Stanwell Park Panorama Photo 1920s

Panorama of Stanwell Park and surrounding area, New South Wales, c. 1920s / EB Studios. PIC P865 LOC photographs in Hurley Stack 52/4-Enemark collection of panoramic photographs. National Library of Australia

The account below was written by Laurie Hill, possibly in the 1990s. It is assumed that it is about the above photo, as there is a copy of this photo on the wall at the Old Mine Surgery in Helensburgh. The National Library of Australia has a copy and attributes it to John H Enemark of EB Studios.

The above very old and very interesting panoramic view of the Stanwell Park amphitheatre, dates from 1914 to 1920, and was recently presented to the Helensburgh Historical society by local resident, Mr Col Wallis. The view is made up of two photos approximately 5 1/2″ wide and 3/8” deep, possibly taken on a glass negative and when processed, cut through the centre of the shot to fold on the mounting card. There is no indication of the photographers, but Victor Valentine, who lived in Helensburgh from the later years of the last century until early 1928, was thankfully around on all or most occasions “clicking” away taking a photographic record of the area’s and the people’s history. It is quite possible that this is one of his photographs. The clarity of this shot is amazing; even when studied under a magnifying glass there is a great amount of detail that is further revealed. Basically the photo is a record of the development of Stanwell Park, the closing of an era and the beginning of a new one. It shows the Public and private buildings that had been established at the time as well as the end of the single- track railway system via the much-feared Otford Tunnel. Also, it shows the commencement of the dual track and much upgraded system to take the country into the 21st century. The old railway is clearly visible starting down near the right-hand bottom corner of the photo with its light-coloured ballast, which after the tracks were lifted became the base for Chellowdene Avenue. The line ran from there over the viaduct at Hargrave Creek, which emanates from Stanwell Tops via the Mineral Pool and on past the Shell Garage which stands on the site of the original Stanwell Park Railway Station. The footbridge is also in place providing access over the railway to the beach or to the escarpment for the many hundreds of hikers of that era. Also very much evident are two other still current landmarks of that area – The Hargrave Tea Room on the corner alongside the Garage, and formerly the Post Office, and around the corner in Railway Crescent, the Ashford Homestead. The Post Office incidentally was opened as a “non-official Receiving Office” by Mrs Lillian Swain, as receiving Office Keeper on the 16th April 1895, on the princely sum of 5 pounds per annum, a typical token allowance. On the average five pieces of mail per week were transmitted through the Receiving Office at that time. A little higher up the hill towards the present Railway Station stands “Hillcrest”, home of the Hargrave family. Built by Ralph Hargrave, eldest son of Judge John Fletcher Hargrave, on a 1000 acre land grant, which the Judge acquired in 1856, and named Stanwell or Stanwell Park after property he knew in Middlesex. Lawrence moved his family from Sydney to Stanwell Park from where he continued his experiments with kites and monoplanes. On the 12th November 1894 he was carried into the air to a height of 16 feet, suspended from a series of four box kites on Stanwell Park Beach – a brief journey of untold significance. Another landmark, St. Georges Anglican Church on Stanwell Avenue, was built by a prominent local builder, Mr George Ricketts and opened in 1914. Mr Ricketts also built the Helensburgh Post Office, the Church of the Holy Redeemer at Helensburgh, the Paragon Hall and the Paragon Hotel, and he played a large part in the construction of Garrawarra Hospital. Also very clearly evident in the photo is the Stanwell Park viaduct, which carries the railway across Stanwell Creek and the Gully, a magnificent structure built on a sweeping curve from bricks made at Otford and Heathcote. Unfortunately, the stresses of cabling for electrification and much greater train loading have taken their toll in recent years. A small pin-point of the beach at the foot of Stanwell Avenue Circle, looks very much like the original one-room plus kiosk-headquarters of the Helensburgh Stanwell Park Surf Life Saving Club formed on 11th February 1908. If you study the photo very closely, near the corner of Lower Coast Road and Station Street, on the northern side of Station Street there are 20 or 30 tents housing railway workers who were some of the 1,000 strong work-force who lived and worked in the area whilst all of this work was being carried out. Remember it was still basically pick and shovel, and horse and dray days, when all of this was going on. These days when you travel along Lawrence Hargrave Drive through Stanwell Park you are following almost the same course as the original railway until you near Coalcliff Station. The cutting and embankments are almost as they were, and there are several pieces of brickwork on the roadside which were once bases and supports for the overhead bridges which criss-crossed the old railway as it headed south.