Publication Projects

The Society usually has research and publications in progress and there are several in development for 2020. Some of these include:

WW1 and and the participation of people from the Ashfield District.

Preserving Their names

The Society’s journal commemorating those from Ashfield and District who served in WW1 was launched on Sunday 15 November at the Summer Hill Mills.
Preserving their Names was compiled and edited by Bernadette Williamson and Carolyn Carter, with contributions from other Committee Members.

When the Society began working on its commemoration of the centenary of the beginning of World War 1 it was lamented that there was no central and all-inclusive honour board or memorial showing individual names. Society member and local resident, Kerry Anne O’Reilly set to work and located all remaining honour boards and made a database of the names that were listed.

These names form the backbone of a list which member Peter Byron worked on over a few years, adding details and additional names. From then, a group of Society members continued to work more names for the ever-growing list.

The database of names if far from complete. If the now defunct Ashfield Municipal Council was correct in its assessment, there were around 3,500 men and women from the local district that enlisted in World War1. So, after much work we still have many more names to add to the database. There may be Honour Boards that have not been included or perhaps some old company records which show lists of employees who enlisted – we welcome any further information on these.

This publication lists the names of the people from the Ashfield district who appear on 21 Honour Boards. Anyone who is researching their family history will find this publication an invaluable resource. It lists the name of the individual, Service Number, Date of Enlistment, Address, the Honour Board on which their name appears, Date of Death, Death Location, Date of Return to Australia & their Service Details. These are all listed in alphabetical order.

Preserving Their Names also provides 19 articles with more detailed information about individuals and families who served in WW1. These are fascinating reading. Ann O’Connell is the primary author of these articles, some have been co-authored with relatives of the service personnel while others have been entirely written by relatives and descendants.

Preserving Their Names
Names and Service Details are recorded.
At the age of 26 SrAgnes Ann Bindly embarked from Melbourne on board the A54 Runic on the 30th June 1917, ad was assigned to the 31st General Hospital at Abbassia, Cairo, Egypt to tend to wounded and sick Australian Troops.
Sons of the late Benjamin Jones, a coachbuilder of Manly and Mrs M. Jones of Liverpool Road Ashfield. Benjamin Jnr was the eldest, served in France, then in Australia in the Home Service, at the age of 52. John served at Gallipoli and then with the Camel Corps in Abassia. Paul served at Gallipoli, then in France returning to Australia in 1919. Reuben also went to Gallipoli, suffered extreme illness, then to France and returned to Australia in 1919. Stephan also went to Gallipoli, then to France, was wounded several times and killed in action in Belgium in 1917. Norman served in the Middle East and returned to Australia in 1919.

The Ashfield Aquatic Centre

Taking the Plunge

The History of the Ashfield Pool 1963 to 2018

The Pool was opened by the Labor Premier Bill Heffron in 1963 and in its 55 years of operation over 11.5 million people passed through its gates.

When Ashfield Pool was closed in 2018 for extensive redevelopment, Councillors Mark Drury and Lucille McKenna, with approval of Inner West Council, requested Ashfield & District Historical Society to put together its history and produce a textual and illustrated publication. A Council grant was approved to fund the printing and out of pocket expenses associated with producing the book and it was agreed that the research and writing would be carried out by ADHS volunteers.

The book is divided into many chapters dealing with various aspects of the Pool, its development and its many users.

The story begins with the original landscape of the Pool locality and its habitation by the Indigenous Owners and early white settlers. Then follows many years of Council discussion and debate from the early 1890s about the need for public baths so youngsters could learn to swim, with sites and proposals examined and many disagreements before a final decision to build the Pool in its present location was reached.

Once the tough financial decision was made to go ahead with the Pool, land acquisition was a slow process as some owners resisted relinquishing their title. Finally the architect’s drawings were finished and the builders underway, which brings the reader to Australia Day, 26 January 1963, when the grand opening of the Pool was held. The NSW Premier, R.J. Heffron officiated and the occasion was attended by hundreds of guests and local residents who were entertained by Olympic swimmers who swam exhibition laps in various strokes, and champion divers who demonstrated their expertise from the diving tower.

Other chapters deal with capital works, major improvements, carpark development and attendances, followed by ‘Progress and Problems’ which chronicles the myriad of advances and also some hurdles jumped along the way.

The last chapter brings us to the decision to create the amazing new Ashfield Aquatic Centre, which opened on the 17th of October, 2020. Just like the decades before the building of the first Pool, the proposal for a totally redeveloped Centre has involved some opposition and struggle. The result shows that our civic leaders have again decided well, and the multi-purpose Centre will be enjoyed for many decades to come.

The authors of the book are the Society’s Mark Sabolch, Lois Gray and Ann O’Connell. The 240 pages are very well illustrated with maps, plans, documents, photographs and images gathered from many sources. The Ashfield & District Historical Society thanks all contributors for their generosity and hopes that all readers will gain a sense of the value and worth the Pool has brought to our residents and our local history.

Taking the Plunge provides detailed information about the lots of land now occupied by the pool and their owners. Lot 52, shown above, was owned by William Bollingmore. What is now Frederick Street was then known as Albert Grove.
Construction of the pool commenced in 1962 and the chapter on ‘Design and Construction’ is well illustrated with concept drawings, plans and drawings of the proposed pool. Adverse weather and the discovery of a significant spring and an old well slowed down the construction of the pool.
During July 1962 the Ashfield Rotary Club announced that it was prepared to assist Council to form a swimming club. The inaugural Club Saturday meet was held on the 2nd February 1963 at 7:30am. The chapter on the Club provides a great history of the Club with a great collection of photographs and records from 1963-2018.
The Water Slides at the Ashfield Pool were an significant landmark visible from the trains and the ‘Black Hole’ became famous.

More Houses of the Ashfield District.


Another volumeof ‘Houses of Ashfield’ is in development, telling the stories of yet more wonderful historic houses.

Photo Scanning Project

Members of the Society have been volunteering their time and effort to digitise the huge number of photographs the Society holds. This is a very time-consuming task but the results will provide easier access for research as well as helping to conserve the original photographs.

Member Research

Many of our members and others have their own research projects, some of which will be worthy of publication in our Journal or in another format. If you are involved in a research project please let us know so that we can assist and possibly publish your work.