Mrs Irene McEgan 1890


IRENE McEGAN (nee Priora)

When I was born in May 1891 at High Street, Strathfield, my father, Mr. E. Priora, was an Artist Jeweller and Diamond and Gem Merchant in the city.

There was no electricity in those days where we lived and gas was just about to be connected. Most folk were using candles or kerosene lamps, and many residents had underground wells for their water supply, and of course, no sewerage. The roads and streets were very rough, some of the main ones blue metalled.

One of the butchers was Mr. Ackling who called with his cart and cut off the meat required at the customer’s door.

Mr Baker was the lamplighter. He came around the streets morning and evening, with a long stick on the end of which was a hook which he caught on a small chain hanging from the lamp, and so lighting the lamp. Occasionally he carried a ladder so that he could climb up and clean the glass and attend to the wick. Sometimes he did his rounds on horseback.

One medical man from Strathfield was Dr. Scale, he came in a sulky, occasionally he rode on his rounds. There was also Dr Traill. Mrs Richards of Enfield was the nurse or midwife and attended people in need of such.

Monday and Thursday evenings were the bullock days, coming from their paddocks at Remington and going on to be slaughtered. They passed along High Street or Long Street. Animals bellowing, dogs barking, and the stockman’s whip cracking, and the dust, and everyone inside their gates until the herd had passed.

Mr Fitzgerald of High Street was the Inspector of Nuisances.

Our home, ‘Milano’ had two entrances. We had a fair size private orchard and when the soldiers passed along Long Street on their way to embark for the Boer War, South Africa, we children used to pass out fruit to them. They were in khaki, feathered hats, on horseback, and horses pulled the gun carriages.

The Boulevarde was rather a rough road and Mr. Hales plied a two horse bus from Enfield (or Druitt Town as it then was) via Liverpool Road, down the Boulevarde to Strathfield Station.

Hansom cabs and phaetons were the other means of public transport. Most folk had their buggies or carriages. At one period the Station was known as Oliver’s Hump on account of its awkward construction and inconvenience to everyone, but was again altered to the present one. A little to the North along the railway line was Mr Backhouse’s vineyard.

On the Boulevarde there were some large homes, one them (now belonging to the Dominican Convent which started there about the 1880s) was the Old City Bank of Sydney, brought out and erected by Mr. Hoskins of the well known firm, for his home.

Sir George Reid lived in a large red brick house at the corner of Woodside Avenue and the Boulevarde. Sir Sydney Jones’ home is now Trinity College, and Mr Brunton of the Flour Mills, then later Dr. Mills, lived at what is now Del Monte Convent. Where Mr Crago (millers) lived on the crest of the hill, was Mr. Crow’s dairy, about six or more acres. Mr Crago’s large home was later pulled down and many houses built on the estate surrounded by Wonga Street, Willee Street, Henry Street and the Boulevarde.

The Streets, now known as Mintaro Avenue, Hunter Street, Cameron Street, and Mount Street to Highgate Street, were all open paddocks with small creeks and water holes continuing from Cooks River or Salt Pan Creek. It was used as the Strathfield Golf Club.

There were many huge trees, Gums and Eucalyptus and Tee Tree and Wattle, etc.

Mr Godfrey was the Druitt Town Public School Master (off Edward Street).

Messrs Tom and Alex Brown were the blacksmiths and had a large shingle roofed forge and lived in a grey weatherboard house with shingle roof, attached to the forge. In their garden were two huge pine trees, growing exactly on the spot where the yellow egg now is in the middle of the road at the Broadway, Enfield.

The Enfield Hotel, owned by Mr Luigi Cervetto was earlier called the Woodcutters Arms Hotel. It still stands and can be seen at the rear of the shops erected there opposite the Commonwealth Bank. It stood quite back from the road in some acres of land, which was always lent by Mr. Cervetto as the Enfield recreation grounds for sports and fetes, concerts, etc. in aid of the Western Suburbs Cottage Hospital. The Golf Club held all their meetings at the Hotel.

Further along the Liverpool Road, towards Burwood Road, was the Angel Inn, flagstone porch and shingle roof, where the mail coach stopped. Further along at the corner of Liverpool Road and Burwood Road, opposite Ireland’s Royal Sheaf Hotel, was another large dairy with a creek running through the lower part.

It was bought by Mr. Hoskins and turned into a large estate of very nice homes, with tennis court in the centre for the use of tenants. It is called the Appian Way. Alt these large homes of Strathfield had lovely gardens.

Where St. Josephs Roman Catholic Church now stands was the open air Picture Show, afterwards moved to Broadway, Enfield, at the corner of Willee Street and Liverpool Road.

Mr J.B.Orr was a Chemist at Strathfield.

The Congregational Church was in Druitt Town past the Homebush Road, and the Minister was Mr West, who lived opposite the fire station and whose daughter Amy had a small private school for infants, and Mary taught the piano. The chief fireman was Mr Grenenger, greengrocer and fruiterer.

A steam tram ran from Ashfield Station, through Croydon and Enfield and up Punchbowl Road, (now Coronation Parade), along Liverpool and Burwood Roads, via Concord to Mortlake and Cabarita on the Parramatta River.  Correy’s gardens were at Cabarita, a picnic ground and huge dance pavilion. The Ferry from Sydney came along the river, stopping at the various wharves to pick up and put down passengers on the way.

Mr H.A. Goddard was a one time Mayor of Concord and Mr. A. J. Riley, a Burwood resident, was Lord Mayor of Sydney for a period. A Mr. Hogan was one of the tram drivers.

Mr. Limberto Colombari, like ‘Mr Whippy’, used to run an ice-cream and Hokey Pokey business. He was a huge man, very spick and span, in spotless white linen apron and in his gaudy horse drawn cart, ringing a big bell, he attracted all the children for miles around.

The Toohey Family (Brewers) lived on the Boulevarde, also Dr. Odillo Maher (eye specialist).

Mr. Whip was Mayor of Burwood.

Our amusements were home musical evenings, and gramophones with horn and circular wax records, we also had a musical box, drives, picnics, Punch and Judy shows, concerts circuses etc. The band played in Burwood Park and dances were held in Burwood School of Arts in Condor Street.

Judge Pring was the first motorcar owner to my knowledge, we were all more or less afraid to get into it to try it out. He resided in Redmyre Road.

A bridge crossed the river on Georges River Road just below and at the end of Punchbowl Road.

My great, great grandfather, Capt. Morrison came to Sydney with Governor Macquarie, they lived at the Barracks in Sydney. One of his daughters, Margaret, married a Mr. Elliott who was a partner in the wheelwright and ship chandler business of Sydney Burdekin. The Elliotts lived at Clareville Estate on the Georges River Road, a large wide weatherboard home, flagstone verandahs, roof of shingles and purchased from Mr. Stephen of Stephen, Jacques, and Steven, Solicitors. There was a large acreage of land attached, about 200 acres.

Their eldest daughter, Sarah, first married Mr. E. Prost from Bordeaux in France, who had to leave the University and take refuge out here, as a political refugee. After his early death, she married Mr. Luigi Cervetto. Mr Prost and Sarah’s daughter married Mr. Ernesto Priora and I am their first daughter, six generations of first daughters including myself, my daughter and her daughter.

Leigh College was owned by Mrs. Alt and later by a Mr. Lamerand, a French wool buyer.

Funerals in those days were heralded by the tolling of the bell as the hearse proceeded along the road. Two black horses with two or more large black ostrich feathers of plumes waving from their heads.

Rev. Father Byrne was the then Parish Priest of St Mary’s R.C. Church at Concord, and the Rev. Mr. Elder, Minister of St Thomas’ Enfield. After Mr. Wilkinson, Mr. Hungerford had Murray & Co., general store on Burwood Road, and also Ainsworths, and Connolys Hay and Com Store.

Where the Lion Tile works now are was River’s Slaughter House.

About the article

Mrs McEgan died at Strathfield in 1980.


  1. Hello, I found this story particularly interesting as I am related to the Priora family. I found it in a genealogy internet search. I live in the USA after my grandmother (Joyce Priora, granddaughter of Arthur Priora who was Ernesto’s brother) married my grandfather who met her on his tours in the Navy. I have wanted to find out more about this family and the jewelry business. Can you by chance direct me to any resources?


    1. Rebecca

      The only information I have on Ernest Priora is in relation to property he owned in Strathfield, where he lived until his death.

      Ernest Priora, a jeweller, was an early resident of Strathfield South. Priora purchased Lots 35-37 facing High Street Strathfield and Lots 26-28 facing Long Street Strathfield. His home was called ‘Milano’. The street address was High Street but appears his house and grounds included the Long Street frontage.

      The Sydney Morning Herald (April 1890) reports that he and his brother’s business, Messrs Priora Brothers, Jewellers and Diamond Setters in Park Street Sydney was robbed. At that stage, he was residing in Castlereagh Street Sydney. Perhaps for that reason he moved to Strathfield. He first appears as an occupant of High Street in 1891 Sands Sydney Directory for Strathfield.

      In the late 1920’s, Priora began subdividing his land, which was very common in Strathfield in the 1920s. He built three interwar style bungalows at 16, 18 and 20 Long Street Strathfield in the late 1920s. The building plans for the house at 20 Long Street was approved in February 1926 and probably built that same year.

      Though these houses were rented, Priora maintained ownership, probably providing his and later his widow with an income.
      Ernesto Priora died in 1931. His funeral notice was published in the Sydney Morning Herald 22 August 1931 which stated:

      ‘The funeral of the late Mr Ernesto Angelo Priora will leave his late residence ‘Milano’, 15 High-street South Strathfield. This Saturday at 2.15pm for Catholic Cemetery Rookwood. By Road. Motor Funeral. Wood Coffill Limited. Motor Funeral Directors.’

      However, his estate was not distributed until 1937, after the death of his widow in 1936. An advertisement was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 6 March 1937 to sell a number of properties in High Street and Long Street owned by the estate of Ernesto Priora. The advertisement stated:

      STRATHFIELD. By Order of the TRUSTEES in the ESTATE of ERNESTO PRIORA (deceased)

      No. 20 LONG-STREET

      MODERN BRICK BUNGALOW, tiled roof, contains hall, lounge, dining room, three bedrooms, kitchen, gas stove and sink, titled bathroom, heater, linen press, verandah in-front. BRICK GARAGE. Electric light, power, gas water, were. Land 50 x 166.6

      Perhaps due to the economic depression of the 1930s and the subsequent World War (1939-1945), but 20 Long Street was not sold until 1946.

      Hoping this information assists with your enquiry.




  2. I am interested in any more information you have about Luigi Cervetto to assist in seeing if there is any link to our Cervetto branch of the family


    1. Hi Penny,
      My grandfather ,Frank (Francesco) Cervetto came to Australia with his older brother Luigi in October 1881 to their uncle Luigi Cervetto the abovementioned who married Sarah. She was a widow with a daughter, Eugenie and Luigi and Sarah had a daughter Marie Louise Cervetto who did not marry. I believe that Luigi ( the nephew) moved to Queensland. My grandfather married Una Blackey in 1900 an had a son Frank and daughter Marie ( my mother). Hope this helps.
      Christene Clark


  3. I was raised in High St from 1956 to 1980 when we left. My family though lived in The Causeway and Eve St from the mid 1880s and before then on Iron Bark Farm Punchbowl , Puncbowl Rd from the early 1840s. Interested in Begnell, Over, Bond , Pettit and Gorman families. Joe Begnell.


  4. Hi Joe,
    You know there’s a Begnell Park nearby up Cox’s Creek. Also, in In these memories of Irene McEgan is this curiosity – “”The Streets, now known as Mintaro Avenue, Hunter Street, Cameron Street, and Mount Street to Highgate Street, were all open paddocks with small creeks and water holes continuing from Cooks River or Salt Pan Creek”. This presumably means there was some ‘salt pan’ creek at the salt water head of Cooks River (otherwise known to have been around the Punchbowl? Maybe Salt Pan Creek was an old name of Cox’s Creek? I have no idea what all this means but I have in the past seen another mention of Salt Pan Creek too around here. Have you found yet where their Iron Bark farm was exactly?. I’m also a Gorman descendant (Gorman and Lees). May not be the same Gorman as yours. Cheers, John ( )


  5. Jim Begnell Memorial Field is named after my father. I know where Salt Pan Creek is but am trying to connect with families descendants of Isabella Browne which include the following surnames very well known in the Strathfield / Enfield area before 1900 including: Bond, Pettit, Begnell, Over, Burgoyne, Johnston, Harris, Stephens , MacBean, Spooner, Heather, Dale, Hales, Milner , Ring and Andrews.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s