Your Trash is Our Treasure
A unique perspective on the history of Mosman is revealed through sharing your hidden treasures. We are very happy to accept donations precious memorabilia of Mosman’s history.
Donations add value to the Local Studies Collection and reflect the diverse history of Mosman.
If you do not wish to part with your valuable historic items such as ephemera, photographs or realia we welcome the opportunity to photograph or copy these significant resources for inclusion in the collection.
Some donations are displayed below.
Mosman Street Signs
Gas mains were laid in Mosman in 1887 along Military and Bradleys Head Road, Raglan, Musgrave, Mosman and Clanalpine Streets. The gas was supplied by The North Shore Gas Company.
By 1893 Mosman had 68 ruby glass gas street lamps mounted on iron standards. These were turned on at sunset by the lamplighter. In 1903 the street lights had incandescent burners fitted and the street names were inscribed on the ruby-coloured lamps. By 1915 there were 568 gas lamps to be found in Mosman streets.
From 1915 electric light was connected to local houses. In the same year Mosman Council installed street name plates which replaced those on the ruby glass lamps.
Mosman Library Service has been fortunate to receive a donation of two ruby glass panel street signs for Avenue Road and Stanton Road.
Avenue Road was the first street to be built in Mosman around 1860. It was originally called Harnett’s Street, after the early developer Richard Hayes Harnett, Snr. An 1888 map (in Barry O’Keefe Library) shows that it was renamed Bay View Avenue. The section extending from Military Road to Gladstone Avenue was called Crimea Street for a short while.
Stanton Road was named after Stanton Senior, the son of George Senior. George owned the land from Spit Road to Moruben Road, Mosman. He was the son-in-law of Bernard Otto Holterman, famous for the discovery of the largest specimen of reef gold as well as for his panoramic photographs of Sydney.
It has proved difficult to find concrete evidence that these signs were used in Mosman. There are some early photographs of streets, in Sydney and suburbs, in which street signs can be seen and they appear to be similiar these glass panels. Hornsby Shire Historical Society has a number of similar panels which were discovered 20 years ago on the Hornsby Council premises.
These glass signs are made of ruby glass (Bohemian glass1) panels cut to size and etched with the name of the street
1 As Bohemian glass makers were the first to exploit this type of ruby coloured glass, and export it and its glassmakers around the world, it is often referred to as Bohemian glass.
Mosman District League Swimming Club Trophy
This trophy was presented to a M.V. McCarthy for the 1910/1911 and 1911/1912 swimming seasons.
Research has suggested that this may have been awarded to a Margaret V. McCarthy as a McCarthy family lived locally. Margaret would have been about 20 years old at the time.
This EPBM presentation cup was made by Thomas Oatley & Sons and was awarded to Margaret by John Day of ABC pictures. So far we have not been able to find out much about John Day or ABC pictures. However, there was a John Day living in Noble Street, Mosman around 1911 and 1912 and he may have been the same man.
This piece was recently donated by a Seaforth resident. She had received the trophy as a gift from her mother who had discovered it in an opportunity shop many years ago.
Toohey and Toohey Estate Agents, Mosman
In 1913 William Toohey and his son, Francis opened a real estate agency at 124 Avenue Road, Mosman. Established at a time that Mosman was experiencing an increase in new residential developments this enterprise was such a success that in 1915 a branch office was opened at Mosman Bay close to Mosman Wharf. The family lived at ‘Ardagh’, 19 Prince Albert Street, Mosman.
In 1918 William returned to Melbourne leaving Francis to manage the business and in 1919 Francis married Lola Welby (Lola Dowrie was her stage name) a dancer with the Tivoli Follies.
In 1920 the Tooheys established a building company called Homes de Luxe which was responsible for five bungalows on Bradleys Head Road near the corner of Whiting Beach Road. These bungalows were then sold by the agency. Homes de Luxe were also responsible for a major housing development at Green Valley which was later purchased by the Housing Commission of NSW.
Clockwise, from top left: Toohey & Toohey Estate Agents, 124 Avenue Road, Mosman, c.1915. Lola Dowie, c.1917. Lola was a dancer with the Tivoli Follies. This photograph taken by Grace Bros. was used to decorate a chocolate box. Beautiful Bungalows brochure c.1921. The cover shows the bungalows in Bradleys Head Road, Mosman.
Lola Toohey, the daughter of Francis and Lola, kindly donated a number of photographs and a scrap book to the collection. Some of the photographs are shown here. The scrap book dating from 1913 to 1922 contains newspaper clippings relating to Mosman property sales by Toohey and Toohey as well as articles about residents and the First World War. This valuable record has been microfilmed and is available for viewing in the library.
Those were the days: being reminiscences of Australian artists and writers by George A. Taylor. Sydney, Tyrrell’s Limited, 1918
After being interviewed for our oral history project a long-time resident donated this signed first edition copy of Those were the days: being reminiscences of Australian artists and writers by George A. Taylor. Among other things Taylor trained as a builder, worked as a cartoonist on The Bulletin and Punch, founded the Wireless Institute of NSW, co-founded the Town Planning Association of NSW and was an honorary lieutenant in the Australian Intelligence Corps. In 1907 he married architect, Florence Parsons, and together they published the influential journal Building.
In this book Taylor gives a personal insight into the Bohemian Sydney of the 1890s and writes of the artists he called friends. Many of his friends lived in Mosman, and included such luminaries as William Macleod, Livingston Hopkins, Norman Lindsay and David Souter.
Australian bungalow and cottage design by Reginald A. Prevost. Sydney, The N.S.W. Bookstall Co. Ltd, 1912
This donation while not specifically on Mosman is nonetheless a valuable resource.
It provides examples of house designs that were popular at the time Mosman was experiencing a burst of urban development in the early 20th Century.
Charles P. T. Ulm
Local boy, Charles Thomas Phillippe Ulm, enlisted in 1915 in the 1st Battalion, Australian Imperial Force. Wounded in the first month, he was honourably discharged only to re-enlist when he turned 18 years of age. In 1928 Ulm was co-pilot on Charles Kingsford Smith’s historic flight of the Southern Cross across the Pacific Ocean. Although no longer a resident, Ulm’s parents still lived in Mosman and Mosman Council, in recognition of his achievement, presented him with this fine memorial presentation on 30 June 1928. This presentation differs to others held in the collection as it not only includes the usual signatures of significant local residents but contains a series of photographs of Mosman in the early 1920s.
Like many of these presentations this one is not signed by the artist however in small print below the decorative first page are the words John Sands LD Sydney
Also donated to the collection are two autograph books belonging to a Dorothy Kitching. The first book with a soft cloth cover dates from 1907 to1910 and contains the signatures of fellow students from Loreto, Normanhurst. The second book is a smaller leather bound album and dates from 1911 to 1916. This album appears to have been signed by people that Dorothy met on her travels, after leaving school, in Australia and Europe.
Both books have the usual poems, exquisite watercolours and sketches as well as some very interesting signatures. These include those of the artist H. Septimus Power and his wife and a group of people Dorothy met at a house party in the home of John Costello, who was to become Prime Minister of Ireland in 1949. However, the most intriguing are the signatures of the returned members of Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition dated 1914. These signatures are complemented by an original copy of the now famous photograph taken by Frank Hurley, of John Close and Dr Leslie Whether attempting to retrieve ice from a glacier near The Hut, Adelie Land, Antarctica.
We have not been able to determine why these books are in the collection as there does not seem to be any Mosman connection. However, research indicated that in 1916 Dorothy married John Tully who was to become a Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly and the Secretary for Lands.
Mosman-Neutral Bay Rifle Club Inc.
On Wednesday the 3rd February 1915, in response to a public announcement, a well attended public meeting was held in the Mosman Town Hall. The Empire was in the throes of the Great War of 1914-18 and the residents of Mosman and Neutral Bay wanted a Rifle Club and Training Corps wherein the rudiments of drill and military discipline might be learned and from which recruits for service abroad might be enlisted and recruiting influence derived. – C.H. Cromack – Club President 1951-52
The Mosman-Neutral Bay Rifle Club was formed as a consequence of a petition signed by concerned residents of Mosman and Neutral Bay.
After receiving the petition the Mayor of Mosman, Alderman A.D. Walker, called for a meeting on 3 February 1915 to be held at Mosman Town Hall. This meeting was very well attended and it was decided to hold a General Meeting on 27 March 1915. At this meeting Mr. Walker was elected the first Club Captain, the annual subscription was determined and the rules and by-laws were decided. The club received a loan of 150 rifles and they commenced to provide training courses in June of that year on Mosman Oval. During World War One there were 707 members enrolled in the club with 243 enlisting for active service. The club continues to operate but today its sole purpose is sportsmanship.
Mosman Library Service recently received the club’s historic records dating back to 1915. These are a valuable addition to the Local Studies Collection and include minutes of meetings, club rules and by-laws, annual reports, members lists, programs of events, advertising leaflets, concert programs and letters from those serving overseas. The library also received a well-researched three volume history of the club.
The Balmoral Tip was located at Balmoral Park. The park was originally a lagoon which over the years gradually filled with sediment from the surrounding slopes so that by the time the First Fleet arrived in 1788 it had become a swamp.
Interestingly this site has had a long association with waste beginning with its use by Aboriginal people to dispose of shells, animal and fish bones. In 1908 Mosman Council decided to fence the area so that it could be used for the disposal of local household waste. This was a necessity as the tip at Pearl Bay was reaching its full capacity and the municipality needed another one.
The recently formed Mosman Progress Association objected to the use of Balmoral Park as a garbage tip and would continue to object for the next 28 years. In 1911 the Pearl Bay tip was closed forcing the continued use of the Balmoral Tip.
The growth in the number of tourists to Balmoral, due to the extension of the tramline in 1922, heightened public awareness of the presence of the tip and prompted the council to reconsider how it managed garbage. Consequently, it was decided to bury the garbage on the beach so that it would not be visible. This was also an attempt to reduce the noxious smell that came from the tip.
In 1930 the Balmoral Beautification Scheme was completed. However, the tip covering 11 acres was still receiving 100 loads of garbage a week and it took another six years before the tip was closed. In 1936 when Mosman Council’s incinerator was built at Balgowlah the Balmoral tip was finally closed and like so many tips was converted into a playing field.
William Henry Smith
b. 15 June 1859, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. d. November 1929, Lennox Street, Mosman
William Henry Smith was a speculative builder who with his partner S. H. Cabban was responsible for many of the Federation buildings in Mosman. In the late 1890s they erected a number of shops, including The Strand, and the public school. The success of these ventures was encouraging and they continued to develop purchasing a large portion of the Silex Estate and building around 170 houses in Bradley’s Head Road and Prince Albert Street, Mosman.
This Presentation was given to William Henry Smith on his retirement from Mosman Council in 1925. He had served on the Council continuously for 25 years as a representative of East Ward. He was Mayor, 1903-1904, 1915-1918 and 1922-23.
The Garden School
Miss Lily Arnold and Miss Jessie Macdonald opened the Garden School in March 1924 in a house called Glen Carron at 30 Stanton Road, Mosman. Both women were members of The Order of the Star of the East, the Theosophical group that was responsible for building the Star Amphitheatre overlooking Balmoral.
The aim of this co-educational school was to provide an all round education that included eurhythmic dancing and tuition in Esperanto. A young Peter Finch and Joan Hammond attended this school. In 1928 an advertisement in the Mosman Daily indicates that the school changed its name to Thweng Co-educational School and offered places to both day students and boarders.
Originally called Tivoli, the house had been built in 1893/94 by Ernest T.H. Rohde the stepfather of S. H. Ervin. The family lived there until Ernest built another house, also called Tivoli, on the corner of Fairfax and Parriwi Roads. In 1904 the Sands Directory shows that the original Tivoli was owned or tenanted by a Lionel Bridge, Wool Broker and had been renamed Glen Carron.
After The Garden School school closed the estate was subdivided, auctioned in 1936 and the house was demolished in 1937.
Dr. John Hare Phipps
On 11 June 1936 Dr and Mrs Phipps were farewelled by Mosman Council and residents having lived and worked in Mosman for more than 30 years. Dr. Phipps a popular medical practitioner was involved in community affairs. It was due to his efforts that Mosman had both a Masonic Temple and the Mosman Memorial Hall. During World War I he served in the 5th Field Ambulance at Gallipoli and France attaining the rank of Colonel. He left Mosman to live in Warrawee but died a few months later in 1936.
This illuminated presentation has over fifty signatures representing an amazing list of who’s who in Mosman society at the time.
Dance Card, Mosman District Cricket Club, 1909
Card, 11.4 × 5.7 cm
The Mosman District Cricket Club was formed in 1908 and held its first Annual Ball on the 16 July 1909. This exquisite dance card has a printed list of dances and beside each dance is a hand written pencil entry of those wishing to dance with the cardholder. Sadly, we do not know who owned this card but nonetheless it is a valuable addition to the Local Studies Collection.
Postcard, Mosman Bay, c. 1902
Card, 9 × 13.5 cm
This postcard was one of four recently donated to the Mosman Local Studies Collection. It is unusual, as it is an original watercolour of Mosman Bay and not the typical photographic postcard. This postcard was painted and sent as a Christmas greeting by S. E. Piper to Mrs Teale of Flinders Street, Moore Park. It would have been sent after 1902 as both the wharf and bridge were erected by then.
Bottle, Mosman Cordial Works, n.d.
Stoneware, 17 × 7.5 cm
The Mosman Cordial Works operated for only a few years. Located in Vista Street it opened in 1913 and closed in 1917. (This building in Vista Street was later used by Nance Mackenzie and Anne Outlaw when they established Annan Fabrics in the early 1940s.) This bottle was for brewed ginger beer; it would have been corked and is in excellent condition. There are no makers’ marks on the bottle but it is quite likely to have been made by one of the local commercial potteries in existence at the time. These included Kuring- gai Tile, Pottery and Brick Works, Manly; Sydney Pottery, Lane Cove; Hornsby Tile, Pottery and Brick Works, St Leonards and Mashman Bros. Ltd., Chatswood. The glaze is of the quality used by the Mashman Potteries and it is quite possible this company produced bottles for the Mosman Cordial Works. This factory was used by Annan Fabrics in the mid-20th century.