Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Mrs Lillian Watson remembers her arrival in Hammondville during the Depression, interviewed in 1986

Mrs Lillian Dulcie Watson was born in 1904 and interviewed in 1986 for the 'Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900 to 1960.' Mrs Watson remembers her arrival in Hammondville, a settlement developed near Liverpool during the depression for families in need.

LILLIAN: We got to Liverpool and we found out there was no bus, no transport, nobody knew where Hammondville was. So I said to my husband, 'What do we do, do we go back?' He said 'No, we've come this far, we might as well go the rest of the way.' So we decided to walk to Hammondville.

Well, we got, now, there was a factory where Leyland's factory is now, along the road. From then on it was practically a dirt track, horses and carts used to come out along the road, there was no traffic along the road, it was bush, and there was a few scattered houses. And we got along the road there and there was a dairy there. Mr Smith was the dairyman at the time, and we asked him where Hammondville was. 'Oh' he said, 'You've got a quite a long walk yet, you better keep going,' he said, 'You'll come to it.'

Well, we eventually got to Hammondville and it was just bush – there was houses built along Walder Road where the school is now – there was one room, was the school, and a little shop. And the office [for Hammondville Homes] was there. So we went into the office and he brought us down to look at this place here. There was a great big log right across the front of it, no fences, and I gave one look at it and I thought 'Oh boy'. Anyhow we eventually made up our minds we would come and give it a go.

We had a fuel stove, had to chop our own wood. The kids thought it was fun though, they were only little babies really, and they thought it was terrific, look out the back door and all you could see was bush. The house next door was nearly finished. Well we thought it was great for a week and of course it started to get very boring because there was no lights, only kerosene lamps, and no transport; the bus used to go to Liverpool of a morning and come back in the afternoon.

After a week I was going back to Bexley rain, hail or shine; no way was I going to stay in this place. Because it was so different, you know what I mean, there was nobody to talk to, you didn't know anybody. And then they had a chap used to come out here from St Barnabas' church [in central Sydney], a minister, an old chap, a Mr Morris and he was a lovely old chap, and he said 'Well, you've not been here very long. Give it a good three months at least'. Well, in the end I had to stay. We had no alternative 'cause we really had no money.

Contributed By
(Excerpt from interview with Mrs Lillian Watson from the 'Looking back at Liverpool : an oral history of the Liverpool region 1900-1960' conducted in 1986 by Liverpool City Council, editor and project co-ordinator Catherine Johnson ; researchers Angela Imbrosciano, Verica Miiosavijevic, Kathleen Smith)