Fragments from Auburn Street 60–70 years ago — 4

dadraafComing back from the war my father (right) determined to build up his own business as a builder and developer, partly in response to the post-war housing shortage and related policies.

In the 1930s, Sutherland, like everywhere else in Sydney, suffered the Depression, with many families in trouble and in need of assistance. It was not uncommon to see unemployed people selling flowers along the road to the cemetery. Despite this, Sutherland was the first township to have a baby health centre. The work of Father Thomas Dunlea, Roman Catholic parish priest at Sutherland, was notable at this time. He took in homeless boys and later rented a small cottage in the centre of town to accommodate the growing number. Due to overcrowding and insufficient space, it later moved to Engadine and became the well-known Boys’ Town.

In 1939 a railway line from Sutherland to Cronulla was opened and completed the network of links between the shire suburbs with Sutherland as a hub.

Postwar Sutherland

As Sutherland was so close to the national park, residents used parts of the park closest to the township for recreational purposes. With permission of the Park Trust, an area had been used as a rifle range from 1915, set up primarily by councillors and local businessmen. Over the years other sporting and recreational activities had also been held there. In 1950 due to the housing crisis the rifle range area was used to temporarily house low-income families in a camping ground that operated until 1958. By then housing was more easily obtainable, so the remaining people were moved. The area then became playing fields, known as Waratah Memorial Playing Grounds.

Dictionary of Sydney

County of Cumberland Planning Scheme

The County of Cumberland Planning Scheme was arguably New South Wales’s first attempt at a comprehensive and coordinated town plan for metropolitan Sydney, and, after a short and troubled history, it was ultimately a failure.

Aware that postwar growth would put pressure on Sydney’s existing footprint, in July 1944 the Labor Premier William McKell announced that he intended to introduce legislation concerning both

the extension of the boundaries of the City of Sydney, and the Union of Areas in the County of Cumberland.

The second proposal was a most radical innovation in metropolitan governance, in that it created a tier of government intermediate between local and state governments – the Cumberland County Council – to oversee preparation and implementation of metropolitan Sydney’s first statutory plan. The Cumberland County Council was established under the provisions of the Local Government (Town and Country Planning) Amendment Act 1945, which enabled local councils to prepare comprehensive local planning schemes for the first time. The process was overseen by a new Town Planning Branch in the Department of Local Government,with another new creation, the Town and Country Planning Advisory Committee,providing high-level ministerial advice.

Released in 1948 but not legally gazetted until 1951, the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme has been described as “the most definitive expression of a public policy on the form and content of an Australian metropolitan area ever attempted.”

It drew inspiration from the London plans of Patrick Abercrombie, and introduced land use zoning, suburban employment zones, open space acquisitions, and the idea of a ‘green belt’ for greater Sydney. The Main Roads Department supplied plans for an expressway network. The scheme tied in with the Commonwealth Government’s strategy to prepare for predicted rapid postwar growth, and in June 1947 the Cumberland County Council was inaugurated by state parliament, to prepare ‘for the guidance and control of growth in the County’ – ultimately the future direction of growth for metropolitan Sydney.

Dictionary of Sydney

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Comfort Homes eh! I had forgotten that business name, but the front room at 61 Auburn Street was the office and Mum the receptionist. It was a mixed success, as by 1951 dad was back working with C S Boyne, a Real Estate Agent in Beverly Hills and a relative of my mother’s mother’s family. In due course in the 50s he had a semi-independent enclave in another Beverly Hills agency, Sproule’s.  By the later 1950s he was independent again at Jannali and Sutherland.

Sometimes the business prospered mightily, sometimes it didn’t.  I’m afraid I took as little interest in it as possible!

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Bread delivery, Sutherland in the 1920s. Same thing and maybe same cart was in Auburn Street in the 1940s – along with the milko and the ice man.

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Mail delivery in Jannali in the 1950s.

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