Living in ‘Duncraggan’

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Helen Ekin nee Black
Raglan Street, McLeod Street
1930s—early 1940s

How lucky were my family to live in a portion of the beautiful mansion in McLeod Street, Mosman during the 1930s and early 1940s. We had lived in 101 Raglan Street, and then moved to ‘Duncraggan’ to the larger section which had been divided into four flats. Ours had the original entrance and the lovely wide glassed-in verandahs on three sides which would have overlooked the harbour when Mr W E Wilson built the house in 1877 and owned all the land running down Musgrave Street which was built in 1876.

My sister and I had a bedroom at each end of the verandah. My parent’s bedroom opened with large double doors onto the verandah, then the side entrance hall which had a slate floor and a Battle Axe standing in the corner (which fascinated me) and then the large sitting room also had double doors opening onto the verandah, and on the wall opposite the entrance hall, had three huge windows which went from floor to ceiling and opened upwards and onto the other side of the verandah. This room was fascinating as it had deep skirting boards and the walls at the base were a deep apricot and the colour got progressively lighter until they reached the very high ceiling and were pale cream. Thinking about it now it must have been wallpaper. Back into the hall and then into the dining room with double doors which opened onto a very large block of sandstone covered in Rock Lillies and was home to a resident blue tongue lizard. My sister and I used to call this place The Island. At the back of ‘Duncraggan’ was a sandstone quarry which is still there, but upgraded and used for a car park.

The kitchen was behind the dining room, very large with many cupboards and a big table in the middle. My parents thought it must have been the original kitchen.

There were three other smaller flats opening onto a courtyard and a public phone had been installed for the residents.

We lived there when the Japanese midget submarines came into the Sydney Harbour on 1 June 1942, that night was very frightening with the explosions as we didn’t know until the next day what had happened.

We moved from ‘Duncraggan’ to Mistral Avenue, I don’t remember why but perhaps because sadly it was demolished in the 1940s. It really was beautiful and a very happy time in my young life, I remember it well.

Helen Ekin nee Black · 22 May 2009

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This was the home of my great grandparents. My mother, Elspeth Bennett, nee Wardill, often visited as a child. My grandmother,Dorothy Wardill, nee Wilson, grew up there and, as a young bookbinder, began the Art and Craft Society of NSW with 5 other artists at this home. I have black and white photos of the house in my great grandparents time.

— wendy coates · 9 January 2010, 14:17 · #

My grandfather was William Wilson, a Ships Captain, and Dad was Keith William Wilson. Da also owned a beautiful house at Spit Bridge which is still there. Same William Wilson I think. Does anyone have any more information on him please.

— Jill Taylor · 14 May 2010, 06:33 · #

My great grand parents Sarah and Dougal McLachlan lived at 86 Raglan street at the time their son, my grandfather Douglas Brereton McLachlan, enlisted in 1916. I have to presume that the block of flats there now replaced the house they occupied.

— Linda Mcnnes (nee McLachlan) · 3 November 2013, 14:46 · #

Helen are you able to contact me?
My ancestors of surname Black, lived in neighbouring streets, Almora, Middle Head Road and Clanalpine street, I am assuming all these families of surname black are related. I am particularly interested in John Henry Black and his wife Kate, thank you

Julie from New Zealand

— julie · 24 August 2014, 13:15 · #