Early Days in Homebush – Mrs E Mansfield

My parents came to Australia from Cornwall in 1881 and settled in Homebush. I was the youngest and the only one still living of eleven children and I have lived in this area all my life. I went to Homebush Public School when I was five. I remember it was a brick building …its still there… opposite the railway station. My brothers used to tell me that the first school building was a wooden one with two classrooms and that it was moved to Parramatta Road for the School of Arts. I think it is now called Homebush Hall.

Our first headmaster was Mr. Tyler…. he lived in a school house facing Rochester Street about half way along the present school grounds. His daughter was a teacher there too. A Mr. Dwyer followed Mr. Tyler as headmaster.

In those days Knight Street was called Rochester Street but I don’t remember a railway level crossing joining it with Rochester Street on the other side of the line. Coming from the station towards Knight Street, there were two cottages….. a family named Stewart lived in one and the other belonged to a dairy on the corner of Loftus Crescent and Knight Street, I can’t remember the name of the man who had the dairy but he used to bring his cows to the end of Underwood Road to pasture them. On the Parramatta Road corner was the Horse and Jockey Hotel…it was there as far back as I can remember. The other side of Knight Street – the paper shop side -was all paddock which you crossed to get to Underwood Road. There was however a large timber yard on the corner of Loftus Crescent and Subway Lane, close to the creek. The yard was owned by Kite and Price.

We first lived in Powell Street in a two-storey house which was divided into two. In the same street there were three little houses owned by Mr. Schroeder …he was the local lamplighter. He also owned paddocks in Underwood Road around his own home and had an orchard and kept a lot of fowls. The only other place in Underwood Road..it only went as far as Pomeroy Street ….then there was a rose nursery owned by a Mr Dalton. We had two other rose nurseries in Homebush ..one was Ferguson’s just below the Wentworth Hotel at Flemington and the other was George Knight’s up towards the railway gates where the Hornsby line crossed the Parramatta Road.

Parramatta Road was much quieter in the early days but you had to be careful. On Monday and Thursday nights, cattle from Flemington saleyards were taken along the road on their way to Glebe Island for slaughtering and it was dangerous to be out. One night my Grandma was coming over and she left it a bit late. The cattle were already on the road, so she got herself into the creek and got lost.  My father went looking for her and when he found her she was still in the creek calling out ‘I am lost…lost I are’.

Powells Creek started somewhere up beyond Rochester Street.  It was an open creek except where it went under Burlington Road, Loftus Crescent the railway line – near the present underpass – and the Parramatta Road.  It didn’t carry much water but after heavy rain it was different.

The first shop on the Parramatta Road was a drapery shop…the came a butcher shop and then, on the Homebush Hall side, a general store.  There was a bakery on the corner of Parramatta Rd and Station Street and nothing else.

On the school side of the line you would cross open space from the subway [underpass] to Rochester St where there were some shops including a grocer, butcher, bootmaker, Steven’s bakery, a carriageman and one or two others.  Near the Burlington Road corner there were two little houses…Mr King lived in one and I think Mrs Ross lived in the other.

Tradespeople called regularly in those days…we had a butter man a milkman – who used a measure and put your milk straight into a jug – a greengrocer, a grocer who called for orders and others who sold various things like rabbits, clothes and even clothes line props.

For other needs we had to go to Burwood…usually on a Friday or Saturday night. Murrays shop near Burwood Station sold just about everything. Sometimes we walked to Burwood and other times we caught a train from Homebush. The trains run about every hour.

The post office was where it is now, opposite the station. I can’t remember what kind of building was there before the present one. The postman delivered the letters on horseback.  I think Mr. Doughty was our first postmaster he lived in Powell Street.

I can’t say if there was a doctor in Homebush in the early days.  The first one I remember here was Dr Waldon in Burlington Road.  The doctor we had came from Burwood and he nearly always came to our place. I remember it was a Dr. Lee in 1914 because just before the first World War my father took ill and Dr. Lee put him in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where he died. I think R.P.A. was our nearest hospital then. To get our medicine we had to go to a chemist shop in Homebush Road opposite Burlington Road it was the only one.

When I was young there was not much by way of entertainment. There was an open-air picture show on the Parramatta Road Concord but nothing else. We made our own entertainment we had a piano and enjoyed evenings with a singsong or listening to the gramophone. We didn’t go to Sydney very often but now and again we would go across to Manly by ferry.

Mr. Kite and Mr. Price, who both belonged to our church, would sometimes give us (the local children) a treat by taking us for picnics to Cabarita using one of their horse drawn drays. We really enjoyed those outings. Mr. Kite lived next to where Arnotts now have their playing fields and Mr. Price lived in the Crescent about halfway between Meredith St. and Bridge Road. There were some nice big homes in that block. Mr. A.W.S. Gregg, one of the principals of Richardson and Wrench, Estate agents, lived in one which was later pulled down and now houses two houses in its place. The Hudson family lived in another which was also pulled down. I think the Hudsons were connected with the ‘big timber firm.

Where the Homebush Boys High School is now there was a very large house with a lot of land. It faced Bridge Road about halfway down the block. A Mr. Kirkpatrick lived there I think he was the Commissioner for Railways.

There were some nice houses in Abbotsford Rd and Burlington Road but I didn’t know much about the people who lived in them. A big house not far from where we lived in Underwood Road was Pomeroy House” on the corner of Pomeroy St and Wentworth Road. It was owned by Mr. Pomeroy who was high up in Anthony Horderns.

We had a golf course in Homebush in the early days. It used to lie between George Street, which ended at Pearce’s Flour Mills, this side of where Pomeroy Street is now and the northern line. Strathfield North Railway station was not there then. I remember a lot of doctors used to play golf there. Near the flour mills there were three cottages running back to Powells Creek they were made of weatherboards and looked alike, each having an open verandah across the front. The middle cottage was used as a clubhouse and members used to sit out on the verandah. It may be still there. Two brothers -I can’t remember house and looked after the course. I am told the golf club later moved to Concord.

I think they built Strathfield North station at the same time as Arnotts Biscuit factory was built. Arnotts meant a lot to the locals most of them worked there…. my father for one…. he used to drive a small runabout cart for them.

There wasn’t much at Flemington apart from the saleyards, the Wentworth Hotel and Ferguson’s Nursery, but it may not be known that on the other side of line going towards Bankstown there was a rifle range. It was always in use and soldiers used to shoot there.

I have been a member of the Methodist Church (Uniting Church) in Burlington Road for as long as I can remember. The first Minister was the Rev. Benjamin Meek…”.  He was there for many years. Among the early members of importance were Mr. & Mrs Bailey, The Uther Family, who lived in Burlington Road for a long time and two families of Johns’. The Johns family also came from Cornwall. One lived in Broughton Road and the other in the Crescent. They were wonderful people. Mrs Johns donated the porch at the entrance to the Church. I have known and made friends with many other lovely families that has been one of the joys of living in Homebush.

About this article

As recalled by Mrs E. Mansfield- Aged 86. Tape recorded and transcribed by Syd Malcolm in SDHS Newsletter Vol.3 No.3 October 1980.

3 comments on “Early Days in Homebush – Mrs E Mansfield

  1. does anyone remember a young lad called kenneth that made deliveries between Parramatta and Dalmain in the early 1900s,
    he was my grandfather and i believe he lives somewhere between those 2 suburbs, When he came to W.A. (maybe between 1923 – 1927) he called himself Kenneth Scott. I Have a photo of him with his sister ??? – you may have the same photos,please email me and i will send you the photo..
    thanks
    Julie

  2. linda whitfield nee brasz

    I also went to Homebush primary school. i was there from 1969 till 1973
    I enjoyed the story. i now live in Barmera S.A. thank you.

  3. Jenny Inglis

    I also went to Homebush Primary School and remember my time there with great affection. I hope that
    they sometimes have history events —- Jenny

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