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Vol. 1 No. 5...........................................................................................................................Winter 2000


On Sunday 30th April a large crowd of people from all walks of life gathered together at St Mary Magdalene Anglican Church. This was a very special day as it was a celebration: a service of thanks giving for the 160th Anniversary of gospel ministry on this site.

The service was presided over by Bishop Brian King the Bishop of Parramatta. Bishop King is a descendent of Governor Phillip Gidley King the 3rd Governor 1800-1806 of Australia. Governor King's son Captain Philip Parker King and his wife Henrietta lived and farmed on the estate of Dunheved South Creek. Philip Parker King, at his mothers (Anna Josehpa King) suggestion, gave the land for the building of a church at South Creek. The matirials for construction of this building were all locally made the bricks being made at Dunheved by James Payne. The church was consecrated on 22nd April 1840 and was called St Mary Magdalene from which our town now takes it's name.

One hundred and sixty years later we all gathered to be part of the celebration of this event. The presentation of the sermon was a credit to thoes who compiled it and to those who heard it. Notable was the Rev. Donald Robinson (Retired) who read the message his oration was spellbinding. Sandra Talbert who acted as the part of the "cleaner" gave a very convincing performance. Members of the St Marys and District Historical Society attended with some members dressing in historical costume they added a touch of history to the day.

After the service a delicious afternoon tea was set out under the trees for the congregation to refresh themselves and renew acquaintances.

Congratulations to all who made it a wonderful day.

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At the Blacktown City Festival 2000, a week of celebration entitled 'Heroes Hopes and Dreams' on Saturday 3rd June the Blacktown Historical Society put on a day of entertainment called 'Colonial Courts'. The courts were conducted in the old Anglican Church in Flushcombe road Blacktown. The choice of venue was an excellent setting for an historic courtroom. Presiding at the bench were the Honorable D'arcy Wentworth played by Warren Arch Bishop, William Lawson played up by William Lasham and John Campbell played by anyone who was willing. Hazel Macgann, the secretary of the Blacktown Historical Society, acted as the court bailiff.

The court was run as follows: people could come in and be part of the audience or if they would like to participate in the trials they register their name with the bailiff.

Three ladies from St Marys and District Historical Society were brought before the court. Mistress McLeod was charged with licentious and insidious behavior on the main street of the fair village of Blacktown. The case was dismissed because of a convincing defense by the accused, something about meeting the representatives of the bar late that night at the "Barmaids Arms Tavern'. Mistress O'Brien was called to face a charge of murder but how could someone so diminutive dressed in crinoline and bows even be considered to have done such a heinous crime, case dismissed. Miss O'Brien brought a charge of paternity against the Hon. William Lawson. After listening to the witness in the case, notably the reputed Misses McLeod and O'Brien, the court award Miss O'Brien 1/- (shilling) per week for 16 years, to be paid from the estate of one William Lawson who in turn, fined a young lad for deserting his master a 1/- per week for 16 years.

The court bailiff brought a charge of womanizing against Will. Lawson as the bailiff noticed that all the females brought before the court were being dismissed and the males were all being found guilty as charged, William Lawson was brought before their honors Misters Wentworth and Campbell who found him guilty and called upon Mrs. Lawson to pronounce the punishment which she did most admirably, a full months housekeeping. Many more cases came before the judges this day - far too many to record here. It may not have been an authentic court of our historic past but all that took part had a hilarious day. With maybe just a little thought of how unfair the courts must have been before enactment of the judicial system, as we know it to day.



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Since our library came to St Marys it has never settled down but wondered around town just looking for a home. The first library opened in St Marys on 29th November 1949 and was housed in the Electricity Building No.1 Mamre Road. In this building the library had to share tenancy with the Fire Station, Baby Health Centre and the district electrical depot.

In 1954 the library was renovated but in 1958 the library shifted into the Mechanics Institute on the Western Highway. This shift was to prepare a new home for the library as the Electricity Building was to be demolished. Once St Marys was a municipality of it's own and in 1948 in merged with Penrith City Council. This left the council building empty and it was refurbished to become the St Marys branch of the Penrith City Library where it had a home for about 19 years.

A new premises, for the library, was erected at the back of the old Council Chambers. This well designed and pleasant looking building was opened in March 1979 and here the library settled down serving the public for the next 20 years.

But soon the library got restless and was on the move again. The old Commonwealth Bank Building in Queen Street has been aquired by the Penrith Council and this building was refurbished to house the new library. The new St Marys library opened its doors on 12th December 1998. Being on the main street has made the library accessible to everyone. The library has found a home.



In the 1960's my family and I lived in a housing commission house in Ross Place St Marys. Every rent day Mum would always bake some cakes or a batch of scones for the rent collector who was stationed in a little red hut in Lethbridge Street. I have often wondered if other mothers baked for him if so he would have had enough goodies to last for weeks. Does anyone else remember the little red rent hut.

Lorraine Handley.

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Tannin and the acacia.

Thomas Paskin is believed to be the first person to start a tannery in South Creek. What brought the tanning industry to the heights it reached from the 1850's to WW1 were three things. One the availability of cattle hides supplied by the local slaughter yards, two the freely accessible water in South Creek and the abundance of Acacia trees.

Acacia belongs to the Fables the legumes and its subfamily classification is Mimosoideae that is why it is sometimes referred to as Mimosa. The bark of the Acacias, Black Wattle, Green Wattle and others are very high in an acid called Tannin. Using the pulped bark from tannin rich sources is called vegetable tannin. Simplified the cleaned animal hides were soaked in a vat of tannic acid which dispels water from the openings between the protein fibres of the hide and then cements them together. The hide goes through other procedures before it is classed as leather.

Vegetable tanning is still used today and is enhanced with many chemical tannins called syntans. Acacia is not grow as a plantation crop as it is unprofitable as the it is no longer used as a source of tannin and the timber has no use not even for wood pulp.



With the race to rebuild the St Marys Munitions Filling Factory in the early 1950's the contractor used untrialled roofing materials made of compressed straw sheeting. In the first heavy rains the uncured grain started growing, the roof grew a wonderful crop of wheat.

From, Ammunition filling - the St Marys story over the past 45 years /
A. E. Fisher


The St Marys and District historical Society meet on the 4th Saturday of each month at St Marys Community Arts Centre 2-6 Mamre Road St Marys. Business meeting 1.15pm. Workshop 2pm. Enquiries please ring president: 9623 2307 Secretary: 9623 1061. A warm welcome to all.


Please don't throw away Australia's history. When photographs, letters and memorabilia are destroyed we lose part of our heritage. Don't discard any items that may be of interest contact your local historical society. By preserving our past we create Australian history.

While care is taken to ensure printed articles are true and accurate opinions expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily thoes of the Society,


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