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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Story Behind The Springwood Macquarie Monument

Stan Bentley handing the Springwood Crest (designed by Norman Lindsay)
to T.A. Moroney.  Tom Hunter & Bruce Lincoln Jackson (rear) took part in the
In 1937, His Honour Judge Curlewis, the Hon. T.D. Mutch and Mr Surveyor J.F. Campbell. F.R.H.S., at the request of the Springwood Development League, visited Springwood to locate the site of the original Springwood Military Barracks and the spring after which Macquarie named Springwood in 1815.  They decided that the barracks were located adjacent to the residence of Mr W.G. Gibbs of Railway Parade (now Macquarie Road), Springwood and the spring was in Madeline Gully off Boomerang Road.
It was decided to erect monuments at both sites and Mr William Gibbs, retired Gulgong Shire Clerk, agreed to donate a small part of his land (9ft 1in.) to the Blue Mountains Shire Council for the Macquarie Monument in Railway Parade.  The deeds for this portion of land were duly forwarded by solicitors Lawson, Waldron, Edwards and Nicholls to the Council.
In March, 1939, members of the Royal Australian Historical Society, invited by the Blue Mountains Shire Council and the Springwood Development League, came to Springwood for the unveiling of the monument by their President, Mr K.R. Cramp.  Also present were Judge Backhouse, Mr Joseph Jackson, M.L.A., Cr W. Mathews , President of the Blue Mountains Shire Council and Crs A. Hodgson and B. Honeysett.  After the unveiling, the party enjoyed afternoon tea at the Royal Hotel and a trip to the Hawkesbury Lookout.
There was an immediate challenge to the accuracy of the inscription on the Monument’s tablet at the Royal Australian Historical Society’s meeting.  Mr W. L. Havard contended that it was not really known where Macquarie and his party had camped and that the Military Barracks were transferred from Glenbrook to Springwood in 1815 not 1816.  Mr Havard also felt it should have stated that Macquarie and not Macquarie and his party “named the place Spring Wood.”  Mr Cramp agreed that there were some inaccuracies but felt that they were of a minor nature but he said that “we do endeavour to convey to the public something of the historical significance of an event.”
Peter Chinn, in his book, The Thin Red and Blue Lines, said “the role of the Military was to ensure that travellers to the west had the written permission of the Governor, to guard government carts and provisions for Bathurst and to forward letters.”  Protection of the travelling public was another important responsibility.  There had never been any report of problems with the aborigines but there was concern that escaped convicts or bushrangers could cause trouble and the Barracks provided a safe overnight stopping place for the travellers.
The inscription on the tablet  reads:
“Governor Macquarie and his party camped here on their way to Bathurst on April 27, 1815, and named the place “Springwood”.  William Cox erected here a military depot early in 1816.  R.A.H.S, 1938.”
In May, 1965, the site of the Monument was chosen to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the naming of Springwood and the Springwood Historical Society accepted the Springwood Coat of Arms drawn by Norman Lindsay.
A Monument to mark the location of the spring was never erected.
Shirley Evans
CHINN, Peter  The Thin Red and Blue Lines
Nepean Times   Various issues
Royal Australian Historical Society Annual Report, 1939
Springwood Historians  The Making of a Mountain Community:  a Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David

Many notable politicians, successful business people, war heroes, and inspiring educators have lived in the Blue Mountains at one time or another. One of these was renowned geologist, polar explorer and university lecturer Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David K.B.E., C.M.G., D.S.O., D. Sc., F.R.S. with wife Caroline.
The couple purchased twenty-six acres of land at Woodford in 1898, naming the two-roomed cottage they built ‘Tyn-y-Coed’ (meaning house in the wood).  The name reflected Sir David’s Welsh birth.  Born in 1858 at the rectory of St Fagan’s in Wales, he was the eldest child of Rev. William David a fellow of Jesus College Oxford.  Sir David graduated B.A. from Oxford in 1881.
He arrived in New South Wales to take up the position of assistant geological surveyor following the disappearance of Lamont H. Young (his predecessor) on a field trip to Bermagui in 1880.  Sir David arrived in Sydney in 1882 and in July 1885, married English born Caroline Martha (Cara) Mallet whom he met on the voyage to Sydney.  There is a suggestion that Cara emigrated for reasons of health, however it is more commonly suggested that she came to NSW to take up an appointment as founding principal of Hurlstone Training College for female teachers.  Interestingly, she is thought to have been appointed by Sir Henry Parkes. 
Cara, an orphan from a working class family, received her education by scholarship from Whiteland College London and later, she trained as a teacher.  She was a lecturer at the college prior to applying for the position at Hurlstone.  Cara, a bright intelligent woman, became interested in and assisted with the introduction of the free kindergarten movement in the inner suburbs of Sydney.  She was aided by other early feminist educators like Louisa Macdonald and Maybanke Wolstenholme.  Sir Edgeworth David was appointed professor of geology in the University of Sydney in 1891.

Sir Ernest Shackleton appointed him as leader of the scientific team accompanying him to the South Pole in 1907-9.  Sir David led the party that discovered the South Magnetic Pole and he and his team scaled the active volcano Mount Erebus.  At the outbreak of the First World War, Sir David recruited and formed the Australian Mining Corps that was composed of tough individuals from the gold, copper, coal and silver mines of Kalgoorlie, Bendigo, Tasmania and South Australia.  Although little is known about the corps the most successful operation carried out by the men serving under Lieut-Colonel David was the mining under and explosion of Messines Ridge, in 1917.
Edgeworth David
In the early part of the twentieth century the Blue Mountains and ‘Tyn-y-Coed’ became the David’s main place of residence.  The cottage was expanded to meet the needs of the family and orchards and gardens were established.   In 1909, following his return from the Antarctic, the Davids entertained the crew of the polar expedition ship, Nimrod.   The Davids were community minded and sociable and members of the local Woodford Anglican Church.  In August 1934 the media of the day announced the death of the world famous scientist.  Sir David was given a State funeral.  It is unfortunate that the crumbled chimney stack of ‘Tyn-y-Coed’ (destroyed by fire) is the only reminder of the David’s time in Woodford.
Pamela Smith
* The Journal of the Women’s College, Vol. 26 No. 1, winter 2010-11-09, p. 8.
* T.G. Vallance & D.F. Branagan, ‘David, Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth (1858-1934),’   The Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, Melbourne University Press, 1981, pp 218-221.
* Ken Goodlet, Hazelbrook & Woodford, Ken Goodlet, 2006, p 40.
* The Argus, 29.8.1934.
* Jennifer Carter, Portrait of a Lady: Caroline Martha David, National Library of Australia, September 2002, Vol. XII No. 12.
* Daily Telegraph image
This article appeared in The Mountain Blueberry, Dec/Jan, Issue 26, p. 20.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How did that get its name?: Fels Avenue Springwood

Have you ever wondered how streets, parks and other landmarks acquire their names?  Fels Avenue, located in the vicinity of Springwood Public School was named for Frederick Fels who purchased land there in the latter part of the 1890s.  Fels, born in Warsaw Poland in 1858, travelled to England then to America in the 1880s, on the pretext of buying goods for his business.  He left behind a wife, who he subsequently divorced, and several children and eventually married Dora.  Relatives of Frederick Fels suggest the pair may have been acquainted before Dora left Poland destined for America and marriage.  
The couple arrived in Australia in 1889, where Frederick took up the manufacture of butter coolers and canvas bags before moving into the more lucrative market of money lending.  The latter venture was initially financed by his wife.  Dora, an enterprising lady, set up her own dressmaking business which is perhaps why everyone knew her as Madame Fels.      
It seems that Frederick was ever mindful of his debt to his deserted family in Warsaw because he sent money to them when he was financially able.  Son Stanley migrated to Australia in 1896, moving in with Frederick and Dora when they lived at Annandale.  Stanley’s arrival - and perhaps the financial position of Dora and Frederick - encouraged the migration of the remaining Fels family. 
The Springwood property purchased by Frederick and Dora in 1899 comprised of several acres of land forming the border between Valley Heights and Springwood.  Frederick Somers had been the original owner of a conditional purchase in the 1880s.  The property had been put in Dora’s name, a was common practice for that time, because it safeguarded the wife in the event of a husband’s bankruptcy and eluded death duties when he died. 
In 1900, the Fels moved into their newly built Springwood home.  Fels Ridge/ Felsridge, as the photograph illustrates, was a stunning example of early Federation-style architecture.  The home had several tall chimneys that soared high above the tiled roofline of the commodious brick home, while the front veranda and upper storey balcony overlooked a wonderful circular driveway.  Financially comfortable, the Fels were able to employ local men Thomas Jones and George Mills as gardeners and to attend to any maintenance of Felsridge.  Double gates located on Bathurst (now Macquarie Road) once marked the entrance to the property.
Dora and Frederick continued in their separate businesses and Frederick, who was described as a ‘financier,’ occupied rooms at 295 Pitt Street Sydney.  In a move that would prove unfortunate the childless couple adopted Dora’s niece and Frederick’s granddaughter. 
In 1907, Frederick was a trustee of Martins Lookout.  He is said to have had a great fondness for the local flora and fauna of the area and - at his own expense - put a man to work clearing a track some two or three miles out from Springwood.  The Nepean Times newspaper later regaled the splendour of hidden streams, tumbling clear pristine waterfalls and stalactites - unhindered and undisturbed - formed from the minerals in the water.  Rare ferns grew in great profusion along the track and great stacks of giant logs lay petrified on the wilderness floor.  It is unfortunate the location of this track has been lost.  
A public spirited man, Frederick donated a sum of money to the School of Arts building fund in 1907.  In 1908, he was elected Vice President along with Messrs. Charles Rosenthal, Grant and Foster and retained the position the following year.  He was elected to the committee when the first Annual General Meeting was held in the newly erected School of Arts building, in 1913.  He was also a member of the Springwood Progress Association.  During 1908, Frederick - with the assistance of Mr Maidment, proprietor of the Royal Hotel - installed a Rider-Eriksson hot air engine on the Springwood property to pump water for domestic and irrigation purposes from the gullies below the house. There is no evidence to suggest if they were successful.
In 1914, Frederick founded the Mortgage and Loan Finance Company of Australia.  Sadly, he died the following year.  The years following Frederick’s death were troubled and turbulent for Dora and the trouble stemmed from the earlier mentioned adoptions.  Frederick’s first wife appealed his will because most of his estate had been bequeathed to their mutual granddaughter, Miss Blessing Fels-Stuckgold.  Eventually the Supreme Court overturned the terms of Frederick’s will and the estate was divided between Blessing and Frederick’s first wife.  The latter died five years later and rests, perhaps somewhat uncomfortably, with Frederick in Rookwood Cemetery.
The name of Miss Blessing Fels-Stuckgold appeared in local newspapers around 1915, along with other young ladies who raised funds for wounded soldiers during the First World War.  Like most of the other large estates in the area the Fels estate was subsequently subdivided and Dora, or Madame Fels, left the mountains around 1920.  Family information suggested she lived in Mosman during the early 1930s, however, the date and place of her death are unknown.
Local myth implied the house burnt to the ground in the 1968 bush fires; however inspection of the property in 2000 revealed that the central spine of the house remained intact along with the driveway, a water-well in the garden and original plantings.   Today the property is known as Blue Gum Lodge and functions as an Anglican Youthworks Outdoor Centre.
Pamela Smith
Blue Mountains City Council image collection.
Blue Mountains City Council local studies collection.
Nepean Times, Various editions.
New South Wales Births, Deaths and Marriage indexes.
Sands Indexes, Various editions.
Springwood Historians, The Making of a Mountain Community: A Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District, Springwood Historians, 2001.