Winter 2004

St Marys & District Historical Society Inc - Quarterly Newsletter


“Mimosa” - Pages Rd, St Marys - 110 years old

Built in 1894 by local builder Joseph Sainsbury for Master Tanner Andrew Thompson and listed by the National Trust in October, 1980. Mimosa was considered to be the most expensive home built in the district at that time. Andrew, preferred to light the house with acetylene gas in preference to electricity and the home wasn’t switched to electricity until the 1950’s.  Andrew started his first tannery with the help of an Irishman named John Briggs and he was the first Australian tanner to import the South African "Mimosa" bark which he found superior to the local product - this "Mimosa" emblem was used as his trade mark on his products and his family home in Pages Road. Andrew married John’s daughter Lydia in 1873. He died on his property “Lenore” on 30th October, 1918 and willed the family home to his spinster daughter Mary Thompson.

Andrew’s No 1 Tannery in Saddington St, St Marys.

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         Early 1980’s

John Mann’s book on the history of the St Mary Magdalene Anglican church. Mr Mann enlisted the help, at that time, of none less than the Associate Professor in History at the University of Sydney, Kenneth Cable, Western Sydney Project director Dr Peter West, local history librarian Colin Stevenson and Mitchell librarian Baiba Berzins and several long-time residents of the area. He also had the co-operation of the Reverend of the church, Bill Holland.

Reptile Park in St Marys
To be called “Perilous Park”, it was to be established on 1.78 ha of land on the corner of the Kings Way and Charles Hackett Drive and had the approval of Penrith Council. The park was the brain child of Lend Lease marketing manager, Mr Steve Clarke, of Emu Plains and was to exhibit over 100 species of Australian venomous and dangerous fauna, including spiders, marine life, snakes and insects as well as plants.

South Creek Park Historic Village
The first meeting held on the 17th July, 1980, of the “South Creek Park Historical Development Committee” was at the “Old Post Office” on the Highway at St Marys. Office Bearers elected were:- Len Stapleton - Chairman, Lyn Norcott (Forde) - Secretary and Tony Schoer - Treasurer. The St Marys Chamber of Commerce donated $50 to start off the Committee’s funding. The next meeting was scheduled for the 28th August, 1980 but was held over due to lack of attendance. The next scheduled meeting (2nd October, 1980) was to be attended by the Town Planner and the Landscape Architect was also cancelled, this time due to Penrith Council changing their meeting times but was eventually held on the 27th October, 1980. The next meeting was delayed because of the unavailability of the Council’s Landscape Management Plan and didn’t take place until 24th July, 1981 at the Council Chambers in Penrith. year before the Council was ready to discuss the Management Plan which was held on the 29th July, 1982, at the Council Chambers, with the Mayor Brian King in attendance. This was the last meeting held.  The only “attractions” on the park at that time, were the Bennett Wagon, the “smithy” and the CWA hall restored by Rotary and was being used by the St Marys Historical Society as a venue for their photographic displays. The hall was vandalised once, and then deliberately burnt down.


The St Marys & District Historical Society meets every 4th Saturday at 1 pm - at the St Marys Arts & Craft Centre 2 - 6 Mamre Road, St Marys.


Website -

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

Please contact:-



Norma Thorburn 9623-2307

Lyn Forde 9673-3506

(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

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Once again, the annual grand parade of floats will start at 12.30 pm in St Marys on the 4th September. Did you know that the first “Spring Festival” was held in 1975 and has been getting bigger with every year. The festival was originally an idea to celebrate the first birthday of the “Old Post Office Community Arts Centre” which, at that time, was having financial problems and with the help of the St Marys Development Committee it is now an annual event enjoyed by all. Some of the attractions of the festivals over the years (other than the main parade) were - Smokey Dawson & Flash the wonder horse and John Williamson (1984)

St Marys Reunion held by Sue Adams & Family will be held again in Victoria Park on Sunday 12th September, 2004 - so come along and check out Sue’s photo exhibition and catch up with old friends.

The Spring Festival Dance - this year’s theme is Colonial costume and will be held at the Memorial Hall on the 24th September, 2004.

The Bands in Coachman Park (cnr Charles Hackett Drive & Queen Street) will be held on the 17th September, 2004. - Please come along and support your community and enjoy the celebrations.

Did you know - that in the early 1960’s, Coachman’s Park was known as Rotary Park by the people of St Marys. In the early 1980’s a request from Rotary was rejected by Penrith Council to rename Coachman’s Park to Rotary Park because of their club’s contribution to the upkeep of the park and it’s facilities. Coachman Park was originally named after the Bennett family who had their coach building works in Queen Street, but Rotary claimed that “coachman” park was wrongly named in 1975 because the Bennett family built wagons - not coaches. Another name for the park that was rejected was “Hingerty Park” after a city health surveyor, Mr W Hingerty.


Mamre celebrates the first land grant in 1804. The St Marys & District Historical Society, along with the St Marys Development Committee and the Sisters of Mercy will be celebrating the Bicentenary of the original land grant to Reverend Samuel Marsden and will be held at Mamre on Sunday, 17th October, 2004 - in attendance will be the Governor of NSW, Marie Bashir. More information will appear in the “Spring” addition of the “Tribute”.


It is with great sadness, that we pay respects to the passing of a member of an old St Mary’s family, Mr Albert Brangwin. Albert was a third generation dairyman who worked in the industry for 51 years before retiring in the early 1980’s He worked with his father delivering milk from the back of a horse and cart and when his father died he took over the business until he sold out to Nepean Milk in 1956. He joined that company and worked for them for 23 years, many of them as manager of the St Marys depot. He will be sadly missed by his wife, Beryl and family.

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St Marys was an unmade track through heavily wooded country between Richmond and Liverpool, in existence until the Great Western Highway was built in 1817 - 1819. The track was known as the Northern or Richmond Road and the section now called Foresters Road to Queen Street was called Dickson’s Lane by the early settlers after the Dickson family who lived there. The Great Western Highway was laid down not long after Cox constructed the road from Emu Plains to Bathurst in 1814 and in the course of time the section from the Glossop street corner to Quarry Hill had three names - Bathurst Road, Victoria Street (Road) and Great Western Road. Because of all the confusion to people outside the area, in 1930, the St Marys Council submitted a motion that the road be known as the “Great Western Highway” along its entire length. Albert Street, named by Sir Maurice O’Connell after Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, the Prince Consort and in later years, it unofficially had the names of Tanbark Road, and Tanners Road but today, we know it as Pages Road after John Page an early St Marys tanner who had his tannery at the end.Princess Street was named in honour of Princess Alice, the Queen’s eldest daughter but in 1933, it was renamed Princess Mary Street in honour of Princess Mary of Teck (Queen Mary). Putland Street was named for Mary Putland, daughter of Captain William Bligh she received a land grant comprising the greater part of what is now the residential area of St Marys. Philip, Gidley and King streets are named after Australia’s third Governor - Philip Gidley King RN. Lethbridge Street is named after the pioneer family who were one of the earliest families to settle in the St Marys district. Sainsbury Street formally called Little Putland Street was named after prominent St Marys builder, Joseph Sainsbury. Marsden Road after Reverend Samuel Marsden and Mamre Road after his property “Mamre”. Garner Street is named for St Mary’s first Mayor in 1890 - William Garner and Saddington Street named after Alfred Saddington a St Marys tanner. Neale Street - formally known as Bennett Road was named after James Bennett senior - founder of the Bennett Wagon Works at St Marys. Parkin Road after William Parkin a shopkeeper and builder of bicycles and houses. Gibbs Street for William Gibbs a St Marys identity who became an authority on poultry. Day Street in name of Dr Edward J Day the town doctor from 1914-53. Player Street after a prominent St Marys family. Carpenter Road - formerly Gidley Road named after James Carpenter, town Mayor from 1909-11. Brooker Street named after Tom W Brooker another town Mayor from 1921-26. Hall street was named after a family at Mamre House and Fleming Street was named after St Marys brick maker William Fleming. Adams Crescent was named for A J Adams who was a member of an early pioneer family and town Mayor from 1944-45. O’Connell Street after Sir Maurice O’Connell, husband of Mary Putland. Morris Street formally known as King Park Street was named after William “Cuffy” Morris a well known St Mary’s storekeeper and town Mayor in 1920. Harris Street named after surgeon John Harris who received a grant of 700 acres in 1805 which he called “Shanes Park”. Muscio Street after L A Muscio who was an orchardist at Orchard Hills and town Mayor from 1934-42. Champness Crescent after Pilot Officer Eddy Champness, who was shot down over Germany in 1944. He was a St Marys blacksmith and a clerk at St Marys Council. Inglis Street for William Inglis & Son, cattle sale auctioneers from the 1890’s to 1945. Thompson Avenue after Andrew Thompson, Mayor of St Marys on more than one occasion and owner of one of the largest tanneries in NSW. Jacka Avenue after Albert Jacka, Australia’s first recipient of the Victoria Cross in World War 1 on Gallipoli in July, 1915. Edgar Street after Edgar W P Cox, dairyman of “Lenore” Erskine Park and town Mayor in 1898. Charles Hackett Drive who was a well known member of a prominent St Marys family.
Originally researched by the late Albert Evans.


Editor & Publisher: Lyn Forde

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