One hundred years ago, on 9th June, the North Strathfield railway station was officially opened.
“For many years – how many cannot be definitely stated – the residents of that part of the Concord Municipality, now known as North Strathfield, had been looking forward expectantly to the establishment of a railway station midway between Strathfield and Concord West railway stations.” So began the Secretary’s report to the 33rd (and final) meeting of the New Station Committee, held at “Yaralla” (now Strathfield North) Public School on 18th July, 1918. (See Post “Origin of North Strathfield Station” Oct.2017 for more details.)
Efforts, more or less spasmodic, had been made from time to time, but there appeared to be no prospect of work being put in hand, either at a near or distant date. However, on 22nd September, 1915, local resident Mr. H.J. Jaffray felt the time was right and conceived a meeting at his residence, “Ronston”, at which a committee was formed to petition the Railway Commissioners and urge the early commencement of the desired work.
This led to a public open air meeting on 29th November of that year, presided over by the then Mayor, Ald. Chas Savage, and so the New Station Committee was formed. It aroused an enthusiasm among residents that sustained the movement throughout. By May 1917 the first work on the station was started and proceeded spasmodically.
After much strenuous endeavour and months of patient waiting, the new station at North Strathfield was an accomplished fact. Finally, on 9th June, 1918, the station opened for business.
The New Station Committee, who bore the heat and burden of the fight, felt that they would like to make a thanksgiving offering on the completion of their labours, the whole proceeds of which would go to the Concord Soldiers Aid and Voluntary Workers’ Association, to help the brave lads who are carrying on the more serious fight on the “other side”.
They realised that their efforts must be something very special to reach the standard set by previous jumble sales and village fairs, for Concord is famed for such functions. To that end they promoted a patriotic bazaar and fete, to be held on Saturday afternoon and evening, 15th June, 1918. They were confident that this would eclipse all previous efforts.
The report continued: “Ladies are busy all over the municipality, sewing and preparing, and already the committee are confident that, given a fine day, all previous records will go by the board.
“The various stalls will be stocked with every class of housewife’s requirements and felt sure that the patriotic wives and mothers of Concord, who hold the strings of the household purse, would make their purchases at the bazaar and so help our lads whom we are sending out to fight the Hun, that we might live in peace and comfort. Concord’s response in men is a proud one. Don’t let us be more careful of our shillings that of our sons and brothers’ lives.”
There was a grand procession, one of the finest seen in the district, with bands playing and flags flying, with decorated floats depicting the Fire Brigade, Red Cross, grocers, smallgoods, bakers, delivery vans, parcel delivery, horse teams. sulkies . . . and lots of happy children and cheering, The parade proceeded to the block of vacant land right opposite the new station, where everything was in readiness, the stalls being laden with good things. The Burwood Cadet Band led the way and the Auburn Band played all the afternoon and evening.
It was “a great dinkum bazaar”. The stalls were stacked with useful articles of every description and practically everything was a free-gift offering. As well as the grocery and fruit & vegetable stalls there were sweets stalls, refreshments, penny dips, hand-made garments and craft. The good people of Concord East and Concord West conducted special stalls on behalf of their respective districts also.
At no time was there a lack of buyers, the chief trouble being to keep pace with their requirements.
The sideshows, including a Punch & Judy, were well patronised during every available minute, providing amusement for old and young alike. There was also a very successful children’s talent show.
There was an “Aunty Sally” stall “with figures labelled with the name of the various aldermen, and the caricatures were a bit “hot”, and even unjust considering what a fine lot of workers Concord has in the council. However, it was for a good cause. Ald. Syd Gissing, who was a hewer of wood and drawer of water on behalf of the effort, and was quite indefatigable in his efforts as always, was ‘got up’ with a distinctly Jewish caste of countenance. Ald. Correy was an ‘old woman’ and Ald. Savage had a fierce moustache and goatee, which he does not wear on his classic countenance, to our knowledge. Each figure was labelled with the name of an alderman and about £10 was spent by patrons trying with more of less success to knock their heads off.”
The opening ceremony was performed by Miss Eadith Walker, who presented a handsome cheque for £25 and, in addition, spent money generously. The Mayor of Concord, Ald. T.F. Warbrick, thanked Miss Walker and presented her with a framed enlargement of the new station.
The bazaar was a complete success with over 2000 visitors. The committee’s objective was to raise only £200 in order to bring the municipality’s total to £1,000, but when the final count was made, it was found that the fete had realised £320 and it further demonstrated the possibility of raising funds for patriotic purposes without the aid of raffles, chocolate wheels and similar gambling devices which were completely cut out of the programme*. The final balance sheet for the event shows that no expenses had been incurred – everything was by donation.
(*The Department of Repatriation would refuse permission for any events to use such gambling devices as only about one-third of proceeds went to the funds, the balance was taken by the promoters.)