My neighbours and our wonderful street

Posted by
Estelle Clancy
Clifford Street

When my Dad left Australia, in command of 2/2nd Battalion A.I.F., on the Octants, 10/1/40, our family was living at ‘Nydfa’, a block of flats in Milson Road, Cremorne; but by the time the Japanese submarines entered Sydney Harbour, we were settled in 10 Clifford Street. It was to be my home for over fifty years.

What a wonderful street!… only 23 houses, only one doubled fronted and only one two-storied. If a person stood where Moruben Road and Clifford Street join and looked up the gentle slope to Spit Junction, the even numbers were on the right hand side, and the odd numbers on the left. I’m writing first about the right-hand side.

The first property had its side boundary in our street. It was a huge, beautiful place, belonging to the Northcote family, sisters of Governor Northcote. Near its Moruben Road frontage was a watercourse where children could catch tadpoles!

The two-storey house (no. 4) belonged to the Goslings; grandparents, daughter and her son, Bill Boardman, lived there. I can’t quite place the house where dwelt an old couple Mr. & Mrs. Deane. At No. 8 lived the Phelans, whose daughter became a nun, well known for her work with migrants; there was also a son. The house had been built as two inter-connecting flats, and at various times housed the Marauns, the Ryans – Jill is still a friend of mine – my parents Major General Sir George Wootten and Lady Wootten; and later my daughter. A well known field photographer lived on the other side at one time his name was Conrad.

The war years saw mum and her four children living at No.10. Dad was away at the war and my brother George, a pilot in the R.A.A.F, left from there for overseas. He was killed near Mount Sinai on 10/5/43 – the same day as John V. Clancy and I announced our engagement. We and our family lived there until about 1999 when I moved to Cremorne.

Does anyone remember the original RSL Hall? It was converted into the Rex Theatre, a re-run film house, managed by Mrs. Weedon, who lived with her children at No. 12. For a time Felix Kaspar, an Austrian skater of some note, stayed there. There was, for a short time, another Austrian tenant who made wonderful tortes which she gave us sometimes. My introduction to European cooking! A very friendly family. Mr. & Mrs. Caskey and their children, were, I think, the last tenants in that house. After Mr. Caskey died, the family moved, and flats were built there.

This gave us again some wonderful neighbours the Misses Grey, Ted Saunders and Mrs. Saunders, and Mr. & Mrs. French. I think we first met over the matter of a broken kitchen window – victim of a back-yard cricket game at our place!

The most impressive house on our side of the street was the Chadwick’s place. Double-fronted and built of sandstone, it boasted manicured lawns and two carved lions – and a Venus in the front garden.

The people who lived in the remaining houses were not well known to us. The side of the theatre – a cinema, at that time complete with a piano and resident pianist – took up the rest of Clifford Street on that side. For years it was called “The Kings”.

On the other side it was matched by Crossman’s huge building – a shop at street level, and a printery in the basement. Mrs. Crossman sold lollies and small goods. Their name was well-known for years.

I’m rather hazy about the houses on this side – the odd numbered side and have needed a good deal of time to think about who lived here.

No trouble remembering the Carmody’s, Frank & Beryl and their sons Michael and Garry. The Clancy’s had fifteen children and one phone and the Carmody’s had two children and fifteen phones! Of course Frank ran his business from home, and what a happy and love – outreaching family that was!

At the time of writing this Joan has died, just a week ago, Frank having deceased her by a few years.

Frank was a great labor supporter and John Clancy a supporter of the D.L.P. Many were their vigorous arguments at the old Mosman Hotel, and great was the amusements of their schoolboy sons – who were all great friends – as they swapped information as to what their fathers (also great friends!) had said about one another the night before!

The next two small houses had quite a few short-stay tenants. Two of three of them I got to know. One was a family with two children – both boys, one of whom had spinabifida, and used to move around on a sort of oversized skateboard. The other boy was a rather shy lad, and the little girl, expected while the family lived in our street, died shortly after birth.

Then there was the middle aged woman who made beautiful soft toys which were treasured for years by my children. I’m not sure I knew her name.

Another short-stay English migrant told me of an incident on the ship. It was her daughter’s fourth birthday, and her mother had given her a doll. For a few minutes the mother left the cabin, and on her return, could hear her daughter scolding someone in the cabin. A little suspicious, she crept to the door and peeped in – to see the child holding up the doll and shaking it while saying; “Speak to me ya blirdy thing” over and over again!

Next in the street was the Mansfield’s beautiful house with its Christmas Bush Jill used to share with all the neighbours. She, Kevin and the family were much loved, friendships still endure among all the children. Jill and her mother, Lorna Shipway, lived in the house owned by Jill’s father before Jill and Kevin bought the property soon after they were married. Of their children Mary-Lou works at Mosman Library, Guy lives in Mosman and recently premiered his new TV series ‘Help’ on SBS. Jo-Ann and Katy no longer reside in Mosman. Jill and Kevin left the house in 1997, like so many others that year, and it was sold to developers. They moved down the hill not far from Balmoral and Kevin passed away in 2005.

Old Mrs. Shaw lived nearby – she was an interesting, typical country woman from NSW, the family was well known in business circles. When she was unable to manage alone, I used to help her with her meals and other jobs not covered by the District Nurses.

Perhaps it was the Berry’s who lived next door. I’m not sure. On the other side of Field Lane (as it is now called) lived the James family. The daughter Eadie – taught music, until she gave it up to nurse her sick and elderly mum.

Field Lane was just “the lane” in those days until the Council decided to name all motorways. It then became Feild Lane – I thought perhaps there’d been a spelling mistake unless it was some ancient surname, and the Council corrected it to Field Lane. I’m not sure if our Miss James was related to the Misses James who had a gardening shop in Spit Road, opposite Clifford Street. The Berry family lived in Clifford Street – but I can’t remember just where.

The last house was, I think, where the Brodie family lived – parents and two boys. Until the Mansfield girls arrived, there were no young girls in Clifford Street (except for those at No. 10) – and about 7 boys. Two of those were Brodies, as I remember.

Mr. Brodie managed a whiskey firm and was very popular with American Officers. Mrs. Brodie was great fun and a supportive friend to my mother when Dad was away, and after George’s (Tiny’s) death.

A member of a long established Mosman family was the owner of a light brick home in between the Mansfield’s and Berry’s… I’m rather hazy here about exact positions. Miss Doak was a great cat lover, a rather retiring character, but, if one could get her attention and engage her in conversation, she was very intelligent and good fun.

Last on the left-hand side was Lauriston Hospital, with a side entrance onto our street.

A word about No. 10. Our family lived there for many years, and as it grew bigger, so did the house. The garden was small at the front of the house; and the back was a full sized tennis court, and I’ll say more of that later.

The Air Raid Warden for our street was Mr. Gosling. He had to see to the dimming of lights and the taping of windows to avoid shattering glass in case of raids.

The night of the Japanese submarine entry into Sydney Harbour and their torpedoing of a navy vessel was the high point of his career I think!

At this time there were full sized tennis courts behind No’s 8, 10 and 12. Mrs. Weedon’s was an “en tout cas” at No. 12. The rest of us had sand courts, which had to be scraped, watered and rolled. After a heavy rain storm or a great wind, we had to really work to find the sand and put it back ready for the players.

Small clubs played on most of these courts – a small fee covered also a gas ring to boil a bottle, lockers for crockery and seats for up to 12 players. One Saturday morning club at No. 10 consisted of four men, including a Dr Knossefer and a Mr. Bentley, still very active at over 70 years old. John Pole played there and I think that’s where he met his first wife, Betty.

Sadly the night tennis was called off during the war, in case it helped the enemy knowledge of position in Sydney.

One day at No.10 a Child Protection Officer called at my home.

O – “Mrs. Clancy”
Me – “Yes”
O – “I’m from the Child Welfare Department”
Me – “Oh, does some child need something?”
O – “No! I have called because it has been reported that you are forcing the children to sleep in the backyard”
Me – “Really? No we have a back sleep-out where a boy sleeps.”
O – “No! It’s in the open”
Me – “Oh heavens, come and I’ll show you”

So we went out the back and I showed him the tree – cubby, built by John in the large Peach Tree.

“I’m not forcing” I said, “The kids fight over whose turn it is to sleep in the cubby”.

What he said about the informer was not complimentary… but that person did the right thing. Suspecting cruelty, he or she reported it to the Authorities, but I can’t say it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling!

At No.10, after our tennis on Sunday afternoon, Mum would cook a nice meal for us and the tennis players and then, while George was alive, we would dance to the radio music which was enhanced by a loud speaker attached to a baffle board in front of the fireplace in the sitting room. Such fun it was!

The Coronation of the Queen saw the appearance of the young men from the Papua New Guinean Brass Band, stationed at the Naval Depot – the site of a Pacific Development effort. They were most interesting and appreciative of our hospitality and really enjoyed hearing young Mary calling out to her father returning home after work – “Daddy, daddy! Come quickly! Mummy’s got five black men in the kitchen!” John and Huey became good friends and he gave them some interesting souvenirs from his shop at 48 Spit Road.

The sixties saw the beginning of the end for little Clifford Street. Flats and units were built – some not very well overseen, and causing expensive repairs very soon, as water dripped from one unit to the other one below it.

People lived in our street – but we didn’t even know their names. Cars were more plentiful, the road was much busier and suddenly the big flats facing Moruben Road became 2 Clifford Street and our alignment moved back 16 feet and so prevented my war hero Dad from having a carport!

We fought against the bus stop – and lost. But at least we campaigned successfully against several buses, at irregular intervals, using the our street to turn around into Mandolong Road and back to the Depot.

Still, it brought beautiful neighbours some of whom I have mentioned. Others, like Mrs. Egan and Mrs. Vera O’Toole, in the new units at No.6 or No.4 were so kind to my children, especially to little Andrew. He was there one afternoon, when he saw something that made him race home – “Mum! Mrs. O’Toole’s lying on the floor and can’t get up!” She was taken to hospital, but did not return home.

There were heroes and heroines – one who had been a POW in Indonesia, one a decorated war nurse. Next to us lived Mrs. Saunders who learned to understand the speech of his wife after her drastic stroke, suffered as they arrived at their holiday destination. She recovered fairly well in her body, and her speech returned – but she could speak only in numbers. “Four, five, six” meant thank you. Ted learnt to understand quite a lot of her sentences and nursed her devotedly till her death. He followed her just a few years later.

Now, of course, the only house left is that of Dr. Hing and his staff. Perhaps it was here that Dr Geoff Mutton had his consulting rooms in the forties.

Clifford Street is now a street of beautiful flats and well kept gardens, as well as a few street trees that hide the Balmoral view from the odd-number side. I might know two of the residents. I just hope that they will become a street community, or even series of communities and be as concerned for one another and as ready to help one another as earlier occupiers of the now demolished houses.

I hope there are children who can visit other units; that adults will know and be gentle towards the upcoming generation, that some parents will enjoy, as I did, the sight of their children, looking a bit like beads on a string, as they race up the hill to see mum returning from shopping and that the graciousness of the past century will envelope the short street – with the wonderful view of the Tasman with peace and kindness.

Some of my older children have just reminded me of a few things…

Opposite our house a large block of flats was built, memorable for me for two special events. One was young Matthew coming home from there with profuse bleeding from one leg. He, being pursued by someone, had crashed through a plate glass door. It was me who carried him to Dr. Edwards’s surgery at the other end of Field Lane.

The other “event” was meeting with Caroline O’Dell, an authoress (Yes! I’m old enough to agree with feminine nouns!) of delightful children’s books. The first I knew of was about a fire-engine. She was also an accomplished pianist. Her mother had been one of a group of three sisters – the first to form an all girl musical group, travelling around the world giving performances. Mrs. O’Dell was an artiste of considerable skill, and kindly gave two very colourful paintings of roosters to my daughter, Jacqueline.

At that time Mrs. O’Dell was rather elderly and this story concerns her.

Picture the phone ringing when you are in bed fast asleep. You are George, her son-in-law.

A sleepy “Hello?”
“George? Is that you?”
“Yes, mother.”
“George dear, what’s the time?”
“Oh MOTHHHHHERRRRR… it’s three in the morning! What’s wrong?”
“Nothing dear, my clock must be right after all. (Click)”
Sounds of groaning from George.

No. 8 had, at one time, an unwelcome visitor – The Granny Slayer. Luckily the man in the house recognized him and sent him packing. I wonder if the stranger had mistaken No. 8 for No. 10. Thank God if he did for I wouldn’t be writing this if he’d come to my place while I was home alone.

Estelle Clancy · 24 August 2006

Your comment

Dear Mrs Clancy,

I am a serving Army officer who finds your father of great historical interest. I wonder of you would mind contacting me to enable the conduct biographical research on him. He was the subject of an Army Staff College essay that I wrote in 2006. In the course of my research for the paper I was amazed to discover that there was no book written on him. I believe that he is one of the great military leaders of WW2 and I am seeking to publish his biography. I have no experience in such matters, so I will seek a suitable author, but if necessary I would attempt to write it myself. Any assitance would be greatly appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Brumley

P.S. Please note that I have used AT in my email address instead of @ in an attempt to evade malicious emails.

— Lieutenant Colonel Matt Brumley · 1 November 2007, 08:49 · #

Dear Estelle
Thank you for posting your memories – a most interesting read! Am wondering if the home you refer to as the Chadwick’s was 14 Clifford St? My great- grandparents James H. & Martha Mulligan resided at no. 14 with their 6 children. Martha lived there until her death in 1949. What triggered my curiosity is a photo I have of three of the Mulligan children standing in front of a sandstone block house with a big statue in the foreground. I also have another faded photo which features the Venus statue. The home was named ‘Sebrof”.

— Debbie Goldsworthy · 31 December 2007, 03:42 · #

Dear Debbie,

Your question is appreciated and is one that I am able to answer. This house referred to is, as you correctly suggest no. 14 Clifford Street, the home of the Chadwick family from 1950. Your photograph sounds as if it would be a great addition to Estelle’s story so please fell free to add it to the site.

Local Studies Librarian, Mosman Library · 9 January 2008, 03:25 · #

Well..such a small space for such a lot of memories. Billy Boardman was with Australia Post as we call it now, a wonderful artist Bill was slender and curly headed.

The fabulous house at no 6 went early in the piece. It was utterly magnificent, beautiful verandah with wrought iron looked over Clifford Street and the bay below.

The next house down belonged to some lovely people whose name I am struggling to remember…Joanne was the little girl..yes..Joanne Price…

I was young too, perhaps 7 or 8 same as her, I has a crush on her in those days when a crush was just an awakening and not the scene of some American soapie.

Their house was narrower, white, the entry was from the side, half way down on the left looking at the house…. and perhaps a less significant house..I think it was maybe a subdivision from the next house. Prices lived in number 4.

Then was number 2..a staggeringly beautiful home set back into the NW corner. This home was 2 stories plus attic. East view has it’s address changed with Council compliance to allow the building of one of the worst home unit developements imaginable. Such home units were banned in Clifford Street then.

I recall at that time asking for an interview with the Mayor, a very smug fellow and as I recall, a pharmacist. I approached him about Clifford Street. He thought I was a silly 15 year old but by the end of the interview he was back peddling very fast. I still remember the stunned look on his face when I listened and then started on his views.

He expected a resounding victory over a silly young boy but I was an instrument in having real estate agents not welcome as councillors….and so it should be..and so I demanded of Parkinson.

Mum forgets that a politician StClair lived nearby too, perhaps renting at no 8’s apartment. I think he was a lawyer and certainly in parliament

If there ever was a travesty the destruction of no 2 Clifford Street was it. That house should have been on the National Trust and was destroyed with ‘indecent haste’ .

I visited the house when the owners left. I was maybe 10. The house had marble busts on stands..beautiul scarves and womens’s clothing….magnificent…the staircase was grand, like a chateau with more busts as you climbed..absolutely magnificent. Eastview the defective units built there were an eyeore even if you hadn’t seen the old house and were retchingly awful if you had seen the old place.

In the attic, under a window several open trunks had dresses of antiquity spilling from them like chests of looted treasure with jewellery, especially grand necklaces ..I think paste.

If you can think of Tara..this was Mosman’s Tara but its beauty…magnificence…was no effect on the money grubbers coming to Mosman aided by the Council. Beauty and tradition meant nothing..nor has it since. I can remember the real Mosman as though it were yesterday.

Mosman Council, in my opinion, has gone downhill ever since 1950 and Mosman as a direct result of that philistine mentality is just a shadow of its past.

Mum’s too kind, Mosman didn’t decay, it was ruined by people with no appreciation of its living testimony.

Mum forgot to mention “Peaches and Cream”...a couple who came seeking work every fortnight or so. Maybe 50s, dark and burned brown by the sun .

They dressed in army greatcoats even on the hottest days and she was heavily made up. Nice to us though and no doubt a part of the post WW11 displacement and confusion.

They were said to live in the cave at Cammeray’s, Primrose Park which I later visited often. I still remember that ‘cream’ must have been quite quite a beauty when younger…then bronzed and rouged but still attractive, How people suffered from that war…

We had hedges then and ‘snow drops’ growing under them. Dragon flies stopped, hovered like flying saucers and and zipped away under the sunshine….lady birds abounded and butterflies danced. It was truly enchanted, quite and we all knew each other. By 1965 the population was 20,000. .

Mosman was an enchanted garden whose charm had to be demolished by people who worshipped money or who needed to be appreciated by developers. .

We then had sunshowers and the sweet perfume of their newness, small birds lived and sang away their lives in our hedges.

This was the remnant of Britain not the concrete US sterility…we were a part of the mother country, only the mindless insensitive modernists feel for a republic…We can’t even get a decent Aussie Prime Minister other than Old Billy and now Kevin…who would want an Aussie Dictator??? ...

Is something wrong with the perception of Turnbull and co…they seem to have missed the point of history imagining something would be special about an Australian republic …well..what??? It isn’t Mosman old chap. Gimme the Queen any day.

Mosman was Mosman then. Mosman, not long before was too far to travel from the city by tram or ferry and where old man Elder (of Elders) and the stalwarts of my ancestors lived .

In more recent years the wonderful surgeon Jim Poate came, the owner of “Red Ink Productions”, and the odd film director for whom I worked. The artistic DelPratts lived at Balmoral, the lovely Isaacs girls, and so many more.

Mum mentioned the boy on the skate of the kindest men I have met and still alive his brother was a boy “Moran” whom we were told was the young brother of a boy mentally damaged when a bus crashed near the Spit Bridge. His head was said to be crushed under a seat.

His kindly elder brother…red-headed a little like “boo” of “to kill a mockingbird’ is a patient still of one Mosman doctor in mid-Military Road.

I have met the best of men. He pushed his brother about for many years in a sort of wheelchar pram but I think the boy died. It was possibly muliple scerosis.

Johnny Moran, the elder of the retarded boys, dressed often as a conductor and collected fares in the trams.

Myself now I think it was genetic family defect which got Johnny and his younger brother. He got on ok with Neil, the cranky red headed paper seller who worked for Mr Thame at Mosman newsagency. Neil would fight you for any reason at all and was well known outside the then Mosman hotel ..”payer, payer…come and get read all about it….payer, payer….”

I lived in mortal fear of Neil until I grew up.

I worked for newsagent Thame 7 days a week at age 12..up there at 1am, rolling and gluing…finish at 8..Satudays, big papers, finish at 11, Sunday..and he despised catholics..went to 10 and then to mass….a very long week for 10 shillings. He said “you are the best boy I ever had” (after 12 months) I am giving you a never came!

Mr Sawyer drove the utility and delivered a mighty throw fom his right arm…two bangs on the roof of the ute with the paper then…hurl!

I read the papers as I rolled them and learned about mau mau I recall. Work out my hours! I did my bit back then, 54 hours per week at 12 years old for 10 shillings and then to study school and still got honours in the “Primary Final”

I also sold newspapers for another agent in the afternoons and delivered the Daily up and down the steepest streets in Mosman..Awaba, Raglan and so on … Christ I worked hard!!

Mum mentioned the hospital. The Mosman Hospital I crept into many times through a hole in the fence. It was next to the Brodies’ house they being 2 doors down from Field Lane.

It was a wide block opposite 8/12 Clifford. It was also a convenient short cut for a boy in a hurry into Moruben Road. James’ was on the Balmoral side before Brodie and Nash’s on the other ide of the lane. I went there with dad to look after the body of Mr Nash when I was young.

This house was permittted by Mosman Council to become abysmal flats…ghastly

Miss Doak came then to live in the next house up the street, just before Mansfields. Later the house after Mansfield’s became the surgery of Doctor Varipatis.

Mansfields to me was significant owing to its beautiful women! The house next door to Mansfield’s, before Varipatis was occupied by a NSW bank manager who had a tragic relationship.

Then was the doctor mum mentioned whose beautiful daughter Made Lush married an english chap who became a successful locksmith at Annandale…and then came Carmody (Garry has just died) and then the lane behind Wynns.

On the other side of the road was a rented house. Two agro scotsmen lived there. Then was another house coming down towrds number 10; then was Kings place. ..then Chadwick, then Weeden (Casky later) then us.

You see Mosman was arty. Clifford Street very much so. Under Weedon’s house (12) I found rolls of theatre tickets and no 2 was clearly the home of someone illustrious in theatre.

Joanne Price’s parents were theatre people as I recall.

The destruction of no 2 in my view deserved a jail sentence…but such is greed and so called ‘modern thinking’ from people bereft of sentiment.. and councils so full of themselves they think they are man’s enlightenment. We have gone well downhill in my lifetime!

Often as we played an older man, very Military, would come down the road and watch us playing..he’d sit on his seat planted in the ground or wave it calling to us …Oh….”Cheerio, Cheerio” of course we knew him as Mr Cheerio. He always wore a pith helmet..oh to know his history!

The story of Colonel Clavell can wait but it reminds me of another interesting can wait…

The magnificent doctor’s home opposite the Mosman Library..I think he was a Nash also…was destroyed to become a Mc Donalds…what can one say about such travesties driven by self importance of councillors imagining themselves as forward thinking businessmen, or worse.

I remember the Nash site as a person was run over by a tram there..I saw it as I walked home for lunch one day.

Years later, after an horrific accident in the yellow lines outside Marist Brothers where a woman was shockingly injured… over by a speeding VW driven by a life saver compound fractures poked out everywhere, Father Clements came down to give extreme unction to what was once a woman on her way to confession and then the Novena who had no idea what an appalling end she was to meet that night.

One councillor objected to traffic lights being built there..I think more than five people already had died in that badly lit spot. My opinion of the council goes back a long way and he, a catholic exemplified the metamorphisis

As dad might say “if brains were dynamite he wouldn’t have enough to blow his hat-off”.

The lights were eventually erected, opposite Mr Ray’s bicycle shop and a little store selling Pez and Canada Dry, but not until much later when the Sacred Heart school was revamped.

In that vein before I forget…a German, Mr Braune..very kind and Joe Antcliffe the orthopaedic bootmaker and his son Lyle had shops in Spit Road just before Ourimbah Road where the magnificent corner house was permitted to be demolished by the Mosman Council genius; and sterile shops built. This was one of the reasons I took Parkinson, the mayor, to pieces as I grew up. I despised their ignorence and cunning.

The smarties abounded then as now but really emerged in 1953.

Now back at Clifford Street…going up the road alongside Chadwick was Mr and Mrs King. I often climbed their oak tree to catch cicadas and silkworms.

When the end of Clifford Street was imminent Mr King left. For the first time I saw his yellow ”as new” tiny Austin 7.

Chadwicks also has a string of old horse stable garages down the side of their property alongside Kings to their west boundary but I cannot remember more than one garage at Kings…maybe his N/W corner. It was painted brown.

A vile and utterly boring and lowest class block of appalling units was built where Kings beautiful double story house had been…one wonders about cultural suicide!!

People today probably cannnot imagine what Clifford Street was. At the top was the King’s Theatre, where a grand piano played during intermission by the lady who owned the dress shop at the corner… and coca cola club was held on saturday with the bouncing ball sing-along before the “serials” such was innocence then.

At the theatre corner was a dress shop. Originally Clifford Street had many dumped cars…boat tailed Bently’s,still with the thermometer insignia, alloy bodies, Wolsely, Benz sports cars, Sunbeam boat tailed, and a magnificent Benz 4 door, probabaly 1928 ish …worth over half a million today each.

At the top of the street was Spit Road and on the corner a large green tram clock. Spit Road was dirt!..I recall a small dog being run over by the tram and buried just below the clock.

Around that corner was the theatre, then a milk bar, (in Spit Road) then Capelin’s dry cleaning agency then a radio repairer where Hughie MacTeague….ex RAAF….woked then two dress shops. After that was the post office where I sorted letters at Chrsistmas

Next was the tram terminus. After that my father’s factory and three houses and then the dentist. All this is now a retirement centre but was a sad story before that as my father was forced to lose one site after another by people he thought were his mates.

Wiseman the Estate Agent was opposite dad’s factory and next to the Commonwealth Bank next to Dad…54 Spit Road.

Dad’s friends secretly conspired to get him out of the junction to build a ”before its time” supermarket. H e was sent broke and then burned out of his store at number 48 Spit Road..all he had left when they had finished with him but the judge said “enough”.

Dad had about 12 kids then but the world is comprised of three types!..the good, the bad and the ugly

On the left of the top of Clifford Street was a drycleaners (Wynns…a Johnny come lately) with a cellar hidden. I can remeber all of Spit Junction but not, immediately, was where Wynns modified into their agency, Then was a barn..a real galvanised barn..two wide sliding tin front doors..this was Crossman’s the printers who much later moved to down near to the Christian Scientists not far from the Council chambers .

I think the best thingCouncil did was to have the Von Trapp family singers there which I enjoyed immensely as a young feller. Someone tried to assassinate Arthur Caldwell in the same place,

I remember these places clearly and I remember the environment distinctly and the way Mosman was dragged down instead of experiencing leadership

Mum also forgets that when we had units built alongside us they attracted old grumps. At least twice we had the child welfare department down harassing her of “forcing children to sleep in a tent out the back yard” . This was serious lightweight and deeply hurt her. These preposterous people did not like children The tent was my tent. We slept there because we were cowboys and Indians! How dried out can people become when they lose their souls and zest for fun and lose the ability to be children once more. I was forced to pull down my tent and I recall well the amused smirks of the complainants through their window as I watched.

Mr Wipple the barber was around the corner..of Spit Road and after him Mosman Sports Store but let's not deviate too far but yet let’s not lose history .

I recall it all. Over the road from Wipple and Brown’s Estate Agency was Council then Dawsons then the second hand shop of Mrs Mac…ah, the name will come..she was a favorite of mine, so kind and understanding.

Back into Clifford. Now the lovely “Miss James’ ” had a shop selling seedlings and chook food such as pollen and shell grit. They were in Spit Road, nest to Tame’s and Caesar’s mens wear but though spinsters I vaguely remember it was another of their family living on the corner of Field Lane.

Before Mosman became a g-string constricted political chookhouse we actually had chooks, we had bread and milk delivered by horse and cart. Moran's the grocers from Spit Road delivered in a wire baked truck The milk was ladelled into our billy before bottles came..which the magpies quickly learned how to raid…leaving a hole and no cream! I just can’t recall..ah yes..Mr Murray delivered the milk.

AS for chooks…well they love to scratchin the the lovely neighbours of the new flats in No 12 complained and dad had to put in a cement floor. Still in a place which threatened to prosecute you for having a water tank what else was news. Perhaps it is emerging that the least Mosmanish thing about Mosman was its council. Now Mosman is essentially ruined in terms of old world charm. No one remembers what a stunning place Mosman was….except a few old timers like us.

I have barely scratched the surface of memories. In closing though, three superb houses were demolished behind us to make way for architectual monstrosities…appalling units. One day at about 18 I heard a great “bang” and saw glass hurtling fom a window of the units behind us.

I saw smoke and flames and imagining someone had thrown something through the window I raced up the yard, over the fence and up the stairs banging on doors.

One opened and I said “fire..emergency…call the brigade”..they did. The door of the apartment was locked..I kicked it off its lock and as it flew open the flames burnt the hair from my face. The place was well ablaze ..intensely hot…I covered my face as I could and forced my way into the searing and well ablaze kitchen looking for a body..I refused to be driven back but my eyebrows were gone and my hair burning..I forced my way into the lone and a bedroom, believing I might die.

I was confident no one was there where I looked and the heat was so intense I was driven out.

I returned home in great pain to a cold bath and the firebrigade arrived.

You know, not a soul ever asked, those 40 plus years ago I guess who was that boy? ..

Later as a specialist insurance assessor I realised that this was a gross oversight but also how close I had come to being killed.

I have many stories of Mosman no one knows but me. I will try to write again…Colonel Clavell and NG Booth is one..but there are so many…Tony Clancy

— Anthony Clancy · 6 February 2008, 17:33 · #

What memoriesof Mosman! We lived in Ourimbah Rd. My brother Denis was in your class at school; I was in your sister, Denise’s class in Infants’ School (Sacred Heart). I remember Peaches and Cream, Ma Dawson’s second-hand clothing shop, and your father’s and grandfather’s furniture store, and their “Clancy’s Overflow” sales. Ted Sawyer lived two doors down Ourimbh Rd from us.
Mosman was a great suburb to grow up in, but it has been totally destroyed. I tell people that I grew up in Mosman, but Mosman is no longer the suburb in which I grew up.
I stil see a few of the guys I grew up with; we are looking at getting an MBHS Mosman “Class of 1960” 50 year reunion next year.
David Healy

— David Healy · 20 April 2009, 09:25 · #

I’m trying to track down Estelle’s son Paul for our 35th reunion of having left Riverview – Any chance for next Saturday 14th November 2009???

Hugo White · 9 November 2009, 12:23 · #

The doctor’s surgery opposite the (then) Mosman Library (and the Ampol Mosman petrol station) was that of Dr Geoff Mutton (senior). His son, also Geoff, also became a doctor
David Healy

— David Healy · 15 February 2010, 05:02 · #

Hi! It’s James, brother of Tony and the 15th child of Estelle and John Clancy. My recollections are not as clear and precise as Tony’s but I do remember that before the buses began running up Clifford Street, my older brothers Chris and Matthew and myself used to play rugby league quite freely on the road, practicing bombs and catching the high ball under enormous pressure or fear of being ‘taken out’. We also rode up and down Clifford Street with no concern about being hit by a car.

I loved playing marbles with my friend Brendan Shaw in the block of flats on the corner of Field Lane. Mrs. Shaw was of Scottish origin I believe and if I wanted an extra scoop of ice-cream, I had to give her a kiss on the side of her cheek! It was worth it—for the food that is!

Being the last of the Mohicans, I had to battle my brothers and sisters at breakfast and dinner (and lunch on the weekends) to ensure that I had adequate fluid and nutritional intake! Paul and I used to had competitions as to who could eat the most amounts of ice-cream. Paul believed that I received an unfair advantage as Mum always worried about whether I was getting enough food and tended to spoil me in the eating stakes.

It was a real treat to grow up in such a beautiful suburb which had so many interesting characters. Indeed, Mum and Dad took in a number of people into our house at 10 Clifford Street and gave them so much care and love. Mum was known for starting a conversation with anyone and everyone especially on bus trips; some of these people ended up staying in our house or my sister Therese’s house at 8 Clifford Street. There were two Swedish men who took up residence at Therese’s and turned out to be amazing tennis players—one even played against Mats Wilander when about 17/18 years of age. My sister Therese had a wonderful sand tennis court on which many members of the family and their friends honed their Ken Rosewall-like backhands. I remember adding the two-handed backhand to my repertoire following the era of the famous American tennis player Gene Mayer. Gene had a brother who he teamed up to play doubles. Those were the days!

Okay, I will stop while I am on a roll and return later. This is my excuse as it is my wife Nadia who wants to get on the internet.


— James Clancy · 28 April 2010, 13:21 · #

To: David Healy

Hi David,
I went to Marit Brothers Mosman I think 1960 was my last year. I seem to remember your brothers name David. Names I do remember better are Peter Atkins,Kerry Castle, Colin Coulton,Gary Jones, Greg Hyde, Angelo Serio, Harvey Washington, Michael Roberts he had 2 brothers Dennis & Glen. Brother Alfred was our Rugby coach & choir teacher. Brother Claudius & Brother Angelo(Chrome Dome) were other teachers Keenan was the principal. Anyway if somehow you see this send me an email.
Best regards,

John Longmuir

— John Longmuir · 4 August 2010, 17:39 · #

John, I remember you well; you were in my class at MBHS Mosman. Brother Claudius taught us in 5th and 6th Class. Br. Keenan was Headmaster when we were in First Year; Br Colgan when we were in 4th & 5th Years. Brother Angelus taught us in 3rd Year.
We (Mick Hargraves, Angelo Sirio, Brendan McNally & I) tried to get a 50th going last year (2010), but couldn't stir up much interest. Mick Cusack also tried to get something up and running, but got sidetracked.
I had heard that you had been overseas (Canada?) for many years, and returned only about 5 years ago.
David H.

— David Healy · 18 May 2011, 12:27 · #


I guess my memory is almost shot! I am coming to Sydney for a few days July 27th & leaving August 3rd. If you send me an email with some email adresses and or telephone numbers perhaps few of us can get together for a drink.



— John Longmuir · 9 July 2011, 04:33 · #

I was in Australia for three weeks, Sydney, Melbourne & St Helens / Hobart. We, my kids a boy 14 girl 12 and I with my sister & her husband sailed a 65 foot sail boat from St Helens to Hobart where we visited the very interesting museum named MONA. Anyway in Sydney I stayed in Balgowlah where I grew up and visited friends while there. I would really like to hook up with some of my class mates. Can you send me Angelo Serio or Michael Hargraves email addresses. Perhaps they have contacts numbers or email addresses for Peter Atkins, Kenny Hatton, Colin Coulton, Greg Hyde maybe Rodney Gardener.

I am in Los Angeles at present & to contact me please send me an email to: . I would be really good to contact some old friends from more than fifly years ago.

Best regards,


— John Longmuir · 5 September 2011, 15:26 · #

I used to know a Mary Clancy from Uni.
I still have her scarf.

— Alan Hicks · 2 October 2011, 20:36 · #

Alan, Geoff Hicks & Dennis Moulton went to Marist Brothres Mosman for two years 4th & 5th class I think. They both left and went to Joeys Hunters Hill. Perhaps Geoff is your dad or you know the family since you have the same name.

— John Longmuir · 24 October 2011, 11:52 · #

No, he went to Strathfield and I did secondary in Wollongong. Uni - UNSW & SU
Anyone know Mary, probably about time I gave her the scarf back.

— Alan Hicks · 1 November 2011, 16:08 · #

Hello Estelle,
Great to hear the tales about Clifford Street, and I regret not calling to say hi during the years after leaving Mosman in 1980. You mentioned the Rex Theatre, managed by Mrs. Weedon (former King’s Theatre), love to hear more on the Rex. The Kinema Theatre, you may recall after Hoyt’s Kinema closed it was occasionally used by community and school groups . . . I vaguely remember one or two Catholic School Eisteddfods here in the early 1970’s before its destruction. My Mother, Maureen is well, but detail of Cardinal Street days are fading.

— Chris Hampton · 5 December 2012, 00:16 · #

Hello Estelle,
I live in “The Bungalow” Church St West Wyalong. I remember you calling in some time back to have a look around your old house.
I am writing a small history of “The Bungalow” and would appreciate it if you could tell me of your memories of living there.
Can you recall when your family moved into “The Bungalow” and when you left? Are there any photos in existence of that time?
I have collected quite a lot of information on Lancelot Evens and understand he owned the house from 1911 till 1960. Any information will be much appreciated and used only for historical purposes with the local museum. Thank you. (0413 199 989) 93 Church St West Wyalong NSW

— Noel Pidgeon · 2 August 2014, 08:54 · #

Dear Estelle

What great memories. Thank’s for sharing. My mother Jean Callaghan and father Roley Callaghan knew a Mrs Clancy from Mosman. She was a lovely woman, my mother copied her hair-do by making two hair-plaits and then wrapping them around the head with assistance of hair-pins. I copied it too years later. I remember Mrs Clancy and visited her home once or twice she had 15 children my mother told me and loved children. We lost touch with the Clancy’s as we moved from Cremorne at 68 Spofforth Street which are now units. The house was owned by the Late Tess Scully, her sister Monica and her owned a Ballroom Dancing School in the city where my father taught and Tess lived in a unit at Kirribilli. When she died we had to leave the house as the 99 year lease had finalised. I last seen Mrs Clancy when I recognised her in the mid 1980’s at St Leonards Railway Station. I approached her and we had a wee chat, she was so bubbly still in her later years. I was the second youngest of ten children. I attended briefly the Mosman Sacred Heart Primary school in 1965 and in 1966 started at Middle Harbour Public School. A nun at the private school had given me the cane (age 5) the day after I ran away from school as I was too shy, my brother Simon had got me to school late and I was terrified to enter the class, so I quickly stepped out the main front gate over Military Road to a milk bar type of shop and asked for an icecream, when I opened my little purse the kind Italian woman said I could have it for free and if I went to the corner fruit shop they would give me some fruit but I was cunning and knew she knew that I had runaway from school so I tried to make my way home and turning back to look at the fruit shop seen a policemen walk inside. I finally found my house, though I kept stopping as aged 5 and short-sighted it took a while to recognise 68 Spofforth Street. It was a long walk for a five year old. When I came home from the private school, I must of cried and told my mother as she didn’t send me back there. I wasn’t bullied at all there but boy did my brother Douglas and I were to face bullying at our new school Middle Harbour. Though it did give us a good education!

— Eunice Curran · 23 August 2014, 17:10 · #

Eunice, The Mrs Clancy whom you have recalled above is indeed Estelle Clancy. I’m not sure where she lives these days, but can advise that her name has appeared, for some time now, on the “Prayers for the Sick” list in the local Mosman Parish weekly newsletter. If I can find out more, I’ll post it on this site. But it seems that she is still “with us”.

— David Healy · 17 September 2014, 08:31 · #

Thank you David. My thoughts are with her family.

— Eunice · 26 October 2014, 08:23 · #

Hello Estelle,
I am Judith the daughter of Lloyd Evans, a cousin of yours and would be interested in making contact with you or with any of your family who might be interested in catching up.

— Judith Bleechmore · 18 November 2014, 09:25 · #

Dear Estelle,
I am Judith daughter of your cousin Lloyd Evans and I am hoping you or someone from your family might be interested in getting touch.

— Judith Bleechmore · 18 November 2014, 09:45 · #

Hi John,
I too was in your class of 1956 together with Jimmy Vote, John Cody,Tony Lopez, Peter Rohan, the Coultons, Dennis Moulton, Chris Nolan, Barry Aylwin and too many others to recall…regards


— peter rolfe · 23 November 2014, 16:04 · #

Peter, I’d reckon that you were the class above John Longmuir and me, from those names you have mentioned. Were you Intermediate 1957; Leaving 1959? John and I were Inter ’58, LC ’60. (I do seem to remember your name.)

— David Healy · 14 January 2015, 13:08 · #

To: David Healy
I was just tooling around on the internet and I saw your posts from a few years ago. It’s 55 years ago we left school !!! I am now living in Park City, Utah, but I spend quit a lot of time in Los Angeles. My boy Ryan is starting College this year at WOOSTER in Ohio. My daughter Natasha is sixteen now and plays Roller Derby as her sporting activity. Anyway do you have any email addresses for any of our classmates Peter Atkins, Kerry Castle, Colin Coulton, Gary Jones, Greg Hyde, Angelo Serio, Harvey Washington, Michael Roberts, Ken Hatton or anyone else you can remember.



JOHN LONGMUIR · 9 May 2015, 04:43 · #

An era passes. For those who have known of mum, Estelle Muriel Clancy (nee Wootten), Mum died at about 1:30pm 15 July 2015. My mother died yesterday at 1:30 pm. She lived a life of continual giving to others, academic, spoke 7 languages.She worked at Marist Brothers Mosman and Riverview in exchange for school fees, she taught English to migrants for little more than her fares to their homes, taught in Indonesia and was still teaching Bible studies

During the depression her family gave all they could to swaggies until when the garden was bare her guitar was given to one. Though eventually having 16 children she fostered children, had a crippled young man living at her home in Clifford Street for 3 years, a family of 7 homeless living with us for 2 years, a deformed and abused man who’s parents died living with us for decades, another, a young man from a broken home , and thre were others. Though having at that stage 12 of her own children she adopted a boy from an orphanage who’s brother was adopted and he left alone there. She worked in aboriginie cause and numerous others. She gave everything for her children and others as well. In the 70’s she’d never owned a new dress since before WW11, and she still wore those. No award could recognise her lifetime contribution.

— Anthony Clancy · 16 July 2015, 04:28 · #

I taught at Marist Brothers North Sydney for 6 years, and with my wife Aileen, lived next door to the Clancy family in Clifford Street. The Clancys were a great Australian family, and they had a very positive effect on our lives. RIP Estelle.

— Arthur Smith · 17 July 2015, 13:18 · #

Dear Judith Beechmore. Sorry we did not really monitor this site and sadly as you can see from my brother’s message above. Mum died very recently. You are of course welcome to attend her funeral and connect with family. It will be held at Sacred Heart Church Mosman on Fri 24 July at 10am.

— Anna Clancy · 19 July 2015, 16:06 · #

Rest in Peace Mrs Estelle Clancy. Thank you for your kind help to our family in 1960’s. A Saint.

— Eunice Callaghan · 22 July 2015, 14:57 · #

Rest in Peace Estelle Clancy – one of God’s most precious women. I remember her at Mass most (if not every) morning, kneeling straight even though she had back pain. I remember her giving a home to a Malaysian RAF Bomb Aimer – Lewis Chang – after WWII & later for short periods his 2 nephews Harold & Peter. I remember the tremendous effort Estelle put into everything especially raising her 13 children & an adopted boy. I remember also several of her children – Denise, Tony, Paul for starters
I can not speak highly enough of this most giving lady

— Colin Farrell · 24 July 2015, 18:20 · #

Dear All,

Thank you for your kind words of support and reminisces of mum. Just a short note to say people can also write a eulogy for mum on the SMH legacy site, should you wish.

— Anna Clancy · 6 August 2015, 14:51 · #

Hi…to Colin Farrell and others who emailed. How’s Chris going Collin, and John…for whom I did some work (via consultancy) at MWS&DB. Any old boys I knew, pleased to hear from you and also….anyone alive still who knew the name of ‘old newt’ who fished almost daily at the Balmoral pier decades ago.
Wally Kermond….how are you going…you wrote once then vanished …. Let’s all keep in touch. Life’s too short………….Mum had 15 children by the way Collin…..she also used also to foster babies from St Anthony’s Croydon and ‘adopted’ one boy from Kincumber. We had many people and some needy families put up at 10 Clifford Street and for very long periods; no one was ever turned away no matter what time of the day or night… there was always tea and cocoa and scones and a fire you might arrive at midnight and be hosted to 3 am…with bedding made ready for you……Her passing went un-noticed by the Council which I guess really rubbed it in that an era of greatness and amazing people, some who had fought in the Boar war or been theatrical agents and artists from the old Camp …amazing people in Mosman ………..has truly passed. She sought no earthly reward. It was such a pleasure to see so many old friends and grand people we have known for many decades at her funeral. Remember her…and remember us too, we are a society of friends , whether here or on the other side… Best Wishes, Anthony Clancy

— Anthony Clancy · 1 February 2016, 11:34 · #

My dad was Paul McCann,originally from West Wyalong. Paul served in the 20th Brigade’s 2/17th Battalion inside and outside Tobruk as an instructor in the 20AITB. Later he spoke of how hard the Battle for Finschavven was in NG. Obviously he knew George Wootten in Wyalong. Pauls father John McCann,ran a series of country newspapers on behalf of the owner and was called“the Printer”.As well Pauls brother Len,a reporter would have known George Wootten. As B Company runner in NG, Paul spoke of the General and the way he spoke, George was a very impressive soldier. During the attempt to take Finschavven, the General was very close at hand,overseeingo the 20th Brigade because there were initially only 4 Battalions of around 4000 infantrymen and artillery facing an enemy of 14000 Nippon army. I have been told that George Wootten went ashore during the “opposed landing/shelling by the Japs“beside the 20th Brigade at Scarlet Beach. Obviously Paul’s duties included going back and forth between the front and headquarters and I remember Paul had to tell “the General” about how the young officer panicked and died of shock from shellfire during Paul leading up reinforcements to the frontline in NG.

— barry mccann · 15 February 2016, 16:25 · #

Tony, I saw news of your mother’s death in the Mosman Parish (or whatever it’s now called) weekly bulletin at the time. Strangely, at about the same time there was information in the North Shore Historical Society’s Bulletin about her having recently joined. It was I who informed them of her death.

David Healy

— David Healy · 29 September 2016, 10:02 · #

I remember Estelle Clancy very well. I went to Sacred Heart Mosman in class with Denise.
My eldest daughter, Yvette Colomb, was in class with Jamie.
When Yvette was born at the Mater, Estelle was there too having her last baby. She was extremely helpful to me.
A woman I greatly admired. May she Rest in Peace.

Margaret Mazlin,

— Margaret Mazlin (nee Dooley) · 3 October 2016, 12:46 · #

Hi David…and others. Peter Curtis rang me recently for a chat and let me know John and Ian Perdriau are gone. Mrs Perdriau and the sister were very pretty. We had a long yarn about some of those brothers and Mr Oddy”…very well named!

I came across Paul Antcliffe recently, also.

You are always welcome to drop a line Dennis and David or others. My sister Mary asked me to tell Alan he can contact her (but she’s still married! LOL!) about the scarf and to have a chat…You can get me on

Mum came from an era when being a housewife was a very respectful occupation and a bloke could buy a home run a car and feed everyone on a weeks wages. Within 12 months of the frantic pressure to get more women into the workforce you needed two wages to have any chance of buying a house.

Housewives who’d been well educated generally went back to uni once the kids grew up a bit…as did Mum…The new order machinates debt and mischief for its success in devolving national cultures to complete the evils of globalisation and it certainly made a good job of that one.

The social disruption, latchkey kids, drugs, appalling TV , videos and films whatever, contribute to the social upheaval and the economic cost of our distressed society has been massive. How can one afford even to be sick and off work?…and what violence women, and just ‘anyone’ face as a terrible result of psychosocial disorders, uncertainty of income, drink and drugs. Men suffer from domestic and other abuse as well. The sport they turn to is no better. There seems to be no relief for unhappy people.

Mum was as intelligent and skilled as any other woman in this country but her primary concern was to raise her children with morals and ethics and the best education she could get. The work she did for people as well as her housekeeping and homework help , as we grew up, was incomparable.

When looking at what Mum achieved for herself and others you can see how we have become socially fragmented since about 1970. I ‘m not a fan pf OA’s yet if anyone ever deserved one, Mum did, but then she was a quiet achiever, perhaps one day I’ll list some of what she achieved.

She took the view in every occasion with kindness “let me do what good I can for I shall not pass this way again” and on the cabinet near the scullery window was a carved and coloured wooden template of a stooping man with a backpack:

Never find fault with the man who bends beneath his load
For he may have nails in his shoes that hurt as he struggles along the road.

Good advice.

— Anthony Clancy · 18 February 2017, 20:29 · #

Hi Fellow Mosman friends,
Wasn’t born in Mosman but spent years living there & Balmoral while working at RNSH after leaving school.
Question…I am trying to locate the Ryrie family of Mosman.
They had a daughter, Judith with whom I went to school (Tara CEGS).
I recall her father might have been a stockbroker.
Any clues, leads etc. We are having a reunion and would love to include the whole class if possible.
My email is :
Thank you in advance,
Rhonda (Munro)

— Rhonda J Munro · 4 July 2017, 22:03 · #

Just in case anybody sees this. I will be in Sydney September 19th for a couple of days. Call me on my cell 01 323 712 5577
John Longmuir

— John Longmuir · 29 August 2017, 06:07 · #

I knew Estelle as a young boy visiting her with her brother Bill Wootten and spending many occasions playing in the yard with the overgrown tennis court next door and the passages of the house. Estelle opened her house up to backpackers and travellers from overseas and you just never knew who you would meet or where they would be from. She was such a warm loving person and the kitchen was the heart of the house

Sadly her brother William “Bill” also passed away in November 2016 and will be sadly missed. My mother looked after Lady Wootten for many years starting when she lived in the Astor in Macquarie Street overlooking the NSW Art Gallery and gardens. He too was a kind caring person and offered me guidance through life

They will be missed and both had a positive influence in my life.

As it has been mentioned Estelle’s father was Major General George Frederick Wootten who had a distinguished military career and was knighted after taking the surrender of the Japanese in Borneo in WW2. It would be fitting if a biography was written about his career as it has not been done but I can recall reading through much of his accounts in Bill’s library as a child. They were always very humble about their fathers service. A reflection of the decent people that they were.

A Kimpton

— Anthony Kimpton · 7 November 2019, 14:49 · #