Moorefields Cemetery
Kingsgrove, NSW, Australia


CHILDHOOD MEMORIES OF BELMORE
by Margaret Anderson and Shirley Govey

Our memories of Belmore begin in the late 1930ís when our Aunty May and Uncle Vic would drive us in a large sedan, together with our Grandmother to visit her mother (our Great Grandmother) and several of her unmarried or widowed brothers and sisters who lived around Belmore. Many were settled on land originally purchased by ancestors who arrived from England in 1818.

Vera May (nee Carter) and Victor Griffith. Aunt May and Uncle Vic took our grandmother and us in their car to visit our great grandmother. Photograph taken about 1950.

Part of Belmore, (now Kingsgrove) was sparsely settled with houses surrounded by large Market Gardens with rows of beautifully tended vegetables. We now know that Belmore was quite a shopping centre boasting a Railway station, which had opened in 1895. But, this we did not see as we arrived by car, going through Marrickville, Undercliffe and Earlwood.

Our excitement knew no bounds, as Grandma would take us on walking tracks between trees to visit our Great Aunts, Uncles and cousins (all early settlers) on their market gardens. We were often confused by their ,to us children, great numbers and had difficulty in sorting out the relationships of Chards, Forresters, Colemans and Lees. Christian names were much easier to remember.

A visit always included a trip to the cemetery behind the little Methodist Church built on land given by the Chard Family in 1851. Sadly this small church was replaced by a new brick building, later sold by the Uniting Church.

Moorfields Methodist Church. Photograph taken before 1900.

The rough track and trees we strolled through is now busy Moorefields Road and there is not a market garden in sight. Grandma would point out the ruined foundations of a small school near the corner where Ada Street is now and tell us how her grandmother had walked to Sydney Town with grapes for the Governor and a petition for the building of the little school. The school later moved to Canterbury Road and now boasts a large brick 2 storey building and is called Belmore South Public School. How things have changed since we were children.

We still can not smell or eat a mandarin without recalling their perfumed blossom and the chookyard where the mandarin trees grew and our pleasure in hunting and collecting the warm newly laid (mostly brown) eggs.

We thought Great Grandmotherís home was very small, but always smelled wonderful with cooking from the open fire and the kettle always boiling. Her Christmas cakes and puddings were legendary and very eye-catching, hanging in their calico cloths to dry. She was a very tiny woman but had great eyesight, reading the small print Sydney Morning Herald until in her late 90ís without glasses. Agile and quick, she reputedly could keep six wiping up the crockery as she washed them in a dish on her big kitchen table.

Her home, even in the 1940ís, was traditional pioneer and a great adventure for us children. From memory it consisted of a wooden frame, tin and log type covering probably from the trees that once covered her land. The walls were covered with newsprint, but we remember one, a bedroom that was papered with sprays of roses, a very Victorian design. In her front room was a huge sideboard and on it sat a wonderful spray of artificial flowers covered by a glass dome. Could this have been her bridal bouquet?

We do not remember asking her, but how we admired that decoration. At the back door was a wrought iron doorstop in the shape of a wonderfully strong woodsman with his axe over his shoulder. We wonder where this has gone and why he was there. Was it because she married James Donaldson Forrester or was it because her father had cleared the land with probably only an axe in the early days?

Why donít we ask these questions? or are they only important to us, as we become older? The front bedroom was filled with large dark furniture. The huge double bed almost filled the room and was piled high with bolster, pillows and eiderdown, it was so high and she so short we wondered how she ever climbed into it.

After visiting our Great Grandmother we would go to Campsie to visit our Grandmothers sister, Aunty Sarah on another market garden, now the site of the famed Sunbeam Products. Here, the fruit and vegetables all freshly picked from the garden and washed clear of the sweet smelling earth were gathered for Grandma to take home with her.

Our Grandparents, Margaret (neeForester) and Herbert Carter. Our Aunt May and Uncle Vic took us with them when they drove our Grandmother to visit her mother. Photograph taken about 1920's But best of all, Aunt Sarah always had a spare threepence to press into our hands as we left. This was a great treasure and we always thought how rich she must be as a penny, shared, was generally the extent of our riches.

Was it our imagination or did the food taste better in those days? We would enjoy the fresh tasting beans that went snap as you broke them and the sweetness of the garden peas, no need to waste time cooking them when they were fresh from the garden, and we are not forgetting the rock and water melons, cucumbers and plums which we were allowed to pick for ourselves.

With our Mum, Dad, brothers and sister we moved to Belmore in 1946 to new homes that covered the rich soil market gardens that once belonged to our relatives. Where my Great Grandmother lived had long been covered by suburban homes except for part opposite her laneway which had been turned into a soccer field, Park and Bowling Club fronting Moorefields Road. In the 20th Century nothing has stood still, gathering greater momentum as it draws to a close, OR, has our ecological conscience been awakened?

From a hill not far away (about ½ mile) in the cemetery on the land given for the Wesleyen (Methodist) Church rests Great Grandmother with her Grandfather (buried 1856), her parents, husband, some children and many relatives and we like to imagine her looking down on something akin to her own garden. The Bowling Club has been abandoned and the Canterbury City Council now owns the land and after many meetings to decide the zoning code, are preparing to lease the land to a plant nursery. Perhaps the nursery will not sell the same plants that Great Grandmother planted and cherished with scarce precious water, -- geraniums, daisies, carnations, lilies and roses all with perfume as well as beauty, but at least part of her homeland is still free to grow natural things instead of being swallowed by bricks and cement.

Sunday School Picnic Group at Moorefields. Top row: (l to r) Henry Coleman, Sid Poole, Ada Smith, Ida McCrea, Kate McClosky, Steve Barnet, George Hawkes, Frank Jones, George Miller. 2nd row: Mrs Poole, Mrs Coleman, Mrs Jane Poole, Ernest A. Miller, Mrs Hawkes snr., Elizabeth Forrester, Walter Coleman, Martha Anderson, John Cross. 3rd row: Miss Jane Norton, Miss Nelson, Mrs Cross, Miss Margaret Corbett, Miss Victoria Corbett. Front row: (on ground) Mrs Bishop, Louisa Norton, Margaret Forrester (our grandmother), Henry Harris, ?, ?, Clara Harris. Photo taken 26 Jan, 1894.

You may wish to check the Canterbury Bell for more interesting articles on our District

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