Block's Block

Posted by
Murray Block
Streets
Time
1965—2006

Breda and I married in 1965 shortly after she joined me from the USA. At first we shared a flat in Spruson Street, Neutral Bay. This was a convenient and happy enough situation with our apartment having views over the Warringah Expressway. Then, in the course of construction, no need for an alarm clock here, the jackhammers started bang on 7.

However in 1966, we succumbed to the house hunting bug and began searching for a permanent home of our own. I really cannot remember all the houses that we viewed but we finally paid a deposit on a semi in Gordon Street, just off Middle Head Road. I might add at this point that properties were not exactly selling like hot cakes and mortgages were not that easy to obtain. Anyway, while negotiating on Gordon Street, we considered there would be no harm in looking at other houses. In one Sydney Morning Herald we noticed that Croll & Co of Neutral Bay were offering a house in Awaba Street with the entreaty ‘Reduced – Vendor must sell’ (nothing new under the sun). The price was £6,950, so Breda and I viewed the property immediately and fell in love with it.

Even more, we liked the vendor, Mrs Kathleen Seaton, who had already signed up for a unit in Roseville, as her husband Fred was suffering from advanced dementia.

Somehow we just hit it off and after another few viewings Mrs Seaton did not wish to sell to anyone else. £6,950, although an already reduced price, was somewhat high for our mortgage prospects. Eventually we agreed on a figure of £6,300. This sum represented £6,000 nett for Mrs Seaton, Croll’s commission being £300.

In order to keep the purchase price as low as possible we paid Croll’s fees and set the purchase at £6,000. We withdrew from the Gordon Street house and finalized the deal with Mrs Seaton. We were successful in being granted a mortgage from the Commonwealth Bank, Crows Nest, at 5 ¾ % pa. I had requested a 20 year term but was granted 15 years to make full repayment as they considered my salary to be higher than average. We were also successful in receiving a home savings grant from the Federal Government. I am unable to remember how much, not a lot, but gratefully accepted.

We moved into 133 and commenced what we considered to be essential improvements such as a hot water service, to be rid of the old fashioned bath water heater and the gas copper in the laundry.

Mr & Mrs Seaton had by now moved into their very nice unit in Pacific Highway, Roseville, when unfortunately, but mercifully Mr Seaton passed away. However, Mrs Seaton remained a firm friend until her death in the late 1980s.

133 Awaba Street at the time of purchase could only be described as a modest cottage, with it’s twin bearing the title ‘Winton’ (no 131) further up the hill to the east. 133 was tired and well worn as due to financial constraints and Mr Seatons’ condition little or no maintenance had been attempted for years. It had also suffered from the ministrations of two boys with some scars visible to this day. One of the boys, Ron, was from Mrs Seatons first marriage. Ron Yeates held a senior position with QANTAS and also served as Mayor of Ku-ring-gai. The other boy Don, was Fred Seaton’s son. Don Seaton became a very successful businessman and gained both fame and notoriety in the war. He waged against Mosman Council regarding the restoration and alterations to the Balmoral Bathers Pavillion.

The entire rear garden of 133 had been devoted to the cultivation of vegetables giving testimony to the financial situation of the Seatons although it was not unusual in these times for people to supplement their vegetable needs by growing their own.

The Seatons purchased the home shortly after the end of the second war. At this time Fred must have been fit and well as considerable stonework to the rear garden was undertaken. ‘F R Seaton 1945’ and ‘Ron 1944’ can still be seen incised into the cement of the rock walls.

133 is situated on the very edge of an escarpment created by the quarrying of the Sydney sandstone. The original quarry masters’ cottage still exists and is just across the road at number 45 Countess Street.

Fred Seaton was a first world war veteran serving in France and was one of the Australian Riflemen offering fire to Manfred Von Richtofen (The Red Baron) when he finally met his fate and crash landed. Fred was one of the very first on the scene and ‘liberated’ a few souvenirs from the Fokker. Mrs Seaton explained to me that she retained these relics for many years until persuaded to simply give them away to a smart talking American collector of such militaria.

Below our property at 49 Countess Street we got to know Mr Brooks. I do not think we ever learnt what his first name was. Anyway Brooks was a very dour Yorkshire man. He was then a widower of some years with one grown son living in Melbourne. During one conversation with him he explained to us how he had bought the land at 49 on return from the First World War and had lived in a tent on the site while his house was being built.

Above us at 131 Awaba Street ‘Winton’ was occupied by Mr & Mrs Stanley Evers, Esme Evers being his second wife. I believe that Mr Evers was the first owner of 131 when it was built with our home in about 1924. The Evers raised three children; two boys and a girl.

Stanley Evers married shortly after his return from the First World War. He served in France as a Captain and was promoted in the field to Brevet Major. He was wounded in France and I understand was decorated for his efforts. Stanley W Evers’ exploits are recorded in Beans Official History of the 1914-1918 war.

Shortly after his first marriage, Stanley Evers established the firm of S W Evers & Co (with the name ‘Everest’ as its trademark) from premises in Rushcutters Bay. This company supplied the needs of pastry cooks such as flour, bulk apple pulp (for pies) and a range of essences from Duckworths, an old established English company for whom he was sole Australian agent. I believe ‘Everest’ flour was retailed and was a very popular brand. Mr Evers, when we first met him was a small man in his 70s who walked with a pronounced limp as a result of his war wounds. He was classified as TPI and was a regular attendee at the Concord Repat Hospital. He was quite sure that the injuries he had sustained would shorten his life span. He passed away about 1976.

Murray Block · 15 May 2006

Your comment

Murray, I’ve already made a comment below Breda’s story regarding 133 Awaba Street and how lovely I thought it was…this is a great idea to allow others to look back into the past of their own community.

Best wishes, Elizabeth (formerly of Dublin) now in Luxembourg

— Elizabeth Harrington · 17 September 2006, 19:59 · #

Murray
Interesting that you mentioned 45 Countess Street – my grandparents, Mr and Mrs Earle lived in that house from about 1940s/50s to 1987. I had no idea it was a “quarrymaster’s cottage” any further information on it? After I was born, I lived at 69 Awaba Street for 21 years. Thanks.

— Jane Sampson · 25 April 2007, 10:40 · #

Hi Murray – Mr Evers was my grandfather's brother – who we called Uncle Stan – my grandfather used to live in Ben Boyd Road, Neutral Bay named Lesley James Evers and was the victualling officer for the men from the ships that came into Sydney mainly merchant seamen.

— julie Lockman · 14 May 2008, 01:16 · #

Hi Murray, my name is Gregory Evers and Stanley was my Grandfather. He died when I was only 6 years old, but I have vivid memories of 131 Awaba Street. I remember sitting in the living room listening to his war stories whilst my twin sister sat in the sun room having lunch with Esma and Mum. Its good to see people sharing the same thoughts and memories of this historical street in Mosmon. Hi to cousin Julie Lockman. kind regards, Greg

— Greg Evers · 12 January 2009, 11:11 · #

are you my relation My aunt and uncle were Sam and Elsie

— Beryl (Block) Waldorf · 6 December 2009, 13:48 · #

Hi
My grandfather was Stanley Seaton and he had a brother Fred Seaton. I think HIS son was Don Seaton. Don had two kids…Belinda and Gary. Stan and his wife Clarence (my grandmother) lived at 14A then 14 The Grove. Clarence and Stanley had 3 children – Valda, Lloyd and Ross. Anyone familar with this?

regards

helen Batt-Rawden (daughter of Valda)

helen Batt-Rawden · 8 January 2010, 11:06 · #

My name is Wendy Stretton, my aunt was Esma Evers. I too have
happy memories of 131 Awaba St. – Sitting in that lovely back sun room, sipping tea from beautiful china and hearing tales of Esma & Stan’s new young neighbours Breda and Murray Block.
Well recorded Murray and Breda.

— Wendy Stretton · 9 April 2010, 21:23 · #

My father is Ron and my Grandmother was Kathleen. She actually died 5 months before the birth of my first child in 1994. I would love to go to 133 Awaba and get a photo of my dad’s name in the wall next to his step dads. Don is still very much part of our family. And yes to Helen it is the Don with two kids Belinda and Gary…

— Gaille · 19 May 2010, 12:35 · #

Hi Greg – just had another look at Murray’s story of Awaba st – my memory of Uncle Stan Evers was sitting in my grandfathers loungeroom looking at Uncle Stan’s photo’s of his trips overseas, sometimes a bit boring for a 8 year old…..Julie Lockman

— Julie Lockman · 25 February 2012, 05:41 · #

Hi Murray
We lived in the house at 24 Countess Street on the corner of Awaba Street and next to Mitchells Tennis Courts. The Antcliff twins (Mel & Lyle) were great mates of mine and we grew up together. My family moved there in 1947 and I left in 1962 to travel to WA – still here 50 years or so later. We had many enjoyable hours playing tennis at Mitchells, and we would play all day for 3d each as long as we marked the courts at the end for Mr Mitchell to save him some work. I later joined the Middle Harbour Tennis Club as it was known at that time and still play here in Perth twice a week.

— Rob Stirling · 23 May 2014, 14:17 · #

Just an update from the Yeates/Seaton camp.

Both dad and Don passed away in January this year, within a week of each other. Together on this next journey.

Whilst the family come to terms with losing both a very loved and admired father and uncle whom both have left so much to us and for that we are eternally grateful.

— Gaille · 28 May 2014, 08:30 · #