St Marys & District Historical Society Inc - Quarterly Newsletter
PO Box 640, ST MARYS NSW 1790

Phone: 0450132181

St Marys Historical Society photo


It seems impossible with the cold winds of winter (which came upon us RIGHT at the start of winter) should be over (hopefully) by the time another Spring Festival celebration comes around on the first Saturday in September (6th), so put that date in your diary to celebrate along with the members of the St Marys & District Historical Society and the rest of the St Marys area. Each year this celebration, along with the street parade, gets bigger and better, thanks to the dedicated team of the St Marys Development Committee. The photo above shows the late Jennifer Stone (back to camera), Lyn Forde (our present Vice-President) and daughter Louise Norcott, who were also members of our first St Marys Historical Society on their float in the Spring Festival parade in 1981.

This year the Historical Society will be celebrating the Bennett Family of St Marys and will also have their new headquarters the “Chambers” open to the public on that Saturday to view our display and look over our lovely renovated building. Our building is open to the public on most Mondays, Wednesdays & Saturdays, so come in and see us.

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In the past, Sue Adams held these reunions in Victoria Park at St Marys on the first Sunday after Father’s Day in September, but the last two years our Society had taken over from Sue to run these reunions – also in Victoria Park. Since moving to our new headquarters, the “Chambers” building in February this year, our Society will hold the 2008 and all future reunions in our building and carry on Sue’s tradition of gathering to meet and greet. This year the Society will also hold a BBQ at the “Chambers” for those who wish to come along and catch up with old friends and acquaintances. We also have this year, all those St Marys High School friends who are coming to St Marys for their reunion, which is being held at the Band Club on the Saturday (13th). Should you wish to attend this reunion being organised by Phil Brunskill, please call into the “Chambers” building on the days we are open and pick up an application form – or drop into Jim Mills Menswear and talk to Paul Mills. Paul will also have his impressive display of school photos available at the “Chambers” building for the reunion, so come along and find yourself, or donate a school photo, or identify old school friends.

The Society is also happy for anyone to donate photos and memorabilia to us – or even a loan for copy or photograph – so remember, what happens today is tomorrow’s history, as our Society is dedicated to the recording and preservation of the heritage of the St Marys district.


Photo courtesy of Lyn Forde

Some of our Society members travelled to see this splendid State Coach named “Britannia”, and we would like to thank the Mount Druitt Probus Club for their invitation. The coach is housed at Manly and was designed and built by Jim Frecklington OAM and a team of artisans and master craftsmen as a gift from the people of Australia to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Mr Frecklington has indicated that he is waiting for a few small pieces and then the coach will be on its way to England. What a majestic sight!!!!

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With all of the media currently focusing on Fromelles in France with regards to the mass grave found with digger’s remains from World War 1, it seems fitting that we honour the family of one of their grandsons, Edward James Hope, whose body is probably among those missing soldiers, lying in that small patch of land, buried by the Germans in October, 1916.

The Pioneering Hope family of St Marys

George Hope was born in England in 1816 and he came to Australia in the 1840’s and worked for Sir John Jamison at “Regentvilla”. Later, with his wife Alice (nee Hunt) they settled at Castlereagh as farmers, but when the O’Connell grant of “Frogmore” was being sold in the 1850’s George purchased a 50 acre allotment bounded partly by Werrington Road, the present railway line and the Western Road and gave it the name of “Hope fields”. The farm was later known as “Hope Farm” on Quarry Hill at Werrington and was later bought by William Garner, first Mayor of St Mary’s Municipal Council. Later on around the 1930’s it was a speedway area.

Being Presbyterian and seeing the need for a church, George donated the land fronting the Western Road where the Presbyterian church was built in 1875. (demolished in 1968). He was also a member of the I.O.O.F. (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) Western Star Lodge No. 24.

One of their son’s - William Henry born 1858 who married Amy Mary Ann Strange in 1886, died age 39, along with wife Amy aged 31 and daughter Beatrice 10 months, all in 1898. Their son, Edward James Hope was killed in action at Fromelles, France in WW1 on 4/10/1916 at the age of 28.

George Hope died in 1893 at the age of 78 and Alice died in 1892 aged 76, and both are buried at St Stephen’s cemetery, Penrith.

Information & research courtesy of Nepean Times & Lyn Forde (Research Officer)
VC Corner Australian Cemetery & Memorial, Fromelles
Photo courtesy of the “Australians At War website”

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Our Society currently has a display on the Bodenwieser Ballet - Gertrud Bodenwieser

Dancer, teacher and choreographer, was born in Vienna on 3 February 1890, the younger daughter of Theodore and Maria Bondi. She was trained in classical ballet by Carl Godlewski, but soon came to develop her own method of performing and teaching 'free' dance. By 1917 she had adopted the surname “Bodenwieser”. She married theatre director Friedrich Jacques Rosenthal on 27 June 1920. Bodenwieser gave her first public performance as a dancer at the Wiener Konzerthaus, Vienna, on 5 May 1919. Between 1920 and 1938 she taught at the Akademie f’r Musik und Darstellende Kunst (the Vienna State Academy for Music and Drama), where she was appointed a professor in 1926. Following the Nazi invasion of Austria in 1938, Bodenwieser and her husband fled to France.
While Bodenwieser went on to join some of her dancers in Colombia, Rosenthal stayed in France, where he was later arrested and interned in the concentration camp at Auschwitz, Poland. It is believed that he died in 1942. During her tour with her company in South America she found herself unable to return to Vienna, and arrived in Australia via New Zealand in 1939. She immediately established a company in Sydney, variously called the Bodenwieser Ballet and the Bodenwieser Viennese Ballet. From 1940 to 1954 the company toured Australian cities and towns, as well as visiting New Zealand, South Africa, Rhodesia and India. Bodenwieser played a significant role in the development of modern dance in Australia with her studio in Sydney helping to produce some of Australia’s best-known modern choreographers and dancers, including Anita Ardell, Keith Bain and Margaret Chapple. She also taught ballet at Cuckson's social centre in St Marys. Gertrude died in Sydney on 10 November 1959. At the 2001 Australian Dance Awards she was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Photo courtesy of NAA website

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


Website -

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

Please contact:-


Vice President

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


Editor & Publisher: Lyn Forde

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