Little left of quaint country town

TIME TRAVELLING: After weeks of investigating, urged on by the keen history buffs among you, I've been able to plot most of this Campbelltown streetscape from 1920. (Hazelwood Collection, State Library of NSW).
TIME TRAVELLING: After weeks of investigating, urged on by the keen history buffs among you, I've been able to plot most of this Campbelltown streetscape from 1920. (Hazelwood Collection, State Library of NSW).

THIS old photo from Queen Street in 1920 obviously hit a chord because I’ve lost count of how many people have mentioned it to me since it ran with my column a month ago.

People have asked me what goes where. How does this scene fit into the modern main streetscape of Campbelltown?

So after ploughing through old records and talking to old timers, I’ve come up with this numbered guide:

The first thing to note is that Brendan Leenders (from the excellent Museum Macarthur Facebook site) called it right: this image was photographed from the top balcony of the old Club Hotel, bulldozed in 1986.

(A) A private house, believed to be the residence of Elizabeth Huckstepp.

(B) A house with a flagstone verandah known locally as “the white house”. It was Campbelltown’s original pre-1880s post office and long used as a  dressmakers by Annie Kershler. The site of today’s City Arcade.

(C) The Wilkinson family plumbing business (that’s the same family as Lisa Wilkinson of Today fame), now roughly the site of the newsagency and H&R Block accountants. Out of camera view there was one or two small buildings, but then – all the way to Lithgow Street –  it was a vacant plot of grass surrounded by a white picket fence where fairs and circuses were held. 

(D) The sign says Marlow, but in 1920 this large store on the corner of Queen and Lithgow streets had already been purchased from Percy Marlow by the Solomon brothers. It is now the site of the ANZ Bank.

(E) The CBC Bank (and former Advertiser) building on the distant crest of the main street.

(F) Bank of NSW building, long since bulldozed but Westpac Bank still occupied the site in a modern building until recently. Now for lease.

(G)  A cluster of pretty little buildings including a grocery business (later Romalis’ sporting cafe, then bulldozed and became the split level Coles Variety Store many of us remember from the 1960s-80s). Also a fruit shop, and tea rooms known as Eclipse Cafe. Now this stretch is a cluster of $2 shops, Georges Cafe and Campbelltown City Centre. 

(H) Morgan and Morgan auctioneers in 1920, on the intersection of Queen Street and Milgate Lane. Now it is the site of St George Bank and Milgate Arcade, which has been enclosed since the 1970s.

(I) Vacant block of land, where everyone is gathered, was later purchased by shopkeeper Phil Solomon who erected a large two-storey building that was known as Solomon’s Progressive Stores in 1930s and 1940s.

(J)  Motor Garage, founded by J Byrne & Co, later known (from 1928 to 1949) as Ryders Bros Garage. This garage – and the Solomon building beside it (I) – were both later purchased in the 1950s by the Downes brothers who developed the giant, sprawling, interconnected Downes Department Store across both sites. Downes is fondly remembered by many of us who recall pre-1980s Campbelltown. It is now the site of Spotlight Plaza.

(K)  A vacant block at the intersection of Queen and Patrick Streets. A shop was erected by the 1930s and I seem to recall it was the site of Ingall’s Menswear during my youth in the 1970s.

(L) Campbelltown’s police were mounted, with stables for their horses, until 1926 when they were issued with automobiles or bikes.

(M) I love the milk carts in this picture: dairy farming was Campbelltown’s major industry until the 1950s.

(N) A steam train heading through the valley, perhaps towards the Camden branch line which was pulled up in 1963. The electric rail reached Campbelltown on 4 May 1968 on the same day we were declared a City. (Yes, next May marks 50 years as a city, although I’ve heard no one discussing that milestone – perhaps it will pass unmarked.)

Anyway, that’s the best I can do linking 1920 and today. If  you thinkt any of my statements need correction please email me.