Hawkers came down Mackie Lane

Posted by
Rhonda Higgerson
late 1940s—late 1950s

Although our home address was 23 Hale Road we had this lovely back entrance which wound around the back of the Ice Works into Lang Street and Military Road. I don’t remember being aware of the name until the Council erected a street sign in the fifties. Mackie Lane was just a play ground where my sisters and I could hit a tennis ball up against Sturrock’s shed or play skippings and maybe draw a giant hopscotch. It was much quicker using the lane way to access the little group of shops situated half way between Cremorne and Spit Junctions.

Hale Road did not see a lot of traffic in the late 40s and early 50s so when the odd car interupted a game of street cricket a lot of booing would follow the hapless driver. Our duplex, light brick semi was nextdoor to “The Wilkinson’s” two story home where old Mrs Hale still resided in a flat on the ground floor. Mr Wilkinson kept pigeons and was quite well known for racing them. Mum wasn’t any too pleased with his pigeons on wash days however! He kept chooks and bred goldfish in old laundry tubs and old cast iron bath tubs as well as growing heaps of vegetables. I remember picking some giant size chokoes which had rambled over our fence. He used to mow people’s lawns for a living and had one of the first motor mowers I had ever seen, which I believe he made himself. He drove a very early model truck which housed his mowers, rakes etc(can’t recall the make) with side running boards which I would jump onto when he was driving up the laneway with me hanging on tightly to the car door as he whizzed around the sharp corner and dropping off just short of Lang Street. This feat was repeated with the timber trucks from Sturrock’s carpentry workshop until the boss saw me one day sailing up the lane riding the trucks running board and put an immediate stop to my hitch- hiking days.

Sturrock’s carpentry shed was a source of wood off cuts which fueled our fire place in the Winter. We also collected the discarded soft drink bottles from the workers with the return deposits often being the means of our going to the Orpheum Theatre Matinee of a Saturday. I remember the boss barring us from the main section of the workshop when he saw Nancy and I gawking at the nude calendars the men had hanging on the walls. We had hitherto not seen the n aked adult form and were quite agog at these ladies who displayed their all.

Our Mum told us that her first school days were spent in a little private school on the very land on which we now lived owned and run by Mrs Hale. This must have felt a bit strange to her.


One of the exciting things about having a back lane way entrance then was the people who were attracted to it hawking their wares. “Bottle O, Bottle OOH” and we would madly scramble around looking for any non returnable bottles that we could sell to him. These men still came in horse and cart even in the early 50s and we would sometimes manage to slip outside with a carrot or apple for the old horse along with a few bottles. We would be rewarded with a few pence usually which bought us an ice cream or some kind of lolly. We didn’t have the hills hoist clothes lines then just two bits of wire slung between two posts. The large laundry items were kept off the ground by two clothes props which hoisted the lines aloft (except when it was extremely windy). “Clothes Props Clooothes Prooops” Only two shillings. We would climb the back fence to watch the man drive to the end of the lane and then have to jump down to turn his horse and cart around. Most didn’t realise that this was not a through laneway until they came upon its dead end. There was another hawker who yelled out for ‘Any Ole Iron’ his cart was filled with old saucepans, old tool parts and even some one’s old bath tub. It was a good way of recycling and earning a few bob into the bargain.

The iceman used to leave our block of ice in a hessian bag out on the front porch and we had to be quick to drag it inside and into the ice chest before it melted away, especially in Summer. A billy can was left out for the milk. I remember Dad once caught the Milkman topping up our can with water from the front tap which explained the recent decrease in the quality if not the quantity.

Lang Street

At the end of the lane was a tennis court which had seen better days but was still in use in the 50s. This was part of the property of Mr Lyle who owned a two story home in Lang Street. He still leased out the tennis courts and maintained them well into his 80s. Further up the lane was the Turners back entrance (their address was also Lang Street), childrens names Nanette and Christine.

Ice Works

The back of the Ice Works was a fascination to all children because of the tanks filled with continually running water and rainbow covered spray. We were warned many times to keep well away. My friends and I would often wait at the Military Road entrance for the truck leaving laden with ice and then we would run inside and quickly pick up all the small pieces. We would break these bits up into smaller slithers by smashing them on the side walk and then wrap them in our hanky savouring the cool melting water as it trickled down our throats. Nothing was as good as this! Because of the sharp cutting machinery used at the Ice Works as well as the facinating yet dangerous water tanks there was usually someone around to shout at any kids trying to sneak in for a bit of broken ice so we had to be as quick as greased lightening.

Hale Road

Hale Road was quite a mixture in those days of stately homes from the turn of the century to the smaller brick dwellings and duplex semis. The contrast was not something that I was aware of then but it was certainly the end of an era of croquet played on velvet grass and butlers and maids, gardeners, of grand balls and tennis parties and player pianos. The remnants were still in evidence but the players were all gone now. Over the road from us was the ‘Smith’s’ two story mansion. I believe that when they passed away they willed their home to the Red Cross. I am not sure if this is true but I do know that they had several care takers in to maintain the house and grounds until it was sold and became the ‘Allenbrook Private Hospital’. It was interesting to see that they kept the croquet lawns for patients use.

On the left of 23 Hale Road stood an old home that could have been the first, or one of the first homes in the street. I only remember it as being divided into flats in the forties and fifties. It must have been a grand home at the turn of the century. It was two storey with a sort of tower, or as we kids used imagine a ‘belfry’ that we would convince ourselves was haunted. I think imagination played a fair part of our ‘seeing’ a face peering down from this glassed in ediface. A few of us kids set out one day to find out just what was up there and egging each other on to sneak inside. We got a bit of a shock when we found that there were no stairs up to this tower as they had been removed. This added further fuel to our wild imaginations. I only ventured back there in the late fifties to visit a male resident (cannot remember his name) who had travelled around the world several times and took the most interesting photographs which he would sell to newspapers and magazines. His flat had native shields, spears, statues, mats, hats and many artifacts from around the world, rather like a museum really but we loved seeing it all, along with his develloping photographs of the world.

Middle Harbour School

I was pleased to note in recent years access to Middle Harbour School now goes through from McPherson Street right through to Hale Road. I wonder when this happened. This is just opposite where our house once stood (now part of the Retirement Village). That would have saved me and my two sisters having to walk right around the block in wind hail and rain, we could have left when the bell rang and still been there in time.

Mr and Mrs Martin lived in the house now the Middle Harbour School Admin Office. Alan was their youngest son, around my age and being a bit of a Tomboy I would often play cars or marbles with him in the street. His Aunty ‘Bub’ or ‘Bubbles’ lived with them and used to take in washing and ironing for a living. Many a posh car would pull up to collect their immaculately starched and ironed laundry from Aunty Bubbles.

Hale Street

Some other Hale Road residents that I remember from the 50s are ‘The Audsleys’, children Meg and Robert. A Mrs Monroe, Mr and Mrs McKenzie, children Margaret and Elizabeth. Mr Wintle and daughter Beverley. The McCreadies and Mr and Mrs White with daughters Dianne, Judy and Penny. Mr and Mrs Barnard with son Roy. Mrs Warburton and daughter Patty. Mr and Mrs Payne and son Richard. Jean Watson and Maxine Parks, The Moran family, many sons including one of the older boys John who was a bit of a local character. He would have been in his twenties back then but suffered from some Intellectual disability so did not go to school or hold a job but helping out anyone who required help with labouring work. This included the garbos or road workers who I think took advantage of his help at times. The local picture theatre always let John in for free. He loved his movies, especially the Cowboy and Indian ones. We all knew when one of these was playing as John would whoop and holler all the way home shooting make believe indians with his fingers. Although John could not speak clearly he could communicate by his actions and he was as harmless and gentle as a lamb. Finally Mrs Moran produced a daughter who was loved dearly by all her big brothers including big John.

My younger sister Nancy and I would often visit the Nursing Home on the corner of Erith and Hale Road entertaining the old folk with songs and lots of chatter. We would call out to them on the way to school and they would lean out their room windows and wave to us often with some little treat. We sometimes visited old Mrs Hale nextdoor too who seemed to dote on our endless chatter. When she passed away our Mum made the most beautiful wreath of giant sweet peas which grew in our back yard. I think that they grew so mavellously because they were planted against the fence where Mr Wilkinson kept his chooks with a good deal of the manure washing into our yard. Anyway we were very proud of this tribute and so were her family.

The bottom end of Hale Road is rather steep as it descends into Ourimbah Road but was a great ride for the owners of billy carts, bikes and scooters back then. Nancy was six years younger than me and I was a little green when she received a tandem trike one Christmas. Her feet hardly touched the peddles which really didn’t matter as they spun round so fast when going down the hill that her little legs could not hope to keep up. There were no brakes just your feet and the grass nature strip to slow you down. I was too old to be riding a three wheeler but used my little sister as an excuse. Poor Nancy would be screaming as we neared the bottom of the hill Ourimbah Road came frightenly close, then amazingly we would turn the corner or stop just short of toppling onto the road. Five minutes later and a lot of pushing back up the hill and we would repeat the same thing over. Our big sister Jeannene opted for doubling on her friend’s scooter which had the luxury of pump up tyres and brakes!

Rhonda Higgerson · 13 May 2009

Your comment

Hi Rhonda,
What terrific pictures your stories paint.
I wonder if you recall a family named EDMUNDS of 25 Hale Street? – from Australian Electoral Rolls 1930. Mr. Sidney H Edmunds was a salesman, wife Dora, home duties; had 2 sons William and Jeffcott (Jeff) Edmunds. By the 1936 electoral roll the family were at 89 Spit Road Mosman.
Hoping to hear from anyone who knew/knows this family.
Allannah of Rye Victoria Australia

— Allannah · 3 June 2009, 22:31 · #

Sorry I dont recall the Edumnds family. A bit before my time. My mum would most likely have known them but sadly she passed away two years ago. good luck with your search.

— Rhonda Blunt, nee Higgerson · 14 June 2009, 12:10 · #

The 2 storey house with the tennis court that Mr Lyle lived in is the house I grew up in (19 and 19a Lang St respectively). The land with the Tennis Court was subdivided from the house in the 60’s and my parents bought the house in 69 in a derelict state. They spent about 20 years renovating it.It was sadly torn down in the late 80’s by developers and is now townhouses.

— Felicity · 16 July 2009, 14:04 · #

What a great shame Felicity that your parents were to see all their work torn down after completing their renovations. There was a family living in the upstairs of Mr Lyle’s house when I left by the name of Rhymer ( think that is the correct spelling) Mr Lyle had the bottom floor and the front entrance while they had the side entrance which I assume was once the servant’s entrance. ( quite a few stairs up to their floor I recall) Mother’s name Molly, Father Barry two daughters named Susan and Anne. Susan and I were good friends and spent many happy days playing on the swing in the front yard which Mr Lyle had strung from an old shady plane tree. Would love to hear from family if anyone knows of them.

— Rhonda Blunt nee Higgerson · 18 July 2009, 00:14 · #

Hi Rhonda,

It was a shame about the house, we were all a bit sad to see it torn down, it was such a beautiful house.
I remember the external staircase to the 2nd floor, one of the first things my dad did was to put an Internal staircase back inside the house (which would have been the original configuration).
I remember Sturrock’ s carpentry shop as well, Mr Sturrock was still running it in the 70s and 80s.

I also went to Middle Harbour School, in the early 70s the school acquired 8 Hale Rd (and the adjoining block which as torn down and became play area) so that the school extended to Hale Rd.

— Felicity · 19 August 2009, 14:59 · #

Just wondering if anyone would have any knowledge on the history of 29 Lang St – it has a name plate ‘Rutland’

I have very much enjoyed reading about your memories Rhonda

— Marcella · 22 August 2009, 11:50 · #

Hi Rhonda
What lovely memories you have. I wonder if you know anything of No 4 Hale Road which I believe was called “Yirri Yirri” and a family by the name of Thomson lived there for many years.

— Pam Thomson · 1 September 2009, 08:38 · #

Dear Marcella, I don’t recall the house you mentioned ‘Rutland’ at 29 Lang Street. My younger sister Nancy thinks this might have been the house where she often sat outside on the nature strip listening to some beautiful concert pianist. This may not have been ‘Rutland’ but around that area. This house would be just going down the hill towards Ourimba Road.

— Rhonda Blunt nee Higgerson · 5 September 2009, 04:59 · #

Dear Pam, I remember the house at 4 Hale Road which was just down from a private nursing home and set back from the road. Neither my sister nor I recall the name Thomson. I do hope some one will be able to help you in your search.

Rhonda Blunt nee Higgerson · 24 September 2009, 09:09 · #

Hi Rhonda, You mentioned a Mr Wintle and daughter Beverley – that’s me!! You must have lived up the adventurous end of Hale Road. Do you remember the Corner Shop? Other names that come to mind are the Robinsons at No 47, The Wests, The Petersons at No 51, Mrs Thompson and Mrs Farrell who lived at No. 18. The Violantis family lived up near Mackie Lane, Colin used to ride a draught horse. Also Don Audsley who married a second cousin of mine. I think you went to Mosman Home Science High School?

— Bev · 6 October 2009, 03:48 · #

How lovely to hear from you Beverley. I remember worrying you to invite me inside your house to play with that wonderful doll’s house that I seem to recall was made by your Father. You were two years older than me and I remember asking you all about High School. Do you remember the Watsons? They lived just a few doors up from you. They had a daughter Jean. Mrs watson was a potter and made sister Jeannene and myself a beautiful cup each one Christmas. Irenie Violantis and sister Helen lived behind the shops in Military Road not Mackie Lane. There was a brother Colin and an older sister too whose name escapes me. Recall only a Robert and a Meg Audsley. Great to hear from you Bev. Do you still live around Mosman I wonder?

— Rhonda Blunt nee Higgerson · 8 October 2009, 10:33 · #

My father grew up at no. 6 Lang Street during the 1930s early 1940s - John Cummins (parents Rupert and May). His cousin lived next door..the Frecker family. Dad would have loved to have read your reminiscences. I think other cousins also lived in the same street.

— Annie Carrett · 17 August 2010, 14:30 · #

To Anne Carrett. I can't rember the exact number but could have been no.6 Lang Street but forward to the 50s and it would have been the Turner family living there with girls Nanette and Christine. Their backyard had a gate into Mackie lane and I would use this when going to play at their house. Large back yard with extensive vegetable garden. Big glassed in back veranda. I was born in 1943 but I remember a John Cummins at Middle harbour School, maybe a relative?

— rhonda blunt nee higgerson · 9 November 2010, 17:28 · #

My mother spent quite a lot of time in the ‘Allenbrook’ private hospital in Hale Road, in the 1960’s – 1970’s. I also noticed on my trip down there a few months ago that the Middle Harbour School had been extended right through to hale Road. Yes, it would of saved a lot of walking to cut through there instead of walking all the way around the block.

— cheryll (fry) Lester · 7 January 2011, 21:38 · #

My dad worked for Sturrock's as a carpenter!

— Lyn · 6 December 2011, 14:30 · #

Just a bit of an update from me to say that it has been lovely to get in touch with Beverley who lived down Hale Road from us ‘Higgersons’ all those years ago. Old Mosmanites never die they just move on to other pastures! If it wasn’t for the ‘Memories’ site I would not, for one be enjoying many revisits to this place and time via the computer with Bev.
We have not seen each other for around fifty five years, except by photos posted online but that doesn’t matter because we have our shared memories of a wonderful place and time!

— Rhonda Blunt nee Higgerson · 30 January 2012, 11:46 · #

Hello Rhonda,
My Grandmother lived at “Northbrook” Hales Rd in 1913 after travelling here from England to marry, when she arrived she discovered her intended was already wed. She stayed here also living at 17 Lang Street, I believe she worked for a solicitor. She returned to England when her brother was killed in World War 1 later meeting my grandfather, an Australian Army Officer. They married in 1917 and after the war returned to live in Australia. Her name was Beryl Killick. I believe “Northbrook” if it is still standing would be number 25. I found the addresses on the front of beautifully decorated envelopes she had kept, the letters were probably written by he brother or father, unfortunately the letters were not included. Do you know if either of these homes are still standing?

— Dale Nicholls · 17 July 2012, 16:50 · #

I am afraid not Dale. Number 25 which would have been the lovely old two story that was made into flats during my childhood was demolished if not before the house I grew up in ( semi) at number 23 Hale road was demolished then not long before. There is now a very large retirement villiage and nursing home which takes over the whole top of Hale Road.
I can remember this lovely home had a kind of tower( which facinated me as a child) and I would often see a face from the window in it looking down into our yard. Got a shock when I discovered that there were no stairs up to this tower inside and hadn’t been for many years! Maybe it was my childish imagination, who knows. Do you have any photos of the house or was the stationary engraved with a picture? I can remember getting mulberry leaves for my silkworms from a very old tree there.

— Rhonda Blunt nee Higgerson · 4 November 2012, 19:07 · #

HI lyn I was also a carpenter at Sturrocks ( Jock ) What was your Dad’s name? Some of the guys who come to mind…Alan Lee was the foreman, Keith Turner, Alan Bergstrom, John Mansell, Jimmy Fyfe, Jimmy Lane,me Brian White, Bob Page, a guy who used to ride an Indian motor cycle with side car whose name was Dinger Bell, This wa s1955 to 1959….cheers Brian White 4/3/2015

— Brian White · 5 March 2015, 17:02 · #

Firstly I want to say that finally Beverley Pieremont nee Wintle and I finally met up for the first time in almost sixty years! We had been emailing back and forth since connecting via this site. Then I moved from Tumut to my present address much closer to Sydney and we arranged to meet last year. Bev had not changed and I knew her straight away. We met up again this year too. To Brian White. Our fence under that gigantic pine tree in Mackie Lane was the one that had the motor bike leaning against it. I remember it well, even had a ride on it. What a joy it’s been reliving all these memories.

— Rhonda Blunt nee Higgerson · 21 June 2015, 13:50 · #

I’m wondering if anyone has memories of the Audsley family? Frederick and family who lived at 4 Bray Street?

— Anna Usher · 4 November 2018, 19:38 · #

This has been such a treat to read.
I remember some of the names here, especially Felicity, who has responded above. I spent so many wonderful days at your house – your parents were so sweet to me and included me in so many of your family day trips.
The first house I lived in was a little green weatherboard cottage that was tucked in the middle of the block between Hale Rd and McPherson St. It was at the end of the driveway next to the Drs rooms in the federation house on the northern boundary of Alanbrook Hospital. I think a couple of sister spinsters may have lived between that driveway and The Cottage. Both my parents worked at the Hospital. We then moved into a house in McPherson Street, just 2 doors up from the Martins. Mr and Mrs Covey lived in the house in between the Martins and us. On the other side of us was Dr Seaborn firstly, until he moved, then Ethel Wilson and Lottie Fyffe.
I went to Kindergarten in Lang Street in 1968 and when I got a little bit older I remember ducking through Sturrocks yard to get through to Mackie Lane as a shortcut to get through to the little group of shops. I would also quickly run down the side of the Kemmers place too as a shortcut.
A great family friend lived at 11 Hale Road for many years.
I can't remember the name of the people living in the house between Cambridge and Alanbrook but I was forever ducking in to their back yard to retrieve errant tennis balls when we played tennis on the Alanbrook courts. I had many happy games of croquet also on the croquet lawn there also.

— Sue · 25 July 2021, 12:48 · #

Hello very interested to read your stories my great great grandfather Charles Cheffins lived at 11 Hale Street for many years in the late 1930s and then moved to 7 Bray Street. His wife was Ada, their children included Lillian, my grandmother and Peter and I think Annie at that stage. I would love to find a photo of the original house at that time. It is now a block of units

Robyn lamond · 27 January 2022, 08:11 · #