The Begging Boy

This is a garden statue of a boy wearing clothes reminiscent of Oliver Twist who appears to be begging for something. There is no inscription on the object, but it was probably mounted on a plinth that could have contained some information.

This object only came to light when we finally moved into our temporary museum in Wellbank Street and unpacked objects had been held in storage for many years.  There was no information on where it came from or who gave it to us, so we just called it “Begging Boy” and displayed it at the entrance next to our donation box.

However, we always felt that, perhaps, he was begging us to tell his true story – but where could we begin?

Sometime later, when inspecting photographs in our collection we came across one of the original Concord Council Chambers/Town Hall, situated at the corner of Burwood Road and Loftus Street. Lo and behold, there was Begging Boy sitting outside the entry.  It did seem a little out of place – a garden statue outside a simple brick building.  It seemed it would be more suited to a large estate.   This started us wondering why the statue was there.

The only connection we could find, that the Council could have had with a prominent estate, was the Flavelle Home at the corner of Wellbank and Flavelle Streets, Concord.

John Flavelle arrived in Sydney in 1842 and initially worked for Australia’s first professional photographer, George Baron Goodman, before going into business as an optician and jeweller.

In about 1870, he built a two-storey home in Concord, which he named “Wellbank” after his wife Catherine’s birthplace in Ireland. The Flavelle Estate originally occupied the area around Wellbank Street, between Correys Avenue and Arthur Street.

In 1945, the Housing Commission compulsorily resumed the Flavelle Estate for post-war housing. Wellbank House was left untouched while the remaining Flavelle daughters, Lucy and Ida, lived there. After Ida’s death in 1955, Concord Council acquired the property. Begging Boy could have been removed from the estate around that time and taken to the original Council Chambers for protection. 

In 1961 Council demolished the house to build the new Council Chambers, which were opened in 1962.

Suddenly, dates started to line up, and the story started to come together.

It would seem reasonable to assume that when the Society opened its first museum in the Joanna Walker Cottage at the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital in 1972, the Council donated the statue to us.

Where the statue resided between 1962 and 1972 we have no record.

With the amalgamation of Concord and Drummoyne Councils into the City of Canada Bay Council the Concord Council Chambers were no longer needed and the building was demolished in 2007 to make way for the new Concord Library and Wellbank Children’s Centre.


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