Saturday, 25 May 2013

St Aiden's Church

The Church today
St Aiden’s Church is on the corner of OG and Payneham Roads and I guess many of us have passed this Church with barely a sideways glance due to the busy traffic. When we arrived mid-morning a number of parishioners greeted us and plied us with information booklets. 

Beautiful Stained Glass Windows
There is a beautiful stained glass window at the back and another at the front of this lovely red brick church. 

Some of the needlework
There are obviously quite a few needleworkers as there is a wide range of tapestry kneelers in various sizes with religious and secular themes. I particularly liked the ones depicting Australian flowers e.g. Sturt Dessert Pea, and the musical ones. We met a lovely elderly gentleman who had made and designed at least 6 tapestry kneelers which he proudly pointed out to us. We were given a lovely cup of tea and offered scones, jam and cream but as we are very good girls we declined the scones!

Top left: Original Church - Top right: Church destroyed after storm - Bottom left: Church after re-build -  Bottom right: Church from OG road in the early 1900's

Latvian Museum

We chose to visit the Latvian Museum for no other reason but to fill in some time. We were greeted by some very nice people who asked if we needed our tour in Latvian or English. The museum is set up in a lovely old cottage in Wayville with three rooms of costumes, crafts and the history of the Latvian immigrants in SA. The costumes were delicately embellished with beads and exquisite stitchery in many styles, there were also shoes and jewellery and an impressive collection of amber.
Each region in Latvia had their own style of clothing/costume. The clothing was not behind glass so we were able to inspect the delicate work at close quarters and also take photographs. There were also reminders of their hurried departure from Europe and the attempts of the Australian Government to integrate them by teaching them to speak English. In the early days the Latvian people were targeted for migration often due to the fact that they looked similar to the Australian people (White Australia Policy).
I have a vested interest in Latvia, my great grand uncle ran his shipping business from Libau and Riga, he married a Latvian lady and had two children there. I have been researching his interesting life whist in Latvia, so it was nice to see what the people would have looked like in their dress style and also the home decorations that might have been in his house. We did not have time to visit the Latvian church which is opposite but this is another place to visit at a later date.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Holden Heritage Tour

By Deidre Ellis 
Some of the original Holden business premises in Adelaide
I wanted to learn more about the Holden Heritage as my Dad was employed at Holden for almost 40 years. We arrived early for the bus tour and just as well, there must have been around 45 people on the bus and know there were some disappointed people who did not book early enough. This tour was a mixture of bus ride and short walks. We began in Adelaide at the beginning of the Rundle Mall on King William Street where Mr Holden had two places where he conducted his saddler business. We took a short walk up the Mall to Gawler Place where he had another two places of business. He seemed to only stay in one place for a few years and then moved to a slightly larger premises. We then walked along Gawler Place to Grenfell Street and again another place where he had conducted his saddler business. Back on the bus along Pulteney Street to the area where he built his first factory of 4 levels where he became a carriage builder. Unfortunately none of these buildings has survived, but surprisingly many of the buildings that have taken their place contain design elements of the former buildings. Mr Holden had various partners and often went back to working on his own, e.g. Holden & Birks, Holden & Frost. We then were taken past some of the Holden family residences (mansions) around the eastern suburbs as well as the Payneham Cemetery where we visited a substantial Holden grave.

Holden grave, City factory site, Holden mansion & Elizabeth site
Our tour guides were Don Loffler who has written a number of books on the Holden car and Stewart Underwood who is also a Holden historian. These two gentlemen were very approachable and plied us with much Holden trivia and some amusing tales. A short stop on the Port Road gave us time to leave the bus and purchase lunch or enjoy our packed lunch. We chose the latter. Our bus drove through the location of the Woodville Plant where only two of the original buildings remain, and then on to Birkenhead where unfortunately the heritage listed Holden factory has also been demolished, but again our guides regaled us with stories.
Our final part of the tour was to Elizabeth where a security guard boarded the bus and pointed out parts of the factory and again more stories including the story of the two storey administration block. It was amazing that they could help us to imagine places which are long gone and to make them seem so real. I would recommend this trip which is held annually, to everyone, car enthusiasts, those interested in Holden family history, and anyone who would just like a reasonably priced bus tour. The Holden family and the Holden car have given so much pleasure to the people of South Australia that we all should learn more about them.

Old Adelaide Gaol

I have been wanting to come here for as long as I can remember and finally I have. Deidre and myself arrived here towards the end of the day so it was quiet, so quiet we were the only ones touring around for much of the time. I didn’t find the place eerie at all. I always thought, for some reason that the gaol was an octagon in shape, but it is only ‘half an octagon’. The original part is dated back to 1841 which consisted of single cells at one end and dormitory cells at the other. Some of the old cells would have been very depressing with no light and only a small air vent and the prisoners locked up for at least 18 hours per day. They had to share their cells with rats, cockroaches, bedbugs, lice and ticks, which caused sickness and disease. The original cells only had a hammock and bucket in them, with the later having a bed, desk, portaloo and electricity. There were only two watch towers built but there were four in the original plans. One has carved medieval faces around the windows, these were so costly that they are believed to have contributed to the Colony’s bankruptcy in the 1840’s. One is the hanging tower. 

The non-contact visitors area, which is half an octagon is shape. This led into one of many yards of the gaol, 6 in all. The tops of the outside walls have ‘honeycomb’ brickwork, which is loose bricks placed on top in a honeycomb pattern, which the prisoners tried to climb, would make a great noise as they fell down alerting the guards.

The medical area was very primitive and originally a doctor would only visit a couple of times a week and the little equipment that was provided was second-hand or out of date. In the later years a nurse was employed full-time. A denist was provided from 1955, he had a horrid job as prisoners had no access to toothbrushes or toothpaste and their teeth were horrid, also he relied on second-hand or out of date equipment. Eventually they were provided with paste and brushes. 

There were female prisoners housed in the gaol, they were in a three-storey cell block from about 1862. There was only one female prisoner executed in South Australia, Elizabeth Woolcock was hanged in December 1873 for poisoning her husband.

There is so much more I could write about as it is a vast place full of history.   I'll let he photos tell you more.

West Terrace Cemetery

Family headstone
We had a self-guided tour here. It is 27.6 hectares (68 acres) in size and beaming full of history. We first went to the office and got a few of the maps and self-guided tours. At the office is a touch screen, this is where you type in the name of the person you are seeking and then when you find it, you can print out a map showing where the person located. It was awkward to follow, but as usual we got the hang of it on the last one! I printed out five of Craig’s rellies to find. All being his 3x great -grandparents . The first ones we easy to find, but then we came to a section where the headstones had been vandalised and smashed up, it was so sad to see. Deidre pointed out one that had been knocked over, and as she was cursing those who did this, I noticed it was one we were seeking.

Damaged graves
Stone drum headstone
Fortunately it was not smashed, but just knocked over. There was a notice on it for the family to contact the Adelaide Cemeteries Authority, I now need to find a closer relative to ring them. The rest of the graves we found did not have any headstones, the maps have named all the names surrounding the one you need so if there is not a headstone you can located the position with the other names as markers. After we searched out the five graves (I have about another 20 or so to go) we strolled around reading the old headstones, there are some great verses and stories on some. There is a lot of subsidence and the old graves have collapsed and sunk, at first you think they have been vandalised, but then realise it is the ground sinking (the water table is only a few feet from the surface). One grave we saw had a piece of stone carved out as a drum, it belonged to a gentleman who was a drummer in the John Martin’s Orchestra! 

Something different

There is a lot of work being done down the middle to back sections where they have reclaimed sites and planted grass and landscaped.  

We definitely are coming back here, a few visits I think as there is so much ground to cover. You can drive the car in as well, so this will help.

St Peter’s Cathedral

A truly magnificent building. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable on the history of this beautiful building. It was a busy place when we arrived, there were numerous ladies doing enormous floral arrangements for a funeral that was being held the next day. The pews in the cathedral have only been in existence since the 1960’s as prior to that they had cane chairs! I thought all churches had pews as a standard, so that was news to me. We had a look at a lovely display of embroidered items that the ladies guild have done, such detail, if I lived closer I would join this group as I too love doing the fine embroidery. We then made our way down to the front of the altar, it is so far from the seating. The choir area has tapestry cushions that have to be in the correct order as there is stitched into them a musical piece.

Hidden behind the altar is the Lady chapel, a quiet place to pray at anytime. It has the most wonderful stained glass windows. Down the passageway leading to the chapel are all the embroidered banners from various groups, Deidre was excited when she saw the Mother’s Union one as her mother stitched a panel and Deidre had done a few stitches herself. There is a mix of old stained glass windows and modern leadlight in the Cathedral. The tour lady told us the wonderful story the modern leadlight windows have, the story starts from settlement through to now. Unfortunately the bell tower wasn’t in the tour, so I must go back when there is one in the future. Oh, and the tour was free!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Migration Museum

Another free guided tour. This site also has many layers of history. It was the first ‘Native School’ where Aboriginal children were boarded and educated by the colonial government, there is only part of one wall remaining of the school on the site. The buildings that are left used to form part of the Destitute Asylum from the early 1850’s until 1918. This sheltered the homeless, sick, pregnant girls and aged. The displays on the Destitute Asylum are quite confronting, they contain stories and artefacts. The section on the pregnant women and tools used for labour were unsettling I have to say. We didn’t get to go into the other part of the museum which displays artefacts and migration stories and also cultural heritage in South Australia as time had run out.

Parliament House

The Foyer
This was also a free guided tour. Firstly we had to go through all the security like at the airport, which took a while as so many people turned up for this tour, quite a few hundred. We had a lovely English tour guide, he works for the Legislative council. Parliament House is interesting inside as it has two distinct parts halves. The House of Assembly side was built in 1889 and is very green. The green carpet has octagon shapes with sheafs of wheat, wattle and grapes with vine leaves, then edged in red carpet with Sturt Desert Peas. All the passage ways and offices are very decorative with painted plaster work (very Victorian). The Legislative Council side was built in 1939 and is very red. The carpet has squares with sturt desert peas in them. All the passage ways and offices have lots of unpainted timber with plain decor, not decorative as the older section.
Various stages of the build
The reason why the two sides are so different is that when building Parliament House, the government ran out of money (surprise) and only built half. Then 50 years later Sir Langdon Bonython made a gift
£100,000 for them to build the other half as he was sick of looking at the blank wall that faced King William Street.

The House of Assembly

The Legislative Council

We had a tour through both sides, looked in the library and saw the very rare books the have there. The Library has 12 staff with only 2 being Librarians, the other 10 are lawyers and Uni graduates with Ph D’s as the work for the Librarian has changed so much regarding research, that they need legal/research degrees to perform them. Parliament House is a very
worthwhile place to visit.

Government House

Government House and gardens
It was great to visit Government House, my first time here. I have for years walked past those stone walls wondering what was to be seen behind them. We were amongst a few thousand people. It was free and you had to guide yourself around. The gardens are magnificent, yet simple. They are planned to original designs and cannot be changed even the plantings are very limited to change. It was nice to look at the old trees in their full glory (grown to their full potential with no others blocking them).

Various rooms
The house is stately, but not overly grand. It was hard to see a lot of the rooms clearly for all the people. The dining room was set up as it would be for fine dining. The paintings are huge in this room, life sized portraits with thick gold frames. The ballroom floor has dents all over form stiletto shoes and a magnificent stained glass window. My favourite room has to be the morning room, so peaceful and with garden views over North Terrace. I was surprised at the veggie patches out the back, quite unkempt.
Side and back views
There is a cute, old fashioned petrol pump out the back. I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the house and grounds. Oh I forgot, there little hints of Central Districts around the house, with a scarf here or bear there !!! 

Torrens Parade Ground

Torrens Parade Ground
I set out at 8.30am, picked up Deidre and we made our way to the city. I got a free park near the Adelaide University which was great. The first tour we chose was one of the Torrens Parade Ground. This was a free guided tour and was very informative with about 15 others on the tour. We started off outside where we were given a history of the site and current building.

Originally, before white settlement, the site was once a riverside camping spot for the Kaurna People. The site then became a quarry and much of the stone used in the Governor’s residence and walls came from the ground here which is why the land drops suddenly from behind the walls of Government House. Then in the Boer War, First World War, Second World War it was the assembly point for the troops before they headed off in the ships to the battlefields abroad. Now the building houses History SA, the ex-servicemen groups RSL, the Airforce Association, Vietnam Vets and I think a couple more groups.

The building we see here now isn’t the original building, this one was built by the Commonwealth for South Australia’s Centenary in 1936. The building was handed over to the State Government about 10 or so years ago.

We then moved inside the building we viewed the wonderful 360 degree photographic panorama of the city of Adelaide from the late 1840’s (?). It is a must-see. We progresses upstairs where there are numerous honour boards from various RSL’s across the state. There is a flight simulator from the 1940’s that is still used today by pilots for training. I am sure they think it is a joke when told they will be using it, it so old and has a bit of a comical look about it! In the mess area there are trophies, memorabilia and an unexpected surprise, on the ceiling under glass is a most exquisite needleworked lace panel depicting the WW2 a totally unexpected item in a men’s mess room. This was the end of our tour. Next stop Government House.

History SA’s About Time 2013

This year I have hit the history trail with a BANG!  I have not participated in History SA’s history week/month in previous years mainly due to the fact no-one would go with me L, but this year I have my ‘History Buddy’ Deidre.  Deidre and myself are former neighbours and have know each other for over 20 years, our likes are very similar, so when she arrived back in SA (Deidre and her husband Bob are ‘grey nomads’) I jumped at the chance of booking her in for a few tours.  The few tours have now turned into numerous ones as we are having such a great time.  We call our tours as ‘Hysterical Historics’.

On the weekend of Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th May, the city of Adelaide had a ‘Open House’.  This is when over 50 buildings in the city centre were open to the public, with most being open free.  Here are posts of our adventures that began on Sunday 4th May.