Chigwell History Project

Memories of Chigwell House

By 23/12/2005June 22nd, 2021No Comments

Memories of Chigwell House

Interview by Grade 3/4 students, Mt Faulkner Primary, 2005

“I was ten years old when I moved into Chigwell House, and I lived there between 1939-1953.”

“When we first moved out there the family was still intact, so there were nine of us when we sat down for dinner in the dinning room. Mum and Dad and seven kids, and I was the smallest.”

“It was the family home.”

“I was virtually there on my own, because I was the youngest by a long way, and I had no one to play with except my dog.”

 “There were only about five houses in the Chigwell area. It seems funny now. There was a house down on the main road between the Caltex service station and the fire brigade, and there was a young couple there and they had a boy, and a girl, but they were weekly boarders in town at school. So I never saw them.”

“When they were at home, we went exploring, we went to their grandmothers house which was Windamere. The old lady lived at Windamere. We explored their grounds and that’s were we came across the ruins of the house that the original John Faulkner built. It was still standing when I was there as a small boy. The government knocked it down to put the high school football oval on, which was typical. They also knocked the house (Windamere)  down and somebody’s building over in that area now and a whole lot of digging up pieces of the house.”

“After school I did homework. It used to take half an hour to get home from school on the train, and I used to catch a train at half past four so I wouldn’t be home until five pm.”

The House

“It was a strange house. It was old fashioned in many ways. The main thing about it was that there was a lot of land around it, a lot of ground. I had a big back paddock, where I could go with my dog and all. I could look up and see there was the big barn. There were no houses, just a few sheep or cattle or something or other and then across the other side of the creek down there, was another valley going up I used to explore that at times.”

“When we first moved in there was a fuel copper. It is a big brass basin thing with a fire underneath and you boil the water up in that.”

The Land & Animals

“The lovely garden is all gone. We used to have flowering pear trees that were thirty odd high……great big things, great big blossom trees.”

“We ran a big poultry place. We had lots of chooks. We had two or three hundred fowls and we used to collect the eggs and take them into town and sell them. We had incubators were we took the eggs and turned them into chickens and we had brooders where we kept them till they grew and all that sort of thing.”

“We had cows and horses in paddocks at times. We grew a lot of strawberries. We used to grow a lot of tomatoes.”

“There used to be bandicoots and rabbits and a few hares.”


“We used to go to the pictures every Friday and Saturday nights. It cost a couple of shillings. We used to buy milkshakes 4p, malted milkshakes 5p, and meat pies 3p.

“We had a grass tennis court. The only thing being you had to cut the grass, you had to roll the lawn, then you had to mark the lines out because the lines would all be gone when the grass grew and then by that stage you were too exhausted to go and play.”

“We had a sort of a wireless the youngsters now call them radios. There was no television, nothing of that nature at all. The most exciting things I had were the trains.”


“Trains went past all the time and they were all steam. Goods trains, passenger trains, trains going to Cadbury’s and trains going to Brighton camp taking the troops up there and back again, trains going up the Derwent valley. I spent a lot of time in the railway stations travelling to and fro. We had a little siding down on the railway and we had a flag, a yellow flag that you used to have to hang out when you wanted to catch the train.”

“Cadbury’s train would go past about seven forty five am with up to three hundred workers on board and provided it could get up the hill it would lodge them up there and go back into town at about five past eight and it was one of the main ways of getting back into town. Coast eleven pence. One pound fifty return. We bought tickets from the railway station in Hobart or from the guard on the train.”

“We are sitting down one Friday night for tea and we heard the seven o’clock train going thru and it didn’t stop. All of a sudden you could hear it starting to shudder, the house started to shake. It had hit a truck. A truck had stalled across the line. It was the local courier and it had all the wheat and bran and everything else. It was approx 1943.”

“I went to Hutchins in town in Macquarie Street so I used to travel in by train everyday. I used to get off at Macquarie Street where they had a siding and you’d walk straight from there.”


“There was a butchers shop in Claremont we used to buy from,  and I think he delivered as well, and there was a general store which was also the post office in Claremont.”

“Claremont was just a little village. There was a cake shop and a hall, two or three churches and a couple of service stations and that was it.”


“When we first moved there it was one where you turn the handle, and you had to wait till someone answers at the other end and then you can give them the number. We got the automatic phone a lot earlier than a lot of the other areas for some reason. Weather it was Cadbury’s or Brighton we never found out. We had an automatic phone exchange out at Claremont before they had it at Moonah and Glenorchy. The Zinc Work was still on a manual wind-up phone, and we were on automatic!”

World War II

“Two of my sisters were away at it. One in the air force, RAF and another in VAD. Then a couple of brothers in law came back. One was in the air force and another in the army, but I was in the school cadets, which was a lot of help, we were meant to be half the defence of Hobart.

“During the war, food was rationed, petrol was rationed. You could only have a certain amount of sugar, butter, tea, meat. Mum was a great one for drinking tea, so she used to make her own butter and then she’d switch the butter coupons with the greengrocer for more tea and more sugar for making jams and things. We had a lot of fruit trees.”

“During the war there was a big line of lights beside the Zinc Works that used to light up the boundary fence. You could see that standing off as clear as anything. We had a search light battery down in Lowestoft Bay. There was a group down there with search-lights, chasing planes in the middle of the night.”

“One reason I spent that much time on the train was because the car finished up having to have a gas producer on it. It was a thing that they introduced during the war. It was a thing they fitted on the back of a car and it generated gas that the car was driven with. To do it you burnt charcoal, they had special mills that made the charcoal and you poured that into the top of the thing and lit the pilot light. Then you started the car up on petrol and then drove for a bit then you would switch her across and the gas would run it. You also had covered headlights. They were hooded and they had a slit just on the bottom, so that you could see a little bit in front so that it didn’t throw the light up.”

“Mum left (Chigwell House) about 1963 or ’62. By that stage they had built right round her, they only left her the home block and that’s where all those cottages are now. All that area was her home garden.”


TOP IMAGE: (left to right from back row)

Margaret, Mary, Elizabeth, Nancy, Sir John McPhee, Lady McPhee, Donald, John, Janet (Donald was on leave from Administrative Service in New Guinea. At the time it was unknown to the family that this was to be the last photo of all the family together.)