It was great and rewarding to read Peter Henry's memories of his growing up at the "top part of Vale Road and Vale of Clwydd" (Lithgow Mercury, Friday, August 9, 2019).
I too can remember as a little girl sitting on the side of the hill watching dad play cricket on the oval behind the Vale Hall.
I have for sometime been researching my area growing up at "bottom of Vale Road, Pitts Paddock and Chivers Park" at the bottom end of the Gasworks Lane. Peter's article has set me to write some of my wonderful memories.
The Watters' family home was 124 Vale Road (now 120 Mort Street). I was born in 1941 at 124 Vale Road and these are some of my memories of people and happenings from about 1945 (when I was up and about) to late 1950's, early 1960's, when I was employed at the Small Arms Factory, playing mny sports in Lithgow's great sporting fields and venues.
Softball at Glanmire, basketball at the Rec, athletics at Cinders Track, hockey, squash at Arthur and Phil Shawcross Squash centre, table tennis at the baclk of the Trades Hall Picture Theatre, golf, tennis at town courts, swimming at the Small Arms Factory dam (our only swimming pool).
My early sport in Chivers Park was cricket, tennis, football and soccer. The park was a wonderful grassy area from the bottom of Gasworks Lane (bottom and top area). Three great tennis courts, old shed at lane where the manager of Gas Works Lane lived, Mr Frank Bean who had a flourishing apricot tree in his yard, which we availed ourselves to when in season.
We also spent many hours in the back lanes playing marbles. We were delighted when the council workers mowed the grass - plenty of grass to tackle each other. It was a picture.
Adjacent to the park towards the Main Street we had the Lithgow Council Works Depot and Gas Works and a Shell patrol area. A railway line came across Gasworks Lane to the Shell Depot. Pirie and Cotter had a garage on the corner opposite the Court House Hotel. June Lindsay's family (Forbes) lived next door.
Names to mind; Bill Wells, Bruce Fitzpatrick, Brian Jenkins, John Buckley, Kay Haslop, Kipp brothers, and no doubt others I may have forgotten. I was the only girl but Maureen Patterson sometimes played with us. Bruce Fitzpatrick's father Eddie coached our cricket team for the Saturday am competition.
Chivers Park was also used by the high school for sport periods and events. I can also vaguely remember due to an unforeseen happening a circus event took place there.
The railway train drivers played tennis on the Sunday. Names to mind; Len Caddis and Stan Bingham. I used to sit on the little embankment and watch. One day they called to me "can you play?". I said I was learning and they said "go and get your racquet". I was overjoyed at being able to play. Dad was a railway man also and a champion tennis player.
In the earlier days I can remember Dad made us all a wooden racquet to play on the courts and I also remember watering and marking the courts on occasions which was a talking point with Mum when we walked past on a Saturday night going to the Union Picture Theatre. Just Mum and me.
Pitts Paddock going right up to the mountain was another wonderful area for us and the dogs. Usually every Sunday afternoon Dad would take us all "up the bush".
On the way we filled the water containers from a well just behind and a mug of tea and of course plenty of Saos with Vegemite.
We gathered wood for the home fires returning home tired but a great afternoon. Mum spent many hours blackberry picking; selling to Mr Phillips at his produce store opposite the Court House Hotel.
The area where Cooinda homes is was a very marshy area with bull rushes. Near there, where Brian Hicks has his business, was a paddock where the Co-op bread cart horses were kept. Mr Jim Lovett used to come with his horse and cart, large basket covered with a white cloth, to deliver lovely fresh bread. A creek ran through the paddock.
Also in the very early days district nurse-midwife Nurse Mary Evans lived about where Cooinda is. A very old cottage quite hidden by unkept shrubs with a very narrow entrance. Nurse Evans had a cocky who used to call out "nurse, nurse" when someone visited.
In the area near to where the tech college is lived a very elderly and eccentric man named Mr Russell. Somehow he adopted the name "Yorky" but Dad said we had to be respectful and call him mister. His house was put together with old tin and wood like a humpy. We did not go in that area very often.
Our bonfire nights were in the area where Lawson Street is. All the kids collected the old wood for the bonfire. Again I was the only girl and I certainly worked hard with the boys. The nights were very successful with many families attending.
In regards to Chivers Park. I enquired from Council and organisations/library as to photos available or if any were ever taken of the area and my only success was my brother John Watters.
When a family or friend was going back to Sydney on the train we always went to the corner of the Gas Works Lane to wave to the train. Remarkably late 1950's/early 1960's John was going back to the city and took a photo (as above). In the photo is Brian Rutter, David Watters (on bike), Barbara and Margaret Watters waving to John on the train. What a great find; the area had just been taken over by Council, hence the black chitter in readiness.
The Lithgow Mercury (January 19, 1934) stated "'Gasworks Park' to lose its unofficial and harsh misnomer. The understanding being that in future it will be called 'Chivers Park'. Quite a nice tribute too."
I believe it had been suggested to conduct a "give it a name competition". However the Mercury (June 8, 1934) reported the general public speedily changed and adopted the name 'Chivers Park'.
Berry Le Breton (nee Chivers) resides in Mort Street opposite where the tennis courts were. Betty advised her uncle George Chivers had been Mayor of Lithgow about that time and her other two uncles Charles and David Chivers, both bachelors, lived in Brown Street (just up from the park). I can remember them. If George Chivers was mayor at that time perhaps the park had been named after him. I always thought so on advice from Dad.
The Mercury reported on November 1, 1945 "Lithgow National Fitness recommended to Lithgow Council that a supervised children's playground be erected in Chivers Park".
As far as I can remember this did not take place until a few years later and I can remember there being a slippery dip (where I fell and fractured my wrist), swings and a seesaw. This was located near the tennis courts.
Family members of old residents still in Lithgow are Davis (Shirley Osland), Patterson (Maureen and Bill), Collins (Pam, Michelle, Geoff), Watters (Beth, Margaret and Barbara), Betty Le Briton (Uncles Charles, David and George Chivers), Hall (Kath McCracken), Kipp (Don), Jenkins (Brian), Fitzpatrick (Bruce and Rita), Bean (Jill Marjoram and Steve Evans), Wells (Les and Kathy), Potts (Gloria Phelan), Lemcke (Basil), Gillard (Robyn Morrissey), Hammet (Noeline and Heather Kelly), Mitchell (Jenny McCann), Winterbottom (Dorothy), Merle Drury (Judy Fleming), McLennan (Gai and Shelley), Williams (Shirley), Clarke (Glynn, Elizabeth and Wayne), Dicks (Graeme and Annette), Alice Jenkins (Alf).
How fortunate we were growing up in such an environment; an easy and carefree life. Wonderful and amazing parents and friends.
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