Beecroft-Cheltenham History Group

Eleanor Frances Pines

Eleanor Frances Pines (born 1869) was the daughter of Edward Martin, a draftsman in the Colonial Architect’s Office. She became the fourth wife of Frederick Pitt Pines, Managing Director of the music publishers, W.H. Paling and Co. Ltd. of Sydney. Eleanor and Frederick had two children: Cleveland (Cleve) (born 1892) and Nance (born 1901); Frederick had eleven children from his previous marriages.

On the death of her husband in 1901, Eleanor, known to the family as Nellie F., continued to live in their Balmain home, but, anxious because there was no man in the house, she purchased a revolver for protection. In 1908, when Cleve, then aged 16, went jackerooing in the country, she and Nance went to live with her brother in Summer Hill. This was a busy family home with many relatives coming and going and Nellie F. had a dream of building her own home.

In 1913 she purchased a half-acre block of land in Cheltenham on the southern corner of Murray Road and The Crescent and worked with William Nixon to design her home. Her daughter remembers: ‘Every weekend Mother and I went by train to Cheltenham to inspect the additions, if any, to our new home. There was no road from the station, only a very rough, stony path, to be known for a long time as the Goat Track. We had no friends in the area, though often Mr. Nixon, the architect, and his wife, brought a thermos and afternoon tea for our delectation and delight. Dear little Mrs Nixon and Mother became close friends.’[1]

The house was an attractive solid brick structure on sandstone foundations and with stone veranda trim, set well back from The Crescent and facing the bush. Very few houses were nearby, and Nellie F.’s revolver, emptied of its bullets by her brother during their stay at Summer Hill, was now readied for use and hidden in a flannel bag beside her bed draperies.

A beautiful garden, long planned, was planted with beds of roses and daisies, hedges of hibiscus and poinsettia, citrus trees and vegetables, all set in velvety lawns. A maid lived in the house and a gardener/chauffeur in a flat above the garage. Furnishings in the house were expensive and the dream of her own home far away from relatives had come true. ‘Red East’ was the name chosen for the home.

Nance Pines continued attending Normanhurst College in Ashfield, then studied massage at Sydney University, but a cartilage in her knee torn while playing sport disabled her for some years. Cleve Pines joined the Australian Imperial Force and saw service overseas with the 6th Light Horse. In 1927, at St John’s Church, Beecroft, he married Jean Rossiter of The Boulevard, Cheltenham.

During the war years Nellie F. worked in the local Red Cross branch. In the late 1920s she found herself as foster mother to the baby son of one of her stepsons whose wife had just died. She looked after the little boy for two or three years until his father remarried. In the early years of the Depression, Nellie F.’s finances suddenly fell away when the Paling shares which provided her income dropped in value at the same time as the gramophone and the radio became popular. People played pianos less, and the sale of music plummeted. She was forced to sell ‘Red East’ in 1931 for £1200 as well as many of her possessions, to enable herself and Nance to live in a flat in Manly.

Nellie F. died in 1947 at Mosman, remembered by her family as an extraordinary woman, independent and strong, and very ‘Victorian’ in outlook and manners.[2]

 

 

                  


[1] Land Titles Office 2405/169.
[2] Information from Mrs Margaret Gilfillan of Northwood and Mrs Nance Irving of Warren, NSW.
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