Villa, Ashfield held in April 2016 where a huge number of family members gathered and stories and history discussed.

Pat contributed much in the way of a’Beckett family history and photographs to our Society and indeed to the history of our local area.  Even during her final months she was working on updating the a’Beckett story and thankfully her son Stefan will complete it and ensure we receive a copy.  She was a matriarch to her family and will be sadly missed.

A’Beckett Family reunion with Pat Rose a’Beckett (in centre) taken at Thirning Villa in April 2016.
(Ann O’Connell photo)

Recent Acquisitions

The Society was recently approached by author Harry Kimble with an offer for us to obtain a copy of The Caravan Moves On: 120 Seasons of Wests Rugby, 1900-2019, which we did.  This book is a good compliment to histories of other sports played, and the clubs that operated, in our local district in the past.  Few know that Rugby football had a home in Ashfield, but the team now known as West Harbour Rugby Union Football Club, began its 119 year history for many decades known as Western

Suburbs.  The team originally adopted the Ashfield Boys’ High School colours of black and white

Formed in 1900, Wests used Pratten and Ashfield Parks variously for home games along with St Luke’s Oval in Concord up until the 1911 season. When the game of Rugby League was introduced a rift between Union and League caused animosity with some Wests players going either way in 1908.  Wests Rugby League kept Ashfield’s black and white colours and Pratten Park as their home ground while Wests Rugby Union played some games at Pratten before moving to Concord.   The book is full of records, stories of rugby personalities and photographs and will be a great resource for lovers of rugby and researchers of sport in general in our local area.  

On 14 April this year, a group of Society memberswere treated to anorganised walking tour of the grounds of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, conducted by ADHS member, Janette Williams, which was most interesting and enjoyable.  We are pleased to accept a copy of The First Fifty Years, which Janette donated to our Society Library.  The book is a history of nursing at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, 1882-1932, written by Dorothy Mary Armstrong, was published in 1965.  It chronicles each decade and the many challenges, changes and improvements that took place in the hospital and how the matrons and their nurses adapted as their work developed along the way.  It is a information filled small book which is well written by the author with contributions from other nurses.  Janette also provided brochures: History of the Pathology Building, Short History of KGV, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Walking Tour guide, and several pages of photographs and site maps, all of which forms a valuable source of material on the hospital’s history.  Thank you Janette, for both conducting the Society tour and also the RPAH book and reference material!

Clare and Fleur Herscovitch have donated four books to the Society, 2 of which will be added to our stock of items for resale:  Remembered with Pride by Mark J. Hammond and Speed the Plough; Ashfield 1788-1988 by Sheena and Robert Coupe.  The two other books are valuable reference books which we will add to our library.  They are: The Sweat of Their Brows:  100 years of the Sydney Water Board 1888-1988 by Margo Beasley which includes references to the creeks in our local area;  the other book is The History of Granville, 1919 by Thomas Fowlie which will join other Sydney suburb histories in our shelves for future reference.  Thank you Clare and Fleur.

At a recent Society event, we were grateful to receive the donation of a beautifully produced publication Broughton Hall, Brought to Life, written by Roslyn Burge for the Friends of Callan Park.  The book which was published in December 2018, contains 52 pages of well-documented, chronological history of the property from its earliest times to the present.  It is brimming with photographs, old and new, with each page professionally laid out for easy but information-filled reading, but at the same time, designed for the reader’s enjoyment.  After reading Broughton Hall, Brought to Life, one will not be able to resist visiting the oasis in our midst which is Callan Park, for there is so much to explore and appreciate.  For more information visit Friends of Callan Park at:

Bits & Pieces

Happy Birthday Bob Irving!  

We wish our esteemed Honorary Architectural Historian a very happy birthday for 5 July when he turned 93 years of age.  The Society is privileged to have Bob as our oldest active member, who has a huge knowledge and love of architecture.  He has obliged us in answering our questions, providing concise descriptions of our buildings and, over the years, given learned commentary on our walking tours which has been much appreciated.  We celebrate with you Bob, and wish you many more productive years ahead.  


The rooms are open on the second & last Saturdays of each month, 11am – 4pm. 

ADHS Newsletter produced by Ann O’Connell    


Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc

Series 3, No. 91 – November 2019

Upcoming Events

Leane Times by Wendy Frew
You are invited to a presentation
by Wendy Frew

Leane Times:  One Family’s transformation from Cornish Farmers to Australian Fighters

1.45 for 2pm start, Sunday 17 November 2019 at
Pratten Park Bowling Club

Stay afterwards for a Christmas Gathering

Our guest speaker, Wendy Frew will talk about her research for the book she wrote on her famous family, the Leanes, which was published in 2018 – Leane Times.   

Leane Times is an epic family history that typically of so many begins in Britain and migrates across the world.  The story is expertly told, involving several generations and arrives at a point in 1915, when they became the Australian ‘poster’ family of fighting men who were used to promote WWI recruitment.  Matriarch, Alice Leane once boasted to a newspaper journalist that she had contributed five sons and six grandsons to the war.  She missed them but she would rather they “go out and fight than skulk at home when the motherland is in need of them.”  

The story will resonate as it bears correlation with accepted attitudes to war involving duty, pride and adventure, but then, it tells much more about loss, futility and tragedy.

Wendy will talk us through her research with this insightful presentation which is not to be missed.  Feel free to invite your family and friends. Tea & coffee provided afterwards.  Leane Times will be available for purchase at this event.

As this is our last gathering for 2019, following Wendy’s presentation we invite members to stay and enjoy some Christmas food and socialising.  Drinks available at Club bar prices.    

Cost is a gold coin for members, $5 for non-members.

Please RSVP for catering purposes to Lois on 9797 7004  or by email to: 

Ashfield Bowling Club

130Years: Ashfield Bowling Club Anniversary Celebration

Ashfield Bowling Club is the second oldest bowling club in the state and for 130 years it has been a focal point in Sydney for the sport of bowling.  Located in Ashfield Park, the club has contributed positively to the reputation of Ashfield and the popularity of Ashfield Park.  The Club is celebrating its 130th anniversary (1889-2019) with a function to be held on7 December 2019, at the club premises, corner of Orpington Street & Parramatta Road.  For information about the event please phone the Club on 9798 6666.  

Some years ago the ADHS was invited to take into its custodianship the remaining Ashfield Bowling Club records and photographs.  ADHS Committee members Colin Webb and Lois

Gray are putting together a ‘rolling’ powerpoint presentation of photographs relating to the Club’s history to be shown on the evening of the 130th anniversary.  ADHS members are invited to visit the clubhouse on the night to see the photographic presentation.

RAHS Event:  Researching the History of Your House

At:  State Archives & Records NSW, 161 O’Connell Street, Kingswood Friday 22 November 2019 @ 10am – 4pm. Cost is $20.

This seminar will discuss how to search for your property’s previous owners, learn about what it might have looked like – inside and outside – 50, 60 or 100 years ago and suggest strategies for discovering more about the history of your locality.  Go to the RAHS website events page to book and pay to attend.

Notice of ADHS Annual General Meeting – 16February 2020

It is the Society’s custom to hold our Annual General Meeting in February each year. Notice is hereby given that the next AGM is set down for Sunday 16 February 2020, 1.45 for 2pm, at the Pratten Park Bowling Club.   All members and Friends are invited to attend.  Please save the date in your diary.

Heritage News

Recently the Society made a submission objecting to the DA for a 2-storey pavilion addition proposed for the rear of 4 Rosemount Ave Summer Hill which is in a heritage conservation area under the Ashfield LEP. As mentioned in the June 2019 Newsletter, the Society has become increasingly concerned at the scale, character and design of some of these pavilion additions and has raised this with Council’s strategic planners in the hope that better guidance can be given. It was felt that this DA warranted a letter of objection; the Society understands that nearby neighbours share the same concerns.

Following contact from The Haberfield Association, Council’s DA plans to demolish Howard Tanner’s 30 year old addition to the Haberfield Library (former School of Arts) and the heritage impact assessment of the proposal and then erect a box-like addition as a replacement, was also examined. The Society sent a submission to Council noting what it saw as key deficiencies in the heritage impact assessment and rationale for the new addition. While the Society has no objection to the residents of Haberfield having improved library facilities, it feels that the consultants who prepared the DA have not done a proper job in both heritage and design terms.

Bits & Pieces

Progress on WWI Database

After some years of gathering information and photographs, our Society is preparing to publish the result of intense work on a database of men and women who served in World War I from Ashfield & District.  The publication saw its beginnings in Kerry Ann O’Reilly’s painstaking research and documentation of all the remaining WWI honour boards in the district in what we now refer to as the Honour Board Project.  Taking the fruit of all her work of some 2300 names, Society member Peter Byron researched each person listed adding details of their local connections and their service history.  From Peter’s work, a team of our Committee members: Carolyn, Heather, Lois, Mandy, Bernadette and Ann have added more names of locals who enlisted but were not appearing on the honour boards, resulting in a larger list.

In doing this work, it has occurred to all of us that the number of men and women who left the safe locality of Sydney’s Inner West to face the brutality and devastation of WWI was staggering.  The loss to everyone, not only to those who embarked overseas, but also to those left behind, was huge and was felt for decades.

After advertisements run during September in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph, the responses we obtained were valuable.  Several photographs and much information was volunteered from members of the public and we are most grateful for these.  Among the responses included information and photographs from the following families:  Fairweather, Radford, Laurence, Reid, Fishburn, Gee and Etherden.

If any of your ancestors who lived in Ashfield, Haberfield, Summer Hill or Croydon, fought in WWI and you have information you wish to share, we will be most grateful.

Round up on Recent Events

In September the Society again partnered with our friends at Sweets Workshop to have a stall at the Summer Hill Neighbourhood Feast.  It was a very successful day with many enquiries and Society publications sold. Our sincere thanks to David Rollinson who ‘waved the Society’s Flag’ at this event so admirably. We’d also like to acknowledge our friends from the Sweets Workshop.  Check out their website:

On 13 October, the Society participated in the Inner West Council/Greenway event Tracking the Past held in the brick Mungo Scott former flour mill at Summer Hill. This was very popular, with over 120 attendees (but many more unable to do so due to the constraints of the building). The success of the day is in no small measure due to the energy of local resident and Society member Nick Chapman, the Greenway Place Manager. Unfortunately, IWC has not seen fit to extend Nick’s contract when it expires this month – he will be greatly missed.

Recent Acquisitions

A frequent and thoughtful supporter of the Society, Robert Hutchinson is an astute collector of Sydney’s Inner West historical photographs and has contacts with many in traders’ collectors’ circles.  Robert has donated:

  • An original sporting group photograph of Croydon Junior Football Club winners of ‘B’ grade Knockout, 1921, taken by local photographer, Percy Peachey. 
  • Another original photograph of a formal portrait, carte de visite, of Hon. John Stewart MLC who lived and died at his home Tourmaline, Liverpool Road, Summer Hill in 1896.
  • Scans of several other photographs and postcards from his collections, including that of:  
    • Ashfield Railway Station.  This card was posted on 29 August 1905 to Edwin Clarke who was a patient at ‘Hinder’s Hospital.
    • A lovely class photo of well-presented Sixth Class girls of Summer Hill Public School, taken in 1939.  
    • Another large group portrait of 58 young boys is rather intriguing as the School is unidentified.  It shows the impeccably dressed boys wearing white shirts each with a medal on their chest, and one male teacher in the centre wearing a dark suit.  The plaque simple says ‘1935 Ashfield Choir’.  
    • An engaging Year 2 class of boys and girls with a plaque saying ‘2, Summer Hill.  The photo may date from the late 1920s to early 1930s.
    • A postcard view of the Western Suburbs Cottage Hospital. 

Once again we say a sincere Thank You to Robert for his generosity in adding these gems to our collections.

Neil Palmer gave us a cd containing copies of the 16mm films which his father took in the 1950s featuring the Queen Mother’s visit to Sydney and a Golden Fleece car rally – both of these films were taken showing scenes of Parramatta Road Ashfield & Haberfield.  During September Neil kindly prepared a presentation with commentary of the films and other relevant material which was a very enjoyable afternoon for all those in attendance.  A large investment in time and effort went into the presentation and we wish to acknowledge and thank you Neil!

In July this year the Society received an email from the Coffs Harbour Salvation Army Store informing us that an engraved silver butter dish had been handed in at their store.  The dish was engraved with the words: Ashfield W.H.H. Association Picnic, 9th March 1898 and also had the name, T. Llewellyn, to whom the dish had been presented.  The staff at the Salvo’s thought we may be interested and we certainly were!  A month or so later a Society member called in to Coffs on their way up the coast and collected the interesting and unusual item.  The dish will definitely be a focal point for a future journal article.  Thank you Salvos!

We also thank the Committee of the Marrickville Heritage Society for donating to our

Society, a file of newspaper clippings of past history columns, mainly published in the Inner Western Suburbs Courier during the 1990s and early 2000s.  These include a range of articles on local people, places and events of Ashfield & District and will be added to our collections.  We greatly appreciate that our Societies work and support each other. Thank you MHS!


The rooms are open on the second & last Saturdays of each month, 11am – 4pm. 

ADHS Newsletter produced by Ann O’Connell