February 13 - 19, 2022: Issue 526
Pittwater Restaurants You Could Stay At Barrenjoey House – Palm Beach: 100 Years Young In 2022
Panorama of Palm Beach and Pittwater, New South Wales, circa 1917-1920, above and below: sections from nla.pic-vn6195128, Part of Enemark collection of panoramic photographs - courtesy National Library of Australia.
Barrenjoey House celebrates its centenary in 2022, remaining not only a popular eatery but an outstanding example of early local architecture.
Building in Palm Beach began with the building of roads into Palm Beach and the sale of land by the Barrenjoey Land Company. Early buyers include the wonderful Lucy Gullett and the Byles family, whose daughter Marie was New South Wales first female solicitor and whose love of the Australian bush, and a lifelong dedication to preserving this, resulted in this work being acknowledged by the naming of the Marie Byles Lookout at Bouddi National Park.
The family well known to residents as 'the Builders of Palm Beach' were the Verrills, in particular Albert, father of Fred and grandfather of Peter Verrills. The Verrills association with Pittwater began when Albert won the contract to build the Surveyors cottage for the Barrenjoey Land Company for the January 1912 land sale. Albert soon had contracts to build other holiday homes at Palm Beach and all that was needed was a ship to get the lumber there:
Wanted – boat to take abut 40 tons of timber from Sydney to Barrenjoey . Verrills. Reed –st. Neutral Bay. Advertising. (1912, May 9). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15346813
MASON Waller wanted. work, Barranjoey, good camp. Apply Verrills. Reed. St. Neutral Bay. Advertising. (1912, August 21). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28131359
Barrenjoey — Cottage Residence. Palm Beach .. Wilshire & Day. B. Verrills. Palm Beach. Advertising. (1915, April 30).Construction and Local Government Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1913 - 1930), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article109635185
Messrs. H. A. Wilshire and Day, architects, have accepted the tender of Mr. J. Verrills, for converting large residence at Neutral Bay into residential flats. The same architects have also accepted the tender of P. Waugh for Church of England Girls' School at Hunter's Hill, and also the tender of B. Verrills, for concrete bungalow at Palm Beach. In the same office plans are in hand for Church of England rectory in concrete. GENERAL NOTES. (1915, December 14). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15631111
Some sources refer to 1920 as the year Barrenjoey House was first built. The book Palm Beach 1788 – 1988 (p.55) states Barrenjoey House was built in 1923 by Albert Verrills as a guesthouse and restaurant for Mr Resch – and was the first place in Palm Beach to have a telephone. Palm Beach House, over the hill on the ocean side, originally had PB1 as its phone number for years - whereas Barrenjoey House was PB35 until 1930 when it became PB1. The Verrills family recollections place its construction and commencement of operations as between 1920 and 1922 - so perhaps it was built that year and completed in time for the beginning of the 1921-1922 Summer Season.
Edmund Resch junior was buying the Steyne Hotel at Manly at this time - there was a John Regan, retiring as a successful grazier, who was buying land and properties in our area during this time and certainly owned Barrenjoey House by 1923. The Hotel Mr. Resch bought in our area around the same time:
Hardie and Gorman Pty., Ltd., acting under instructions from the Permanent Trustee Co. of New South Wales. Ltd.. held an auction of properties in the estate of the late C. T. Burchmore. They cleared the Hotel Steyne as a going concern for £64,000, the purchaser being Mr. Edmund Resch, jun. The other large property was the Arcadia picture theatre, fronting North Steyne, which realised £10,000; while a block of land in Sydney Road was knocked down for £1500. As the result of private negotiations for the sale of a second block of land in Henrietta Lane, the total of sales Is expected to reach £77,000. REAL ESTATE MARKET (1922, September 9). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1883 - 1930), p. 21. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article245788617
Albert Verrills chose the land behind that on which Barrenjoey House still stands as a home site as lumber for building was being offloaded at the pier named Palm Beach Jetty by the Barrenjoey Land Company when bringing people into the far end of Pittwater, and what became Gow's Wharf, and stored in what is now Pittwater Park. He wanted to keep an eye on these valuable supplies. Later the family would live in Iluka road, Palm Beach.
This published construction item confirms the existence of one of a growing number of boarding establishments and that it was trading at least earlier then the Spring of 1923 and shows up on the landscape in January to June 1925 photos as the whitewashed two storey building still kept as a heritage building today:
For making additions and generally re-modelling the hotel at Palm Beach, plans have been prepared by Mr. W. H. H. Thomson, architect, who has let a contract to Mr. A. Verrills, builder, to carry out the work. GENERAL NOTES. (1923, September 19). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16094390
The original Barrenjoey House, circa 1920-1922 - which served simple meals, afternoon teas and had limited rooms for rent. This too was built by the Verrills. Photo courtesy of Peter Verrills.
Albert Verrills also built the still standing Kookaburra House. Researching records into this premises, and the ladies who ran Kookaburra as a holiday home, offers up glimpses of women who had to be self-supporting and self sufficient and ran Palm Beach accommodation. The 'Boarding House Lady' as a means of semi-independent autonomy for women if leasing a premises, and an asset and home as well as a business when owning such premises, must have echoed well the ladies on Sunrise Hill, all self made women too.
The Bruggen ladies dominated Palm Beach boarding houses for decades. Louisa May, whose husband Harold served, was at Kookaburra, and along with Babette, who married Lawrence Gallagher in 1924, a Palm Beach SLSC member, ran Florida House, and sister Amy, ran Barrenjoey House at one stage.
What is also worth noting is that these other two homes that were boarding houses and served food were also built by the Verrills family.
Right: Albert, Florence and Ernie circa 1939. Picture courtesy Peter Verrills.
PALM BEACH.-Accommodation, 2 minutes surf beach, Golfing, fishing. Mrs. Garner and Miss Bruggen, Kookaburra, Florida-rd (late Sunrise). T., P.B. 31. PALM BEACH,-furnished Cottages to Let and For Sale Gow and Howlett. Store. Phone. 21. Advertising. (1922, March 4). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28086268
Mrs Louisa May Garner, wife of Mr Harold Garner, of Birchgrove Oval, Balmain, died in a private hospital on Monday, at the age of 55 years. Deceased was one of the Bruggen family, whose home was on the Western Road, St. Marys, east of the town. Mr Harold Garner is a son of the late William and Mary Garner, of St. Marys.
Deceased leaves a daughter (Sheila),a son (William), and two sisters—Mrs. Gallagher (Palm Beach - Florida House) and Miss Amy Bruggen. The funeral took place on Tuesday, when the remains were cremated at the Eastern Suburbs Crematorium. St. Marys. (1942, July 30).Nepean Times (Penrith, NSW : 1882 - 1962), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article117890690
GARNER-TER BRUGGEN.-December 21, 1914, at St. Mary Magelalene's, St. Marys, Louisa May, daughter of Mrs. H. Ter Bruggen, and the late Henry Ter, Bruggen, to Harold, third son of William Garner, Esq., The Cedars, St. Marys. Family Notices. (1915, February 13).The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15537881
TER BRUGGEN.-In sad and loving remembrance of my dear husband, Henry Jules Ter Bruggen, and our dear father, who passed peacefully away, aged -49, from this life March 8 1905 Inserted by his affectionate wife and daughters, Amy, Louie, Babette.
Had he asked us, well we know, We should cry, O spare this blow, Yes, with streaming eyes should pray, Lord, we love him, let him stay. Belgian papers please copy. Family Notices. (1906, March 8). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14757852
Left: Kookaburra House, Right: Florida House
The place to eat mentioned below may be the Boarding House constructed by the Barrenjoey Land Company that was set alight and destroyed in 1929 (see Extras) as 'Palm Beach House', which was on the ocean side and had been used as an accommodation place a few years after the 1912 initial land sales.
Originally this structure was known as 'Sunrise Cottage' and was situated at current day 50 Palm Beach Road. It's place being marked can be seen on the original January 26th 1912 sales lithograph below.
1920-23 sign for 'To Palm Beach House - on the Ocean Beach ' side - near Albert Verrills home on the Pittwater side of Palm Beach or near the base of current day Palm Beach Road.
Society notes and articles from the pages of the past provide insights into Palm Beach House:
During last week, among the visitors staying at Palm Beach House, Palm Beach, was a University party, which included Mr. and Mrs. Charles Badham, of "Beroe," Ryde; Dr. S. J. Johnston, of Cremorne; Mr. G. H. Clark and Mr. F. Whitehouse, of the University; Dr. Hilton Smith, of Gladesville; Mr. Erhard, of Strathfield; Mr. W. Graham, of Glebe; Mr. T. C. Cotton, of Mortlake; Misses F. E Witts and W. R. Flynn, of the "Women's College; Nurse Friedman, Misses A. Hutton, B. Summerville, W. I. Smith, of Woolwich. SOCIAL CHAT (1916, October 4). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 2 (FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223381706
STUDYING HARD. J'Espere comes along with this letter: 'No doubt you will think that I have forgotten you and the League of Friendship, but not so,' I am still very interested in the page, in spite of the fact that I very seldom write lately. But you'll excuse me, won't you, President, when I tell you that this is a very busy time at the Teachers' College, and we are studying hard for the finals.' I should very, much like to tell you of a trip to Palm Beach. Leaving the Newport wharf, we took a small motor launch and set off in gay spirits. We enjoyed a magnificent trip across Pittwater, and in about a quarter of an hour we passed Lion Island. The water soon became rough, however, and our little launch started to dance and rock on the waves. We soon came in sight of the Palm Beach wharf, which is not far from the Broken Bay Heads. After a walk of about half a mile, we reached the ocean, side of this quaint little town, and very soon we were splashing about in the briny. After our dip we had lunch at Palm Beach House, and enjoyed it immensely. In the afternoon we walked across to Barrenjoey, and there saw the lighthouse at the south head of Broken Bay, and the towns of Gosford and Woy Woy in the distance. The Hawkesbury River could be seen for quite a distance, as it wound westwards through the hills. On our return journey we had rather a rough trip, a strong was blowing, and there were signs of a heavy storm. Before we arrived the rain came down in torrents, and we had a beautiful soaking.'*Dear J'Espere, — You certainly bear your discomforts with much philosophy—PRESIDENT. STUDYING HARD. (1922, June 4). Sunday Times(Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 6 Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO SUNDAY TIMES. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128216889
The Historical Land Records Viewer (HLRV), the New South Wales Land Registry Services (NSW LRS) online application to search and view historical maps, plans etc. shows Albert Verrills bought Lot 38, the site of Barrenjoey House, on December 17th, 1915. The Mortgage was discharged on December 4th, 1919. On the same date Albert onsold to Alfred Wright Ellis of Pittwater, Storekeeper.
Above: 1912 Palm Beach Lands Sales Lithograph prepared for The Barrenjoey Company and section from to show Lot 38 - courtesy Palm Beach subdivisions folder, State Library of NSW.
Mr. Ellis onsold to Walter Hubert Rayner of Sydney, Caterer, on July 28th, 1922. He onsold to John Regan on May 28th, 1923, who leased the place to Lilian Macrae of Manly on June 30th, 1924.
Thomas Arthur Strong of Balgowlah, retired, bought the place March 30th 1943. Thomas onsold to Alice Gillespie Ward of Palm Beach, widow, on November 1st, 1945:
Lot 37 sold to, as listed, was sold to John Joseph Gorman and May Agnes Gorman as joint tenants on March 6th 1916 – Vol/Fol 2650-34 and also onsold to Mr. Ellis:
This Lot 37 was then onsold to John Regan as well on November 12, 1923 ( Vol/Fol: 3366-64) and charts the owners of Barrenjoey House up until 1982.
Meanwhile, on the estuary side:
This house beside Albert Verrills house at Palm Beach, the Gormans, may well be that advertised below:
PALM BEACH – furnished cottage for sale or will Let or Lease. 4rms. Kitch, verandah, 36x10. 5mins surf, boating and fishing. Good views. A VERRILLS, Palm Beach, Pittwater. Advertising. (1919, January 4). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15818631
This is a section from: Panorama of Palm Beach and Pittwater, Part of Enemark collection of panoramic photographs [1917-1946], nla.pic-vn6195128, courtesy National Library of Australia.
Some of the landladies and advertisements for accommodation at Palm Beach:
PALM BEACH - furnished Cottages to Let and For sale Gow and Howlett, Store. Phone. 24_
Enlarged section from EB Studios (Sydney, N.S.W.). (1917-1925). Panorama of Palm Beach, New South Wales, 12 Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-162488494 - with Barranjoey House
The place of Barrenjoey House before anything was built - from Allen Family Albums - "Sunday 21st of November 1909" Images No.: a1373021h and below: a1373020h , "Climbing last hill before reaching Barrenjoey: both courtesy State Library of NSW
NSW BDMs Marriages: 2687/1955 HANNAFORD GEORGE JOHN WARD GLESTELLE MARY registered at: MANLY
19 July 1986 — ... loving mother and mother-in-law of Glestelle and George Hannaford. devoted nan of darry. June, ....Aged 91 years.
TENDERS RECEIVED. Yesterday tenders for the following works were opened by the tender board of the Public Works Department:..road Manly to Barrenjoey, eleven tenders, Mr L.M'Cormack, £.43, lowest, road Manly to Barrenjoey nine tenders, Mr N Douglas, £52 5s, lowest, TENDERS RECEIVED. (1904, September 20). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14624853
Palm Beach. Messrs. F. L. & E. S. Verrills, Barrenjoey Rd., Palm Beach, are to erect a brick dwg. costing £6000 in Pacific Rd. for H. M. Roffe. OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESS (1954, May 19). Construction (Sydney, NSW : 1938 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article224515941
Palm Beach. A w.b. dwg. valued at £5500, is to be erected in Ebor Rd. for Mr. J. Cleary by Messrs. F. L. & E. A. Verrills, Barrenjoey Rd., Palm Beach. OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESS (1954, June 23). Construction (Sydney, NSW : 1938 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article224516401 - writer Jon Cleary, returning home from Italy, before leaving for London again
Palm Beach. A weatherboard dwg. is to be erected in Florida Road at a cost of £6700 for Mr. H. Pickett-Heaps. The builders are R. Martin & Son, "Gabo." Barrenjoey Rd., Palm Beach. Newport. Mr. C. L. Garraway, 8 Bynya Rd., Palm Beach, is the builder for a timber dwg. to cost £5000 to be erected in Barrenjoey Rd. for Mr. M. Dyer. OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESS (1954, June 2). Construction (Sydney, NSW : 1938 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article224516140
Sounds queer, doesn't it? Something like a kind of New Zealand smallpox. However, it is quite normal, being just Barrenjoey Lighthouse, which, by the splendid beauty and grandeur of its surroundings, deserves a better name. It should be called ——— (?) Can't think of the most dignified thing in Australia just now, unless it is William Morris Hughes ! Anyway, he is 'out of it' at present (worse luck).
So, to return to Joey. If western-ers, holidaying in Manly, wish to see one of the most beautiful views in sunny N.S.W., let them trip out to the Lighthouse, situated on the coast north from Manly, and at the entrance to Broken Bay. Take a car out. You will probably have your liver ..ated on the way there, for the road through Brookvale and Narrabeen is a jovial, happy thing, and throws one a greeting from every rut — and there are many of them. But, having reached the end of the road, and slowly tak-en the upward winding path, in pla-ces fringed with clumps of dainty ferns and silvery bush plants, and so having fained the summit of the cliff whereon the Lighthouse stands, one meets with one's reward, as the magnificence of the view bursts upon one. Downwards, hundreds of feet below, one looks upon the strip of yellow sand, which divides the restless ocean from the quiet, smiling waters of Bro-ken Bay, and traces, as on the "bird's eye map", all the channels, small bays, and strips of beach for miles and miles, winding about and lying at the foot of blue and purple and soft green mountains, shaded in their shadows to almost black. Here, close at hand, is a splash of color, in clumps of red and grey-roofed holiday homes at Palm Beach. There, in Creel Bay, a strip of yellow sand, with tiny whit-mites of launches anchored off shore.
On another majestic headland, a long fine thread of pearly-white smoke de-notes the boiling of the "billy!"
There are grim, stony, sparsely three-clad imperturbable cliffs near at hand, rising hundreds of feet out of the still blue waters of the bay. Centuries and centuries old they are. One's thoughts go back beyond Captain Cook, to the days that must have been, and it seems that those ridges and cliffs, spring to life with the people of years gone by. Aborigines, with their spears and boomerangs, and perchance, a nulla-nulla for a refractory gin! One sees their small canoes in the water of the bay beneath, and the faces are turned to Warrawee have the features and expression of that fine old darky's face seen in a photographer's gallery in Summer street, Orange, last year.
In the centre, facing the entrance and just within Broken Bay, is Lion Island-so called from the resemblance. Just like a huge crouching lion is it, his great shaggy head staring out to sea, watching for Japs ! And, when they come he will rise with a great roar, and lash his huge tail in violent protest. Turning from the view of Broken Bay, and looking across the mound of sand — it seems but a stone's throw —is the ocean, with its breakers showing on the beach in rows of feathery white, and there is a beautiful clear view of a wide expanse of ocean, miles and miles of it, melting finally into the horizon. The coast line towards Manly stands out in noble outlines, and, on the other side of the entrance to Broken Bay is the rugged coastline towards Newcastle, fading away in misty blue, and that part of the coast where the "Maitland" was wrecked can be seen quite clearly and close at hand.
On the cliff beside Barrenjoey Light-house (which rears itself up to the sky is a strong stone column) are the quarters of the staff—old stone buildings set down firmly and mas-sively in the soil. Thick, solid stone structures, which weather needs re-quire. (Couldn't you imagine a bamboo structure of a Japanese up there in a southerly gale!) The keeper un-bolts a heavy iron door in Barrenjoey's round side, and one enters a cool, square room, wherein everything is scrupulously clean and bright — brass work polished in the last degree—and in a big square frame of pigeon holes are dozens of flags, all neatly folded, and in cavities which are lettered, all ready for signalling.
Up an iron spiral stairway one climbs into (in appearance) a round white room, wherein are a table, books and chart, with which to take Dame Nature's temperature four times daily. On the wall are a clock, barometer, etc., all of polished brass of a mar-vellous brightness. Overhead, in the centre, is a large dome of bright glass, scintillating like many diamonds and having the appearance of being arranged like louvres. This is the great Joey himself, the light, which throws its gigantic beams 26 miles out to sea. Then a heavy iron door is unlocked, and one passes out on a narrow parapet enclosed with a high and close iron railing, which enables one to circumnavigate the lighthouse and enjoy a perfectly splendid panora-mic view of ocean and land. When the sun goes down the sky is flushed with pink, and there is a rosy path on the sea, save that which is a misty blue, like the eyes of sleepy child. —"Warrawee". BARRENJOEY (1921, June 20). Leader (Orange, NSW : 1899 - 1945), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108461019
700 Tons Rock Falls at Palm Beach
(See photo, on page 11) Henry A. Wilshire sent us the above striking photograph with the following note : — I am sending you a couple of negatives of photos of a land slip or rock slip on the Palm Beach Road, next to the Barrenjoey Road. The rock in measurement would weigh some 700 tons, and a small one next to it, 300 odd tons. The slide was very smooth, the bed being white pipeclay, and since it has been on the road, it creeped 2 feet. It should form an interesting problem for engineers in Shires as how would be the most economic way of removing same, and the quickest way to get rid of such a lot of stone. It seems to me if the earth were removed from the front of it, the weight may take it farther, where it would eventually go into the waters of Pittwater. However, 10 men are starting to blast it and try and remove it for the property owners who are at present cut off from any road communication. SHIRES. (1918, June 4). Construction and Local Government Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1913 - 1930), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article109675349
Palm Beach – furnished cottage for sale or will let on Lease. 4 rooms, Kit. Bathroom, Verandah 30 x 16, 6 mins to surf, surf boating and fishing good views A VERRILLS, Palm Beach Pittwater Advertising. (1919, January 4). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15818631
The boarding house built by the Barrenjoey Land Company
'£20 TO FIRE HOUSE'
Kitchenman's Allegation of Offer Denied by Employer INQUIRY INTO PALM BEACH FIRE
SENSATIONAL allegations of a conspiracy to burn down Palm Beach House, the well-known seaside boarding-house, were contained in a statement read at the City Coroner's Court last week when Mr; E. A. May enquired into the cause of two fires which occurred at Palm Beach-^one on April 1, and the other on May 24.
THE statement is alleged to have been made by Eric Woodger, and implicated Sydney Keys, owner of Palm Beach House. The two men who were present in court had previously been charged with conspiracy and arson. The first witness was Constable Fleming, of Manly, who said that on May 31 he and Constable Newton interviewed Sydney Keys at the Manly Police Station. Keys said to him: 'I want to give a man named Woodger in charge for blackmail. He came to me at Palm Beach and said he would 'split unless I gave him £50.''I asked him what Woodger was going to 'split' about,' said Constable Fleming, 'and he replied, 'About the fires at Palm Beach on April 1 and May 24.''Woodger later said to me: 'Keys Is a liar. I saw him at Palm Beach and asked him for nine days' wages I considered he owed me. He said to me: 'I will give you £50 If you keep your mouth shut about the fires.' ''At the station,' continued Constable Fleming, 'Woodger said, I set fire to the house at Keys' suggestion. He wanted the insurance and, offered me £20 to set fire to the place— -£10 before the fire and £10 afterwards, but he gave me only 50s.'Woodger's alleged statement was as follows: 'I was In Keys' employ as a kitchenman at Palm Beach House, Palm Beach, for about three months up to Easter last. He told me the house and furniture were Insured for a couple of thousand pounds. He hinted to me shortly after I went there about burning down the house for the insurance.' A few days after that he said to me, 'I will give you £20 to burn the place down for me; I will give you £10 before and £10 after you do the Job.' I more or less agreed to this in order to keep my Job.' He said three or four days before the fire, 'We will set her going on Monday night when everybody is out of the house.' On Easter Monday morning he showed me a bottle of petrol and gave me a piece of old towel to saturate with petrol and place over the hole under the bed.' About 6.30 that night he came tome In the' pantry, and producing a bottle of whisky said, 'We will have a few stiff ones cut of this before we find her up.' We had several whiskies each.' I then went into the garage under the house and applied a match to the hole over which the petrol-soaked towel was. It caught fire, and I cleared. 'I just went on to the road outside. I could see smoke issuing', from No. 7.Shortly after that a crowd came on the scene, and the Are was 'extinguished.' Keys returned about 10 .o'clock that night, and came down to my, room with two bottles of wine. He said, 'You are a fool; you made a mess of It on purpose. You did not try to fire It.'' Keys did not give me any portion of the £20 which he had promised me for setting fire to the place. About a week later I left Keys' employment. When he was paying me I said, 'You haven't played the game?' He said, 'You did not try to set fire to It.' All he gave me was 50/-,and he said, 'There, that's for your trouble.' ..'On Wednesday, 29th Inst., Keys came to me at my boarding house about 6 p.m., and I said- 'It looks like as If we are going to get into trouble over this. What are you going to do about it?' He said,I know nothing about It.''
He then handed me 30/-, and said, 'You had better keep quiet and know nothing.' He then left I consider Keys owed me nine days' wages.'I went to him at Palm Beach yesterday and asked him for it. He said, 'I can see what you are doing. This is-a case .of blackmail, -I will give you nothing.'
'I then saw Keys,' added Constable Fleming, 'and told Mr. Woodger had denied the allegation of blackmail, and had stated that Keys had offered him £30 to keephis mouth shut. Keys, according to Constable Fleming, replied, 'Dear, oh dear, what a fool a man is.' 'He appeared to be ill,' added the constable. 'I read the statement to him, and Woodger looked at Keys and said: 'Every word of that is true!' Keys was silent, and appeared to be ill. A little later he remarked: 'I'm admitting nothing; I'm denying it all'.' Mrs. Eileen James, of Darlington-road, Darlington, said she had been employed
SAID TO HAVE TOLD THE POLICE that Keys offered him money to burn down - the house. — Eric Woodger.
as a Housemaid-waitress at Palm Beach House for about 12 weeks prior to last Easter, and also for four days during Easter. She was In charge of room No. 7,which was occupied by a lady guest who smoked. 'All the ladles smoked while I was there,' said the witness, who added, that she washed out No.7 on April 1, and saw no hole in the floor. . 'Waltent Hubert Rayner, of Independent means, said he had known Keys for six or seven years. He had been a hall porter at Ushers Hotel before he went to Palm Beach. The furnishings of his house there were above the average;, and he (Rayner) estimated them to be worth between £1200 and £1400.'I have always looked upon Keys as a straight-going, decent fellow,' he added. 'I once recommended him for an hotel and would do so again now.'
Mr. Moors: Did Keys see you shortly after the fire?— Yes. He said something about a man who had been in his employ. I don't think he mentioned any name. He said he was trying to blackmail him. ' He told me the man said to him that the Insurance Company had offered him £200 if he would tell them anything about the fire on May 24.'I told him,' continued Rayner, 'that I would have punched the man on the nose and kicked him out of the place. I also said his best plan was to see his solicitor the next- day.' At this stage the Inquiry was adjourned to June 28. . - .
Mr. Rogers (Crown Law Department)appeared to assist the police; Mr. Moors(Instructed by Messrs. Turner, Nolan and Bender) for Sydney Keys; Mr. J. Yeldham for Eric Woodger, Mr. Aspinall for the Palm Beach Land Syndicate, unpaid vendors, and Mr. Rainbow for various insurance companies. "£20 TO FIRE HOUSE". (1929, June 23). Truth (Sydney, NSW : 1894 - 1954), p. 20. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article169319074
'ONLY MEANT TO MAKE SMOKE'? ?
Kitchenman Denies Intention to Fire Palm Beach House
STARTLING EVIDENCE AT INQUIRY
STARTLING developments occurred at the City Coroner's Court last week when the inquiry was continued into the fires at Palm Beach House on April 1 and May 24. ERIC WOODGER, who, with Sydney Keys, has been charged with conspiracy and arson, entered the witness box and corroborated the statement he had previously made alleging that Keys bribed him to set the house on fire.
WALTER HUBERT RAYNER, who gave evidence at the previous hearing, was recalled last week and stated, amongst other things, that Keys told him on one occasion that Woodger had said to him (Keys) that the Insurance Company had offered him (Woodger) £200 and police protection. Dudley Sanderson, law clerk, said Keys told him that Woodger had called on Mrs. Keys and stated he had a proposition for her husband. Asked what it was he is alleged have said that he had been offered £200 and police protection if he would give certain evidence. 'Why do you come to us, then?' Mrs. Keys said she asked him. 'Oh,' Keys is alleged to have replied, 'if Sid. Will give me £50 1 will say nothing about it.'
Christina Smith, of Burrangong Station, Young, said that early in1929 she was employed at Palm Beach House. Early in June, she said, a man named Simpson visited her at Young, and told her that Eric Woodger had said he had warned her to pack her bag.
Mrs. Eileen James.
that the place(Palm Beach House) was going to be set on fire. 'I told him that was not true, and that I was willing to swear so,' said Miss Smith. Mr. Rogers: Do you know what terms Woodger was on with the rest of the staff? — They didn't like him. What about yourself? — I was like the rest — I didn't like him.
Mr. Yeldham: If you were not friendly with Woodger why did you smoke cigarettes with him in your room? — I did not do so. Did you ever smoke with him?— I may have done so in the kitchen.
George Moodie, laborer, of 'Florida House,' Palm Beach, said that on May 24 he and a pal named Petersen passed Palm Beach House about 8.30 p.m. They saw a sky-rocket land on the roof of the house. About 45 minutes later he saw the fire break out.
Stood by Story Woodger then entered the box and said he stood by the statements he had given the police..
Mr. Yeldham: What about Chrissy Smith's statement that she was unfriendly with you?— It is a deliberate lie. She was in my room nearly every night smoking cigarettes.
Continuing, Woodger said that following the suggestion about burning down the house he suggested to Chrissy that he should write a letter regarding it and place it in safe keeping. However, he did not do so.' On the night of April 1,' he continued, 'I went into the garage and put a lighted match through a hole Keys had bored.' I had previously poured water on one end of the mattress, and also had three buckets of water ready. It was not my intention to set fire to the house, but to make a smoke. Afterwards, I went out on to the road and then assisted to put out the fire. I know nothing of the fire on May 24—I was not in the district.' For some reason or other Eileen James did not like me. I think her friendship with Simpson had something to do with it. Later I detected her cheating at cards.'
Mr. Rainbow: Was any property removed from Palm Beach House prior to Easter? — Chrissy Smith informed me that the Keys' were taking all their effects out of the rooms. Chrissy and I went into the Keys' rooms and found the drawers empty. Did Keys ever tell you about his financial position?— Yes; he said he was dead up against it. He said he had to meet a cheque at Easter, but would have to transfer £100 from his wife's account to do It.
Mr. Dovey: Are you giving evidence against yourself in this case out of a sense of decency? — I am giving evidence out of a sense of truthfulness. You also realise you are giving evidence against Keys? — Yes. Didn't you ever boast to Keys about your conquests with women?— I'm not here to call him a liar.
Were the girls at Palm Beach House forward with you?— No. Chrissy used to come to my room at times and smoke a cigarette. She also told me once that Keys was making her life unbearable over a certain matter.’ Continuing his cross-examination, Mr. Dovey asked Woodger if Keys had ever given him any money for the fire. Woodger: About four days after Easter, when he was paying my wages, he gave me 50s.
Mr. Dovey: If you did not propose to burn down the house, as you have stated, why did you think it necessary to warn Miss Smith? — I thought the house might go at any time. What did she say when you told her?—She said she suspected it. What was your opinion of Keys when you left him?— I thought he was a man in desperate circumstances.
‘Weren't you under notice of dismissal when the first fire took place? — Woodger(striking the Bible dramatically): On that Bible, no. Did Keys give you a week's notice on March 12? — Yes. Did you tell Keys in Manly that the police were enquiring about your movements on the night of May 24?— Probably I did.! Did you say you thought they suspected you for something?— No. I Did you tell the police you had been in the company of three girls on the night of the fire?— No, I said I had been with three ladies. Have the insurance people been to see you? — No. Did you tell Keys they had offered you £200? — Rubbish.
Mr. Yeldham: Did -you ask Keys for anything but your wages?— ^?of I told him that as he hadn't played the game with me I knew of no reason why I should shield him from the police.
Helen Keys, wife of Sydney Keys, said there were about 22 guest at Palm Beach House for tea on Easter Monday. About7 p.m. her husband left by car for Manly with four passengers. Woodger was in the pantry all the time. About 8.15 news of the fire was spread by a guest. It was extinguished when Woodger appeared.
His evidence that he had several buckets of water in readiness was totally untrue. At this stage, the inquiry was adjourned until July 2. Mr. Dovey intimated that in view of developments, he would put Keys in the box. Mr. Rogers (Crown Law Department)appeared to assist the police; Mr. Moors and Mr. W. R. Dovey (instructed by Messrs. Turner, Nolan and Bender) for Sydney Keys; Mr. J. Yeldham for Eric Woodger; Mr. Aspinall for the Palm Beach Land Syndicate, unpaid vendors; and Mr. Rainbow for various insurance companies. "ONLY MEANT TO MAKE SMOKE". (1929, June 30). Truth(Sydney, NSW : 1894 - 1954), p. 16. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article169323786
CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT. (Before Mr. Justice Stephen.) Senior Crown Prosecutor, Mr. McKean, K.O.
CHARGE OF ARSON. ACCUSED ACQUITTED.
Eric Geal Woodger, 35, labourer, was charged with having maliciously set fire to a dwelling-house in the possession of Sydney Keyes, at Palm Beach, on April 1, with intent to injure. Mr. Robert M. Kidston (Instructed by Mr. John Yeldham) appeared for the accused.
The accused, so the Crown stated, was employed as a kitchenman at Palm Beach House, a guest house, and on April 1 a fire broke out in one of the bedrooms. It was soon extinguished, and only a mattress was burned.
Constable Fleming stated that accused had admitted having set fire to the house, and in a statement said that Keyes had offered him£20 to do so. Keyes, who had been charged with the offence, denied the whole of the accused's statement.
The accused gave evidence, and said that Keyes had tried to get him to set fire to the house, so he "bluffed" him by setting fire to the mattress, which he had first thrown water on. He had done it to please Keyes, as he wanted to keep his job.
After the accused had given his evidence the jury intimated that it did not wish to hear anything further, as it had come to the conclusion that no attempt had been made to set fire to the whole house. The accused was acquitted by the jury without leaving the box, and he was discharged. CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT. (1929, September 13). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16583694
Barrenjoey House at Palm Beach - 2015
Barrenjoey House - Restaurants You Could Also Stay In Part I - threads collected and collated by A J Guesdon, 2015. Historic Family photos copyright Verrills Family.