Friday, January 20, 2012

Smithfield Migrant Hostel

The Smithfield Migrant Hostel was situated in a former army camp adjacent to the railway yards at Smithfield. The camp had been set up as a Military Supply Depot for country areas north of Smithfield in early 1941. Seven large stores constructed of wood and iron, together with the administration and other buildings were in use until the camp was closed after the war.

The Smithfield Migrant Hostel was one of several hostels around Adelaide that were set up to accommodate the new arrivals on a temporary basis. At Smithfield plans were made to convert the former army storage buildings into living quarters for 100 people by the end of January 1949. The long term aim was to provide accommodation for 800 people, but between 250 and 300 was the maximum realized at any one time over the next 20 years.


Mr. Griffith, who arrived in Adelaide on January 17th, 1949, was appointed the first Manager and the hostel opened in March that year. Two of the large buildings offered dormitory accommodation for single people, while families were allocated a section in the building, usually consisting of a sitting room and two or three bedrooms. No cooking was allowed in the living quarters and all meals were served in a communal dining hall. Shared bathing and toilet facilities were provided in an ablution block attached to each building.


Most families who were unaccustomed to this partly institutionalized lifestyle, made the best of the situation, although night shift workers, found it difficult to sleep during the day with noisy children at play nearby. Some former migrants have described how they turned up the noise level on the wireless so they could hold a private conversation, as the walls between the rooms were so thin. If several people did this at the same time, the noise in the building was deafening.


Accommodation was not charged for until the family’s breadwinner found a job and started work. The tariff was based on the number of people in the family and the wages earned. The length of stay in the hotel varied between three and twelve months while people looked for more permanent housing. Residents were not encouraged to stay longer than twelve months and few wanted to do so, but people who could not find work or housing easily readily could apply for an extended period.


The need for hostel accommodation passed its peak by 1971 as immigration numbers lessened. By August of that year only five families were still in residence when the hostel closed.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Current Funeral notices

It is often difficult to trace people who may have passed away in recent years. Public death records in South Australia are available up to 1972, but how do you find out if someone died between then and now? One way is to access the Advertiser Funeral notices index compiled by Gerry Savill. Gerry painstakingly goes through the paper each day and compiles a list of deceased. At the beginning of each year he sends copies of his work to public libraries allowing free access to researchers. This is a fantastic resource. Having a date then allows you to access the newspaper without having to go through each day. If the person died within the last three months then you can access the notices online through Press Display, a free database available from public libraries. Most public libraries have copies of Gerry's work. Ask at your local library.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Arthur Russell ADAMS - Smithfield Honour roll

Arthur was the sixth child of Alexander and Alice nee Kelly. They lived in “Whyte Bank” where Alex grew mainly cereal crops. The property had a frontage to the Main North Road and went back to the foothills with a rough road past the farmhouse and stables leading on up to One Tree Hill.

Russell as Arthur was known, was a 20 year old farm labourer when war broke out in 1914. His mother Alice had to give written consent on December 17th 1914 for Russell to enlist in the AIF.

Russell enlisted on 26th November 1914 and was posted to “C” Squadron 11th Light Horse Regiment on 16th February 1915. He was promoted to Sergeant on 20th March 1915. On the 27th April 1915, he joined the Regiment in Queensland. He sailed with the Regiment on HMAT A7 “Medic” from Brisbane on 2nd June.

Russel landed in ANZAC 26th August 1915 and transferred to 9th Light Horse Regiment. He was evacuated from Gallipoli on the last night.

After the war, Russell returned to the farm in July 1919, his father passed away in 1920.
In March 1927 he married Gladys Phynella Hooper aged 31, daughter of a citrus grower of Salisbury. They had a daughter Jennifer.


Russell died at Salisbury Private Hospital on 7th September 1938 after an accident in which a team of horses bolted with a huge wagon loaded with hay near the Little Para Hotel on Main North Road. He was 43.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

History for busy people

Love history but dont have the time to read for hours, or watch episodes on particular topics? I have come across some great websites that offer short snappy snippets of history, either as text, ebook or podcast.

Two I like are a website Historyin an hour; history for busy people http://www.historyinanhour.com/ and Stuff you missed in history class http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/category/stuff-you-missed-in-history-class/ .

Stuff you missed in history class give you 15-20 minute podcasts, that you can down load for free on specific topics and listen to them while working, on the bus to work or just before you go to sleep. They choose interesting topics and make it entertaining.

History in an hour provides blog posts on topics or ebooks that cost a few dollars to download. The variety of ways history can be presented with new technology, just makes me love it more.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Clock Tower of Elizabeth


The clock tower was built so that Elizabeth would have a focal point. The sound of chimes first rang out over Elizabeth at 10am on Friday 22nd May, 1970.


The five bells comprised Westminster Chimes, weighing a total of (1328 kg) 2,927 lbs and the stricker alone weights half a ton. The bells were made at the Whitechapel Bell foundry in London, and the tower stands 104 feet high. The bells were stamped at the time of casting with the name “Mears” and dated 1968 London. The bells do not swing back and forth but are stationary and are struck by a mechanical hammer. The stricker was made by Messers Gillen and Johnston of Croydon England.


It was hope that the chimes would first ring out over Elizabeth on new Years Eve to welcome 1970, but unfortunately the strickers did not arrive on time.


The four faces of the clock are each approximately 2 ½ metres square. The bells chime every 15 minutes.


The Clock tower stands tall and square
With a face you can see whenever you care
It stands as a symbol great and tall
Looking over the city, the shops and mall
A symbol of status is this clock to me
Whenever I look up the time to see
I remember back to the town at its birth
And now see a city of great worth.