Wednesday 28 August 2013

Picton hits the right note

Picton Brass Band (cc Turbosquid)

Picton District Brass Band in Camden

In 1933 the Picton District Brass Band performed at the opening of the new Paramount Theatre in Camden Wednesday 22 February. DJ Kennedy, the proprietor of the picture show, expressed his thanks and screened the musical 'Love Me Tonight' with Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier.


The Picton District Brass Band was originally formed up in 1886 and provided a lively performance at the Picton Show under the musical direction of J Douglas.

Band struggling

By the 1890s the band was struggling to survive and eventually went into recess in the late 1890s.

Band re-forms

The band re-formed in June 1915 and Mr Chapman from Campbelltown was appointed as musical director. A plain and fancy dress masked ball was held at the Protestant Hall in aid of the band. The attendance 'was exceptionally huge' and a great success with the hall packed with dancers from 'all over the district'. (Picton Post 14 July 1915) Band practice was held on Thursday nights.


The bandmaster during 1916 was Mr Greenway. By July the band was looking for a new bandmaster. On applicant in September was Mr Leabeater from the Australian Light Horse Infantry Camp at Menangle Race Course. On a warm afternoon in December the band played a recital in Victoria Park Picton and took a collection of four pounds.

Band making progress

By the late 1920s the band was making solid progress in a variety of directions under the bandmaster, JF Fromholtz. The band patron was BH Antill, and others positions were president, AH Edwards, vice-presidents, Dr Iceton, Mrs James, AR Davison, EA Eagles, JT Ashcroft, FH Woods, secretary Ernest Sell, treasurer, Frank White, and committee members were J James, AV Lindsay, Leo Ashcroft, C Edwards, AV Baldwin, F Stott, JM Ashcroft, and librarian J Cox. The band had a credit balance of 24 pounds. (Picton Post, 18 January 1928).

Picton District Band Ball 1928

 In April 1928 the band opened the ball season with the  annual band ball in Picton at the town hall. Although there was a second ball on in Picton on the same night 70 couples attended. Bandsmen had 'tastefully' decorated the hall. Mrs Ashcroft was in charge of the supper tables and had decorated them with different types of flowers which had been donated by Mrs Rutter and Mrs West. Music was supplied by the Ashcroft Jazz Band and Mrs Ingleton's Orchestra. The MC was Mr Eb Davis of Thirlmere, the door-keepers were Mr Woods and Blatch and ticket-sellers Mr Stott and Moraghan. Band members wives Mrs Stott, Loader, A Graham, Cullen, James, Edwards, Ashcroft and Fromholtz provided waiting service on the tables. The Monte Carlo Waltz was won by Miss New and Mr Cavanagh. The band opened the proceedings with 20 members under the baton of Bandmaster Fromholtz. They played a lively programme of music in the 'garden delectable' of the Town Hall. The evening made a handsome profit which was to be spent on new instruments. The band thanked the community for their support and financial help. (PP 11 April 1928)

Further Reading

Picton Post

Monday 5 August 2013

Lost Camden ranch-style houses

Lost Camden

Mid-century modernism

Ranch-style houses in Elderslie

The Hennings House, 64 Macarthur Road, Elderslie 2010 (IWillis)

In 2011 a ranch-style house in Macarthur Road Elderslie was unfortunately demolished to make way for a preschool.

Camden's ranch-style houses are part of the town's post-Second World War development and growth. They are part of Camden's mid-century modernism.

The Hennings House, 64 Macarthur Road, Elderslie 2011 (IWillis)

Demolished Ranch-style houses in Elderslie

The Hennings House in Macarthur Road was one of a number in the Elderslie area, and two have been demolished. One of the demolished ranch-style houses, Kalinda, was located off Lodges Road Elderslie and owned by the Whiteman family. 

The Whitemans owned a general store in Camden that operated for nearly a century. The house was a weatherboard cottage demolished in the late 1990s to make way for Sydney's urban development in the Elderslie area. 

The Whiteman house was high on the ridge with a pleasant outlook facing west over the Narellan Creek floodplain. Visitors approached the house from Lodges Road by driving up to the ridge's top along a narrow driveway. 

Ranch style housing

Ranch-style housing is a significant post-Second World War housing style. The housing style has been noted by architect Robert Irving as an Australian domestic architecture style. Parramatta City Council has recognised the housing style of heritage significance. 

The ranch-style house is an example of mid-century modernism.

American History of Ranch-Style Homes

The original house style came from California and the South-west of the USA, where architects in these areas designed the first suburban ranch-style houses in the 1920s and 1930s. They were simple one-storey houses built by ranchers who lived on the prairies and in the Rocky Mountains. 

The American architects liked the simple form that reflected the casual lifestyle of these farming families. After the Second World War, several home builders in California offered a streamlined, slimmed-down version. They were built on a concrete slab without a basement with pre-cut sections. 

The design allowed multi-function spaces, for example, living-dining room and eat-in-kitchen which reduced the number of walls inside the house. The design was one of the first to orient the kitchen/family area towards the backyard rather than facing the street. 

The design also placed the bedrooms at the front of the house. The marketing of the ranch-style house tapped popular American fascination with the Old West. (Washington Post, 30 December 2006)

Elderslie Ranch-style Residence

The Hennings House

64 Macarthur Road, Elderslie

The Hennings House, 64 Macarthur Road, Elderslie 2010 (IWillis)

The residence at 64 Macarthur Road was built in 1960 by Peter and Barbara Hennings in their early 20s. Mr Hennings recalls that the builder had a catalogue, and the house design was chosen among those. 

Mr Hennings has always been interested in design and was careful in selecting the plans for the house.


Ron McMillan and Sons of Camden


The house was a 3 bedroom double brick ranch-style residence with a separate bathroom and toilet. It has 10-foot ceilings, a stone fireplace and timber sash windows. There was a detached garage. 

The design was considered quite ‘modern’ for its time, according to Mr Hennings. There are two pairs of ¼ inch-bevel glass doors in the lounge room and two single glass bevel doors.   


The Hennings House is located on two building allotments. When the Hennings bought the two blocks, the site was covered in bracken ferns. They filled the site and had a stone batter on the garage end of the house, which was completed after the house was built.

The residence was prominent on Macarthur Road and one of the first houses constructed on the Bruchhauser farm subdivision in 1960. The wide frontage ranch-style house was set back on the double block in a high position, which is uncommon in Elderslie, although typical of this style elsewhere in Sydney (Parramatta Development Control Plan 2005).


The residence was built by a successful local business family, the Hennings. Their prosperity and that of the whole area was due to Burragorang Valley coalfields.  

The Hennings sold the house in 1980 to Dr Charles McCalden, who had a medical practice in Hill Street, Camden. He moved away from Camden in the mid-1980s.  

In recent years (1999-2009), the house was owned by school principals Joan and Frank Krzysik.


The ranch-style house has been identified elsewhere in the Sydney area as a building style of special character (Parramatta Development Control Plan 2005).  
The Hennings House, 64 Macarthur Road, Elderslie 2010 (IWillis)


The house's integrity was intact until its demolition in 2011 and the removal of the 1960 front fence of ‘Chromatex’ bricks built by the Hennings. Several mature trees on the site added to the aesthetic quality of the site.


P & B Hennings, Camden, Interview, February 2010.

Mid-century modernism  (Wikipedia)

Katherine Salant, 'Looking Backward for the Next American Dream House'. The Big Picture. (2003-2015)

Patricia Poore, 'The California Ranch'. Oldhouse Online. (2018)

List of house types (Wikipedia)

Updated 5 January 2021. Originally posted 5 August 2013.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Hitting the right note - banding in Camden

 Camden Town Brass Band

Camden Town Brass Band 1877 with this picture taken on a visit to Newcastle (Camden Images)

Camden band heritage

Camden has a long heritage of bands and musical groups in the local community. Playing music has been one of the longest surviving voluntary sector activities in the town. Banding in the Camden area has a rich history of involvement by amateur musicians who held a variety of paid-day jobs. These folk contributed a large number of hours at community concerts, military parades, remembrance ceremonies, fetes, garden parties, and a host of other community events.

Camden District Band c1911-1915 (Camden Images)

Banding in Camden followed the British tradition of brass bands from the 19th century that was based around a village, town, industry, profession or business. Community brass bands traditionally competed in competitions. 

 Brass bands, especially military bands, have a long tradition going back to the middle ages in the Ottoman Empire. From the late 19th century English military traditions dictated that bandsmen served as battlefield stretcher-bearers with their regiment when not playing morale enhancing music. The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom has used brass bands as part of their ministry since 1878.

The Camden Town Brass Band was one of the first bands in the Camden area. It was formed in 1876 and the first bandmaster was HP Reeves who was in charge of the Camden school which was located in Hill Street. The first band practice was held at the school. There were 8 members of the band: Henry Stuckey; John Sanderson; Herbert Ferguson; Harry Simpson; HP Reeves; Albert Stuckey; Jacob Young; and William Derriman.

The band was quite a versatile group and performed as a marching band for a town parade, community concerts, dances, garden parties and the opening of the Camden Show in 1886.(Picton Post, 7 Sept 1932). The band went into recess during the late 1890s.

Camden District Band leads Frances Day procession 1917 (Camden Images)

The band re-formed in 1911 as the Camden District Band. During the First World War, the band was called on to perform at patriotic events of all sorts. One event was Frances Day in 1917 when the band led a procession down Argyle Street. The participants in the parade were in fancy dress, started at the Royal Hotel and ended at the showground on 17 July 1917, and was supported by a sports day.

The sports day raised 374 pounds. Frances Day was organised to raise funds for the widows and children after the defence of Verdun (21 Feb 1916-18 Dec 1916) and ended with a French victory with over 370,000 French casualties. It was the longest and most devastating battle of the First World War. The city of Verdun has played a part in the strategic defence of Paris since the 5th century.

Camden District Band 1930 (Camden Images)

The bandmaster in the 1930s was Stan Kelloway, who also served a term as Camden mayor. Other band members included: Eric Kelloway; W Pattison; Lesley Kelloway; B Price (Deputy Bandmaster); W Coates; A Meylan; L Dowell; Irwin Dowell; AE Doust; I Huthnance; J Hickey; J Hunt; C Coleman; AS Huthnance (Band Sergeant); Len Burnell; F Thorn; W Lipscombe; T Lipscombe; F Smythe; G Burnell; F Ravillion; T Thornton; and R Murdoch. (Picton Post 6 June 1935). The Second World War saw the demise of the band.

The Campbelltown Camden District Band

Campbelltown Camden District Brass Band 1960 (Camden Images)

The Campbelltown Camden District Brass Band started after the Second World War and filled the gap left by the closure of the Camden District Band and other bands in the area at Picton and Campbelltown.

The new district brass band formed up in 1946 and lasted until 1976 when it re-formed as a concert band with the addition of woodwind instruments. Many instruments for the new district brass band came from the old Camden Brass Band.

The instruments had been held by Horace Kelloway who had been a member of the band. Other instruments were also located by Frank Curnow under the old Campbelltown Hall. Initial rehearsals were held alternately between Camden and Campbelltown. The first bandmaster was Frank Curnow, followed by Harold Pollard in 1954.


The Camden Community Band

Camden Community Band 2013 (CCB)

The Camden Community Band is another local concert band. The band was originally formed up in 1989 as the Camden Rugby Band, community members were invited to join in 1994 and Jeanette Saunders became bandmaster in 1995. 

The band was re-formed as the Camden Community Band Inc in 2005. The musical director is Murray Bishop who joined the band in 2004. The band can be heard at a variety of community events in and around the Camden district throughout the year.

Further reading

D Brunero, Celebrating 50 Years, The Campbelltown-Camden District Band 1946-1996 (Campbelltown: Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society, 1996)

Updated 3 January 2021. Originally posted 1 August 2013.