St Marys & District Historical Society Inc - Quarterly Newsletter

PO Box 640, ST MARYS NSW 1790

Phone: 0450132181


On Saturday the 12th December, our members, with the help of David Bradbury our Federal Member of Parliament, held a book launch at our Headquarters, the “Chambers” building. Two new books researched and written by our President Lyn Forde, and a book researched and written by our Secretary Carol Volkiene and published by our Society was launched on the day and is now available for sale at $15 each. Should you wish to buy a copy, they will be available for sale at the “Chambers” after February or you can send $20 (includes postage) to our Post Office box address as above. Lyn’s books are on the early history of the South Creek – St Marys and the Munitions Filling Factory at St Marys and Carol’s book covers the history of the St Mary’s Band Club. Also launched on the day, was a wonderful book researched and published by their cousin, Allan Hackett called “Turn of the First Clay”. This book covers the early history of brick making in Australia, with fully researched information and colour illustrations on the early colonial brick makers, and will be highly prized by researchers and brick enthusiasts alike. As well as the book, Allan has for sale some early colonial bricks from his collection. Should you wish to contact Allan regarding his book, please contact him on his email at

David Bradbury MP & Allan Hackett   Allan talks about his book   Kerrie Marin (Nepean News) with Allan
Carol talks about her book   Lyn talks about her two books   Allan, Carol, David Bradbury & Lyn
Photos taken byGail Herbert & Tom Thorburn

Page No. 1

Penrith Celebrations of a City – 50th Aniversary

In November last year, Penrith Council and the Library held the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Penrith becoming a city in 1959, and what a celebration it was. Our Society participated with displays of our replica clothing and personal contributions from our President, Lyn Forde, who also acted as a “living book” volunteer at the Penrith Civic Centre where the display started and again in St Marys.

> >
       Vanessa, Alison & Lorraine within the Display  Lyn Forde "Living Book" (photo from Irene Madie) 
Part of the Display at the Civic Centre shows clothing from the St Marys & District Historical Society
       Mayor Kevin Crameri OAM opens the "Makings of a City" Display  More of the Society's clothing on Display 
\Photos courtesy of Lyn Forde

Page No. 2


Lyn Forde – Baby Boomer


The St Marys & District Historical Society meets every 4th Saturday at 1.15 pm
at "The Chambers" (Old Council Chambers) 2 - 6 Mamre Road, ST MARYS. (entry from carpark side)

(No meetings in January or December)
Patron of our Society is Sister Mary Louise Petro


This Newsletter is a free publication. Articles in this Newsletter may be republished if permission is given by the Society.

Please contact us on 0450132181(voicemail) or email:

(While care is taken to ensure that all articles are accurate, the opinions expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the Society)
Any comments on this Newsletter are encouraged

Page No. 3

WOOLPAC INN (by Lyn Forde)

If you are driving out of St Marys along the Highway towards Penrith, cast your eyes to the left just before you cross South Creek Bridge. The ruins you see there, once named the “Woolpac Inn”, were very much part of St Mary’s early history. The owner, James Hackett, was transported to Australia for life for horse stealing. He was born to Protestant parents in Somerset, England in 1807 and could neither read nor write.

In 1828 James was a servant working for Sir John Jamison at "Regent Villa". He married Mary Ann Bradley by bans in 1838 at Castlereagh church, Mary Ann being the grand-daughter of two first-fleeters, Anthony and Elizabeth Rope. He received his Conditional Pardon in1842 and left Sir John to open a butcher's shop on the corner of Riley Street and the Highway at Penrith but remained only two years before the family moved to St Marys.

Renting a site on the corner of Princess Mary Street and the Highway from Sir Maurice O'Connell, another butchery business was attempted, but after 12 months a severe drought forced the family to return to Penrith and another attempt to establish a butcher shop on the banks of Peach Tree Creek. They remained there for four years, but a dispute with the landlady, Mrs McHenry over the refusal by her to mend a fence, once more saw the family return to St Marys, this time to take up land left to his wife Mary Ann by her mother, Susannah Bradley. Here they built the “Woolpac Inn", used as a residence and a part used for the butchery. In 1853 they built onto the family home and opened a public house, as well as the butcher shop. The profits grew and James invested in land around the town. He handed over his butcher business to his son in 1862 and gave up his hotel business in 1874. The family kept the hotel as a bed and breakfast for a while but it finally reverted back into the family home.

Although James bought a large amount of St Marys' property, not much was sold except for the site of the St Marys Public School, sold to the Education Department. He established "Hackett's Racecourse" with a huge grandstand on ground now occupied by the St Marys Tennis Courts and High School and held a special box there until his death at the age of 90 in 1897. Mary Ann died in 1905.


Editor & Publisher: Lyn Forde

Page No. 4