Queen Street - The Past
In the past Queen Street was known as Dickson Lane, Mamre Rd, Windsor Rd and Station Street.
The street changed its name after Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Bennett’s Wagon Workshop on Queen Street
Source St Marys Historical Society
Queen Street History
Queen Street is now the main street of the St Marys Town Centre. Queen Street was earlier called Dickson Lane, Mamre Rd, Windsor Rd and Station Street.
In 1890 there was no footpath along the east side from the Highway corner to the Railway Station. There was a public animal pound in the street in 1898. In 1903 the Nepean Times comments on a cow straying on the street that was quite a common sight with animals straying from yards.
Queen Street changed its name after Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. In 1906, St Marys’ Council was calling for tenders for gravel and kerbing of 10 chains of footpath along the street. In 1909 there was a break and enter into Thomas Chisholm’s home in the street with a lengthy court case and a fine ensuing. In 1910 Council was calling for tenders for the provision of six Council lights along the street, a street that seemed to attract much in the way of drunkenness and riotous behaviour.
In 1916 Council confirmed that a car and pedestrian crossing was being placed on the north-western side of the street to the railway yard.
John Lamming Store on Queen Street 1914
Source St Marys Historical Society
Queen Street St Marys in 1970s
Source Penrith City Council Social History Photographic Collection
St Marys Corner
St Marys Corner had the pub the “Strangers Home” on the western side of the highway and Queen Street and opposite Beecroft’s butchers on the eastern side. St Marys Corner was the common name for the intersection of Queen Street and the Great Western Highway.
William Mosley was one of the last publicans and was originally a Police Constable who was part of the inquest into the stabbing death of Sergeant Beatty in 1890. He died in 1955 at North Sydney at the age of 93 years.
In June 1909 Edward Bourke was granted the license for the hotel now called “The First & Last”. Edward was the last licensee. After 58 years the hotel was de-licensed in January 1917 at 11 pm and immediately the Misses Donnelly & O’Brien opened the premises as Confectioners and Caterers with an “Up-to-Date Refreshment and Dining Room” at the old hotel corner.
They also stocked Boots, Shoes and Haberdashery. This venture didn’t prove popular and the hotel remained closed until 1919 when the bar room became the barber shop of Herbert Andrews.
In 1953 Dr M E Renshaw started his practice in an upstairs room of the old hotel but in May 1953 the hotel was demolished and Dr Renshaw joined Dr Pittarino in Queen Street in the St Marys Medical Centre.
The hotel was knocked down to make way for Neale’s store that opened that year.
Aerial photograph of St Marys taken in April 1987
Source: Penrith City Council Social History Photographic Collection
In the early 1990s the State Government funded the bus/rail interchange and the easy access upgrade of St Marys’ station. Council upgraded Queen St and sealed the adjacent car parks. The main street is now known as “St Marys’ Town Centre” and is characterised by traditional shop fronts and wide pedestrian footpaths. Most buildings comprise ground floor retail/offices with some first storey commercial/residential.
Most of the retailing and commercial activity currently occurring along the street is located towards the centre and south of the thoroughfare. Towards the northern end development is poor and run down but there is currently activity to knock down and rebuilt this part of Queen Street with residential on top and shops at street level and the “kiss & ride” area getting a face lift and small park.
Interview with Norma Thorburn
I’m Norma Thorburn. I’m a retired clerical assistant from one of the local primary schools.
I do a lot of guest speaking and I visit schools and I tell the children I remember Queen Street when there were only four shops, and they look at me in awe, because they think I’m 105. I’m actually sixth generation St Marys.
Growing up here in my time was just great. Everyone knew each other and helped each other. But my school years were particularly joyful. When the migrants moved in in 1949 I was in 5th class. We only had seven classes at the school then and then all these extra children arrived. None of them could speak English and we had never heard of the countries that they came from. If you were in the top eight or ten in the class, you were given one of these children to look after.
The day before they arrived we had a special assembly and the Headmaster told us that these children were coming, and he said ‘we are going to welcome them as they have come here for a new start, because they’ve lost their homes and everything really in the war. We were going to help them settle in, teach them English and help them with their school work. Above all there is to be no fighting with them’.
Well everything went well for about two days and then the fights started. The migrant children weren’t involved, it was the Aussie kids who didn’t get someone to look, were fighting with those of us who did, because they wanted to help them too. So we had to have another assembly and the Headmaster told us we had to share them in the playground. I think we learnt from them as much from as they did from us.
Now when the developers were going to re-design Queen Street they asked me what stood out in my mind about being at the school. It was this story about the migrant children. The woman who interviewed me said she liked that story, and if you go to the front of the Library and see those new tables, they represent the Headmaster’s table.
It has on them the Estonian word for Liberty, the Latvian word for Home and the Lithuanian word for Safety. Some of those people that came here, still live in the area and we see them from time to time. They settled in and they were very grateful to be here, to have jobs and to have homes. It was a great time for the whole town, because it was when the town really expanded.
When the first settlers came, they soon found that around the city wasn’t the best place for farming. Phillip Parker King, who was the son of the Governor, was interested in purchasing the Oxley Estate. He took his mother to the highest point of the land, to let her have a look at it. It was said that she stood on top of the hill, looked down on the little village that was growing up along the creek, and declared it to be a good place for a church. Her son agreed to donate the land for the church providing the church be called ‘St. Mary Magdalene’ after the church in Cornwall where he had married his beloved Harriett Lethbridge. Because it was built on top of the hill it became a landmark for travelers as they said they were travelling via St. Marys, because you could see it for miles away. The name St. Marys stated to be used for the general area then.
When the railway came later it was called South Creek, the Post Office was called St. Marys so it was all confusing, but it took them until 1885 to gazette the name St Marys.
But you see it’s always been a working men’s area. Later it was the industrial estate, which still has a lot of factories around here.
Earlier it was the industries that were attracted to the area for the natural resources. When they built the Station, they used local timber as did the Wagon Builders. They put St. Marys ‘on the map’ when they used the local ironbark to build the wheels and spotted gum for the trays of the wagons that they sold all over Australia and the west coast of the USA. To own a Bennett Wagon in those days was like owning a Kenworth B Double today.
Researcher: Lyn Forde St Marys & District Historical Society Research Officer
Lyn Forde is 56% English/Scottish, 19% Irish and 25% European. She is a 7th generation Australian with two First Fleeters connected to Ropes Crossing. Lyn was born in Penrith, lived in St Marys, Kingswood and now lives in Werrington. She went to St Marys Public School, St Marys High School and Penrith Business College. Lyn retired in 2005 working in administration.
Lyn is divorced and a great grandmother of four. She has researched local history since the 1970’s and she is a contributor of the History Page in the local Nepean News. Lyn was a Secretary of the first St Marys Historical Society and currently a Research Officer & Vice-President. She is also a member of Encore Historical Sewing Group at St Marys Corner. Lyn has researched and self-published several books on local history, it is the area where she feels at home and where she can research her earlier family and community connections.
- Written by Adam Gatt Penrith City Council (02) 4732 7777 (02) 4732 7958 firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au 601 High St Penrith NSW 2750 Australia
- Back to QSRT 2018 - Windows on Queen Project