By Cathy Jones
’Talofa’ 36 Beresford Rd Homebush is an Arts and Crafts Federation single storey brick house.
This house was built in 1911 for its owner Mrs Mary Amelia Burns. The house was designed by the architectural firm of Slatyer & Shiels (Charles Slatyer & Nico Shiels). Construction of the house was approved in October 1911 for a brick villa of an estimated value of £1400. The builder was Mr J E Eaton. The house was named ‘Talofa’.
An obituary of Mary Burns was published in 1933 in the Sydney Morning Herald described her contributions, particularly during WW1.
“Mrs. Mary Amelia Burns (wife of Mr. William Burns, of Beresford-road, Homebush), who died recently at the age of 71 years, was a prominent Red Cross worker during the war.
Her early efforts were directed towards im-proving the standard of soldiers’ wear made by enthusiastic but inexperienced workers. Her work was so excellent that she became a Judge at competitions. She energetically took up spinning, designed a new machine, which re-placed all then in use, and more than 1500 were sold by the Red Cross Society. This type of machine is still in operation. She compiled the Red Cross knitting book, of which many thousands of copies were sold.
With her husband, she produced the Austral strain of petunia, which is considered by many flower experts to be the finest of its kind in the world for size, colouring, marking, and fringing.
Mrs. Burns is survived by her husband and one son (Mr. R. J. Burns, secretary of Australian Iron and Steel, Ltd.)”
Mrs Burns and her husband died in 1933 and the the house transferred to their son Richard.
Department of Valuer-General, Valuation List, Municipality of Strathfield
MRS. MARY A. BURNS. (1933, January 5). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 13. Retrieved July 5, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16943282
Sands Sydney and Suburban Directory
Strathfield Council Minutes October 1911
Tender notice, 1911 (31 October), Sydney Morning Herald, page 7