President’s Report for 2021

Ashfield and District Historical Society Inc

Presented at the Annual General Meeting, 20 February 2022

The year 2021 will be remembered for the Covid-19 vaccination roll out. By year end over 90% of the over 16-year-olds in NSW were double vaccinated, and wearing masks became second nature. Those members’ events that did proceed at the Pratten Park Bowling Club were subject to the Club’s Covid Management Plan.

Last February at our AGM, committee member David Morgan entertained us with his talk on ‘Augustus Alt, Baron, Soldier, Engineer, Mercenary: the life of Augustus Alt, First Surveyor-General of New South Wales’. Then in March we were honored that Chris Pratten, ADHS Life Member, delivered a presentation ‘Frederick Clissold–Was he Ashfield’s Richest Man in the Nineteenth Century?’ As always, he gave us a very entertaining presentation.

In April we continued with our hugely popular guided walk series, with ‘Victoria Street Walk: Part 1’ commencing at the Ashfield Fire Station. Although numbers were limited, and all wearing masks, it was pleasing to see new faces, due to the event being broadcast through the Australian Heritage Festival network. Thanks to Ann O’Connell and Lois Gray for providing engaging commentary during the walk.

An activity that had been part of our Strategic Plan, was the presentation on the Burra Charter. In May Sue Jackson-Stepowski, Alex Lofts and architect Alan Croker, provided their take on the Burra Charter and how it is applied on a practical basis to managing heritage. Susan Thompson, a long-term member of ADHS, was guest moderator of the illuminating panel discussion.

On a topic that was fitting for the times, in June Patricia Skehan from Canada Bay Historical Society spoke on ‘The OTHER Pandemic: The Spanish Flu in the Inner West’.

We substantially ‘stayed at home’ in the second half of the year when the NSW Government established hard lockdown. Societies such as ours responded by cancelling events to help stop the spread of the dreaded Delta variant of the virus.  Nevertheless, society members continued working remotely on projects which had been earmarked in the Society’s Strategic Plan. Bernadette Williamson led a fruitful Branding Subcommittee, joined by Colin Webb and Carolyn Carter, that successfully produced a new ADHS logo and signage.

Committee member Clare Herscovitch continued digitizing the Society’s photo collection, a significant yet painstaking project in itself. Carolyn Carter also completed a catalogue and database project, to assist with searching and retrieving research material in the Rooms.

During the year, whenever Covid restrictions allowed, Bernadette Williamson with support from volunteers, manned a stall at the Summer Hill Mills Markets. Book sales provided a steady stream of income for the Society, but the stall also provided an admirable way to engage with our local community.

In lieu of a journal, the Society prepared a wonderful calendar for 2022. Carolyn Carter, Clare Herscovitch and Ann O’Connell selected historical photographs from the Society’s collection, and Bernadette led the administration of the printing. This publication proved that working in small committees really is an effective way of getting practical work done.

By November, with gradual easing of restrictions, the Society held a ‘St John’s Cemetery Walk’. Ann O’Connell, David Morgan and Lois Gray led revealing onsite presentations in the beautiful grounds of St John’s Church.

I acknowledge the Society’s committee for all their hard work over the year, especially Carolyn Carter for managing the treasurer’s role, Murray Cleaver for preparing all the meeting minutes, Heather Warton for preparing all the colourful newsletters, Colin Webb for maintaining an updated website, Ann O’Connell for continuing significant historical research, David Rollinson for reviewing heritage development matters, Lois Gray and Jan Williams for events coordination, Clare Herscovitch for research rooms management, and the rest of the committee Alex Lofts, Bernadette Williamson, David Morgan and Paul Williams for their strong support.

After five years in the role, I will be inviting a new person to take on the President’s role for the year ahead. It’s time for new ideas and a fresh approach to keep the Society strong and resilient for its future.

Finally, I thank all members for their continued support of the Society.

Mark Sabolch

President 2021

Mark Sabolch, 2021 President.
David Morgan on Augustus Alt.
Chris Pratten on Frederick Clissold.
Victoria Street Pt 1
The Other Pandemic
Our New Logo
The 2022 Calendar
St John’s Cemetery Walk.