2017 Railway Crane Re-instated

Burwood Council is to be congratulated for completing the restoration of the crane and weighbridge in Railway Parade, which the Society was instrumental in helping Council recover. Our former president Jon Breen and a member of the public made sure the restoration project stayed on track! In examining the jib of the crane it was noticed only last week under the layers of paint, there was some letters. The Letters were “Phoenix Iron, PA, (standing for Pennsylvania).

A check on the internet showed that Phoenix Iron had been established in 1855, which by coincidence was the year that the Sydney-Parramatta Railway Line was built through Burwood. Phoenix Iron Company had in 1862 manufactured canons for the Union Army during the American Civil War.

The Burwood station was one of the five stations on the original line from Sydney to Parramatta. Its location with easy access to both Parramatta Road and Liverpool Road was probably the reason why it was a significant station with a goods yard for the transportation of freight. The newly established rail link provided a ready means to transport goods and produce from the many farms and businesses located between Sydney and Parramatta. It was in the context of goods yard that the crane is significant. The access to the yard was from Railway Parade prior to the overhead bridge being built in the 1890s, so it is appropriate that the crane has been re-located near to where it originally functioned.


Members of the Burwood & District Historical Society laid a wreath at the Burwood War Memorial in 2015 to commemorate the centenary of the Anzac landing on Gallipoli. Click on images to enlarge.


Inscription on Burwood War Memorial

Jon Breen, the Society’s President, recalled when watching the first episode of the ABC television series, ‘ANZAC Girls, that the names of nursing sisters who served in World War I are inscribed on the War Memorial in Burwood Park.

One of the nurses in the series is ‘Sister Elsie Cook’. The character is based on Sister E. Sheppard, who is recorded on the War Memorial. Her father was the Mayor of Burwood 1902/03. Sister Sheppard had a military wedding on 19 September 1914. Her husband was George Sydney (Syd) Cook the son of Joseph Cook, who had been  Prime Minister when WWI was declared on 4 August 1914. Another interesting part of Burwood’s History.


Keynote speaker, Marilyn Sue Dooley (standing centre) with Society President, Jon Breen, to her left and some of the many members and guests who enjoyed her address.

We were pleased to welcome Marilyn Sue Dooley, Vice President of the Chinese Heritage Association of Australia, as our keynote speaker at this year’s Christmas in July Dinner at ClubBurwood.

Over 50 members and guests, including Marilyn’s cousins Wayne & Kay Spaulding and Colleen Hebbard, who was visiting from Central Queensland, and fellow member of the Chinese Heritage Association, Colin Lum and his guests, enjoyed the festive evening and Marilyn’s fascinating keynote address: “Chinese Australian History: ‘How Many Dry Creek Beds?”.

Marilyn’s maternal great grandparents journeyed to Australia from Northern Ireland and China in the nineteenth century, during the gold rush years.  She took us on her search for ancestors in Central Queensland, Northern Ireland and China and explored the impetus that compels her and other family historians to research and abide by the Chinese proverb which says:  To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.

Marilyn entertained us with stories of some of her many frustrations as her search took her to “dry creek beds” – and of her elation & great joy when her passion and persistence lead to new information about family members and connections – and unearthed precious family photos and memorabilia, some of which she shared with us, together with more recent photos from her expeditions to her ancestral family home on the former gold fields in Central Queensland and family reunions.


The Burwood Masonic Temple, in Belmore Street, hit the local news at the end of 2012 after Burwood Council received a development application to demolition it – see the news item below. The welcome news is that the facade was restored as shown in August 2013.


“Burwood’s Famous Eye Surgeon, Sir Norman Gregg, and the Congenital Rubella Story” was the topic of the address by Dr Paul Lancaster, pictured at right, at the Society’s eighth Christmas in July dinner. Gregg was born in Burwood in 1892 and was educated at Homebush and Sydney grammar schools and completed medicine at the University of Sydney with first-class honours. He served on the Western Front in the 1914-1918 World War and won the Military Cross.

Dr Lancaster said that Gregg’s discovery in the early 1940s that rubella in early pregnancy caused cataracts and other birth defects was a most important advance in medicine. Gregg’s findings had major implications for clinical medicine, basic research and public health. His discovery stimulated research workers in the laboratory to isolate the rubella virus, although this was not achieved until 1962. A vaccine was later developed to protect young women against rubella before they reached their reproductive years.

Over fifty members and guests attended and enjoyed Dr Lancaster’s address and the festive evening at ClubBurwood.


Sandra and Robert Crofts are members of the Burwood & District Historical Society and their interest in milestones has resulted in this fascinating book. For more background information and details for ordering please click: Australia’s Historical Milemarkers


Burwood Mayor, Cr John Faker, was photographed outside ‘Brooklyn’ in the 8 May 2013 edition of Burwood Scene. The house is in a derelict state and Cr Faker was reported as having safety concerns. He invited anyone who has concerns regarding this matter to contact his office on 9911 9916 or

Further information and photographs about ‘Brooklyn’, which is on the corner of Duff Street and Burwood Road, can be found in the ‘People & Places’ page.


The facade of the Burwood Masonic Temple after the demolition of the rear of the building.

The rear of the Burwood Masonic Temple after part demolition.

The Burwood Masonic Temple hit the local news at the end of 2012 after Burwood Council received a development application in the period 20 September to 2 October 2012: “BD.2012.116 – 47 Belmore Street, Burwood. Demolition of existing building.” However, the Masonic Temple was not mentioned by name. The Masonic Temple, 47 Belmore Street, Burwood is listed under Council’s ‘Burwood Local Environmental Plan 2012′ and in ‘Schedule 5 Environmental heritage’ it is noted as of local significance. Jon Breen, President of the Burwood & District Historical Society, wrote to Burwood Council in November 2012 expressing the Society’s strong opposition to the unnecessary total demolition of the heritage listed building. The fate of the building can be seen in the photographs above taken in March 2013.

Burwood Council received a development application in the period 7 March to 21 March 2013: “BD.2013.31 – 39-47 Belmore Street, 6-14 Conder Street and 11-19 Wynne Avenue Burwood. Mixed use development containing a retail podium, 10-story serviced apartment building and two 19-story residential apartment towers over three levels of basement parking.” It will be interesting to see how the Masonic Hall will fit in.


Sue Whitechurch was presented with the Citizen of the Year Award by Burwood Mayor Cr John Faker

Sue Whitechurch became Burwood Council Citizen of the Year at a large ceremony held at the Enfield Aquatic Centre on Australia Day 2013. Sue has served on the Society’s Committee and contributed to the local community for many years. The Award was richly deserved.

Comments are closed.