In 1946, I joined the 1st Balmoral Scouts as a Cub Scout. The meeting hut was a primative affair. The little timber room had an east veranda and was situated on the grass on the west side of The Esplanade, opposite the swimming baths. The tram lines were behind the building. We played on the grass to the south of the hut.
About 1948 the scouts move to a new larger scout hall at the north west corner of Balmoral Park backing on to Coronation Street.
I left the scouts in 1954 in my mid teens. I attended The Mosman District Scouts Jamborette, which was held in Burragorang Valley in the summer of 1953-54 (prior to flooding by the Warragamba Dam).
The 1st Balmoral Scout scarf was mid blue, edged with a tartan strip.
I joined the cubs in 1937 and remained in the group until 1947 leaving as troop leader having been without an adult scout leader for some time. I have a photograph of the whole group taken in 1939 under the big Moreton Bay fig tree outside what was then Joel’s boat shed. The scout leader at that time was Des (?) Chadwick and the Cub leader was Bruce, later Sir Bruce, Watson.
If anyone is interested in having a copy of this photograph with most of the names of the group please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org. The Mosman Daily published this photograph with a letter about 3-4 years ago.
3 BAYVIEW AVENUE
We, that is my parents George and Elsie Skinner, James Henry (Jim b’26), Donald (Don b’29) and Margaret Alice (Marg b’31), moved into 3 Bayview Avenue early in 1932. My parents had emigrated from England in 1926 and moved here after living in Hayberry Street, Crows Nest, Richmond Avenue Willoughby and Gordon Street, Mosman. From the images in Google Earth both the front of the house and the aerial view of the back garden look very much the same now
The house is just one room plus a hallway wide, with an open verandah at the front. The hall runs from the front door with 3 bedrooms opening off it and ends at the living room. The kitchen is at the rear and it had the usual single kitchen sink, double laundry sinks, a solid fuel copper for clothes washing and also for heating the bath water. The bathroom opened off the kitchen and the hot water was bucketed from the copper usually just once per week on a Saturday night. The toilet was outside the back door but unlike some older houses was not up the back of the garden. Both the gas and electric meters were penny-in-the-slot affairs, the former in the front bedroom and the latter on the kitchen wall.
What we saw from the house The view from the front of the house took in the whole sweep of the harbour from the Quarantine Station, (it was not unusual to see a ship anchored off there in those days) Manly, Grotto Point right around to Castle Rock Beach with the bush coming right down to virtually the shore line except for Manly. In the late ’30s there were large bush fires further back and at night the sky line glowed from these.
Along the Street........ Our neighbours in No. 1 were Mr. and Mrs. Dugdale. Their back garden had been laid out as a 4 hole putting green and on many summer Sunday afternoons their family congregated for an afternoon of putting. In the back corner of the garden adjacent to Beaconsfield road there was a largish fish pond and in later years Jim and I earned a shilling or two baling this out and removing the accumulated sludge. The old stone-fronted house is now gone.
In No.5 were Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson with son Jack and daughters Gwenny and Lilly all older than us three. Jack was adept at making crystal radio sets and one evening in about 1935 he brought one around to show us. It seems unbelievable now but that was the first time that we 3 children heard a radio broadcast, each taking turns to share a headset holding an earpiece to an ear. It must have been about a year later that Dad eventually bought the brown Bakelite AWA mantel set that served for many a year thereafter. From that date it was all quiet at 6 pm for the BBC newscast.
In No. 7 was Mrs. Forbes and her family of Bert, Jean, Dorothy, Elsie, Nancy and Nellie the latter 3 of a similar age to us three. Mrs. Forbes was of Scottish descent and retained her brogue all her life.
At the back of our house and fronting onto Beaconsfield Road were the Mason family. Grand father Mason also lived with the family and he bought an old Turkish bayonet from me for 2 shillings and 6 pence. I had found it on what was in those days a small tip at the end of Beaconsfield Road. That tip is now a small park but in the 1930’s it was a rough piece of land around which the tram lines did a wide sweep to go down over Plunkett Road with a last stop at the cutting before skirting the bush to eventually emerge at the corner of Botanic Road and the Esplanade.
Down to the Beach Our way to the beach was across what is now the park, down a bush track to cross Plunkett Road and then down another track which came out at the same place as the tram.
My earliest memory is of being somewhere with grey girders overhead and it was not until years later when reminiscing with my brother that he confirmed that it would have been at the opening of the Harbour Bridge in 1932. Mum and Dad had taken us all and as my sister was just 6 months old she was still in a pram. I sat in the end and Jim walked. Later we met with family friends in the Botanical Gardens and came home by ferry to Athol and then by tram to home. It must have been a problem getting the pram onto the tram but apparently an old uncle who was a tramways inspector sorted things out.
The old school yard We all started our schooling at the infants school in Belmont Road. If my memory serves me right the head mistress when I started was Miss Whales who was very insistent on the correct sounding of the “Wh”. In those days there was a water trough at the corner of Military and Belmont Roads.
I progressed to the Primary school in Military Road in 1938 starting under Miss Burns in 3A and then progressed yearly up to 6A with Mr Fulton. At that time the deputy principal was Mr. Darby who later went on to be a member of the NSW Parliament.
Class mates who stayed in the same stream through Primary school were Harold Stevens, Geoff Simpson, John Allman, John Hunter, Geoff Hogan, Neville Clemens, Don Spencer, Ernie Wilkes, Mickey Masters, John Amos, Ken Midson, Clive Hahn, Ken Osborne, Ken McGregor and others who have faded from memory. The only one whom I have met up with in later days, as I left Australia for the UK in 1953, is Geoff Hogan at the North Sydney Technical High School old boys reunion dinner in 2012.
Our "Garbo" Household rubbish in those days was collected by the garbage men, “garbos”, who collected the rubbish from the rear of the house by emptying the garbage bin into a sack and then taking it out to the large horse-drawn dray, a very heavily built wooden, two wheeled cart. There it was emptied into the tray and picked over for bottles and anything else that was of use, into the appropriate sack hanging over the over the back board. Hawkers were also quite common selling clothes props to hold up the washing lines, bottleo’s calling out for old bottles, scrap dealers calling out for old iron or metal and probably others that have been forgotten
Bringing the bread home Milk and bread was also delivered from horse-drawn carts painted up with the logos of the appropriate companies. Bread came from “The Golden Crust” bakery on Military Road up at Cremorne and there was always the lovely smell of fresh-baked bread when one passed in the tram. The milkman dispensed milk drawn from taps on the back board of the cart into one and two pint lidded cans and then this was poured into whatever was used in the house. The Ambulance man came around about once a month to collect a small amount, probably six pence a week, to cover any need for the use of the ambulance.
Not the Plague but....... Childhood “illnesses” were not considered particularly serious and we all had measles, mumps, chicken pox, German measles and whooping cough with the usual absences from school until they cleared up. Only diphtheria and polio were considered as serious and there was no vaccine for the latter. In about 1938 we three children were taken up to the surgery of Dr. McNamara (later lost on a Japanese ship transporting Australian PoW’s to Japan which was torpedoed) and given the diphtheria vaccine injection all from the same loaded syringe and using the same needle. (Things have changed!) We survived!
Billy carts Bayview Avenue being of concrete was a great place for Billy-carts and many scraped knees and elbows resulted from going too fast to take the corner going into or out of Gordon Street. How we survived without major injury I don’t know as the first push bike I ever rode had no brakes and one slowed down by putting the sole of one’s shoe (if we were wearing footwear at the time) on the back tyre. The soles of our feet were so hardened that we thought nothing of walking on the dark tarred roads in summer.
Our very own air raid shelter The shoes that we did have had leather soles and Dad often worked on a weekend resoling and heeling these, finishing off by adding steel Blakies to the soles at the toe and on the heels. The later introduction of stick-on rubber soles and nail-on rubber heels were a God-send to many a father.
In 1942 when the Japanese midget submarines entered the harbour we all sat under the dining room table wondering what was happening and hearing the occasional thump of explosions. Of course it was not until the next day that we found out what had happened. Soon after that Dad dug an air raid shelter in the backyard.
Late in 1942 we left Mosman and moved to Willoughby back to the very house in which I was born in 1929. My brother and I still retained our membership of the 1st Balmoral Scout group for many years thereafter.
(See also my comments on Balmoral and the Esplanade on the posting of Chris Borough in “Balmoral- A Village”)