Crowded Coogee And Beach Culture

This week, with the warm weather upon us, it seemed the perfect time for The Past Present to turn its attentions to Sydney’s spectacular beaches. Sydney is well supplied with beaches, from the famous and crowded, to the hidden places with nobody about. Today, Sydneysiders and visitors alike love to spend a hot day at the beach, yet this is certainly not a new phenomenon. As the photo above, showing a crowded Coogee in the early morning demonstrates.
Most of the population of not only NSW, but of the whole of Australia, live close to the coastline of our vast island home. Thus it is perhaps no surprise that the beach is a huge part of our culture, and a centre of leisure activities. Before European colonisation, and for many thousands of years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples made use of the amazing resource which the beach, and the coastal waters provided.
Early European colonists saw the beach as a similar resource, and many of the early Europeans made a living collecting pears, farming oysters, fishing, sealing and whaling. For these early European colonists, the beach was not a place of leisure, and indeed in 1838 there were even laws which banned daytime bathing on beaches. By the late 19th century, the beach was a place which people picnicked and promenaded, yet still, swimming and surfing, which is today synonymous with beach culture, was a no no. It was not until 1902 that Randwick Council legalised all day bathing at all coastal beaches in their area. A year later, Manly Council also legalised day time bathing, and two years after that, in 1905, Waverley Council followed suit. In 1907 the first volunteer lifesaving clubs were established, and the future of the beach, and its central role in Australian culture was assured.

The Carrington Hospital in Camden

Carrington Dispensary

Today, when we think of hospital, we tend to think of modern organisations, which have been established in the not too distant past. If asked to think of an historic hospital, most might think of the Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital, yet there are others with similarly amazing and indeed important history. The Carrington Hospital at Camden, whose dispensary is pictured in the circa 1920 postcard above, is just one example.

Carrington Hospital was a very important part of Australia’s medical history. The hospital was known as The Carrington Centenary Hospital For Convalescents and was the first major medical facility built for convalescents in the entirety of the NSW colony. The hospital, provided care for patients rehabilitating from illness or injury, and although only officially opened in 1890, was built in commemoration of the centenary of the colony, which fell in 1888.

The hospital was named after the Governor who was serving the colony during these celebrations, Lord Carrington, yet its very existence was owed to a different man entirely. To celebrate the centenary, a Mr William Henry Palings, who owned a successful music store (Palings Music Store) gifted his farm, known as Grasmere, along with 10,000 pounds to the people of NSW. The land was used to build the hospital and funding came not just from Palings himself, but from the Public and New South Wales Government, who equalled the 10,000 pounds which had already been donated. Carrington Hospital was designed by H. C. Kent and built by P. Graham and at the time was a state of the art hospital, and indeed contributed greatly to improved techniques of hospital ventilation. Today the hospital remains in use as a nursing home.

Flowers Of The Allies And First World War Postcards

Flowers of the allies
This week, with Remembrance Day having just passed us by, it seemed the perfect time to share the postcard above. This is a fascinating card, bringing together ‘The Allies’ in a floral tribute. Of course, not all allies are represented (New Zealand is missing just for a start!), but the card itself represents one of a vast number of patriotic postcards produced during the war.
Postcards were ‘invented’ in the late 1860s in Austria, though at this time they were not illustrated. They were simply cards made to reduce the time and cost of letter writing. By the time of the First World War though, they had not only evolved to be what we recognise as postcards today, they were wildly popular. During the First World War, the sending of postcards reached it’s absolute peak, with thousands using the cards to send hasty messages to loved ones. Many were sent home from The Front, while those left at home had an endless choice of Patriotic Cards to send to their loved ones serving abroad.
Of course, cards were not purchased just to be sent to loved ones, but also as additions to postcard collections, which were also very popular during this period. Postcards helped to commemorate events, with many postcards showing bombings on the home front, or the aftermath of a battle, and also to boost morale, with many beautifully illustrated patriotic cards, such as the one above, being produced. At home, they were available everywhere from chemists to cinemas, while on the Front, war cards were available in YMCA canteens, at rest huts and even in military training camps.

Tweed Production on the Nepean River

Tweed factoryWhen we think of the Nepean River and Penrith area today, our minds may not turn immediately to industrial processes, yet once the Nepean River was home to many factories producing a range of materials. The postcard above shows just one of these factories, ‘The Old Factory’ which was situated on the river at Regentville.
Regentville itself has a fascinating history, with the name of the suburb coming from a once famous mansion built in 1824 by Sir John Jamison. It is believed that he named the mansion Regentville in honour of the Prince Regent of the time, who later became King George IV. Jamison owned a huge property, which included land inherited from his father and various other estates which he had acquired, and his land was very productive. He established vineyard and orchards, as well as running livestock and even a horse stud on his estate, with many of the farmers working the land being of Irish descent.
Of course, the factory was something a little different from these more agricultural pursuits. In the 1830s many Sydney businessmen became interested in investing money in what they assumed would be highly profitable industries, and Jamison was interested in textiles. He established a cloth mill on his estate in about 1835, using a steam engine imported for the milling of flour to run the mill machinery. In 1841 he employed Abraham and John Rayner, who were experts in the cloth trade having been born into and brought up in the industry. Sadly Jamison was in poor health and the 1840s Depression nearly ruined him, leaving him with a lack of funds to support his mill. He died in 1844 and the partnership with the Rayner brothers was dissolved. The mill continued to operated with various different managers until 1850 and in 1849 alone produced 11,500 yards of high quality tweed. The mill continued to be a picturesque building standing on the shores of the Nepean River for many years, eventually being known to tourists who passed in boating parties as simply ‘The Old Factory’.