Brian’s parents, Dudley (always known as Jim) and Sybil Gill, and their family came to Beecroft in 1951. Jim was about to retire from the CSIRO where he was Head of Animal Health. He wanted to move to a place where there was plenty of space, so he chose to come to Beecroft and bought a large open block of several acres of land on Albert Road. There were no close neighbours in those days but in the vicinity, the top people were the Dobbies and the Willises.
Many residents of Beecroft Cheltenham live their lives here going to and coming from their daily work, very content to spend the remaining hours quite isolated from the community. However for those wanting enrichment from the amazing range of activities which are available locally, the area is provided with a diversity of activities. And so it has been since the 1890s when the suburb took shape from the farming community – when city dwellers came up the train line looking for a more pleasant domain in which to raise their families.
A 1940s childhood in Beecroft could be a time of much freedom for local children. Beecroft Reserve was a place of tranquility and birdsong and its tracks were shortcuts to the homes of friends. Children played in groups there, looked for eels, frogs and tadpoles in Devlins Creek and jumped across on stepping stones.
The experience of shopping in Beecroft village changed greatly in the years after WW11.
Prior to these changes there were a few stores along Beecroft Road. In Wongala Crescent (then Railway Crescent) the most notable stores were a butchery, Sparks bootmaking shop, an adjacent milkbar and two pharmacies, one on each corner of Hannah Street, opposite the railway station. There was a cluster of four shops on the northside of Hannah Street and two shops on the south side. The most prominent building in the village was the Bank of New South Wales on the corner of Hannah Street and Beecroft Road, opposite the Post Office. Houses still existed on Hannah Street between the commercial buildings, including the home and medical practice of Dr Terry and the home and surgery of dentist Ozzie Seale. The village stores provided essential foodstuffs and services. An exception was a small commercial lending library, now the site of a clothing boutique. In the 1940s the relatively new Liberal Party of Australia opened a small office and meeting room in Railway Crescent. After meetings, the Secretary, Mr Allnutt, was known to distribute cakes left over from the previous night’s supper, to selected local children.
By Christine Weir October 2003
It was many years later
I visited with a friend
The Hornsby Odeon Theatre
When memories did descend
It was in a time capsule
Surroundings were all the same
The Fifties era in, so cool
I was very glad we came
I felt at home instantly
Surroundings so familiar
The years rolled backwards quickly
Better than the movie so far
The atmosphere did thrill me
The design, shapes and heavy doors
Took me to childhood clearly
And Jaffas rolling down floors
Taking décor for granted
We loved our weekend movie
As it now comes denated
In memories all groovy
Please keep up our old buildings
So oldies can reminisce
We just love seeing old things
Any gone, we sorely miss
In 1954 the Stace family moved from Guildford to 15 Fiona Road, Beecroft. There were five children: John, Helen, Peter, Brenda and Nigel and also their Blue Heeler dog, Jip, who was never happy indoors and so for the next 10 years shared in all the children's adventures in the bushy environment of the Beecroft Bush(officially the Chilworth Reserve and Beecroft Park )and the Village Green.
The following account of growing up in Beecroft in the 1950s and 1960s is extracted from Peter's memoirs.
“I’m sure colours touch and affect our lives, the shadows we work through and overcome, the rainbows our rewards.
We are very fortunate when born to loving caring parents, and the 8 children – 7 girls and 1 boy born to Sarah and Les Mudford in Rozelle were indeed in good hands.
We were all born at home with Nurse Constance at the ready and when I decided to show my head the nurse asked if I should be sent back – another girl and another redhead (3 in all)! I survived. Why Mum didn’t give up after Les was born I’ll never know. I was next then Jean the baby. We were a happy family punished if wrong. Five girls of us are still living – females still great friends.
Mum and Dad worked very hard raising their brood. Dad died at 69 and Mum went on to be 90. Mum had even been in service to a Methodist minister at 14 and there were no modern conveniences in our home in Rozelle. The older girls were expected to help with the younger children. Grace blames me for her lopsided hip carting me around. Apparently as a baby I used to cry and hold my breath until I was blue in the face, so it was under the tap for me! I’ve been floating ever since! The older girls were educated in Balmain and were all fairly bright. They often reminisce of happy hard days and were eventually all in office jobs. They recall taking their go-carts down around White Bay picking up pieces of coal and timber fallen from trains delivering to the White Bay Power Station.
Grandma Miller (Mum’s mother) lived at Lilyfield and we remember our visits – there always seemed to be a slice of plain butter cake or a piece of apple pie that appeared out of the sideboard. Grandma was strict – I liked to whistle, but she thought it wasn’t ladylike!! Dad’s father lived at Lansdowne or Upper Bankstown – train to Villawood, met by horse trap to farm – lots of citrus – Seville Oranges.
We moved to [Blaxland Road] Eastwood in 1924. Mum and Dad travelled in the removalist van. The older girls were responsible for the rest of the family travelling by tram from Rozelle to Top Ryde then bus to Eastwood.