The November guest speaker was Cecily Grey.
Cecily Grey is a member of the Burwood Historical Society and came to talk about the early history of Burwood. Before coming to our meeting she and her mother did some research on the history of spinning and weaving and told us that an archaeological site containing relics of a Turko-Mongolian population had revealed remnants of tartan fabrics almost identical to the ones woven in Scotland. The 4000 year old fabric was used to wrap a mummy.
In history men did weaving and women did the spinning. In England, the 13th and 14th centuries were a time of wealth based on the spinning and weaving industry which was protected by law with no cloth allowed to be imported. In the 18th century the spinning jenny revolutionised the industry.
When settlers first arrived in Australia some of Macarthur’s sheep were grazed at Burwood. A piece of land known as Edrop’s paddock became Burwood Park. When Parramatta Road was formed, Burwood was the halfway point between Sydney and Parramatta and so had numerous inns. An early inn owner was Emanuel Niche who boarded a boat to New Holland thinking he was going to a country in Europe. The original Burwood Road was called Niches Lane.
Land grants had strict conditions requiring landholders to produce food within six months. The navy and army could take trees from the land. There were no designated parks or recreation grounds so large property owners would allow sporting teams to play matches on their fields. Walter Friend’s house had sport teams associated with it. Once the large estates were divided into smaller lots, local councils had to provide parks and playing fields. The family from Evandale (a house built where Blair Park is now) used to go by buggy to Botany Bay to swim. Until trams started to run, people without transport used to swim in the Cook’s river.
We were shown photos of historic houses, some saved and restored, some demolished. The houses in Duff Street were designed and built by the same man. It is hoped that the now derelict house on the corner opposite the church will be restored. Cecily brought along old photos of houses and other old buildings in Burwood and said that the Historical Society is happy to receive any old photos.