News and Articles for Sep 2017

ISSN 2207-4910

Who are we?

We recently received a donation of this set of framed photographs of several boats which carried the inscription:  Presented to P. Edwards, Esq., by the boys of the Concord Dinghi Club.

We have been unable to find any information of this club or of the gentleman named.   Can you help, please?


Sydney is made up of many fascinating suburbs and areas, many of which are such a normal part of Sydneysiders lives that they spare little thought for the history of these areas, let alone for the names they go by.  Today most are simply residential suburbs, home to countless families.  Mortlake is just one such area.

The earliest Europeans to live in what is now known as the Mortlake area were John Miller, John Robertson and Benjamin Butcher, each of whom was given a land grant in 1795, not long after Europeans colonised Australia.  The land, which was first recorded as Bottle Point, was then transferred to John Ward and his heir, Alexander MacDonald.  In fact, Mortlake has had many names. By 1837 we know people had begun to refer to the area as Mortlake Point but, intriguingly, in the latter part of the 19th century the area was usually referred to as Bachelors or Green Point.  The name Mortlake was reapplied, and finally stuck, in the 20th century.

The Mortlake Bank, coal carrrier

For much of its history Mortlake was a hive of industrial activitiy, particularly dominated by the Australian Gas Light Company who, by 1884, were producing gas in Mortlake and providing work for the growing community.  The suburb, with is river frontage, was ideal for the industrial process, with the river transporting the coal, which was needed for the production of gas, to the factory. The coal was heated then the gases which were produced were removed, cooled, cleaned and purified, ready for market.  Then, in 1971, the process of producing gas from coal was discontinued and natural gas from the interior of Australia was piped to Mortlake instead.  Now, all the factory needed to do was add an odour to the gas (for safety reasons) and distribute it to customers. In 1990 the gasworks finally closed.

Tulloch’s Phoenix Iron Works Ltd

Following the death of Alfred Llewellyn Bray, the first Mayor of Concord, his home “Braygrove” was purchased by R. Tulloch & Company and in 1915 the Iron Works transferred from its original site at Pyrmont to Rhodes.


“Braygrove” was incorporated into the Tulloch administrative complex but fell into disrepair and was finally completely demolished in the late 1970s. Only the replicas of the original gates to the property now stand on Concord Road as a reminder of what was once a grand nineteenth century estate. The original home was considered to be the oldest home in Concord.

The founder of the company, Robert Tulloch (1851-1928), was born in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland. After working with a local blacksmith, he was apprenticed to the engineering trade and worked in Glasgow and London before migrating to Sydney in 1877.

In 1888 Tulloch’s firm received its first large contract, the manufacture of the overhead ironwork which supported the roof of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops. The company flourished and won several important contracts, particularly for the construction of railway bridges, viaducts and rolling stock.

In 1923 the company began manufacturing shovels, spades, garden tools, etc. under the “Tulloch-Phoenix” brand.

A memorial lamp post was erected in memory of Robert Tulloch in 1945 by members of his family. It stands in the Churchill Tucker Reserve opposite Rhodes Railway Station.

The large fig tree standing in the corner of this park is known as the “Strike Tree” as this is where the workers gathered to discuss the situation any time there was a strike at the factory.

The business closed in 1974. More recently this was the site of Digital.

Of the past, only Braygrove’s replica gate posts remain, standing on Concord Road.

Higinbotham & Robinson, Map Publishers

The Atlas of the Suburbs of Sydney is a series of late-nineteenth-century commercial maps that provides a portrait of the city during a period of rapid growth and suburbanisation.

It was created by Higinbotham, Robinson and Harrison, map publishers and lithographers, established in 1882 with premises in Macquarie Place. They had obtained permission to produce maps from government survey information and were able to advertise maps that had been ‘compiled from official plans in the Surveyor-General and Registrar-General’s offices’.

On 22 December 1885 the publication of the Atlas was announced in the Sydney Morning Herald:   Messrs Higinbotham, Robinson and Harrison, map publishers, of 99 Pitt Street, have just issued ‘Part 1’ of an Atlas of the suburbs of Sydney, containing maps of the boroughs of Ashfield, Balmain, Leichhardt, Marrickville, Petersham, and St Peters, printed in colours, distinctly showing the wards within each. Taking the map of Balmain as an example, all the streets and lanes are shown, also public buildings, reserves, wharves, and public baths, names of bays and points, connecting bridges, adjacent islands, and adjoining boroughs. Upon the front cover appear views of four suburban town halls. The inner side contains a calendar of 1886, and upon the next page ‘municipal statistics’ are given in a tabulated form, comprising the date of incorporation, area, miles of streets opened to traffic, the number of buildings and ratepayers, amount of rates for 1885, annual value of rateable property, population, number of alderman in each borough, council meetings, etc. . . . Additionalar [sic] parts are to be published until the remainder of the suburbs have been completed. They are contemporaneous with a very large map which is being prepared of the city and suburbs, extending to Georges River, Homebush, Hunters Hill, and Manly, as rapidly as private and official surveys will permit.

In 1887 Harrison withdrew from the partnership and, in 1888, Higinbotham and Robinson was declared bankrupt. Among the assets listed for sale were a stock of maps and the rights to 21 real estate maps of municipalities, which presumably represents the firm’s output to this time.

After being discharged from bankruptcy Higinbotham and Robinson continued in business together until 1895 when Herbert Robinson set up on his own, operating as HEC Robinson, and developed a very successful business publishing maps and directories until his death in 1933.

Examples of the Atlas maps survive in several collections. Surviving copies show that the 1885 maps were originally bound in a folder with rigid covers. The elaborate decoration of these covers expresses the exuberant style associated with the 1880s boom period that was soon to be cut short by the economic depression of the early 1890s. In addition to the title and other details, the cover is adorned with four insets showing Ashfield School of Arts and Council Chambers, Marrickville Town Hall, Burwood School of Arts and Council Chambers and Petersham Town Hall. The inside back cover displayed a list of maps published by Higginbotham, Robinson and Harrison. At the base of the page the firm declares: We are in readiness to receive orders from suburban municipal councils for maps of their respective boroughs.

The maps that the company had produced between 1882 and 1885, listed inside the back cover, are substantial undertakings containing a wealth of information about streets and localities as well as the complex detail needed to record land ownership and subdivisions.

Part one of the Atlas, containing six small municipal maps, cost seven shillings and sixpence whereas a basic copy of the municipality of Canterbury map cost 34 shillings and sixpence, more than four times as much

This is an extract from an article, Atlas of the Suburbs of Sydney, written by Andrew Wilson in 2012 for the Dictionary of Sydney. If you go to you can see digitised copies of the suburban maps.

The Parramatta Road

We’d like to share with you a couple of items from David Sansome’s talk at our map unveiling.

The photograph, circa 1900, is of Parramatta Road, Five Dock.   The 8-mile signpost can be seen on the left of the pole.   As one of our guests informed us, it is close to the intersection of present-day Croydon Road and Parramatta Road.

A letter to the Editor of the SMH, published 5th May, 1890.

Sir,-I desire, through the medium of your paper, to draw the attention of the Works Department to the present state of the above road. It has been left in such a state lately by workmen laying pipes for the Water and Sewerage Board that it is positively dangerous, and particularly so at the entrance to the Wharf-road , Concord, where a large mound has been raised, over which, unless persons driving are especially careful, they are likely to come to grief. The road is also in a bad state of repair, and now, what with the late rains and the careless way the excavation made for water pipes have been filled up, is a disgrace to the Government, who, I believe, are responsible for its Care. Perhaps the members for our district, who are so profuse at promises at election time, will exert themselves, and endeavour to get something done to it. I am, &c.,    May 2. CONCORD.

(Note:  Wharf Road has now been changed to Burwood Road.   The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Ed)

A report published in The Australian Star (Sydney), Wed 23 Jan 1901

According to local statements that portion of the Parramatta Road has been destroyed by the mobs of cattle which are driven along it to the abattoirs, a delegation from a local council met with the Works Minister, Mr M O’Sullivan,  yesterday to discuss the matter.  Some time ago, it was explained, the council expended  ₤1,013 on repairs to the road, but the tramp of innumerable cattle feet has broken everything up and the road was worse than ever.

It was suggested that the Government should take the matter in hand and spend at least ₤1,000 on repairs to the thoroughfare.  Mr. O’Sullivan assured the deputation of his sympathy but explained that he had no money available for such purposes at present.  If, however, they repeated the request about the end of May he would see what he could do.

A Step Back in Time

Frank, Karen, David & Lois admiring our latest treassure

On Saturday, 2nd September Helen McCaffrey, Mayor of City of Canada Bay, unveiled our recently renovated 1890 Higginbotham & Robinson Map of Concord. This had been renovated and framed by our Museum Advisor and great friend, Karen Coote, thanks to the $2,000 we had received throught the City of Canada Bay Community Grants.

Among our many guests – at least 80 – were local State and Federal Members, former Mayors, Aldermen and staff of Concord Council as well as several former society members who were around when we started our original museum in 1972.

Our Local Studies Librarian, David Sansome, shared his vast knowledge of the area by entertaining us with slides and a talk about Concord at the turn of the century.

This map is now a valuable and significant addition to our collection and is proudly on display for all to see. Please drop in if you are passing.

  • October Guest Speaker: Rob Shipton, “History of Clocks”

    2017-10-07 14:00:00
  • November Guest Speaker: David Jehan, “History of Tullochs, Engineers & Manufacturers

    2017-11-04 14:00:00

3 Flavelle Street (P.O. Box 152), Concord 2137
Phone: 9744-8528

Museum Committee: Meets on 3rd Wednesday of month at 10:00 am at our museum (everyone welcome)

Walker Estates Committee: Meets as required

Executive Meetings: 1st Saturday of month (except January) at 12:00 pm. (Everyone welcome)

City of Canada Bay Museum, 1 Bent Street, Concord
Open Wed & Sat 10am to 4pm
phone: 9743-3034 during museum hours