Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Beatrice Slater

Beatrice was born at Waverley in 1900.  She lived in the same one room house that  her husband built at Oak Flats in 1920 on the west side of Horsley Creek, until she was 100 years old.

Mr. Slater worked as a timber getter for Bernard Kirton, a saw miller from Thirroul. Kirton had purchased 266 acres of the Kembla Vista Estate (Oak Flats) and  had a contract to supply pit props for the coal mines. The swamp oak casuarinas glauca was perfect for pit props and grew all over the Kembla Vista Estate .

Mr. Slater was also a bridge builder and built the bridge on The Esplanade in the 1920s. He also helped built the first Windang Bridge, opened in 1938. The first bridge built across Horsley Creek, near the Slater’s family home was built by Mr.Slater but unfortunately it washed away in a flood. The replacement bridge that exists today was named Slater's Bridge, in honour of the family.

There weren't any buildings at Oak Flats when the Slater family arrived, just one house owned by the land agents, Watts’. The Slater's added one room at a time to their house - just what they could afford, bit by bit. The  home was made of fibro and iron. The windows were purchased from Waters, and the timber came from a saw mill up the coast. The floor was given to them by the local rifle range and was 4 inches thick. The front door was made out of tram seats from Sydney.

Beatrice Slater used to swim in Slater’s Creek every morning at 6am. One day eight children walked onto the middle of the bridge and jumped off into the creek, where they became stuck. Beatrice swam out and swan each child back to shore. This was when she was 75 years old.

Sadly Beatrice's husband died when she was just 50 years old but she always had the company of her 70 year old Cockatoo, Cocky, who she shared a cup of tea with every day.

Beatrice lived through two world wars, men landing on the moon, and the development of the automobile. Beatrice Slater died in 2002 aged 102 years. (Information Gillis, K, 'Oak Flats A Garden Suburb')

Beatrice Slaters house at Oak Flats c.2000
Tongarra Museum.
Tram seat front doors, Beatrice Slaters house c.2000
Tongarra Museum.

Slater residence c.2000
Tongarra Museum.

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