I was born in 1941 at Carinya Hospital on Concord Road, about a block north of Holy Trinity Church near the then Methodist Church.  The hospital is no longer there but the house still exists.  My parents lived in Mackenzie Street from the time of their marriage in 1938.  The property was originally purchased by my grandmother (a widow) in about 1926 when she moved from Queensland with her teenage sons.  She remarried about eight years later and the house was let until my parents moved in. 

During my teenage years I went to ballroom dancing lessons held by Ed and Ol Cootes on Concord Road near Warbrick Park.  They had a big shed out the back where these lessons were held.  Lessons cost two shillings.  At the end of the evening we would shake Mrs. Cootes’ hand and put our money in the box near the door.  I think the shed still appears to be at the back of the property.   The music was provided by a record player and the girls would sit around the sides of the hall and the boys would have to ask them for a dance.  One thing that the girls hated was the Progressive Barn Dance and we would end up having to dance with Mr. Cootes. 

Going back a bit – during the war years there was a little shop, run by Mrs. Wall, on the corner of Hillier and Consett Streets. The front room was like a shopfront – this was later converted back to be a regular house. There was also a lady hairdresser, Cathy Sherwood,  who worked from her home on the corner of Yaralla and Mackenzie Streets.

My grandmother owned a car and it was driven by my father and we would go for a drive over the Ryde Bridge to collect eggs from a chicken farm owned by Mr. Rowley.  It was somewhere off Victoria Road, past Cuthbert’s Nursery.  It was from this same farm that our Christmas chicken was bought. 

As children, we would go to the swamp areas across from the railway lines (western side) and collect tadpoles. There were a couple of radio masts there and nothing much else.  The road bridge over the railway line just north of North Strathfield station was known as the cattle bridge, possibly because the cattle went across there to the abattoirs.  Later I was to learn to drive in this area, which we called the Brickworks Road.  Mum would take the car across and try to teach me to drive – it was rather good no other cars were around.  I eventually got my driver’s licence from Five Dock Police Station, though going around that area now I wonder where I was taken for a hill start. 

I attach a photo from the 1950s of the Fruit Shop on the corner of Clermont Avenue and Concord Road, run by Tony & Joe Milano.  The shop next door was a haberdashery store called “Paulines’. Other memories are:  of shopping for meat at Paynes Butchery near Wellbank Street;  the bootmaker, Mr. Pook, on Concord Road, near Moran & Cato, the grocery store. In the middle of the block was the Post Office,  run by Mrs. Pook and Mrs. McQuilken.  The Ham and Beef (delicatessen) was in the first block near Mr. Butt the jeweller.

There was home delivery of milk, from a horse and cart, into billy cans left on the doorstep, and bread was delivered the same way (horse and cart).  Mr. Jones, the ice-man, delivered large blocks of ice for home ice chests to keep food from spoiling. 

One shouldn’t forget Mr. Mitchell, the dentist on the corner of Wellbank Street and Concord Roads; nor Mr. Sam, who ran the sports store in the block between Wellbank Street and Clermont Avenue, Mrs. Sam was a teacher at Strathfield North Primary School.  Who could forget Miss Brown an Infants School teacher who would have butterscotch in a jar and give a piece as a reward?  Then there was Miss Chick who ran (what is now called) a pre-school in the church hall at Holy Trinity, Concord West, she would walk from Wellbank Street collecting 4-year-olds as she went towards Victoria Avenue (this procession was lovingly known as Miss Chick and her Chickens). 

The house in Mackenzie Street was sold when my mother entered a nursing home – it had been in the family for over 70 years.  My mother was very protective of the Walker Estate (Yaralla) at the end of The Drive.  If ever she noticed anything in the local papers about the possibility of this being sold by the State Government she would be seeking ways of protecting this gem.  I have a couple of books she purchased on the topic.  Whilst on the Walker Estate, I attended many a Sunday School picnic from Holy Trinity Church of England.  We would walk from the assembly point at the church to the Thomas Walker Hospital wharf at the end of Hospital Road, then board a ferry to picnic at Nielsen Park.

The Concord West shops were also interesting.  There was a cake shop run by a family called “Pattinson”.  Then there was the Odeon Picture Theatre, near where Kentucky Fried is now.  They had Saturday afternoon matinees. The milk bar next to the Odeon was a meeting place coming from the train after High School, where we sometimes went for a milkshake or ice-cream soda.  A Jaffa (chocolate and orange) milkshake was really nice. 

Miss Yvonne Hayes held elocution lessons in her home in Myall Street.  Down Nirranda Street were tennis courts called Quondong.  They held Saturday morning lessons for the young people of the area.  My sister went to these as my mother had been a keen tennis player.  During the war she played at a tennis court on Concord Road near Yaralla Street.  I am not sure if the courts were called “Six Palms” or if the team was called this.  Mum also played at the Burwood Association Courts near the station where there are lots of flats now. 

In the shops near North Strathfield Station Mrs. Lloyd run a dressmaking service, and around the corner in Wellbank Street  Neville Smith had the local produce store selling large bags of sand,  coke, coal, chicken feed, vegetable seeds and more. 

I was in primary school the year of the Queen’s Coronation, and a group of students were picked to take part in the celebrations by dancing at either the showground or Cricket Ground (Moore Park).  We referred to these dances as Coronation Dance.  When the Queen visited Australia  I was in High School (Strathfield Girls High) and we assembled in Queen Elizabeth Park for the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to drive past the rows of assembled school children. 

(Following this morning’s visit to your Museum and meeting of others who remember Concord I thought I would share my memories.  They are a little disjointed but may be of help to someone putting together a history of the area.  Some things I seem to have remembered differently from Alan Wright so mine might not be as accurate as his recollections.   Robyn Batley.)


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One Comment

Julie graham

I enjoyed reading this story. I was also born at Carinya Hospital in concord west. My mum grew up in Wilga st . She was a prolific writer and recorded many stories about growing up in concord. Miss Chick was mentioned too. I would to send some of them if you are interested. My mum was Elizabeth Wood. Thanks for a great story. Julie.