Steam tram boiler explosion

It was a pleasure to read the very able letter penned by your correspondent in last week’s “Recorder”.

Concord is certainly a progressive Municipality and we, the residents who lived here at the turn of the century, have watched with pride the amazing growth and prosperity of our home town.

When the writer went to World War I, Central Concord, as such, did not exist. It was known as Hillcrest.

The shopping “centre” was Mrs. Wray’s General Store or shop at the corner of Ludgate and Wellbank Streets and the dwellings around could be numbered on the fingers of both hands: Josselyn’s two-storeyed weatherboard (they say timber now) house in Majors bay Road, the semi-detached stone houses over the hill, Flavelle’s mansion and some cottages in Spring Street.

All the rest, cow paddocks – Bolton’s Dairy and Hygienic Dairies Ltd. – and scrub.

In the latter was a cleared two-up ring from which concealed pathways radiated, and were guarded by “cockatoos”.

Round about 1904-5 I’d say, the clearing of Walker’s Bush commenced to make way for the now famous Concord Golf Course. What a forest Walker’s Bush was! Tall timbers of immense girth and dense undergrowth! A saw mill was erected on the site to deal with the fallen trees.

The paddock mentioned by Mr. Lofts, where the Housing Commission cottages are, was once used by Mr. Delfosse Badgery, an amateur aviator, to make a forced landing in his bi-plane, a machine of William Hart vintage.

Ian Parade was once a tidal eroded foot track over the swamp with a wooden bridge over Saltwater Creek, which is now the stormwater channel bisecting the Municipal Golf Links.

The Sydney Ferry steamers used to call at Burwood Wharf, which is now Bayview Park, and parishioners and their families used to walk from near Burwood Station to the wharf to board the ferry on the occasion of St. Luke’s Sunday School Picnics.

Prior to the advent of the steam trams, a horse-drawn bus – three horses – used to ply from Ireland’s Hotel, Liverpool Road and Burwood Roads to Mortlake Gasworks. The owner, I think, was Clyde Favelle’s grandfather.

The team trams came about 1905, first to Mortlake from Ashfield and later an extension at the famous Correy’s Gardens Pavilion, where the music was dispensed by Boxall’s String Band.

On King’s Birthday, 9th November, 1909, one of the steam trams had a boiler explosion at Stanley Street loop, then the one penny section from Burwood Station.

It was stationary alongside the engine coming from Burwood, which had three crowded cars of holiday makers behind it. Two men were killed outright and one died in hospital. Their bodies were hurled over 50 yards away. The huge headlight of one motor was hurled over the top of Concord School and landed on the lunch shed near Salisbury Street, 160 yards away.

Concord Council efficiently ran the Municipality, with a Town Clerk, Jim Bolster, Jim Casey on his dark chestnut gelding Billy was overseer, health inspector and engineer, with a staff of, at the most, four men. There were no kerbs and gutters and these men with mattocks and shovels kept the gutters free of water buffalo – paspalum was then unknown.

Access to Ryde was by means of a hand punt, where a man and his son used to turn a six feet diameter grooved wheel to wind the punt across the river.

The only industries in Concord then were the Gas Works and a couple of tanneries.

Concord Park was enclosed by a five rail post and rail fence of split timber. Ashton’s Baths, 33 yards long, and Bracey’s Model Baths, 25 yards, were the Mecca of swimmers and the cradle of many famous Concord swimmers.

There are quite a few natives of Concord who could tell of seventy years ago, ten years more than I can, and it would be interesting to read what they have to say.

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