“Braemar” Springwood, 1882- 2016

BEGINNINGS The story of “Braemar” begins in Scotland, on the southern edge of the Firth of Clyde where the industrial seaport town of Greenock lies in the shadow of the Ayreshire Hills. It was here, in the birthplace of the legendary pirate Captain William Kidd and the pioneer inventor of the steam engine James Watt, that the man who built Braemar, James Hunter Lawson, came into the world on 22 April, 1836. While little is known of the childhood and youth of the young James Hunter Lawson, by the time he was nineteen and about to embark upon the long … Continue reading “Braemar” Springwood, 1882- 2016

“Logie” and The Lapstone Hill Hotel

“Logie” In the 1870s Captain Charles Smith, a shipping magnate, bought part of country residence built in the 1870s by the Hon John Lucas, M.L.A. (1818 – 1902), a controversial Sydney politician, financier and Secretary for Mines in the Robertson Ministry. In the 1880s Smith built a house, called ‘Logie’, higher up the hill, above the railway and beyond Lucas’s cottage. When Charles Smith died in 1897, Logie was inherited by his son, Colin (1879 – 1939). Colin Smith was an eccentric and kenspeckle figure in Glenbrook who established a bacteriological laboratory at ‘Logie’.   ‘Logie’ In 1921 Logie and … Continue reading “Logie” and The Lapstone Hill Hotel

Katoomba Street History Walk

Katoomba St, c.1930 Introduction In its early years Katoomba laid no claim to the status it later achieved among the Mountain towns. While there had been an inn and stock resting place at Pulpit Hill from the 1830s, the town’s real beginnings were with the railway. Towards the end of the 1870s, this lonely mountain outpost began to change dramatically. The official name change to Katoomba occurred in 1878, the same year that businessman John Britty North registered his coal mine at the base of the cliffs near the Orphan Rock. Within a year the high quality of his coal … Continue reading Katoomba Street History Walk

Japanese Street Names in Leura & Hazelbrook

Japanese sailors at Taronga Zoo, 1924 Australian National Maritime Museum   In the latter part of the 19th Century and the early 20th Century, Japanese art and culture had a widespread influence on Western art, interior design, music, fashion and textiles. Many Australians, like others in Europe and elsewhere, were fascinated by things Japanese. Japanese Navy training squadrons twice entered Sydney Harbour, in 1903 and 1906, to enthusiastic receptions. During the 1906 visit, Katoomba Municipal Council extended a formal invitation to the officers and men of the fleet to visit the Blue Mountains, and a number of new streets were named … Continue reading Japanese Street Names in Leura & Hazelbrook

Knapsack Viaduct, Lapstone

Knapsack Viaduct c.1880 For the early train travellers, rattling across the Emu Plains in the late 1860s and 1870s, the seven classical, white sandstone arches of the Knapsack Viaduct must have presented an inspiring sight with which to begin their ascent of the Blue Mountains. The construction of the viaduct, the like of which no native-born colonial had ever seen, reaffirmed their nineteenth century faith in Man’s mastery of Nature, a faith which, in the colony’s short history, had often seemed threatened by this range of mountains. In order to avoid costly tunnels, the Engineer-in-Chief of the NSW Railways, John … Continue reading Knapsack Viaduct, Lapstone

Katoomba Court House

Aerial view of the court House in 1972 By the early 1890s Katoomba had become, through coal and tourism, a town with a future. Municipal status had been granted in 1889 and the possibilities of continued growth held promise of glittering prizes for local commerce. Civic pride flowered in the hearts of the town’s citizens and men prominent in local affairs began to seek expression of Katoomba’s new prestige through the erection of appropriate public buildings. A new brick post office was erected in the Bathurst Road in 1887 while, in 1891, a substantial timber railway station replaced its earlier … Continue reading Katoomba Court House

Frazer Memorial Church, Springwood

Frazer Memorial Church c.1910the jacaranda tree in front is newly planted In the early 1890s Springwood’s Presbyterians were on the pastoral fringes of their Church. Few in number and without a building, they had been worshiping God for a number of years in a variety of makeshift locations – in the open air beneath a clump of turpentine trees, in the lounge of the Oriental Hotel, and on the screened verandah of Braemar, the private home of one of their congregation. By 1896, however, things had changed. A picturesque church fronted the Western Road in the centre of town, its … Continue reading Frazer Memorial Church, Springwood