CHILDHOOD MEMORIES OF BELMORE
by Margaret Anderson
and Shirley Govey
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Methodist Church. Photograph taken before 1900.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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