Camden · Colonial Camden · Uncategorized

Camden’s mysterious heritage list

A 1915 view of Commercial Banking Co building at corner of Argyle and John Street Camden
A 1915 view of Commercial Banking Co building at corner of Argyle and John Street Camden

Recently I needed to consult Camden’s heritage inventory list for a research project. I also consulted similar lists for Campbelltown and Wollondilly LGAs. They were easy to find.
Camden’s list was mysteriously hiding somewhere. It had to exist. The council is obliged to put one together by the state government.
But where was it? Do you know where Camden Council’s heritage inventory is to be found? I did not know.
So off I went on a treasure hunt. The treasure was the heritage list.

Cobbity's St Paul's Anglican Church 1910 (Camden Images)
Cobbity’s St Paul’s Anglican Church 1910 (Camden Images)

A simple search on the council’s website using the keyword ‘heritage’ revealed a list of links about heritage with the most useful information being listed on page 3 under the heading ‘heritage information’. This webpage provided some useful guidelines and some links that were out of date and did not work anymore.


Camden Valley Inn, Camden, c.1938 (Camden Images)
Camden Valley Inn, Camden, c.1938 (Camden Images)

The ‘heritage information’ page stated that ‘Camden’s heritage is made up of a combination of significant places, buildings, works, relics, moveable objects and precincts’. But alas no list of heritage items or list of the heritage inventory.
The intrepid researcher is directed to a document called Camden DCP 2011. So what does this mean? For the uninitiated this is the Camden Development Control Plan 2011 and on page 57 there is a list of ‘potential heritage items –built heritage’. So we have found the potential list?   Was this the mysterious list. Well not really as there are other lists. Confused? Well you are not alone. So I kept searching. All dead ends. I must say council’s website is very convoluted and legalistic. Not very user friendly at all.

Macquarie Grove Airfield 1930s Camden (Camden Images)
Macquarie Grove Airfield 1930s Camden (Camden Images)

As a seasoned researcher I tried another tactic. Lets try the link to the NSW Heritage Branch of the NSW Government’s Office of Heritage and Environment off the council’s page. From past experience I have found after some trial and error that this website for the State Heritage Inventory can be very useful. If you just do a search using the keyword just for the Camden LGA then it reveals that there are 14 items listed under the NSW Heritage Act and 166 listed by ‘Local Government Agency’ without stating what that agency is. Each heritage item has a standard format for listing with detailed information. This was more productive than a search of the council’s website. Was it the mysterious list I was looking for? No unfortunately.

Maybe we should try the tourism webpage. Not bad and the council must be commended on its contribution to the 2015 Macarthur Visitors Guide and the supporting website. It is user friendly providing a range of historic and other attractions including the Camden Museum. But it was not the mysterious heritage list.
Yet our friends at Campbelltown are able to access their city’s heritage list on a simple internet search under the heading ‘Heritage Items in Campbelltown’. The heritage items are listed by suburb and are easy to access. Each items has a separate page with a summary of images, history and description, condition and use, heritage significance, heritage listing. Unfortunately no such list exists on the Camden Council website.


Central Camden c1930s (Camden Images)
Central Camden c1930s (Camden Images)

Further down the road in the Wollondilly LGA a simple web search reveals a page titled ‘heritage’ with a straight forward link to the council’s heritage lists in the 2011 Wollondilly LEP. Similar links on the Camden Council website appear not to exist.
Using this experience I searched for the Camden LEP 2010 and sure enough found the Camden Heritage List in this document is found in Schedule 5 after some looking around. Aha! Daylight and success at last.It was not easy. But I did find the mysterious heritage list I was looking for. It took a lot of searching which should have been unnecessary.
Camden Council’s spokesperson Lisa Howard Senior Project Officer – Heritage and Place Coordination stated in an email to me recently that ‘council is unfortunately not in a position at present to provide information on individual heritage items on its website’. She directed me to the Heritage Information page of the council’s website which I have discussed earlier. Ms Howard also stated in earlier correspondence that it was council policy ‘To ensure that the information is up to date, it should not be a separate database on Council’s website’. Meaning that council has no intention of providing a separate listing of local heritage items.


Bank of NSW, 1938, Argyle St, Camden the route of the Hume Highway (I Willis)
Bank of NSW, 1938, Argyle St, Camden the route of the Hume Highway (I Willis)

This is really a cop out by Camden Council. If it is good enough for Campbelltown Council to have summary listings why not Camden Council. Why not do what Wollondilly Council has done on a simple web link. Camden Council is located in one of the most historic areas in Australia for European settlement. The local area is part of the foundation story of the nation.


Cooks Garage in Argyle Street Camden the route of the Hume Highway c.1936 (Camden Images)
Cooks Garage in Argyle Street Camden the route of the Hume Highway c.1936 (Camden Images)

So we come back to the starting point. There needs to be a simple and easily accessible list of heritage sites in the local area. It is unfortunate that Camden Council seems to think that this is not important, while surrounding councils find the time and effort to supply easily accessible links to similar information. Camden Council can do better than this.

For those who do not want to go through the stress of finding these links here they are.
Camden council’s heritage inventory located in Schedule 5 of the 2010 DCP or for the uninitiated – which is most of us – Development Control Plan. Click here
For those who are interested the Campbelltown Heritage Inventory click here and the for the Wollondilly Heritage List click here

Camden · First World War · Interwar · Red Cross

Lady Street visited Camden in 1934

1918 Poster Image RC

The Red Cross drew many important people to visit Camden during the Inter-war period. One of those was Lady Belinda Street, a member of the Street family, a dynasty of important Sydney barristers and judges.

Lady Belinda Street was part of the influential network of friends and contacts that formed the circle that swirled around the lives of the Enid and Sibella Macarthur Onslow of Camden Park that moved between London and New South Wales.

1930 Lady Belinda Street (National Library of Australia)
1930 Lady Belinda Street (National Library of Australia)

Edric Street, Lady Belinda’s brother-in-law, was the manager of the Commercial Bank in Camden from 1914 and his wife Margaret was active in the Camden Red Cross.

In 1934 the Camden Red Cross, under the presidency of Sibella Macarthur Onslow, invited Lady Belinda Street and Mrs John Moore OBE (formerly Gladys Owen) to the AGM at the Camden Town Hall (School of Arts), after the event had been cancelled at Gilbulla due to heavy rain.

Lady Belinda Street was a charity worker and philanthropist. She was the wife Phillip Street who was the Chief Justice of New South Wales (1925) and knighted (KCMG) in 1928. One her sons Kenneth, a Sydney barrister, who later became New South Wales chief justice (1949) and knighted KCMG, 1956), married Jessie Lillingston in 1916.

Jessie Street 1915 National Library of Australia, NLA 2683/11/6

Jessie Street was famous as a radical activist and humanitarian. She was later known as ‘Red Jessie’ for her sympathies with Russia during the Cold War. She was a contemporary of Sibella Macarthur Onslow  and in 1920 secretary of the National Council of Women of New South Wales.  Jessie campaigned for equal pay for women, was a supporter of the League of Nations and later the United Nations. She was a human rights advocate and campaigner for Indigenous rights in the 1930s and unsuccessfully stood for parliament for the Labor Party after the Second World War.

Lady Belinda Street, Jessie’s mother-in-law, was a member of many community organisations. She was a member of house committee of Royal Alexandria Hospital for Children, vice president of the District Nursing Association, the committee of the Church of England Grammar School and Homes and Hospitals for Children.

Lady Belinda was an active member of the Red Cross from the First World War along with Enid and Sibella Macarthur Onslow. Lady Belinda was a  member of the Executive Committee of the New South Wales Division of the Red Cross and by the Second World War served as vice-president of the New South Wales Division.  She was a supporter of the Red Cross Rose Hall Convalescent Home for soldiers at Darlinghurst Sydney during the First World War.  Rose Hall was lent to the Red Cross by the Mutual Life and Citizens’ Assurance Coy, opened in 1915 and fitted out by the Red Cross at the cost of £984 with 32 beds. It was one of a number of convalescent homes opened by the Red Cross during the war across New South Wales.

Lady Belinda’s sister-in-law Mrs Edric (Margaret) Street was a  foundation member of the Camden Red Cross and served as treasurer until the death of her husband, Edric Street, in Camden in 1923. Margaret served as a member of Executive Committee of the New South Wales Division of the Red Cross during the First World War. Margaret Browne married Edric Street at St Matthais’ Church Albury in 1892 and had four children. She was the second daughter of TA Browne, pastoralist and police magistrate and the author known as ‘Rolf Boldrewood’ who wrote Robbery Under Arms which was published as a serial in the Sydney Mail between 1882 and 1883. His wife Maria was the granddaughter of Alexander Riley of Raby.

Cover Robbery Under Arms
Cover Robbery Under Arms

Edric H Street was manager of Camden’s Commercial Bank from 1914 until his death (1923) and was very a community minded citizen. He was treasurer of the Camden AH&I Society, vice president of the executive committee of the Camden District Hospital and a warden of St John’s Church.

A 1915 view of Commercial Banking Co building at corner of Argyle and John Street Camden
A 1915 view of Commercial Banking Co building at corner of Argyle and John Street Camden

The Camden News reported that at the 1934 Camden Red Cross AGM  Lady Belinda Street moved  ‘the adoption of the report and balance sheet, and congratulated the Camden Red Cross on the excellent financial results of its past year’. She spoke of the long association of Mrs Edric [Margaret] Street, her sister-in-law, with the work of the Red Cross in Camden.  Dr RM Crookston, Camden Mayor in 1933, proposed ‘a vote of thanks to Lady Street for sparing some of her well-filled time to come and preside at Camden’s annual Red Cross meeting’.

Dr Crookston paid a tribute to the ‘unfailing energy and devotion that Mrs Edric Street had shown in her work for the Red Cross from the very day that England entered the war. Referring to the peace-time work of the Red Cross Society, Dr. Crookston said that amid all the political wrangling and the struggle for a ‘place in the sun’ that went on all over the world, it was encouraging to know that this kindly influence was at work caring for those unable to care for themselves’.

‘Mr Davies seconded this vote which was carried unanimously. Mr PC Furner proposed a vote of thanks to Miss Onslow for entertaining the members and urged them to pledge themselves to greater efforts for the Red Cross. This was carried by acclamation, and after Miss Onslow had responded Lady Street declared the meeting closed’.

The Camden News reported that ‘afternoon tea was then served and much appreciated’.

Read more 

Jessie Street National Women’s Library, Sydney Click here

‘Red Jessie’ the story of Jessie Street. Uncommon Lives, National Archives Click here

TA Browne, pseudonym Rolf Boldrewood. Click here