Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Crestview, Albion Park.

John Hubert Plunkett Hobbs leased this residence in Terry Street, Albion Park, ‘Crestview’, from James Walker, when he moved to Albion Park about 1890. John was a chemist and druggist and he opened his shop in the northern front room of the building, set apart from the residence.

John’s wife, Emily Susan Hobbs purchased the property from James Walker in 1920.

Local identity Bert Weston wrote in his book 'Albion Park Saga' that Hobbs was the unofficial medicine man, often attending the sick in times of emergency, setting broken bones and extracting teeth.

Mr Hobbs died in 1926 and his wife Emily in 1938.

‘Crestview’ later became the home of Thelma and Ray O’Gorman.

Chemist shop and home of John Hobbs at Albion Park
'Crestview' in the 1920's. Hobbs' Chemist Shop was entered by the steps at the front.
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries.

Former home of Ray & Thelma O'Gorman, Albion Park
'Crestview' in the 1980's.
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries.

Thelma and Ray O'Gorman
Thelma and Ray O'Gorman at 'Crestview' in the 1950's.
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Martin Family

Robert Martin arrived in Australia from Ireland in 1838 when he was about eight years old and by the 1850s he was a digger at the Victorian goldfields. In 1853 he married Lily Ann Cochrane. Robert Martin built the ‘Settlers Arms’ hotel at Shellharbour in 1856.

The Martin’s faced several tragedies during the mid-19th Century. Robert Martin’s eldest daughter Isabella aged 14 years was drowned in 1868 when she attempted to get water from the well for washing. Mrs. Lily Martin noticed her daughter was missing about 9am. Mrs. Martin and Mr. Coughrane used a grappling hook to check the well and discovered her body.

Local school teacher Richard Hall also came to assist after being told by a student that Isabella had drowned. Once her body was secured, the party which by this time included Mr. Martin, drew her to the top. Isabella was carried to the house.

Her mouth was cleansed and her head raised. Friction was applied to various parts of her body and she was wrapped in blankets. Attempts to resuscitate Isabella for over 30 minutes failed.

Lily Martin died the following year in 1869, leaving six surviving children of their family of eleven.

The Martin’s Settlers Arms Inn was destroyed by fire at around three o’clock in the morning of 8 April 1872. The townsfolk evacuated all the family and an enquiry into the fire was held at the ‘Steam Packet Inn’ four days later. The district Coroner, Mr. H Connell could find not evidence how the fire started.
Settler's Arms Hotel, Shellharbour
Settlers Arms Hotel at Shellharbour c.1860
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries.
Article on the death of Isabella Martin
Illawarra Mercury 4 August 1868.


Monday, 3 March 2014

The Blitz

The Albion Park Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade used a 1942 Ford V8 Army Blitz truck to fight fires around the area. The truck was converted to a fire fighting vehicle by one of the mechanics at Max Brewster’s local Albion Park garage.

Unfortunately, the Blitz had not been completed at the time of the terrifying Commercial Hotel fire at Albion Park and as a result the hotel was lost amongst the flames. Members of the volunteer brigade had not been shown how to operate the Blitz and all efforts to put out the blaze failed.

Soon after the famous Commercial Hotel fire, Jim Wilson was appointed Captain of the fire truck and took on the task of finishing the truck by modifying the pumps, belts, hoses and controls. The Blitz attended many fires on local farms, grass fires, and many accidents and fires on Macquarie Pass.

One evening a semi trailer was on fire at Macquarie Pass and the Blitz was called. The truck was pushed to the limit when it was driven up the pass in second gear....and the motor blew up. Claude Harris, Albion Park local volunteer fire fighter and partner in the family garage W. G. Harris and Sons, found another ford V8 motor, fitted it to the Blitz and it ran perfectly from then on.

The Blitz was eventually replaced by a Bedford truck and forgotten about for many years, until to the amazement of the Albion Park locals one of the older volunteer brigade members’ sons was at the country town of Yass NSW, when he saw an old Blitz at a wrecking yard and took some photos. Sure enough it proved to be the old Albion Park No.1 Ford Blitz.

The Blitz was recovered and a committee was formed to raise money to restore the truck. Three Rural Fire Service Life Members worked on the truck from dawn to dusk for three years, and with much help from the local businesses and community, the Blitz truck was restored.

The Blitz is housed at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Museum at the Illawarra Regional Airport Albion Park Rail.

150 Years of Shellharbour, Dorothy Gillis, 2009, The Tongarra Heritage Society Inc.

First fire tender at Albion Park
First fire tender at Albion Park.
Lew Horton's trucks in L R Mood's old garages. A Ford Blitz
Wagon is on the left, a Hillman Panel Van on right.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Warilla Volunteer Fire Brigade
Warilla Volunteer Fire Brigade 1956.
L-r: Stan Drake, Frank Potter, Cliff Edwards, Fred Ward, Jack Maxwell, Wally Voss, Dick Cannon, Brian Smithers, Bill Barker, Bob Cook, Keith Wellard.
Shellharbour Images, Shellharbour City Libraries.

Oak Flats Bushfire Brigade
Oak Flats Bushfire Brigade
Members of the Oak Flats Bushfire Brigade with their Isuzu Fire Tender.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.