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Jul 18

Timeless Wollongong: Family had fondness for animals

The Oxenbridge family home in Dymock Street, Balgownie. The photo was taken in 1992 just prior to demolition. Picture: From the collections of WOLLONGONG CITY LIBRARY  and ILLAWARRA HISTORICAL SOCIETYPART TWO
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The Homestead in Dymock Street, Balgownie, was completed about 1927 for the Oxenbridge family to settle in.

George Oxenbridge purchased lots 23 and 24, containing a little over seven acres from George Rodgers in October 1928 for £425. That same day, George Oxenbridge mortgaged the property with George Rodgers for £370.

The children had many interests. The boys, Wal, Jim and Mick, had started young with racing their pigeons locally. Many other animals were kept or bred. There were aviaries for breeding canaries and a couple of cows to provide milk.

The boys, like their father, had a great love of horses. In fact, in the 1920s George owned a trotting mare bred from the champion sire St Elmo. The mare ran her races wearing hobbles with a jockey in the saddle rather than the use of a gig.

Arthur, the youngest child, was always sick and when his condition worsened he was left to sleep in the third bedroom just off the dining room. George filled in the eastern side of the verandah with lattice and canvas and Wal, Jim and Mick’s beds were moved out. Young Arthur died in Wollongong Hospital in May 1935 when he was just 13.

Even though he was an active man, George was forced to use a walking stick, which must have been the result of an injury he received in December 1916 as the colliery blacksmith. Heart disease began to affect George in the late 1930s and he was forced to retire from work.

George died in Wollongong Hospital in December 1943, aged 67 years, leaving a family of three sons – Wal, Jim and Mick – and three daughters, Florrie, Louie and Lizzie.

His will was made just four months before his death, leaving his estate to his wife Alice for her lifetime. Although George died in 1943, the mortgage with George Rodgers in 1928 was still outstanding. When the mortgagee, Mr Rodgers, died in May 1930 the Rodgers family continued the mortgage on the Dymock Street property.

The family of George Oxenbridge finally secured the property into the estate when they paid the £352 outstanding on the mortgage in November 1948.

Alice Oxenbridge died at home in January 1951, aged 67. The old homestead remained empty until the seven acres, including the home, were sold to Annie Elizabeth Jolliffe in July 1954 for £2800. Annie Jolliffe subdivided the land and by June 1961 the old homestead, as well as the adjoining plot of land to the east, was sold to Robert and Hazel Hurt for £1950. The Hurt family made the old homestead their home until 1992.

It was in August 1992 that I visited the old place for the last time just before demolishers moved in. Little had changed, even the diagonal panelling was still in place half way up the walls in the hallway. There had been some changes over the years. The old lattice on the eastern verandah had been removed and the whole side filled in by the Hurts and turned into a granny flat. A modern kitchen had been installed on what used to be the old back verandah. The old kitchen was incorporated into an L-shaped lounge room.

On lifting the carpets in the bedrooms I found linoleum, and lifting that, there were newspapers dating back to the 1930s from the days when George and Alice lived there.

The double block of land in Dymock Street, Balgownie, was developed in the 1990s and a number of villas occupy the site, now known as Dymock Gardens.

Information courtesy of Carol Herben, OAM.Call 0409 832 854 or email [email protected]

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