Cobbittee capers

Posted by
Mrs Margaret Holmes

In January, 1933, I was married at St Andrews, Wahroonga, to Dr T.A.G. Holmes, eldest son of Dr H Glennie Holmes of Mosman. After 14 months in England, we returned to Mosman and lived at 707 Military Road, where my father-in-law had his surgery (corner of Gouldsbury Street) in the heritage listed house now called Hawthorn Cottage, but then called Rothesay. It was my sister-in-law Mary, who was responsible for achieving the heritage listing, though she had by then sold the place and was living at The Garrison.

During 1934, my husband acted as locum for his father while on holiday overseas. We bought a block of land on the corner of Military Road and Cardinal Street and had our own home built for us there. The architect was Mark Jenkins who lived just behind Rothesay (on the corner of Gouldsbury Street and The Crescent). My husband and later partners, Drs Epps and McClure, carried on their medical practices at 562 Military Road – two surgeries, waiting room, office, lab and separate entrance were all part of our home.

In 1978, we sold 562 Military Road (Coolabah) and moved to 20A Cobbittee Street which we bought from Mr. & Mrs. Stenton. They called the house Linden Lea, but we re-named it Currawong; later changing it to Burrawong when we learnt how cruel the Currawongs are!

Next door, No. 20, lived Colin and Vivienne Watkins and their two sons, Michael and Richard, both now married and living elsewhere. The cottage the Watkins still live in, had been the home of the Harris family and there is a covenant on our land preventing any further building, in order to protect their view.

In No. 22 lived Mrs. Ella Hardman, whose husband had very recently died. Their son and daughter were married and had left Mosman. Ella was a keen gardener and spent most of her time in her beautiful gardens. She belonged to the Mosman Home Gardeners and enjoyed making beautiful bouquets for hospitals, or to sell on flower stalls at charitable fetes. She gave me many plants and cuttings and a lot of tips about gardening.

In No. 24 lived the Hoads, whose land adjoined the bushland of the Penguin Naval Base. They had no frontage to Cobbittee Street, which ended in a flight of steps where their land began.

Across the road from us in No. 11, lived Norman Lyall, a solicitor, with his wife and four teenage daughters.

In the road reserve between No. 11 and No. 9 (a very steep stretch of bushland) there is a very large cave which had been filled to within a few feet of the roof by rubble. Apparently, disposed of by the men who laboured on the construction of the lower part of Cobbittee Street. I have a strong feeling that this cave with its northerly aspect would have been occupied by Gooseberry and her family in winter when Bungaree’s Cave (near intersection of Coronation Avenue and The Esplanade) would have been very cold. It seems significant that the road behind me, from Lower Pretoria Avenue down to Amaroo Crescent, is called Gooseberry Lane.

No. 9 is on the highest point of this part of Cobbittee Street and in 1978 had a small cottage on it, occupied by Mrs. Goddard. She was the widow of one of the Goddard brothers who had been a master at Shore and coached our twins sons in maths in earlier years.

The other brother had lived next door in No. 7 which by 1978 was occupied by the Wilders, who still live there. The name Brian Wilder, a very public-spirited man, must be well-known to readers of the Mosman Daily.

In No. 5 lived Rear Admirable John Stevens and his wife Gloria, a very beautiful woman who had in her youth been a “Miss Australia”.

No. 3 – Fletcher family whom I have never really got to know.

No. 1 – The Schramko family – Mrs. Schramko was a great supporter of the Junior Red Cross.

Uphill on our side of the street, next door to the Watkins, is a two-storey house which was let to two different families when we came here, now occupied by one family. It’s southern boundary along the whole length of Dayrell Avenue. It’s entry at the bottom corner where Dayrell Avenue enters Lower Pretoria Avenue.

No. 16 on the uphill corner of Cobbittee Street and Dayrell Avenue was and still is occupied by John and Maeve O’Meara.

Next door, but one, at No. 14 lived Miss Jan MacKenzie, in the house in which she had been born.

No. 12 had been rebuilt after having been burnt to the ground by a fire which started in bush above Balmoral Oval and roared uphill driven by a strong westerly wind. Can’t remember the name of the occupants in 1978.

At No. 8 (corner of Cobbittee Lane) lived the mother of Audrey Lenning, whose surname I have forgotten. Audrey is well known for her work in “bush care”, especially in the Bradley Bushland Reserve (between Middle Head Road and Rawson Park).

All the houses between Dayrell Avenue and Cobbittee Lane, as well as those in Cobbittee Lane itself, have land which runs quite steeply down to the unmade section of Lower Coronation Avenue.

Although many of the houses in Cobbittee Street have had alterations and additions since I came here in 1978, I think that only two have been completely rebuilt (No. 22 next door to me). At least three swimming pools and one lap-pool have been constructed.

There are quite a lot more children and young people in the street. It was strangely quiet here after the noise on Military Road, and when one kind neighbour asked me how I liked moving down here, I’m afraid I shocked her by saying it was like living in a morgue.

Mrs Margaret Holmes · 23 October 2006

Your comment

M/s Holmes Thanks for the Memory.Early 1930,football at Mosman Oval, I broke my arm,Dr Glennie Holmes surgery it was reset, a good job.
Cobbittee St 1920’s mainly bush as I remember when we would fossic around the tip for billy car parts etc. Regards Ron.

Ron (Steve) Wylie · 28 October 2006, 05:22 · #

I remember the Holmes/Epps/McClure drs well from our frequent surgery visits including, as I remember, evening surgery! Military Road was in those days a sea of red lights from Mosman to Cremorne as the Doctors and dentists lit up for surgery hours.
Am about to publish the history of my growing up in Mosman from 1936 to my departure for Canberra in 1962; well, ‘soon’! As soon as we can download all the family photos.

— neil manton · 31 May 2007, 11:52 · #

My family [Don and Sylvia Locke, and brother Robert] lived at No. 2 Cobbittee Street during the years 1953 to 1961; or thereabouts.
There is probably quite some detail that my Mother and I could recall; however, many of the names of local families are no longer in the area [ to my knowledge anyway]

If any interest please let me know and we will see what we may be able to contribute.

Ian Locke

Ian Locke · 24 June 2009, 23:34 · #

I, too remember the Holmes/Epps/Mclure practice on Military Road. In fact, it was Dr Epps who brought me into the world!

— Margaret Gilbert (Milford) · 18 September 2009, 13:53 · #

What a delight to hear the stories of Cobbittee Street. I so fondly remember hearing my father tell tales of the ranch where he grew up in California, but never experienced Australia in that way . . . until now. Thanking for painting such a vivid picture for me, and for my family!

— Joni Thomes · 30 August 2010, 21:14 · #

Hello Ms Holmes

I recall Dr Holmes & McLure very well, seems like yesterday. Vivid recollections of Peter McLure having a smoke between patients and then the spray of air freshener, which did nothing.

Mark Skipper · 14 May 2011, 20:06 · #

Like a number of you I remember the surgery well and my hospital tag is signed with Dr Holmes signature although I think my brother Norman spent more time in the surgery than I did, Rugby will do that.

Jewel Beresford nee Osborne · 15 December 2012, 17:07 · #

Dear Mrs Holmes,
My great aunt was Kit Goddard who lived at no 9 Cobbity st .
So many happy memories of her gorgeous garden .
We did contemplate buying her property but settled in Bowral .
Great to hear your stories . Uncle Neville ( Kit’s husband ) also taught me at Shore. Regards Peter Howell

— Peter Howell · 16 April 2016, 17:50 · #

Audrey Lenning’s mother’s name from Number 8 was Muriel Corbett.

— E. Dawson · 31 January 2017, 20:53 · #