Thursday, 30 August 2012

Marks Villa

An old silo and fig trees mark the site of the original ‘Marks Villa’ homestead, near the Illawarra Regional Airport at Albion Park Rail.

The Johnston family, a well known farming family from Albion Park, leased ‘Marks Villa’ from John Russell in 1907 and then purchased the property at the Russell Estate sale in 1916.

‘Marks Villa’ homestead had two large bedrooms and a  lounge room, a kitchen and laundry. The verandah was closed in by the Johnston family and the children slept in there.

During World War II  the Department of Defence resumed part of the Johnston’s farm when they built the airstrip in 1942. This put great strain on the Johnston family and their dairying business, as much of their fertile farming land had been lost. At times the cheque the family received for their milk did not cover costs and the family almost went bankrupt.

Mrs. Mimie Johnston’s brother James Russell East was the Mayor of Shellharbour during the war years and tried to stop the land from being taken, however he was unsuccessful. Many sacrifices were made by local people during the war.

The homestead was relocated to a site behind the historic home ‘Ravensthorpe’, some two kilometers to the west. The house was lifted up, put on blocks and transported across the paddock. This caused a huge disruption to the family for a number of years.

The Johnston's were provided some compensation from the government for the resumption of their precious land, however it didn't amount to much and certainly did not cover the costs they incurred.

‘Marks Villa’ still lies behind Ravensthorpe homestead today.


The Johnston family outside Marks Villa at Albion Park c.1910
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

John Alfred and Mimie East c.1910
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

History Week Bus Tour

Learn more about the history of Shellharbour City with a guided bus tour of our most significant historic sites.

Participants will see over 50 historic buildings on the tour and travel all over the city; from Shellharbour Village to Tullimbar.

A stop off will be made at the Old Minnamurra School House, Dunmore.

Bookings are essential.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Local Government Week 2012

To celebrate Local Government Week, Shellharbour City Council invited school students to Blackbutt Forest, to become involved in and learn about the range of projects managed by Council staff.

All the children enjoyed the archaeological digs organised by Tongarra Museum. This was voted most popular activity on the day.

Thank you to the Albion Park Men's Shed for building our fantastic dig boxes!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

History events in the Illawarra - August 2012

Kiama Family History Centre is hosting a family history writing workshop 25 August 2012 from 10am-1pm & the Mount Kembla Heritage Centre is launching its new Pit Pony exhibition in the afternoon from 2pm.

Why not make a day of it and enjoy what our region has to offer!

Writing and publishing your family history workshop - Kiama Library

This workshop will provide useful strategies to get you writing! Noeline Kyle and Lorraine Purcell will give you the information you need to get your precious family story into print.
Saturday 25th of August 2012, 10am to 1pm
$30.00 per person
Bookings essential Kiama Family History Centre
7 Railway Parade, Kiama • Telephone: 4233 1133

Pit Pony exhibition launch - Mount Kembla Heritage Centre

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Isabella McGill

Isabella McGill (nee Russell) was one of the first generation of local girls born at Shellharbour.

Her parents were Ebenezer and Janet Russell (nee Meek) who came to Shellharbour from Linlithgow Scotland in 1840, when Isabella and her twin sister Janet were seven years old.

In 1869, Isabella married James McGill (son of Andrew and Jane) at her parents' home at Croom. Isabella and James farmed 'The Meadows' at Albion Park before moving to Stoney Creek in 1883.

Isabella became renowned in the area as a good nurse and midwife, and used bush methods to assist her patients. In the 1880s she treated many who had contracted diphtheria in an epidemic that affected many people in Shellharbour, especially children.

Diphtheria weakened the body and claimed up to a third of its victims, with patients ultimately dying from suffocation. Archibald and Margaret McGill lost four of their children to the epidemic within four days in 1883.

Isabella developed a treatment using the quill section of a feather to allow patients to breath throughout their illness, and by this method saved many young lives.

On Arbor Day in 1895, Isabella planted one of the Norfolk Island Pines which adorn the waterfront at Shellharbour Village. 350 residents of the municipality gathered on 14 August and 45 trees were planted.

Isabella was at that time the oldest female resident of Shellharbour, aged just 62.

James and Isabella McGill c.1870-1880
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City libraries.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

John Radecki - Stained Glass Artist - Wollongong Works Tour

National Trust of Australia (NSW) Illawarra Shoalhaven Branch with support from the Illawarra Migration Heritage Project presents John Radecki: Stained Glass Artist The Wollongong Works.

In January 1882 a new Polish family arrived to Wollongong; the family of Victoria and Paul Radeski. The family lived in Young Street and Paul eventually worked in the one of the local coal mine.

While looking for work on day, Paul and one of his sons John went to Kiama as they heard that there may be jobs at the quarry, breaking up stone. They were too late however, and the job had been taken.

Tired and hungry Paul and John were walking back through Dunmore and they stopped at William and Elizabeth James’ house, Bravella. William James, once a Mayor of Shellharbour, helped the men and let them stay overnight at their family farm. William and Elizabeth gave them food and some money  which John used to continue his studies in stain glass window art.

In 1885 John Radecki (he spelt his name with “c”) finished his studies and was employed by Frederick Ashwin who was the owner of J. Ashwin & Co the largest stain glass window company in Sydney. After Frederick Ashwin's death in 1909 John Radecki became the company chief designer and co-owner, and from 1920 until 1954 the owner of the company.

In 1938 John had the opportunity to show his gratitude to William and Elizabeth James for the help he and his father received from them. A new St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was built at Wollongong, and John Radecki was commissioned to do a few windows (some of the windows were brought from the old church). He designed, made, and dedicated one window, the Good Samaritan window, to William and Elizabeth James. Under it he wrote:

“I was a stranger and you took me in. In the grateful remembrance of William James of Shellharbour and his wife Elizabeth who in 1882 befriended artist and his father”.

John Radecki (1855-1955) became an accomplished sketch artist and Australia’s first locally trained stained-glass artist.  He designed and produced some of the finest stained glass windows for public and church buildings in Sydney and country NSW, including Illawarra.

Research and above text from The Illawarra Migration Heritage Project.

A travelling tour of the three central Wollongong churches which contain some of John Radecki’s most personal works starts at St Mary Star of the Sea College Chapel, continues at City Central Church (St Andrew’s Presbyterian) and concludes at St Michael’s Anglican Cathedral, where afternoon tea will be served. Local historian Zofia Laba, will provide commentary throughout the tour on Radecki’s life and works, including a work created in remembrance of a kindness 50 years after the event.

This tour is based on the research conducted by Zofia Laba and Barbara Manzur for the Migration Heritage Project.
Price:   $20 NT members / $25 for non-members

Date:   Saturday 18th August 2012

Time:   1.30pm
Where: The Chapel, St Mary’s Star of the Sea College, 15 Harbour St Wollongong

For Further Information and Bookings please call Gillian on Ph 42274614

The Good Samaritan Window, St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Wollongong.
Photo - Illawarra Migration Heritage Project