Stories from Manly's past - local history from Manly Library.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Several private hospitals and nursing homes have been located in Manly over the years. The proximity to sea-bathing facilities and fresh air made Manly a popular choice among convalescing patients, particularly in the period following World War One. One of the best-known of these private hospitals was St Ronan's Private Hospital, which started up in about 1903, on Ocean Beach (North Steyne). In its early days it was owned by the Misses Le Mesurier, who offered maternity and convalescent care. Records in the State Archives show that by the 1910s St Ronan's was permitted to conduct medical, surgical and midwifery treatment, and could accommodate 14 patients. Miss Ada Black was resident masseuse. The hospital probably took its name from the British spa destination, St Ronan's Well, popularised by Sir Walter Scott's novel of that name.
One baby born at St Ronan's, on 24th May 1916, was Arthur Roden Cutler, who was later to become Sir Roden Cutler, Governor of New South Wales, winner of the Victoria Cross. Among those whose last days were spent at St Ronan's were the politician Ernest H Farrar, MLC, and the cricketer Reginald Wood. Wood was an Englishman who played cricket for Victoria, and was capped by England in their touring Test team of 1886/87. He died of alcoholic poisoning at St Ronan's in 1915, and was buried in Manly Cemetery. A finely-researched biography of him, Finally a Face, was published by sporting historian Philip Paine.
The hospital moved from its North Steyne position in circa 1934, to a new location in the house formerly known as Stancombe, on the corner of Osborne and Addison Road, Manly. It closed its doors in 1963.
Thanks to John Morcombe for the loan of the rare postcard showing St Ronan's in its heyday.
John MacRitchie, 31 March 2011.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Researcher Dawn Coleman has been in touch to ask what information we have about water skiing in Manly. As Dawn Bancroft, she was one of Australia's top female water skiers in the 1950s, and was Australian champion in 1952. She enclosed this lovely photo taken in January 1952. It shows Marie Higgs, Lyris McIntosh and Dawn Bancroft performing a stunt at the Manly Mardi Gras Festival, where they were one of the star attractions. Marie Higgs was Australian champion in 1953. Manly was also the home base of Betty Leighton, several times Australian champion in the 1950s, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Australian Water skiing and Wakeboarding Foundation earlier this year.
Both Manly Cove and Manly Dam were popular venues for water-skiers. We would love to hear from anyone who has memories of water skiing at either venue, from any era.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Marine Parade, Manly
It has always been a favourite activity for visitors to Manly to make their way around from South Steyne to the secluded Shelly Beach. Prior to the 1890s this involved much clambering over rocks. However when the sewerage system was nearing completion, the Council took advantage of the works to construct a broad promenade along the route. At a meeting of Manly Council on 8 January 1891 it was decided that "The extension of South Steyne towards Fairy Bower be named the Marine Parade." The Mayor arranged for seating and a two-rail fence along the seawall.
Struck by the number of visitors who made the promenade to Shelly Beach, the Council decided at its meeting of 25 April 1899 to seek permission "to erect a toll bar on the Marine Parade to Fairy Bower and Shell Beach," the proposed charge to be one penny per head. This brainwave was never going to work, and was quietly abandoned.
Various attractions have operated at Fairy Bower over the years to capitalise on the passing pedestrians. One such was Manly Winter Gardens. This limited company was registered in November 1930 with capital of a thousand pounds. It was intended to provide a miniature golf course, dance hall, amusements and catering. The venue would feature "tropical gardens". However the timing was wrong, coming as it did during the Depression. The venture only operated for a few months, before being voluntarily wound-up in May 1931.
Later, a "refined tea room" named The Tapestry Inn operated at 8 Marine Parade in the late 1940s. It was the venue for the charter meeting of the Manly Soroptimist Club in November 1949. Manly Soroptimist Club was only the third such club to be formed in Australia, and did a lot of good work in the following years.
The photo shows Marine Parade in circa early 1920s. The Marine Cafe is visible, and Fairy Bower Beach has a good expanse of sand.