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.
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 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.
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.
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’.
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