Hawkesbury River tea meetings incredibly popular: ideal place for gatherings

Gazette tea meetings 28 June 2017

This article by me first appeared in Hawkesbury Gazette, Wednesday, 28 June 2017.

Along the Hawkesbury River during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, tea-meetings were a very popular form of entertainment and fund-raising for church and community groups. Church tea-meetings were held on various dates throughout the year and generally lasted all day and into the early evening. The Sackville Methodists (or Wesleyans) celebrated the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) birthday on 9 November, Lower Portland Church of England celebrated on 1 January, Leets Vale Wesleyans celebrated Empire Day on Queen Victoria’s birthday on 24 May and the churches at Wisemans Ferry, St Albans and Lower Hawkesbury each had an annual gathering. Ebenezer Uniting Church (originally known as Ebenezer Presbyterians) continues its tradition of an annual reunion on Anniversary Day in mid-June each year.

Local newspapers reported that people arrived at the tea-meetings ‘by vehicle, boat, steamer or on foot’. After the food was served, there were usually games such as cricket, rounders, twos and threes, Jolly Miller and Kiss-in-the-ring. The Lower Hawkesbury Wesleyans apparently excelled in providing ‘tasties’ at these functions and were ‘unsurpassed for giving a really first class spread’ that ‘would satisfy the taste of the most fastidious’. At their tea-meeting in 1899, the steamer Hawkesbury picked up about 230 passengers enroute to the event while the Surprise delivered a load of passengers from Sydney. In September 1900, the Hawkesbury left Sackville at 9.30am, picked up about 130 passengers at wharves along the river and arrived at the Lower Hawkesbury destination by 2.00pm. The Narara brought about 50 people from Sydney, while the Surprise from the Upper Hawkesbury and the Thistle from the Macdonald River, each arrived with about 60 passengers. A concert was held in the open air, followed by games and afternoon tea. However, some preferred to ‘trip the light fantastic’ in a nearby hall until the steamers whistled ‘all aboard’ at 7.15pm.

Eight Hour Day was also celebrated annually and an excellent example from 1909 is when the Sackville School of Arts Committee decorated the hall with ‘waratahs, evergreens, May and other flowers’, provided tables loaded with cakes, sweets, soft drinks and lollies for afternoon tea and a concert and dance in the evening. Other entertainments were scull races, throwing at the stump, bicycle races, tilting at the ring, blindfold striking at tin, a ladies’ race, quoit match, throwing the cricket ball, obstacle race and ladies’ nail driving competition.

In 1938, the Sackville Hall hosted a tea-meeting and celebration for the Centenary of Methodism in the Hawkesbury with a ‘Grand Concert by the Bondi O.K. Choir’. The Methodist newspaper reported that ‘Methodists from all over the river will be present, together with descendants of the old families’. The celebrations continued over the next two days at Lower Portland, followed later by St Albans, Lower Hawkesbury and Leets Vale.

Mud Island view 1

Hawkesbury River at Mud Island, photo Carol Roberts c2011

copyrightCopyright Carol Roberts, 2018.


Purtell, J. Hawkesbury River Boats and People, 2nd Edn., Deerubbin Press, Berowra Heights, 2011.

‘Sackville’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 20 November 1897, National Library of Australia Trove Article 72553526, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72553526, accessed 6 June 2016.

‘Sackville’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 7 October 1899, National Library of Australia Trove Article 66442135, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66442135, accessed 15 June 2017.

‘Tea meeting at Lower Hawkesbury’, Hawkesbury Advocate, Friday, 21 September 1900, National Library of Australia Trove Article 66370245, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66370245, accessed 15 June 2017.

‘Sackville’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 9 October 1909, National Library of Australia Trove Article 85863311, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85863311, accessed 15 June 2017.

‘River reminiscences, the golden nineties on the Hawkesbury’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 3 July 1936, National Library of Australia Trove Article 86049016, http:// nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86049016, accessed 6 June 2016.

The Jersey Butter Factory on Windsor Terrace and its conversion to flats

The decision to draw up the Articles of the Association for the Hawkesbury Dairying Company and to select a site for the establishment of a butter factory in Windsor was made at a meeting held on Thursday, 14 January 1892 at Bushell’s Royal Hotel in Windsor. The meeting was chaired by Mr James Bligh Johnston and was attended by a large number of Hawkesbury farmers and interested local residents. It was estimated that £2,000, in £1 shares, would be required to form the company and a further £1,000 would be required to run the factory. This cost was based on figures obtained from Mr Josephson of Messrs Waugh and Josephson, ‘boilermakers, dairy and refrigerating engineers’ of Sydney for a building that would ‘do for 1,000 to 2,000 gall[on]s per day’.

Messrs J.B. Johnston, B. Hall, J.T. Gosper, A. Tuckerman, S. Gow, W. McGrath and J.C. Fitzpatrick chose the factory site and paid £320 for approximately five (5) acres (a little over two hectares) on part of Mr J.T. Gosper’s land on The Terrace at Windsor, on the banks of the Hawkesbury River. The site is now known as 63 The Terrace, Windsor.

By 18 March 1892, tenders were being called ‘for erection and completion of buildings for butter factory at Windsor’ and Mr J. Lavor from Parramatta was the successful tenderer.  With the buildings costing £120 and the machinery costing £510, the factory was completed and ready for business by 1 August 1892. It was officially opened on Wednesday, 24 August, by His Excellency the Governor (Lord Jersey) and afterwards became known as the ‘Jersey Butter Factory’.

There was an underground Cooling or Butter Room built into the bank of the river with dimensions of 30 x 12 feet. ‘The floor, like the rest of the building, is of concrete. Brick walls of double thickness, and round this building outside is an air-space or shaft of 3 feet in width which allows a current of fresh air to be continually passing round the room, and by means of many moveable ventilators the air can be admitted or excluded from the chamber…The room is roofed with patent Traeger Wellbleck iron and covered with 4 feet of earth and turf to exclude the heat of the sun…Outside of the cooling room is a flight of brick steps, which communicate from the road into the building…The rest of the building is below the road and is on a level with the cooling chamber…Outside the building, adjoining the cooling room, is a large underground tank from which cool water is obtained…The tank has a capacity of 10,000 gallons’.

There was also a Separating Room on site, with dimensions of 20 x 20 feet. The roof was ‘covered with the new patent fluted red French tiles from a Marseilles maker, which, besides keeping the building wonderfully cool, gives a pleasing and artistic appearance to the building. The milk is received from the road at a door which is immediately above the separating-room, the road being almost level with the roof of the building’. Other rooms in use were the Engine Room, Boiler Room, Washing-Up Room and the Board Room. The windows were ‘all provided with Venetian shutters to exclude the heat of the sun’ and ‘the floors are all granolithic pavement’.

Despite the initial success of the Jersey Butter Factory during the first few years of its operation, it appears that the company was in financial trouble by 1907 as a report in the local newspaper states that it was the intention of Mr I.N. Woods ‘to remove the plant of the Windsor butter factory to the Ebenezer wharf, near Mr Cross’ residence, and will there establish a saw mill. Mr Woods has given an undertaking to send 100 tons of wood per week to Sydney, and it will be shipped by the S.S. Narara. When the wood is cut out around Ebenezer, the plant will be shifted to another spot, and so on, up and down the river.’

By 1911, the butter factory and the land had been acquired by Mr Ray H.H. Brown of Ebenezer and it was from him that the Hawkesbury Condensed Milk Company Limited purchased the ‘fee simple’ and moved the machinery and plant from the Pitt Town Dairy and Butter Company to the factory on The Terrace at Windsor. The company spent ‘over £5,000 in alterations and additions to the building, and in new and up-to-date plant and machinery’. They began operations in Windsor on 28 January 1911, with the intention of manufacturing ‘Red Cross’ and ‘Swan’ brands of condensed milk and sweet cream. ‘The new factory buildings were built by Mr G.H. Hardy of Sydney and the whole of the new machinery was installed under the supervision of the well-known Sydney consulting engineers, Messrs J. Wildridge and Sinclair, who also provided the plans for the building…the floors of the factory are laid in cement or petrite, and the walls are all metal, so that the whole place can be sluiced down morning and evening and kept thoroughly sweet and clean…a fine can-washing room has been provided for suppliers…once the fresh milk enters the vacuum pan, it is never exposed to the ordinary atmosphere again, the whole process being conducted in either air-tight plant or hermetrically sealed chambers.’ It was recorded as ‘that attractive structure on the bank of the river, in the four corners of which the milk-preserving industry will shortly receive attention’.

In 1912, Windsor Council gave permission to Mr Frank A. Waller, Managing Director of Australian Milk Products Limited, to ‘erect additional factory premises, in the shape of a packing shed, which would be in keeping with and in the same material as the present buildings, to cost £200.’ By December 1916, Windsor Municipal Council Health Officer recommended approval of a request from Mr Hilton Clarke of Australian Milk Products Limited, for additions to the packing shed at the factory.

On Wednesday morning, 14 December 1921, it was reported that ‘a bad accident happened at the A.M.P. factory. Mr Stan Daniels was coming down the steps from the condensing room when he slipped. There is a window near the bottom and his arm went through a broken pane of glass. He sustained a terrible cut on the forearm, one of the arteries being severed.’ Mr Daniels was immediately rushed to hospital after treatment by Dr Alsop. The same newspaper also reported on the impending closure of the Australian Milk Products factory in Windsor by Nestles and Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company Limited, who had acquired the Windsor condensed milk industry. On the same day, 14 December 1921, staff were told they would not be required after 24 December. That was a poor Christmas present for the staff and Mrs Margaret Kooy, the daughter of Fred Davis who was one of the workers at the factory, commented to the author recently that ‘they bought the factory to close it down’.

By 1926, the condensed milk factory had been sold to the Peacock Jam Company (called the Nepean Tomato Products Factory) for pulping of fruit and tomatoes for jam-making. This venture was apparently not successful and by December 1933 Windsor Council’s Electricity Engineer, Mr K. Mortley, had carried out removal of the ‘disused mains and equipment’ from the site of the factory on The Terrace at Windsor and tenders had been called for the demolition of the wooden buildings on the site. In 1934, Mr S. Busby, Surveyor from Parramatta, submitted to Windsor Municipal Council for approval, plans for the proposed subdivision of land in Terrace Street, Windsor, on account of Nepean Tomato Products. The request was approved subject to payment of ‘necessary fees and charges’.

From 1937, it appears that the extant building on the site of the old condensed milk factory at 63 The Terrace, Windsor was acquired by Mr C. Hall and approved by Windsor Municipal Council as flats. A report of the Council meeting in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette dated Friday, 2 April 1937 on page 7 states that ‘Inspections have been carried out at buildings in course of construction and drainage inspected in accordance with the regulations. The installation of the septic tank at C. Hall’s flats, on The Terrace, has been completed satisfactorily, and with the exception of external pointing, the converting of the factory into flats has been completed with excellent results’.

The external brick walls of the building (which was known locally as Hall’s Flats) are of solid (not cavity) load-bearing design using semi-dry-pressed face and common bricks of modern Imperial dimensions laid in English garden wall bond which has been described as:

English garden wall bond. The general arrangement of bricks in this type of bonding is similar to that of English bond except that the heading courses are only inserted at every fourth or sixth course. Usually the arrangement consists of one course of headers to three courses of stretchers. A queen closer is placed next to the quoin header of the heading course to give the necessary lap.

The window openings of the flats feature bull-nosed brick sills and concrete lintels. This construction is typical of multi-story industrial buildings constructed in the late Victorian/early Edwardian period and is consistent with reports of the Jersey Butter Factory building constructed on the site in 1892. The entrance doorways to the flats are installed in original window openings that have been opened up to floor level. The doorways feature terrazzo thresholds over the full width of the opening and the original two-inch timber (probably Oregon) quad moulding that covered the joint between the verandah decking and the brick wall on each floor is still in place on some of the flats. These are typical of construction details used between the wars and are consistent with the reported conversion of the factory building into flats in 1937.

(This article by Carol Roberts first appeared in Hawkesbury Historical Society Newsletter, April 2015.)

copyrightCarol Roberts, 2017.


All newspaper references from the National Library of AustraliaTrove, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed between 14 November 2014 and 23 March 2015.

‘Butter Factory and Dairying Company’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 16 January 1892, p. 4.

‘Butter Factory, Windsor – Tenders’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 19 March 1892, p. 9.

‘Hawkesbury Dairying Company’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 13 August 1892, p. 5.

‘Visit of the Governor to Windsor: Opening of a Dairy Factory’, Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday, 25 August 1892, p. 8.

‘The Jersey Butter Factory’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 15 October 1892, p. 2.

‘Dyer’s Windsor’ (removal of plant to Ebenezer wharf), Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 15 June 1907, p. 3.

‘Windsor as it is – and as it was – by The Wanderer’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 19 November 1910, p. 1.

‘A Local Industry: Hawkesbury Condensed Milk Coy., Limited – Now Established in Windsor’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 4 March 1911, p. 7.

‘Windsor Municipal Council, Full Council present at the Ordinary Meeting on the 23rd October’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 2 November 1912, pp. 1 and 2.

‘Early Days of Windsor, Industries’, by Rev. Jas. Steele, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 2 October 1914, p. 12.

‘Windsor Municipal Council, regular fortnightly meeting, Health Report’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 8 December 1916, p. 1.

‘Week to Week’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 16 December 1921, 22 September 1933.

‘An Enterprising Firm, Jam Factory for Windsor, Purchase of A.M.P. Buildings’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 7 May 1926, p. 4.

‘Local and General News’, Shoalhaven Telegraph, Wednesday, 9 June & 4 August 1926.

‘Windsor Council, Electrical Engineer’s Report’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 8 December 1933, p. 1.

‘Windsor Council’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 6 April 1934, 2 April 1937.

Information on English garden wall bond brick pattern from The Construction Civil website, http://www.theconstructioncivil.org/, accessed 10 December 2014.

Construction information about extant building at 63 The Terrace, Windsor, from Geoff Roberts, former CSIRO Research Scientist (Building).


A Sense of Place: the artist Greg Hansell’s record of history now



Invitation to A Sense of Place: the artist Greg Hansell’s record of history now, opening by Carol Roberts on Saturday, 15 October 2016, Margaret Whitlam Galleries, Female Orphan School, Western Sydney University (Parramatta Campus).

Usually, people who live in or near historic towns are well aware of the significance of place in relation to their connectivity and self-identity. They might not phrase their sense of place in formal terms, but nevertheless they know they belong and this is one aspect that jumps out at you repeatedly during conversations with artist Greg Hansell – his sense of place is ‘hard-wired’.[i]

He engages this sense of place and records history as he sees it, often depicting heritage buildings that ‘are second to midnight’ (that is, at risk of disappearing forever, either through development or lack of maintenance).[ii]

Brought up on his parents’ wheat and sheep properties near Goulburn and then Wagga Wagga, Greg Hansell considers he had a fairly unpretentious, very conservative, rural childhood. An award-winning artist, he is currently Fellow, Council member, teacher and Art School Director at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales. He crushes rocks and clays to make his own pigments and, with no added binders, creates earth pastels with colour permanence of the highest rating. But his rural background is ‘hard-wired’[iii] and his methods of recording history relate to his country upbringing, his move to the Hawkesbury area and his subsequent career as an artist. His sense of place attachment and understanding of the environment surrounding place are evident in his paintings. His representations of history – his writing down of historic detail – reflect the intangible alongside the tangible heritage. His conceptual experience in relation to sense of place flows through his paintings and through his life and influences the way he delivers public history through his artwork.

I have run several historical tours based on Greg’s artistic representation of heritage sites in the Hawkesbury and we are collaborating on a book that will showcase the artist’s depictions of the Hawkesbury area. I have discovered that to hang around with Greg Hansell and visit the heritage sites depicted in his paintings encourages people to look for new perspectives and ways of interpreting place. That is what the artist aims to do.[iv] He reveals the ‘layers of life’ that revolve around a building where he ‘can exaggerate or highlight things in the architecture, such as the brick coursework and crookedness of the building…where the building has slumped over the years and become tired’.[v]


There is a term, ‘liminality’, that means drawing or inviting the viewer in to a snapshot of the past and Hansell explains that in relation to the term liminality, he ‘almost takes the viewer by the hand’ and guides them through the paintings to discover objects from the past like upturned milk crates, old bits of cars, pieces of rusting iron or farm tools.[vi]

It has been said of Greg Hansell that, ‘as he lives and works in a place he loves and doing what he chooses, Hansell is really one of the lucky ones’.[vii] His footprints are well and truly in the Hawkesbury, but he also immerses himself in the work of other artists who have inspired him on his journey. His new exhibition is a three-part exhibition, showing works from his past, works from the present and works hanging in his house: in other words, works by people who have inspired him.

I will be opening the next exhibition, A Sense of Place: the artist Greg Hansell’s record of history now, on Saturday, 15 October in the Margaret Whitlam Galleries at the Female Orphan School, Building EZ, Western Sydney University (Parramatta Campus), off Victoria Road, Rydalmere, at 2.00pm. Parking is available at $8 per day. The exhibition will continue until 20 January 2017.

copyright Carol Roberts 2016

[Image, part of Hansell’s Homage to bricklayers various, earth pastel]

[i] Gary E. Holmes, James R. Patterson and Janice E. Stalling, ‘Sense of place: issues in counselling and development’, Journal of Humanistic Counselling, Education and Development, Fall, 2003, Vol. 42, Issue 2, p. 239, http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.une.edu.au/docview/212448339?accountid=17227, accessed 29 September 2012; Greg Hansell, oral history interviews with Carol Roberts, 5 November 2008 and 18 February 2011.

[ii] Greg Hansell, pers com, 5 September 2012; Carol Roberts, ‘From the ground up: exploring the use of oral history in tourism’, She said: He said: Reading, Writing and Recording History, Journal No. 36, 2014, Oral History Association of Australia, pp. 23-30.

[iii] Hansell, 5 November 2008.

[iv] Jan Dungey, ‘Where arts, imagination and environment meet’, in Heritage Interpretation, Volume 1: The Natural and Built Environment, David L. Uzzell, ed, London, 1989, p. 241.

[v] Greg Hansell, pers com, 5 September 2012.

[vi] Greg Hansell, ‘Australian landscapes: techniques in pastel’, Australian Artist, Chatswood, New South Wales, undated, pp. 20-23.

[vii] Greg Hansell: Survey catalogue, 30 October – 6 December 2009, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, Windsor, pp. 4-5.

The Clements family in Windsor NSW

Herbert Australia Clements was born in Windsor in 1865. At the age of twenty he married Mary Ann Butler, daughter of Edward and Mary Ann Butler of Windsor. The couple had six children: Herbert (born and died 1885), Miriam Clarice (born 1887), Pearly(ie) Grace (born 1889), Percy Edward (born 1891), Dorris Freda (born 1893) and Carlton Herbert (born 1896). Having lost their first-born baby in 1885, tragedy struck again in 1902 when Pearlie died aged thirteen years, after suffering with Bright’s Disease for four months.

Herbert Australia Clements 2

Herbert Australia Clements in Masonic Lodge regalia c1920s/1930s. Photo courtesy of his granddaughter June Irving and great-granddaughter, Julie Sinfield.

In 1892, H.A. Clements opened a grocery store on the south-western corner of Catherine and George Streets in Windsor. The store was popular and a great financial success for the Clements family, selling everything from ‘prime pickled pork, hams, bacon, fresh lard’ to ‘groceries of top quality at bottom prices, crockery always on hand and farm produce at lowest market prices’.

Percy Clements married Violet Amelia Hammond in 1923, Dorris married Bertie Milsim Hornery in 1928 and Carl (known as Mick) married Mona Mary Williams in 1950. The Clements family members were all musical. H.A. ‘Pop’ Clements, sons Perc and Carl and Bert Hornery played in the Windsor Band, while Dorris played piano and organ at the Presbyterian Church in Windsor for many years. Cousins, Harry and Colin (Bubs) Gardiner also played in the band. Miriam (known as Clarice) did not marry. She suffered ill health for many years and died in 1954.

H.A. and Mary Ann Clements were in the grocery business for thirty-seven years before they retired to the new home they built at 7 Macquarie Street, Windsor. They called the house ‘Hermar’ derived from their first names of Herbert and Mary. This area of Windsor, close to The Peninsula and Thompson Square, became a hive of activity for the Clements family. Perc and Vi Clements lived nearby at 21 Bridge Street, Bert and Dorris Hornery lived across the way at 46 Court Street in the brick home they built in 1928.

Clements house 7 Macquarie St Windsor Feb 2010

Clements family home Hermar, 7 Macquarie Street, Windsor. Photo Carol Roberts 2015.

Also in 1928, Carl Clements opened the Hawkesbury Motor Garage on George Street facing Thompson Square. The garage became a family business and an icon in the town: Perc Clements went to work for his brother Carl, who was the proprietor, and they were joined by their brother-in-law and my uncle, Bert Hornery, a motor mechanic who later ran his own refrigeration business just down the road.

Mary Ann Clements died in 1934 and Herbert Australia Clements died in 1957. They are buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Windsor with their daughter Miriam. The dark brick, solid, substantial brick homes the Clements family built in Macquarie and Bridge Streets and the Californian Bungalow built by Bert and Dorris Hornery on the corner of Bridge and Court Streets still stand, as solid as when they were built nearly one hundred years ago. They are prime examples of the late 1920s/early 1930s architectural style which forms part of the heritage landscape of Windsor and other areas of the Hawkesbury.

Clements shaped Windsor 18 May 2016

‘Clements shaped Windsor’, article by Carol Roberts for the National Trust Hawkesbury Branch, Hawkesbury Gazette, Wednesday, 18 May 2016.

copyright Carol Roberts


‘Town Gossip’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 1 May 1897, Trove, National Library of Australia, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/?q=, accessed 1 May 2016.

‘Obituary’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 12 April 1902, Trove, National Library of Australia, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/?q=, accessed 1 May 2016.

‘Week to Week’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 2 October 1914, Trove, National Library of Australia, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/?q=, accessed 2 May 2016.

‘Personal, About Men and Women’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 23 March 1928, Trove, National Library of Australia, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/?q=, accessed 2 May 2016.

NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, http://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/Pages/family-history/family-history.aspx, accessed 2 May 2016.

Hawkesbury on the Net, Cemetery Register, Windsor Presbyterian Cemetery, http://www.hawkesbury.net.au/cemetery/ accessed 2 May 2016.

Family genealogical information from Carol Roberts, Windsor.

Photograph of H.A. Clements from his granddaughter June Irving and great-granddaughter, Julie Sinfield.