72 Churchill Ave Strathfield. Photo Cathy Jones 2017

‘Koyong’ 72 Churchill Avenue Strathfield

by Cathy Jones

72 Churchill Ave Strathfield is built on a 1903 subdivision that was marketed as the ‘Kings Estate’. The estate was subdivided by Robert Joshua King (d.1934) and Mary Ann Balmain (d.1943), the wife of surveyor and Town Clerk of Strathfield Council, John Hope Balmain. The Kings Estate created the western end of Churchill Avenue (then called The Avenue), Redmyre Road (part) and Homebush Road (part).

72 Churchill Avenue was built on part Lot 32. This lot was purchased by Ellen O’Brien in 1909. In August 1909, a building application for a brick cottage was approved by Strathfield Council. The application was lodged by prolific local builders Messervy Bros on behalf of the owner Mrs Ellen O’Brien.

The Stations of the Cross at St. Martha’s Church are a feature of the Church and were donated to the Parish by Miss Nellie O’Brien in memory of her mother Mrs Ellen O’Brien, who died in 1927.  Glass (2003) states that:

“I am advised by a parishioner that the O’Brien’s lived in Churchill A venue and were very charitable folk. Nellie arranged for the Stations to be made in Italy, and the financial cost must have been considerable. It is difficult from our positions in the pews to appreciate fully that at each Station there are hundreds of minute pieces of glass and stone, in various colours, having been joined together to create a picture. Each Station is a mosaic work of art, and around the world mosaic is highly prized. The beauty of mosaic – indeed its great virtue – is the fact that the colours never fade.

In a painting on the other hand, the pigment in time does fade. Our Stations are truly magnificent. The work involved in creating the picture at each Station must have been very time consuming. Let us then in a quiet moment, pause to look at our Stations and reflect on what each scene represents. It would, I think, be sad if we did not give the Stations a moment’s thought from one year to the next. In other words, we should not neglect them, nor take them for granted.

Over the years visitors, including Bishops, Priests and Religious, have admired the beauty of St. Martha’s Stations. Our late Father Dermot O’Rourke PP, who was part of our parish for more than thirty years, described them as “very special”.

The house was named ‘Koyong’ and remained in the O’Brien family until 1961.

References

Greg Glass, 2003 (March), The Station of the Cross, ‘On Churchill’, St Martha’s Catholic Church Strathfield

Land Title searches, NSW Land and Property Information

Sands Sydney and Suburbs Directory 1881-1933

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