Card clubs entertained during the Great Depression

Wests Card Club 01.jpg

This photograph was taken by my uncle, Bert Hornery, of Windsor, on the occasion of the Wests Card Club’s first birthday in September 1932. My grandmother, Charlotte Hornery (nee Clarke), my mother Iris Hornery and her sister, Lily, are in centre-front row behind the children. (I have a framed, enlarged original of this photograph, left to me by my mother.)

Despite the difficulties of life during the Great Depression in the 1930s, the people of the Hawkesbury rallied together and continued their participation in social and sporting clubs. Card clubs were extremely popular and together with other social clubs, they offered friendship, entertainment and in many cases, a helping hand to those in less fortunate circumstances.

Wests Card Club in Wilberforce, formed in 1931, was renowned in the district for holding crib, euchre and dance parties. Wests also held the cup for being the best players although they were challenged by the Easts, Souths, the Cockey Boys from Ebenezer, the Don’t Worry Club in Windsor and the club in Vineyard at regular tournaments. Crowds of up to three hundred people attended Wests functions in the Wilberforce School of Arts, with ‘crowded card tables and a full orchestra’. Admission for men was two shillings and one shilling and sixpence for ladies. Festivities were led by Herb Shepherd, captain of the club, with assistance from Wes Thompson and Garney Salter, with Les Owens and Reg Turnbull acting as Masters of Ceremony.

The club’s first birthday function in September 1932 saw a record number of people participate in activities and enjoy the club’s birthday cake, which was organised by Mrs Neate of the Royal Hotel, Windsor. Flowers were presented to Mrs Neate by ‘little Shirley Owen[s]’. Due to the large number of patrons at a euchre party and dance held later in the year, players were split up and the euchre players were taken by bus to Inglebrae guest house.

Gladys Owens usually played piano for the dances, while Horrie Stevens and Ernie Keller played the cornet and violin. Bert Hornery from Windsor was the photographer at nearly all of these functions and his sister, Iris, often helped out on piano. Prizes were generous and boxes of handkerchiefs, goblets, wallets, cigarettes, socks, chocolates, handbags, cuff links and tobacco pouches were handed out to winners of card games and Monte Carlo dance competitions. Some of the Wests most successful social functions were held in 1933, with presentations to Wes Thompson on his marriage and William Thompson when he married Madge Beecroft, then 87th birthday celebrations for James (Da) Sullivan.

As the effects of the Depression took a firmer hold, members of Wests Card Club often joined with organisations such as the Upper Hawkesbury Motor Boat Club, Returned Soldiers’ League and the Merriment Sunshine Club to run functions for charity, assisting patients at the Home for Infirm and the hospital in Windsor. It was observed that ‘Wilberforce has two organisations, the Wests Card Club and the Merriment Sunshine Club, which are not merely charitable organisations, though the greater part of their proceeds are devoted to the sacred cause of charity…If anyone is sick or in distress of any kind and the fact comes under the notice of either of these bodies steps are at once taken by either or both to afford relief’.

copyright Carol Roberts

Wests Card Club Gazette.jpg

(My article on Wests Card Club first appeared in the Hawkesbury Gazette on Wednesday, 26 October 2016.)

References:

‘Challenge match in card tournament, Easts v. Wests’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 30 October 1931, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 85890291, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 29 August 2016.

‘Card Tournaments: Challenge for the Cup’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 20 November 1931, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 85888118, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 7 October 2016.

‘Wilberforce: To a packed house, crowded card tables and a full orchestra’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 30 September 1932, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86056534, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 29 August 2016.

‘Wests Card Club’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 4 November 1932, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86055453, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 29 August 2016.

‘In Charity’s Cause: Two Wilberforce organisations, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 27 January 1933, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86051638, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 29 August 2016.

‘Wests Card Club: Happy social function, presentation to Will. Thompson’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 10 March 1933, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86050413, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 13 October 2016.

‘Wilberforce: Another enjoyable euchre party and dance’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 7 April 1933, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86055879, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 29 August 2016.

‘Wests Card Club: Presentation to Wes. Thompson, another successful function’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 9 June 1933, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86052912, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 7 October 2016.

‘ “Da” Sullivan: Popular Wilberforce identity celebrates 87th birthday’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 11 August 1933, National Library of Australia Trove News Article 86051409, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 13 October 2016.

Roberts, C. ‘Top spots in darker times’, Hawkesbury Gazette, Wednesday, 26 October 2016.

Sanders, J. ‘Merriment Sunshine Club’, The Hawkesbury Crier, Newsletter of the Hawkesbury Family History Group, March 2016.

Caring for our aged – the District Home for the Infirm in Windsor, NSW

Home for Infirm

Photograph of The Home for the Infirm (now demolished) which stood in Brabyn Street, Windsor. Courtesy of Carol Roberts from the collection of her mother, Iris Cammack.

From 1811, The Windsor Charitable Institution provided monetary support and/or stores relief to flood victims, as well as caring for the poor and infirm. This institution was gradually absorbed into the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society from the end of 1818, to assist the aged and infirm of ‘Windsor, Richmond, Wilberforce, Pitt Town and Portland Head’. Pioneers present at the inaugural meeting were William Cox, the Reverend Cartwright, Dr Mileham, Lieutenant Bell, Captain Brabyn, Thomas Pitt, John Jones, Henry Baldwin and George Hall.

During the early years of the Society, income was gained from sources such as donations, subscriptions and the sale of property and cattle from the Society’s herd on the Liverpool Plains. Additional funds of several thousand pounds were accumulated over a period of almost one hundred years from an annuity dating from the death of Richard Fitzgerald in 1840.

The Society acquired a one-acre Government grant between George and Macquarie Streets and in 1836 built a brick, two-storey home on the south-western side of Brabyn Street, Windsor, ‘for the reception of the aged and destitute of the district’. Before this building was completed, the aged and infirm poor were housed in a small timber cottage on the Society’s thirteen-acre property near the junction of George and Macquarie Streets in South Windsor. This property was the site of the Windsor Grammar School from 1885 until 1915 when in 1920 it was sold to J. McCann and in later years became known as McCann’s Flats.

After the Society obtained the use of the Government Hospital in Macquarie Street from 1846, the ‘aged inmates’ were transferred to the Asylum wards on the ground floor of the hospital building and the two-storey brick building in Brabyn Street was later let as a hotel. Extensive building works were carried out at the hospital from 1909/1910, so the elderly patients were moved back to the home in Brabyn Street. The increasing cost of repairs to this building caused financial concern and a decision was taken by the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society and Hospital to build a new home on the site.

The Home for the Infirm was erected in 1914 on the site in Brabyn Street now occupied by the Macquarie Tower group of shops. It cost eight hundred and fifty pounds and was opened by Fred Flowers, the first Minister of Public Health. Honorary medical officers were Drs Callaghan, Davies, Helsham, Donovan and Johnstone. Matron Taylor was in charge of the home from 1910 to 1941 and Matron Friend from 1941-1945. In 1946, Matron Prendergast took over and remained until 1954 (she then served in a part-time capacity).

In 1959, the name ‘Home for the Infirm’ was changed to Fitzgerald Memorial Hostel in honour of the pioneer and benefactor Richard Fitzgerald. The hostel was sold after 1989 and the four hundred thousand dollars raised from the sale went towards the building of the present Fitzgerald Memorial Hostel on Hawkesbury Valley Way.

References:

Carol Roberts, ‘Our Home for the Infirm’, Hawkesbury Gazette, Wednesday, 25 May 2016.

Bowd, D.G. History of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society and Hospital 1818-1947, Official Opening of the Nurses’ Quarters, 22 November 1947.

‘Hawkesbury District Hospital and Home for Infirm’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 18 February 1916, National Library of Australia Trove Newspapers Article 85881038, http://nla.gov.au, accessed 19 May 2016.

Nairn, B. ‘Flowers, Fred (1864-1928)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/flowers-fred-6198/text10651. published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 23 May 2016.

Nichols, M. ‘Windsor Hospital’, http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/AUS-NSW-HILLS-HAWKESBURY-HUNTER-VALLEY/2006-10/1160731368, accessed 23 May 2016.

Steele, J. ‘Hospitals and Benevolent Society – Old Asylum, Brabyn Street’, Early Days of Windsor, http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks13/1302241h.html#ch-19, accessed 23 May 2016.

Steele, J. ‘Hospitals and Benevolent Society’, Early Days of Windsor, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 4 September 1914, National Library of Australia Trove Newspapers Article 85861152, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed 23 May 2016.

Sydney Aged Care Facility, Fitzgerald Memorial Aged Care, http://www.fitzgeraldacf.com.au/location,_corp._profile_history.html, accessed 19 May 2016.

‘Windsor – Past and Present’, William Freame, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 30 October 1909, National Library of Australia Trove Newspapers Article 85863472, http://nla.gov.au, accessed 19 May 2016.