Kearsley Family Memories

by Lyn Kearsley

Memories of my time spent in Newtown.

I lived with my grandparents in a terrace house in Australia St from 1947 ’til 1960. I have many memories of Newtown in those days and I wonder if anyone else remembers these things.

My grandfather (Pop) was a retired reinsman and ran a horse and cart around all the pubs collecting empty bottles, he was the “bottle-o” man. Sometimes he used to get so drunk that the horse would have to finish the pub round for him. He was a good singer and used to sing at the School of Arts in Eliza St where he was a member of the Buffalo Lodge.

He was beaten badly at the police station and died in hospital around 1957. As kids we used to gather at the Australia St police station gates and watch all the arrested men from 6 o’clock (pub) closing time being hustled out of the paddy wagon into the charge room. Great entertainment.

I remember the Hub theatre and sneaking into the movies at interval. Johnny O’keefe sung there (the highlight of my young life) I don’t remember the date. The little shop on Dennison St would sell green ice cream for twopence at interval.

We went to St Stephens church and were choir members. I remember when the cemetery was reduced and we all hung around watching graves being exhumed. We had lots of entertainment in those days. We played in the cemetery, it was a great adventure, especially when the minister’s dogs would chase us out. I can remember when we kids got to have afternoon tea at the rectory as a reward for cleaning the bird droppings out of the steeple – we got to ring the bells as well. Those bells rang every Sunday mornng – I will remember those beautiful sounds all my life.

A child was murdered in Newtown it must have been in the 50’s and I remember the fear and being constantly warned about dangers.

I am interested in the story of John Makin (“baby farmer”) mentioned in your records.

The library was upstairs in the Town Hall on Newtown Bridge, it was a wonderful place and I spent many hours there. On Saturdays after lunch if you hung around the back door of the Town Hall the workmen would sometimes give you left over pies. A lot of old folk would sit on the benches outside the town hall in the morning sun.

I also remember the illegal bookies behind doors that opened onto laneways. The famous Newtown Gym in King St that produced winning boxers. The Communist movement and clandestine meetings. Playing on piles of wheat in the rail yards and being chased away by the men. The funeral parlour on Enmore Rd that stored coffins in the old 2 storey house next door – it became a test of courage for neighbourhood kids to climb up the drainpipe into the top floor window and walk past all the coffins at midnight.

Lyn Kearsley (nee Giles)