Your Story is Our Treasure: donating history
A unique perspective on Mosman’s history is revealed through sharing community treasures.
Donations are treasured additions to the Mosman Local Studies Collection reflecting the diverse history of Mosman through the personal memorabilia, ephemera, photographs and realia of those who have lived and worked in Mosman.
Donations are always welcome. If you do not wish to part with your valuable piece of local history, we appreciate the opportunity to photograph or copy these significant resources for inclusion in the collection.
Here are stories of donations to the Mosman Local Studies Collection that have added to our understanding the heritage of Mosman.
Mosman Street Signs
In 1887, gas mains were laid along the main thoroughfares including Military, Bradleys Head, Raglan, Musgrave, Mosman and Clanalpine. The North Shore Gas Company supplied the gas.
By 1893, there were 68 ruby glass (gas) street lamps mounted on iron standards on street corners and these were turned on at sunset by the local lamplighter. In 1903, the streetlights had incandescent burners fitted and the street names were displayed on the ruby coloured lamps. By 1915, there were 568 gas lamps to be found on the streets of Mosman.
From 1915, electric light was connected to local houses. In the same year, Mosman Council installed street nameplates, which replaced those on the ruby glass lamps.
Mosman Library Service has been fortunate to receive a donation of two ruby glass street signs one for Avenue Road and the other for Stanton Road.
Avenue Road was the first street to be built around 1860. Originally called Harnett’s Street, after the early developer Richard Hayes Harnett, Snr it was renamed Bay View Avenue in 1888. The section extending from Military Road to Gladstone Avenue was known as Crimea Street for a short while.
Stanton Road was named after the son of George Senior. George owned the land from Spit Road to Moruben Road, Mosman. He was the son-in-law of Bernard Otto Holterman, famous for discovering the largest reef gold specimen and for his panoramic photographs of Sydney.
Mosman District League Swimming Club Trophy
This trophy was presented to a M.V. McCarthy for the 1910/1911 and 1911/1912 swimming seasons.
Research has suggested this may be a Margaret V. McCarthy as the McCarthy family lived locally. Margaret would have been about 20 years old at the time.
This EPBM presentation cup was made by Thomas Oatley & Sons and was awarded to Margaret by John Day of ABC Pictures. Day lived in Noble Street, Mosman at that time.
A Seaforth resident, who had received it as a gift from her mother who had found it in an opportunity shop many years ago, donated the trophy.
Toohey and Toohey Estate Agents, Mosman
In 1913 William Toohey and his son, Francis opened a real estate agency at 124 Avenue Road, Mosman. Established at a time Mosman was experiencing an increase in residential developments, this agency was successful and in 1915, a branch office was opened at Mosman Bay near Mosman Wharf. The Toohey family lived at ‘Ardagh’, 19 Prince Albert Street, Mosman.
In 1918, William returned to Melbourne leaving his son to manage the business. In 1919, Francis married Lola Welby. She was a dancer with the Tivoli Follies and her stage names was Lola Dowrie
In 1920, the Tooheys established a building company called Homes de Luxe which was responsible for five bungalows on Bradleys Head Road at the corner of Whiting Beach Road. Homes de Luxe was responsible for a major post-war housing development at Green Valley, later purchased by the Housing Commission of NSW.
Clockwise, from top left: Toohey & Toohey Estate Agents, 124 Avenue Road, Mosman, c.1915. Lola Dowie, c.1917. Lola, a dancer with the Tivoli Follies. This photograph taken by Grace Bros. was used to decorate a chocolate box. Beautiful Bungalows brochure c.1921. The cover shows the bungalows in Bradleys Head Road, Mosman.
Lola Toohey, the daughter of Francis and Lola, kindly donated a number of photographs, ephemera and a scrapbook to the collection. The scrapbook dates from 1913 to 1922 and contains newspaper clippings relating to Mosman property sales and articles about residents and the First World War.
Those were the days: being reminiscences of Australian artists and writers by George A. Taylor. Sydney, Tyrrell’s Limited, 1918
After being interviewed for our oral history project a long-time resident donated this signed first edition of Those were the days: being reminiscences of Australian artists and writers by George A. Taylor. Taylor trained as a builder, worked as a cartoonist on The Bulletin and Punch, founded the Wireless Institute of NSW, co-founded the Town Planning Association of NSW and was an honorary lieutenant in the Australian Intelligence Corps. In 1907, he married architect, Florence Parsons, and together they published the influential journal Building.
In this book Taylor gives a personal insight into the Bohemian Sydney of the 1890s and writes of the artists he called friends. Many of his friends lived in Mosman, and included such luminaries as William Macleod, Livingston Hopkins, Norman Lindsay and David Souter.
Australian bungalow and cottage design by Reginald A. Prevost. Sydney, The N.S.W. Bookstall Co. Ltd, 1912
This donation, while not specifically on Mosman is nonetheless, a valuable resource as it provides examples of house designs popular in Mosman at a time it was experiencing a burst of urban development.
Charles P. T. Ulm
Local boy, Charles Thomas Phillippe Ulm, enlisted in 1915 in the 1st Battalion, Australian Imperial Force. Wounded in the first month, he was honourably discharged only to re-enlist when he turned 18 years of age. In 1928 Ulm was co-pilot on Charles Kingsford Smith’s historic flight of the Southern Cross across the Pacific Ocean. In 1928 although no longer a resident (Ulm’s parents still lived in Mosman) Mosman Council, in recognition of his achievement, presented him with this fine memorial featuring signatures of significant local residents and a series of photographs of Mosman in the early 1920s.
Like many of these presentations, this one is not signed. However, in small print below the decorative first page are the words John Sands LD Sydney.
Two autograph books belonging to a Dorothy Kitching have been donated to the collection. The first book with a soft cloth cover dates from 1907 to1910 and contains the signatures of fellow students from Loreto, Normanhurst. The second is a leather bound album and dates from 1911 to 1916. This album appears to have been signed by people Dorothy met on her travels in Australia and Europe.
Both books have poems, exquisite watercolours and sketches along with some very interesting signatures. These include the artist H. Septimus Power and his wife and others Dorothy met at a house party in the home of John Costello. Costello was to become Prime Minister of Ireland in 1949. Perhaps, the most intriguing signatures are those of the members of Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition dated 1914. These signatures are complemented by an original copy of the now famous photograph taken by Frank Hurley, of John Close and Dr Leslie Whether attempting to retrieve ice from a glacier near The Hut, Adelie Land, Antarctica.
We have not been able to determine why these are in the collection, as there does not appear to be any Mosman connection. However, research indicates in 1916 Dorothy married John Tully who was to become a Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly and the Secretary for Lands.
Mosman-Neutral Bay Rifle Club Inc.
On Wednesday the 3rd February 1915, in response to a public announcement, a well attended public meeting was held in the Mosman Town Hall. The Empire was in the throes of the Great War of 1914-18 and the residents of Mosman and Neutral Bay wanted a Rifle Club and Training Corps wherein the rudiments of drill and military discipline might be learned and from which recruits for service abroad might be enlisted and recruiting influence derived. – C.H. Cromack – Club President 1951-52
The Mosman-Neutral Bay Rifle Club was formed because of a petition signed by Mosman and Neutral Bay residents.
At the first General Meeting on 27 March 1915, in Mosman Town Hall, the Mayor of Mosman, Alderman A.D. Walker, was elected the first Club Captain, the annual subscription was determined and the rules and by-laws were decided. The club received a loan of 150 rifles and members commenced to run training courses in June 1915 on Mosman Oval.
During the First World War One there were 707 club members and 243 enlisted for active service. The club continues to operate today and its sole purpose is sportsmanship.
Mosman Library Service recently received the club’s historic records dating back to 1915. These are a valuable addition to the Local Studies Mosman Library Service received the club’s historic records dating back to 1915. These are a valuable addition to the Mosman Local Studies Collection and include minutes of meetings, club rules and by-laws, annual reports, membership lists, programs of events, advertising leaflets, concert programs and correspondence from those serving overseas. The library also received a comprehensive three-volume history of the club.
The Balmoral Tip was located at Balmoral Park. The site of the park was originally a lagoon, which over the years gradually filled with sediment from the surrounding slopes so that by the time the First Fleet arrived in 1788 it had become a swamp.
This site has had a long association with waste beginning with its use by Aboriginal people to dispose of shells, animal and fish bones. In 1908, Mosman Council decided to fence the area for the purpose of the disposal of local household waste – an area of 11 acres. This was a necessity as the rubbish tip at Pearl Bay was reaching its full capacity.
The Mosman Progress Association objected to the use of Balmoral Park as a garbage tip and would continue to object for the next 28 years. In 1911, the Pearl Bay rubbish tip was closed forcing the continued use of the Balmoral Tip.
The growth in the number of visitors to Balmoral Beach, due to the extension of the tramline in 1922, heightened public awareness of the tip and prompted the council to reconsider how it managed garbage. Consequently, a decision was made to bury the garbage on the beach so it would not be visible and the noxious smell hidden.
In 1930, the Balmoral Beautification Scheme was completed. However, the tip was still receiving 100 loads of garbage a week and it took a further six years before it was to be closed. In 1936, Mosman Council’s incinerator was built at Balgowlah and the Balmoral tip was finally closed and converted into a playing field.
William Henry Smith
b. 15 June 1859, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. d. November 1929, Lennox Street, Mosman
William Henry Smith and S.H. Cabban were speculative builders who were responsible for many of the Federation buildings in Mosman. In the late 1890s they erected a number of shops, including The Strand and the public school on Military Road. The success of these ventures was encouraging and they continued to develop, purchasing a large portion of the Silex Estate, and building 170 houses in Bradley’s Head Road and Prince Albert Street, Mosman.
William Henry Smith received this presentation on his retirement from Mosman Council in 1925. He had served on the Council continuously for 25 years as a representative of the East Ward. He was Mayor, 1903-1904, 1915-1918 and 1922-23.
The Garden School
Miss Lily Arnold and Miss Jessie Macdonald opened the Garden School in March 1924 in a house called Glen Carron, 30 Stanton Road, Mosman. They were members of The Order of the Star of the East, the Theosophical group responsible for building the Star Amphitheatre overlooking Balmoral.
The aim of this co-educational school was to provide an all-round education which included eurhythmic dancing and learning Esperanto. A young Peter Finch and Joan Hammond attended this school. In 1928, an advertisement in the Mosman Daily indicates the school changed its name to Thweng Co-educational School offering places to both day students and boarders.
Originally called Tivoli, the house was built in 1893/94 by Ernest T.H. Rohde the stepfather of S. H. Ervin. The family lived there until Rohde built another house, also called Tivoli, on the corner of Fairfax and Parriwi Roads, Mosman. This house in turn beach the home of the jeweller and ‘Opal King’, Percy Marks.
In 1904 the original Tivoli was owned, or tenanted, by a Lionel Bridge, Wool Broker and had been renamed Glen Carron. After The Garden School closed the estate was subdivided, auctioned in 1936 and the house was demolished in 1937.
Dr. John Hare Phipps
On 11 June 1936, Dr and Mrs Phipps were farewelled by Mosman Council and residents having lived and worked in Mosman for more than 30 years. Dr. Phipps, a popular medical practitioner, was involved in community affairs. It was due to his efforts that Mosman had both a Masonic Temple and an ANZAC Memorial Hall. During the First World War he served in the 5th Field Ambulance at Gallipoli and France attaining the rank of Colonel.
This illuminated presentation has over fifty signatures and is a who’s who of 1930s Mosman.
Dance Card, Mosman District Cricket Club, 1909
Card, 11.4 × 5.7 cm
The Mosman District Cricket Club was formed in 1908 and on 16 July 1909 held its first Annual Ball. This exquisite dance card has a printed list of dances and beside each dance is a hand written pencil entry of those wishing to dance with the cardholder. Sadly, we do not know who owned this card, but nonetheless it is a valuable addition to the Mosman Local Studies Collection.
Postcard, Mosman Bay, c. 1902
Card, 9 × 13.5 cm
This postcard is unusual as it is an original watercolour depicting Mosman Bay. S. E. Piper sent this postcard as a Christmas greeting to Mrs Teale of Flinders Street, Moore Park.
Bottle, Mosman Cordial Works, n.d.
Stoneware, 17 × 7.5 cm
The Mosman Cordial Works operated for only a few years. Located in Vista Street it opened in 1913 and closed in 1917. (Nance Mackenzie and Anne Outlaw later used this Vista Street building when they established Annan Fabrics in the early 1940s.)
This bottle was for brewed ginger beer and is in excellent condition. There are no makers’ marks but may have been made by one of the local commercial potteries in existence at the time. These included Kuring- gai Tile, Pottery and Brick Works, Manly; Sydney Pottery, Lane Cove; Hornsby Tile, Pottery and Brick Works, St Leonards and Mashman Bros. Ltd., Chatswood. The glaze is similar to that of pieces by Mashman Potteries but we cannot be sure.