Our family, leaving Sydney in above year, came to reside in Parramatta. I was then eight years of age. There were no public schools at that time, all being under the heads of the various denominations.Within a short time I spent my early school days, with Mr. Hole, Mr. McPherson, and Mr. Lough.
Let me try and describe the township … Parramatta station was then down near the old dog-trap-road, near the Vauxhall Inn, and near the Liverpool-road, beyond the old broken back-bridge toll bar. On the rise, as you came into the town, was Elliott’s Globe Hotel, on the fringe of what is now called Rosehill.
Then we came to the Western-road, where, at the hotel there, the horses would be changed for their journey to Penrith. Then, as we came to the brow of the hill, there was the residence, on the right. of old Dr. Gwynne, very near where Creasey’s Hotel now stands. On the left, going down the hill was Harper’s butchery on the corner of Argyle-street. On the Macquarie-street corner was the old red brick residence of Dr. Rutter. St. John’s school was in the angle corner, and a little lower down was Urquhart’s coach factory, where the A.B.C. Bank is now. Then the Presbyterian Church, and then the Courthouse. The lock-up keeper there was named Wade. I have reason to know this be cause I had several fights with his son whom we used to call “Bucketty.”
Round into George street, on the left,was a small lane and residence next door. This was the then post office where folk would dribble up this lane for their letters. Almost opposite was Nash’s Woolpack Hotel. This was in off the road, and only frequented by the upper ten, where many a good old yarn was spun, and many a pound won and lost.
We then came to Dr. Brown’s residence, and next to King’s timber yard; and then the Domain gates.
Opposite the Courthouse was Fulton’s Hotel (George-street corner), then several small shops, one occupied by Joe Scheggin, otherwise “Bandy Joe,” the tailor. Next door was the notable hair dressing establishment of Mr. Thomas Clarke, known from end to end of the town as “Tommy the Barber.” He was the only one there, and the first out of my own family to cut my hair. (Our mothers used to do it then.) His wife, good old soul used to make brandy snaps, butter cakes, etc., aswell as toffee, to keep things going, and I can see the glass case now, in the window, filled with boat laces, thread, cotton, etc. She kept particular care of this, and on one occasion she was called to attend, to the shop (when he was cutting my hair). Said Mr. Clarke, “Someone’s been interfering with the haberdashery department” Goledge’s draper’s shop was the next of any importance, and lower down, was Pass’s ironmongery.
Down that end of George street was Byrnes’ tweed mill and the Emu Inn. The steamers used then to ply from the wharf at the foot of George street.
Lough’s school was opposite Vallack’s brewery, and he prided himself in belonging to the old blue coat school. He would place one boy on a stool, and the class would then stand round and give the boy a word to spell. Each lad had a turn, and failing to spell a word correctly, he had to stand down, and so on to the end of the class. During my visits to the brewery for yeast (mother did all the baking) it was a pleasure to see a dainty pair of hands, under a pretty face, attending to a lovely garden. At that time a stone wall ran from Macquarie street to the Domain gates, and all the boys would go along this and gather the date fruit from the trees when in season.
Two places in George street, near Church-street, were the Red Cow Inn, off the road, and back of present Commercial Bank, and Mason’s stationer’s shop, on the opposite side. This was the news emporium, to which all town. and country folk would assemble for the latest. It was Mr. Mason, I think, started the first Parramatta paper, called, the “Chronicle,” and from this small beginning has risen ‘The Argus’ of today. The “Chronicle” was a sheet about 12 x 20 inches.
In Phillip street was Mr. Philips’ ladies seminary, and at the corner of Smith street was the day-school of Mr. Mills. At the foot of Smith-street was a flour mill, owned by Mr. A. E. Dare. His chief man was Mr. Henderson, father of the late Mr. D. D. Henderson.
Over the bridge, the first place of note was the saddlery establishment of Mr. S. Burge (one of the best). A couple of his sons were school mates of mine. His place was opposite the old gaol green, now, I think, called Prince Alfred Square. Corner of Pennant street, was the ‘all sorts’ store of Jim Simmons, and almost next door was the shop of James Ferris. There was. keen rivalry between those two. H. Burgin, a wheelwright in Pennant street, afterwards opened a watch making depot, opposite these two, and he could tell some queer stories respecting the callers at Simmons and Ferris’s.
Down Pennant street was Jesse Hack’s Crown Hotel, and opposite this was a small “residential township,” of several humpies, and known by the name . of “Kilcock ‘Alley.” Then came All Saints’ Church, and a little further on the notable smithy of Mr. A. Forsythe.
We go along Church street to Ashby the butcher, and almost opposite was the depot for oranges. This was kept by J. McRoberts, and the fruit, of all kinds was taken here and sorted out, consigned, and sent to Sydney by carts. Then the old centenary school: (Mr. Bell, teacher), where, in growIng up, I met, as school fellows, H. Coates, C. M. Innes, A. Johnstone, T. Forsythe, Cyrus and W. C. Burge, J; Bush, Jordan Sparks, Billy Anderson (uncle of Senator Cox), and many others.
We pass along to J. Good’s Hotel, and then to Stowe’s, and then’ the little “tea shop” kept by Burns, and afterwards by James Kelly. Two other old rivals. . must-not for get were McDeed and Faux, in the coach driving trade.; How they would lash their steeds to. gathler the passengers in was a sight not to be:forgotten ” After passing here. we leave on theright the Church, of England day school, kept .by Mr. Breathour, and.I fancy I canhear him now reciting.the’ responses in All Saints’ ‘Church. Various nondescriptplaces meet ourgaze~as wego to the old. toll bar and mill, above which was Pye’sDruggery. , . I am not’ quite clear who.. kept the hotel, at tlhe toll bar,’ but .thls I know, that two. chaps, growing. into manhood, who were passing by after a shooting ex pedition at Baulkham Hills, had’ ,6nly threepence between them. One went In and called for a pint: when he had his swlig his mate popped-in dR the veran. dah, and finished it, leaving boniface in a state of excitement and wonder. I omitted to mention that, between Church-street and the hospital, wasn the smithy and plough-making works of IR.
A. and W. Ritchle. How these men worked into the night, with artiflicial light, to perfect the mouldboards for which their ploughs were famousl R. A. would go out to Baulkham Hills, and fol. low the plough, when worked by the Blacks [sic.] and Strangers. There was no “eight hours” for these men; it was toll to perfect an end. And the end came when Robert Adam Ritchie launched out into the contracting of railway trucls and carrilages for the Gorernment, and from this small beginning has risen the large works of Pitchie Bros., of Auburn. It was the country’s loss when R.A.R. was “called- home.” The first cricket match I saw played in Parramatta was on the police station ground up near the present railway station, at the back of the public school. They were the days when they played without boots or socks, and trousers tucked up, . Jimmy Folkes and Jack Weekes were amongst the players, and the Sydney team gave them a hiding. It was a common sight to see a string of Chinamen [sic.], with their big hats, all in single file, each carrying two baskets, walking up the Western-road for Lambing Flat Diggings. . These were the days when bullock and horse teams did all the haulage, When about 12 or 13 years of age, I would go every Saturday (whien firing was on) to the rifle butts, Parramatta North, and score for them. Amongst the shooters were Dr. Brown, R. IcDonald, R. A. and W. Rltchic, Sandy Houlson, C. Cawood, J. Maling, and many others. An old identity of thile town was Mr. iames Galloway. He had a store in :hurch-street, In the early days, and amassed a fortune. In relating his losses, he said the entry was squared by writing ‘ipaid by dying,” “paid by running away,” as the case might be with a creditor,.
Parramatta had its share of curious sharacters. These were “Foggy DI,” “Polly the Dwarf,” “Long Bob,” “Pine-apple” Davis. Can old townsmen forget these? And can anyone of the 60’s and 70’s say that Pat Hayes did not stand at the Courthouse corner every day except Sunday? When about 12 or 13 I am standing at the Church and Macquarie-street corner for my mother. Who are these two upright figures, with flowing beards.coming down Macquarie-street, with their families going to the Wesleyan. Church?T hey are the late Hen. WiVm. aft James Byrnes-upright they were in stature, and in all their dealings, whose children rise up and call them blessed. Then who is this appiroaching with a number of lads?* It is the late Rev. V. Woolls, a man whose piety and gentle ness endeared’ him to all who came in contact with him. I can safely say that any old schoolboy of his should bare and bow his head in reverence at the mention of his name. Tswo others I notice, Mr. and Mrs. Rd.Harper, parents of the late Chief Coni m!ssioner of Railways. They were some of the chief pillars of the upkeeping of St. John’s Church: and this reminds me that, in connection with the church, there wvas what was called a “Dorcas” Soelety. I think Mrs. Haper must have been presl dent, secretary, and treasurer of it, and all rolled into one. This lady would vls it all the shops, buy up all the remnants. etc. (some were given), and have them sent to St. John’s schoolroom. Here the various mothers of the parish would meet and have their parcel given them to make up into children’s garments and returned the next week or so. Mrs. Har per was left to distribute them. She knew every poor person in the place, who wanted assistance. She was for ever looking after someone, always doing good. I hope that others, who see this im perfect article, and who lived In Parramatta about the sixties will contribute to your columns’ anything that I have forgotten. The lads and lasses of to-day know nothing Of what we had to do in our young days. No straw hats and clgar ottes, .no Saturday half.holiday, and no pictures or dancing halls.
Neera Sahni, Research Services Leader, City of Parramatta, Parramatta Heritage Centre, 2020
Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 – 1950), Saturday 6 October 1923, page 11