Ron Wylie's Recollections Part II

Posted by
Ron Wylie
Streets
Redan Street, Almora Street
Time
1965—2008

These memories relate to 16 Redan Street. Read Part I at Badham Avenue.

Prologue

Have you ever wondered where the names of some of the streets in and around Mosman came from? With a little help from a book called The Streets of Mosman by D. “Jack” Carroll and my research I came up with some background history.

I have put together a history on the area now known as ‘Balmoral Slopes’ formally the Village of Balaklava as published in the late 1800s in the book mentioned above.

Some of the streets were named after battles fought during the Crimean War and the Countries and Generals involved.

Battle / Country Date Original Street Name Current Street Name
Battle of Alma 8 to 20th September 1854 Alma Street Almora Street
Battle of Balaklava 13 to 25 October 1854 Ballaklava Road Military Road
Battle of Inkerman 24 to 5 November 1854 Inkerman Street Gladstone Avenue (Inkerman St is now at Quaker Hat Bay)
Battle of Sevastopol 13th September 1854 Sebastopol Street Redan Street
France   France Street Muston Street
Turkey   Turkey Street Belmont Road
Crimea   Crimea Street Avenue Road

Notes on dates, battles and street names

  • First attack on the Great Redan 18 June 1855
  • Second attack on the Great Redan 8 September 1855
  • Siege of Sevastopol (Sebastopol) October 1854 to September 1855.
  • The British invasion fleet landed at Calamita Bay thirty miles north of Sevastopol on 13th September 1854.
  • Almora St previously known as Alma St
  • Balaclava St (Road) refers to the Battle of Balaclava now part of Military Road.
  • Crimea St Referred to the Crimean War 1854 now part of Avenue Road.
  • Gordon St named after Major General Charles Gordon Sudan War 1885.
  • Inkerman St The Battle of Inkerman was fought in the Crimea1854
  • Military Rd Built 1870 to give access to the fortifications Middle Head Bradley’s Head owing to the war scare Russian invasion formerly known as Balaclava Rd
  • Raglan St named after Lord Raglan Commander in chief in the Crimea 1855
  • Redan St This was formerly Sebastopol Street both names are part of the Crimea War. Now part of Redan St
  • Shadforth St Colonel Shadforth of the 57th Regiment was killed attacking Redan in the Crimean War
  • The Battle of the Alma between British, French and Russians in the Crimean War

The foregoing extracts from Crimean War Memorial, Halifax, and The Streets of Mosman by D (Jack) Carroll 1948.

My Recollections of 16 Redan Street

Life in Mosman has changed much, in far reaching proportions. What exists the sea flows in between the heads and has for thousands of years, North Head, Middle Head, Middle Harbour, and beyond The Spit. The spur of Military Road almost engulfed with sand and sea water on 3 sides.

I arrived home in early October 1965 after being at sea for a few months and my wife Moira informs me. “We have an appointment with Mr Burrows, the Manager of the Bank of NSW (corner of Belmont and Military Roads now Westpac), to-morrow at 11am at number 16 Redan Street”.

“What for?” Moira’s answer “when we sell this house (17 Badham Avenue) I want to buy 16 Redan Street.”

My answer “Don’t be silly.”

We meet the Bank Manager at 16 Redan Street, front gate, one look, and he says “buy it” my reply “what with?” “bridging finance from the bank” he says, and so began the ups and downs of the last happy 44 years of life on “Balmoral Slopes” ”Billy Cart Hill” to me from early days in Mosman.

First impressions of 16 Redan Street

What a beautiful home with very little changed from the original. It was located next to the house on the corner of Raglan Street on the high side with a wonderful view.

The house had the old original saw-tooth sandstone wall (photo). This wall was built in the late 1880s and extended all the way along Redan Street to Almora Street. So if you walk along there today, you will still see some of the remains of the original wall. I still remember this so well from early days of living and growing up at Balmoral.

The view through the Box Gum trees planted during the Depression years throughout Mosman. I still enjoy the spectacular sunrises facing east even to this day, flooding back my early boyhood memories.

In our early days at Redan Street we could see (photo) Grotto Point Lighthouse, the Bombora, the view across the Manly Spit and across the vast Pacific Ocean facing east. Middle Head on the right, North Head and Middle Harbour, the ocean breeze from the south-east blows all the way from the Antarctic, beautiful on a hot summer day.

From my research and the records that we have the house is either late Victorian, or early Edwardian. Further enquiries of the period show approximately that it was built around the late 1880s, there are three similar homes between Raglan Street and Wolseley Road shown on the records from early Richardson and Wrench sub-division of the area.

Crunch time and back to earth. Affordability, a round table conference with Mr and Mrs Evans the previous owners, the Bank Manager and the ‘Wylies’. The Decision was made the story of my life, here we go again up to our ears in debt. The big move was made from Badham Avenue on 6th December 1965. It was massive but we survived, we had the kids to help.

By this time we had Peter 13yrs, Catherine 11yrs and Mark 8yrs, the boys at St Pius X Chatswood and Catherine starting at Loreto Kirribilli the following year.

Full Steam Ahead

My activities as husband and father, the involvement around schools, home, work, and recreation now on “Full Steam Ahead.” Looking back, I thank God for the mental and physical capacity endowed on me to cope during a critical growing up family time. The success’s outweighed the setbacks.

The kids were involved in brass bands, rugby, athletics, cadets and the many other school activities which required parental involvement – chauffeur, rugby coach, and cheerleader from the sideline. This was all separate from the activity at work and being the breadwinner to keep the “wolf from the door.”

Moira and I were fully involved with schools (tuck shop, fetes, P&C), sport, council, neighbour’s teen age activities, “All systems were go” with our neighbours direct and indirect, the Ibbotson’s, Morrisey’s, the Quinn’s, Buckley’s, Christy’s, Kenny’s, and Riley’s, Burke’s, Stevens, Jakk Armstrong. Real Gems.

Christmas, the prior shopping, wrapping presents. decorating the house, family gatherings, waiting and the excitement, then opening wrappings, Xmas dinner a great feeling of contentment. Friends we must have, family essential, particularly in our twilight years.

A wide range of family activity began to unfold at our new home. The boys were gregarious, fond of company and were team players in their school sport and local involvement, Catherine was active with friends, usually with the same ones she grew up with from Blessed Sacrament School Clifton Gardens.

The boys and their mates, were keen in spear gun-skin diving activities, for fish and lobsters off Middle Head to Wy-ar-gine point, the Island, and Peggy’s Rocks, I reckon they robbed the Italian fishermen’s lobster pots that existed around the shore-line at that time, specially when they came home with a good catch.

The many pets we had over the years included cats and dogs. One in particular was Sam my old black Labrador dog. He was part of the family for 17 years, our early morning walks out along Middle Head to Rawson Oval. The spectacular view of the ocean, the brilliance of the spectrum colours of sunrise from the vantage spot, alongside the Keith Anderson Memorial who perished of thirst in the Australian desert with his mechanic H.S. Hitchcock while searching for Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in April 1929, amid a lot of controversy at the time. I remember it so well, being a school boy at Mosman Public, and being present at the consecration of the gravesite.

Many times the swims with Sam, family and all at Balmoral Beach or Little Sirius Cove. Definitely not on to-day. The Army Commando’s from Middle Head Barracks, their early morning runs on this section of Redan Street, the Groups that trained with their DUKWS WW2 land/sea craft launched at Balmoral for training, scuba divers, parachutist exercises off Balmoral Beach, all giving a great sense of security at the time.

The many and varied names of the family cars we acquired over the years, as finances permitted. One in particular was an old second hand Essex Super Six the “Gutless Wonder.” a 1927 model vintage. . One story quite memorable, the Sydney Harbour Bridge at the time displayed signs, “Lane Changeing Prohibited.” a late model vehicle in a hurry was stuck behind me, eventually pulls in alongside at the toll gates, amidst loud remarks. “Why don’t you burn that bloody thing” wish I still had it, worth a lot of money now.

View of the back garage with the old Ford and boat

The back lane entrance to No. 16, and the time we built the garage to house our trailer boat and car, a family project at the time. We only employed tradesmen in those days, when we could not do it ourselves as a family.

We transplanted many small cuttings of the Japanese Wisteria vine from Badham Avenue. This is now a feature along the front boundary of No. 16 in spring time. The front garden is full of memories and of the many shrubs and flowers planted by Moira over the years of occupation of our home, I see these blooming throughout the year, giving me much pleasure to myself and to those passing by.

The picnics by car from Mosman with neighbours dogs and all, to Clareville, Whale Beach, Palm Beach, along the Peninsular, “Fish and Chips” sand, and saltwater.

Changes

The only patch of nostalgia as I look back on the years, the early morning and daily walks, dogs and all, is the changes over the years the development, the cars, the people, the impact on the flora and fauna, the bird life that was and now is, the many species of small birds (ground feeders and nesters) now gone, missing altogether or rarely seen due to the influx of domestic animals. The many varieties of finches, (silver eyes, bul-buls, top notch doves, kingfishers even sparrows) the satin bower bird found around Sydney and local bushland in early days, the adult mail satiny blue black and a beautiful eye of satin blue, the female dull green with brown marks. The larger birds appear to have survived though in diminishing numbers, Kookaburra’s, Currarongs, Cockatoos, Crows. As we lose the high gum trees these birds will eventually go, even the possums brush tail and ring tail, their natural habitat making way for development.

Forty years on when afar and asunder

The only home moves in Mosman for me, were from my first years at Balmoral (Almora Street) to Mosman’s Bay (Badham Avenue) then back again over the spur of Military Road to (16 Redan Street) a period span, a lifetime of memories ( 87 years), and that makes me feel I have been truly Blessed.

To-day my greatest pleasure being, is still watching the glorious Sunrises, the Pacific Ocean framed through the angophoras (gum trees) that existed when Cook sailed past in “Endeavour” reflected again when the sun sets to the West. It is to be hoped that over development does not continue any further on Middle Head, as is now apparent and viewed along the spur, from Seaforth to Dobroyd Point.

An old proverb “May you have many clouds on your horizon to make a beautiful sunset.”

The Wylie clan may in the future have no further use for No. 16, however, if the lights have “NOT” gone out for them, and that they have just moved on to other places, and as members of the family, have left Mosman to form new clans of their own in other places. I sincerely hope it is “NOT” the case of “The last one to leave, turn off the lights.”

“For no matter how far, nor how distant we roam, there is no place like home.” It is when we have grown old, and born the responsibilities of life, that, we catch glimpses of ourselves to refresh the memory. As the song puts it.

Forty years on when afar and asunder.
Parted are those who are singing to-day.
When you look back and forgetfully wonder.
What you were like in your work and your play.

Then it may be there will often come o’er you.
Glimpses of notes like the catches of a song;
Echoes of boyhood shall flar them along.
Visions of dreamland shall bear them along.

Thanks, Ron Wylie
website www.merchant-navy-ships.com and “Mosman Memories”

Ron Wylie · 31 October 2008

Your comment

Hi Ron,

I am researching a book on Smithy for Peter FitzSimons. Ripper yarn it is, too.

Do you have any details of Keith Anderson’s funeral? Where was the main service held?

Anything you have on the subject would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks

Peter Finlay
Aviation writer/researcher/photographer

Peter Finlay · 9 November 2008, 00:40 · #

G’day Ron Wylie,
After reading your comment on my Clifton Gardens squatter camps story i have been meaning to get back to to you. Your Merchant Navy stories mentioned the M.V. Bulolo. Although i am a shipwright by trade i sailed on the M.V. Bulolo a few times in the ‘60’s as a steward due to the difficulties of getting a ship as a ‘chippie’. I am currently writing a book on my life’s experiences mainly for family and in recounting my adventures and mishaps, I have mentioned an incident, perhaps better forgotten where i fell over the side of the Bulolo or the big white “Lakatoi” as it was known, then during a rather wild party on the foc’sle deck while tied up alongside the wharf in Lae on the Markham River and was washed out to sea into the Huon Gulf by the incredibly strong run out tide. Fortunately my fall was spotted by other revellers crew and passengers but i was still well out to sea and floating fortunately on a brilliant moonlit night before a ships boat reached me about an hour later. Thanks for your comment, I loved my time in the Merchant Navy in the sixties before most of our shipping was sold offand if i had my youth back i would do it all over again.

Regards

Steve Langley

Steve Langley · 14 January 2009, 07:59 · #

Hello Steve,in 1965 I did a stint as ship’s doctor.What a great time-just about killed me.:-)
Trev

— Trevor Adams · 10 June 2009, 22:55 · #

Hi Ron, I remember the wall…..one thing so prolific in Mosman was the Tennis Court, both sand and grass…..Unfortunately it also made them destined for “development”

The Buglers were not far from you…did you know them too?..I somehow recall you but something’s in the way…cheers Tony Clancy

— Tony Clancy · 18 November 2010, 17:33 · #

Your writings about 16 Redan Street was beautiful. We have just recently bought 44 Redan street . I believe it was also built in 1890. Do you know much about this house? We will be moving in August 2012 with our young family as it has a tenant in there now. I do hope you might be able to share some more stories about the street and the house – who lived in them and what the children did.

thank you for sharing

Kelly

— Kelly Latimer · 22 November 2011, 22:02 · #