Monday, November 30, 2015

Book Launch

As most members are aware, the Ku-ring-gai Historical Society is launching Volume II Rallying the Troops. This will take place at the Memorial Hall, St John's Anglican Church, Gordon next Sunday, 6 December from 2pm.

It will be launched by the Hon. Paul Fletcher and others attending will include Major General Gordon Maitland (who wrote the forward to the book) and his wife; Mr Jonathan O'Dea and the current and immediate past Mayors of Ku-ring-gai.

This is a significant event for the Society as a major contribution to the World War I Commemorations focussing on the involvement of Ku-ring-gai veterans.  All members and friends are welcome and encouraged to attend.

The official program will be followed by refreshments and the chance to socialise so, for catering purposes, if you have not already registered would you please advise Kathy Rieth of your attendance on

Monday, October 19, 2015

Local Lads to be remembered on Remembrance Day

Brian Colden Antill Pockley
The Society recently received an invitation from Neil Chippendale, Local Studies Librarian at Hornsby to attend an event at Hornsby Central Library.

The free event with  Elise Edmonds, a curator at the State Library of NSW, is on Wednesday 11 November at 6.30pm. Elise will give an insight and overview of the  Life Interrupted exhibition held at the State Library of New South Wales in 2014.

This exhibition featured diaries and letters written by soldiers, many of whom did not return home. Elise will be giving an overview of the collection and telling the story of how the State Library built their collection of World War One material.

Elise will also be reading out some excerpts from various diaries, including some local men who wrote diaries and letters. She will be featuring Dr Brian Colden Antill Pockley from Wahroonga and the Fry brothers from Lindfield.

You and your friends are all invited to this event  but you must register. Details here:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Remembering our Soldiers at St John's.

A  highlight of St John’s Anglican Church Spring Fair  on 10 October 2015 will be a presentation by the Barker College Cadets bringing to life the stories of the 14 Australian soldiers who were killed during World War 1 and commemorated in the Church and Cemetery with Kathie Reith and David Wilkins from the Ku-ring-gai Historical Society being present to answer questions and to sell copies of their book “Rallying the Troops”.

If you are are related to Captain George Concanon, Private Leonard Taylor, Private Reginald Homfray, Private Joseph Bickell, Private Thuiller Cardew, Private Harold Olver, Private Roy Robertson, Private George Edwards,  Sergeant Charles Golding-Howard, Gunner Wilfred Crisford, Private Harold Baker, Captain Nowell Sievers, Captain Dudley Adams and Second Lieutenant Raynes Royle you may be interested to hear their stories.
The Fair which opens at 9:00 am will have its usual assortment of stalls, including Op Shop, bric-a-bac and clothing, Collectibles, book bargains, fruit and vegetables, cakes, biscuits and jams, plants and shrubs, craft and jewellery, wood turning, spit roast BBQ, coffee and cake, champagne and strawberries, colouring-in for all ages, jumping castle, the Barker College Band at noon, and the Sing Australia Choir at 1 pm.  The raffle with its prize of 12 months’ supply of groceries will be drawn at 2 pm when the Fair ends.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Caernleith, No 8 Springdale Road, and Braeside, No 9 Arnold Street, Killara

This article by Kathie Rieth was originally published in our Society newsletter in October 2010.

Caernleith, No 8 Springdale Road, and Braeside, No 9 Arnold Street, Killara

In a response to my last column that mentioned the two houses in Pymble for Eric and David Pratten, I was asked whether they were related to Pratten Brothers, Printers and Publishers. Yes they were!

Eric and David were sons of Frederick G Pratten who, with his half-brother Herbert, started the firm in the late 1890s. Readers may know of H E Pratten, Minister for Trade and Customs, who died suddenly on his 63rd birthday while addressing a meeting of his constituents at Turramurra. The Prattens also had extensive interests in alluvial tin mining in the Federated Malay States, and in Australian fruit pulp. Herbert’s obituary in The Times described him as “One of the pioneers of the New South Wales fruit-preserving industry”.

Eric and David grew up in Ku-ring-gai. In February 1907 their father bought two properties in Killara: the large two-storey house Cairnleith, No 8 Springdale Road, and No 9 Arnold Street (apparently vacant land), which shared a rear boundary. Both were purchased from Richard Pickering Sellors, described at the time as ‘Astronomical Observer’.

Curiously (to us in this digital age) electoral rolls gave his occupation as ‘computer’. A contemporary explanation of this term is found in a 1911 article noting he was “chief computer, trigonometrical survey, Department of Lands” and had been appointed as state representative at the 10th International Geographic Congress in Rome. Sellors was “a gold medallist in mathematics of Sydney University and was for many years astronomical observer at the Sydney Observatory… in charge of the trigonometrical computations at the Lands Department… recently deputed to compute the data for the projection of the large Commonwealth map of Australia…” Sellors moved into Cairnleith c.1900.

According to KHS member Jennifer Harvey, the house was designed by architects Clamp & Smith in late 1899. The Pratten family lived in Cairnleith from 1907 to 1910, moving to Braeside in 1911, and then in 1914 to No 98 Mona Vale Road, Pymble. It appears Braeside  was built between 1907 and 1909. Was it designed by Spain & Cosh, who in 1910 designed Pratten Brothers’ new five-storey building at 26- 30 Jamieson Street, Sydney?

In May 1908 the same architects were calling tenders for a residence in Arnold Street: no further information has yet come to light. FG Pratten sold Cairnleith in 1911 to Ella, wife of architect Henry Budden. By 1928 it was the home of bloodstock salesman Arthur Inglis. Pratten sold Braeside in 1917 to Amy, wife of jeweller Edward Nettleship. Only Braeside, No 9 Arnold Street, is listed on Ku-ring-gai’s LEP.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Trove Tuesday -Wedding at Killara

1938 'WEDDING AT KILLARA.', The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), 5 September, p. 4, viewed 17 August, 2015,


DR. and MRS. GREGORY McLEOD BLAXLAND photographed at the Con-gregational Church Killara, after their wedding on Saturday. The bride wasformerly Miss Doreen Hardie, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. Hardie of Roseville.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Free events in the city

We have been notified by The Sydney Mechanics School of Arts. (SMSA) of a series of free public events they are hosting in the city dduring September. Full details can be found here on their website.  
Of particular interest to WW1 researchers will be Ross McMullin speaking on Pompey Eliott on Wednesday, 16 September 2015, 12:30pm.

Ross McMullin Pompey Elliott
‘Australian who don’t read this book are short-changing themselves.’
— Peter Ryan, The Australian
‘May be the best Australian military biography yet to appear.’
— Stephen Loosley, Sunday Telegraph

Guest Speaker

Dr Ross McMullin is a historian and biographer. He wrote the ALP centenary history The Light on the Hill, and another political history So Monstrous a Travesty: Chris Watson and the World’s First National Labour Government. His biography Will Dyson: Australia’s Radical Genius was shortlisted for the National Biography Award. His most recent book Farewell, Dear People: Biographies of Australia’s Lost Generation was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History and the National Cultural Award.
Ross will be speaking about his award-winning biography of Pompey Elliott, the famous World War I commander. This book received awards for biography and literature, and was instrumental in Pompey’s prominence in the acclaimed ABC TV series The War That Changed Us.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Trove Tuesday - Killara Subdivision Plans

Due to copyright restrictions we are unable to reproduce and publish copies of the six subdivision plans that the State Library of NSW has digitised on its site and that can be found via a Trove search.

However if you point your browser to this link you will be able to view these very clear images:

You can find similar plans for other localities by doing a search on Trove .