Friday, 25 January 2019

Warrimoo Industries (b) Dairy




Warrimoo Industries (b) Dairy*

In the years before World War II, most suburbs and towns throughout Australia contained “a dairy”—the source of fresh local milk and cream and maybe other dairy products, deemed at the time as healthy dietary staples to ward off a common childhood disease called ‘Rickets’, caused by a lack of calcium.

The small infant township of Warrimoo was no different. Evidence of a local dairy off  Florabella Street exists from the early 1930’s, when a man called Leonard Jack Bebber purchased a block of 13 acres and, it seems, leased the land and some cows to anyone who might be prepared to do a ‘Milk Run’ in the area.

Hand-milked dairies operated in most towns of Australia in the 1930's--the Patmans commenced with eight or nine cows in 1940
After selling the Run to one Francis Oswald Campbell in 1935, however, Bebber ran into some difficulty. Campbell took Bebber to court and sued for damages to the tune of 325 pounds, the cost of purchase. Campbell claimed that he bought the Run Licence on the promise of milk sales of 14 gallons a week, when in reality they were merely 8 or 9 gallons.

Close perusal of the books led the judge to conclude that Campbell had in fact ‘cooked the books’ to gain his lawsuit, and that Bebber had no case to answer. Nevertheless by 1939, Bebber found it necessary to put the whole business up for sale. It was purchased by Lisle Freeman Spence on behalf of his daughter Beatrice and her husband Allan Patman. Thus commenced the legendary family occupation of the ‘Patman Dairy’ and their seminal role in the nascent Warrimoo community.

The Patman Story

Allan Patman grew up on a sheep property outside Mudgee. When he met Beryl Beatrice Patman (nee Spence) he was managing a sheep property in the district. Beryl also grew up in the Mudgee district where her father was a school teacher. They met in Mudgee and married in Penrith in 1933. Because of Allan’s prowess with tennis, he opened a sports store in Penrith.  They had three sons; Bruce (b.1934), Barry (b.1937) and Graham, born when they were living on the Dairy, in 1942.
                    
Allan Patman--Noted tennis player,  Penrith Sports Shop proprietor, 1930's
In 1939, with WWII looming, the bottom fell out of the sports industry and in 1940, thanks to Beatrice’s father, they took over the already established dairy farm previously owned by Leonard Bebber. As there was no house on the property they lived in a rented house on the north western corner of Florabella Street and The Avenue.  In 1941, when the property next to the dairy, which consisted of a house and non-operating chicken farm, came on the market they subsequently bought it, and moved into the house. 

(The chicken sheds were reopened a few years later, on a small scale, and day old chickens were bought, raised, killed and dressed by the family, for local sale for a number of years.  Eventually the sheds were closed down because of an infection in the ground which could not be eradicated.)                                                                                
Allan Patman prepares for milking. At first there was a small herd of 9 cows, but this increased as the population of the area grew during WWII, and reached a figure of 20.
There would have been 8-9 cows when the dairy, which included milk delivery, was first bought. At that stage Allan would be up at approximately 3:00 am to start the milking, by hand.  During milking, the cows were fed supplements, as well as relying on grazing. At approximately 5:30 am after the milking he would have a large plate of toast, several cups of tea and a “BEX” before starting off on the delivery. Beryl finished the clean up in the dairy, while a neighbour, Mrs. Norman (‘Normie’) often helped in the house doing breakfast for the boys and getting them ready for school. 


Allan and Beryl Patman with the two boys, Bruce (standing) and Barry in the 1930's
Initially a 1926 Chevrolet car was converted to a ute for the milk deliveries. On the ute was a large vat with a tap from which the milk was measured into half pint, pint, quart or four pint measuring cans which had a lid to cover the milk as it was being carried into peoples’ homes. It was then poured into the customers containers. There was also room on the ute for extra cans of milk which were tipped into the vat as it emptied. After the war an army jeep was converted for use as a delivery truck. 

Originally it was all fresh warm milk, with the cream not separated, and there was no refrigeration on the truck. When the milk run was finished all the cans, vat and measures had to be cleaned and sterilized with boiling water. By then it was time for lunch, and with a bit of luck a short rest before the process started all over again at about 1:00 pm in the afternoon with second milking and second delivery and clean up.                                                                                                                                               

The Patman Dairy jeep about to take off on its run--the front vat is used for ladling the milk, extra cans in the back.
Dairy work was 7 days a week and there was no time in these years for outside interests and activities. At first the delivery area covered Warrimoo and Blaxland.  However the herd was increased to over 20 during the war years, as people moved out of the Sydney area (because of the shelling of the harbour) to their numerous weekend homes, and demand for milk grew. At about this time milking machines were installed to cope with the increased herd. As the number of customers increased the delivery area spread as far as Torwood Road near Valley Heights and down to the western outskirts of Glenbrook. It was mostly family run (with the boys sometimes helping with the delivery at weekends), but as the business grew, some outside help was also needed.  Some weekends if extended family were visiting they helped out for the day.

Beryl Patman outside the milking shed with one of the boys. As the Milk Run grew, it was 'all family hands on deck' to help out on the farm. There was little time for social life.
When demand continued to increase, and with limited land capacity to run a larger herd, milk which had been refrigerated was bought from the Nepean Milk Factory in Penrith to supplement the milk from the dairy. Many people resisted the cold milk, preferring the fresh warm milk. When the government restructured the dairy industry and made it compulsory for all milk to be sent to the factory to be pasteurized, the dairy was closed as it was not economical to send milk to the factory and then transport it back again. 
Milk prices in shillings and pence for 1950-52
Milk was then bought in bulk from the factory in ten gallon cans, stored overnight in a cold room, then delivered as before from a vat on the back of the ute. At this time, because of the growing numbers of customers, the milk run was split and more outside help was employed.  Stan Boyle, Barry’s future father-in-law, helped with the deliveries.  Later, about 1952, all milk was pasteurized in the factory and delivered in bottles. This provided a lot more free time and their working life was not nearly so demanding.

Until town water was laid on getting water for the cows was a big problem.  They would cart the ten-gallon cans over to the waterholes near Torwood Street, bringing back enough water to fill the troughs for the cows.  It was very disheartening to fill the troughs only to see the cows empty them again!  There was a permanent spring at the bottom of their land, but they had to keep the cows out of it so that it wouldn’t be destroyed. There were also some beautiful old caves down the back where they would go exploring.

The Patman House around 1940. Milking shed and holding yard are some distance behind.
In the early years, when the children were very young and the work of the dairy so demanding there were not a lot of social activities.  Nevertheless extended family and friends would often visit at the weekends for lunch/afternoon tea.  Beryl was a good cook, and they always liked having visitors.  On the side verandah of the house there was always spare beds for family or friends passing through, and the boys remember often waking up in the morning to find someone had slept there overnight. Beryl Geurtner (founding editor of Australian House and Garden) also stayed there for a time while building a home opposite.

Warrimoo Anglican Church and the Patmans

Church had always held an important place in the Patmans’ family life. The church had been there sometime before Allan and Beryl moved to Warrimoo (it was built in 1926—WH).  It was under the stewardship of the Miss Carters, three sisters who lived in the big house in The Boulevarde. 

Allan Patman (left) and Merv Donaldson working on extensions to the All Saints Anglican Church, Warrimoo  (1950's)
As children of primary school age, Bruce and Barry attended and sang at church. Because services were at 2:00 pm Beryl and Allan were too busy with the dairy and milk run to attend. During the war years the minister, Rev Lambert, came from Springwood to conduct the services. As the population grew Rev. Harold Rawson was appointed to the churches of Warrimoo, Blaxland and Glenbrook. He rode a push bike between each village to conduct services and took a very active interest in the life of these villages.

The Reverend was often a visitor to the Patmans for a meal until he married.  Later in his career he became Canon Rawson at St. Matthews, Windsor.  The families always kept in touch, and he flew to Brisbane when Allan died, to conduct the service.  In the late 40’s as the population grew, Mrs. Webber restarted the Sunday School. All three boys attended Sunday School, Bruce was older and helped as a teacher.

The Patman boys (from Left) Barry, Bruce and Graham, in Sunday best sitting on the steps outside Warrimoo Anglican Church

As Allan and Beryl were spared more time after the closure of the dairy they both took a greater interest in the church.  Allan was a Church Council Warden and Beryl was the Guild Secretary. Church fetes were held on the side lawn at their home a number of times.  Allan and Merv Donaldson built the rear extension to the church – we think in the early fifties.  After Bruce started his apprenticeship in cabinet making, he made a communion table and several new pews. Years later Denise Boyle and Barry Patman returned to the church for their wedding.

After the Patman family had moved to Queensland in the 1960's they were visited by the Boyles from Warrimoo, who had always been close friends. Barry was smitten by Stan Boyle's daughter, Denise (both pictured) and proposed marriage, so the couple's wedding  naturally took place at the All Saints Church Warrimoo, on the 15th January 1966.
On the day of the wedding the temperature hit 103 degrees Fahrenheit, and everyone sweated in their formal clothes. The Reception was held on the Highway at the classy Swiss Restaurant 'Rolfes'' near Springwood (now the Jim Aitkens Real Estate building).

Barry and Denise cut the cake
The Wedding featured a delightful 'Programme' card with an illustration of a somewhat more elaborate 'All Saints Church' than was actually the case...

Barry and Denise's 'Programme Card'...the humble 'All Saints' at Warrimoo never quite achieved the English ideal seen here. 
Close friends of the Patmans were Ted and Hazel Davis and family who lived at the corner of Victoria Street and the Boulevarde. Ted was the Bursar at Sydney University of Technology, and also served as treasurer at the church while Allan was Church Warden and Barry did carpentry improvements. 

Another identity of the village was Murray Lewis who was a singing teacher at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He formed a very good choir of church members who were invited to be part of the performance to welcome the Queen to Sydney in 1954. This became the formative basis of the 'Warrimoo Chorale'.

Every year the ladies guild from the Anglican Church would organise a fundraising fete and sometimes this was held in the Patman’s yard.  There would usually be a theme of some sort.  They would make lovely decorations to match the theme - one year it was ‘wisteria’ and another ‘peach blossom’.   

Barry recalls the three ladies known as the ‘Miss Carters’, who lived in the ‘Rickard’ house on the corner of Victoria Street and The Boulevard. They always dressed in black clothes, and one evening as they were walking up the highway Miss Hilda Carter was accidently hit by a car and killed.  A collection was taken up and a memorial bell erected at the Anglican Church.

Patman Family and Social Life

During one of the many bush fires Allan rescued Mrs Ruben Parton in his Jeep from the  massive 1951 fire surrounding her home in Valley Heights and about to engulf it. After driving through the blaze and dropping off Mrs Parton at Florabella Street, he realised the fire was heading in their direction. They were able to 'backburn' the neighbouring houses and save them all. Although the Parton family was safe they had lost their home and all their belongings, so until they were able to obtain a new home they lived with the Patmans.

The 'Daily Telegraph' article on Mrs Parton's rescue. Her daughter, Jan Parton (later 'Welland') was in Penrith working at the time of the rescue, but she too was obliged to stay with the Patmans until a new home  could be found.
As bush fires were regularly a danger in the area Allan was always available to help fight fires as the need arose. There was no organized association until after the war when the Bush Fire Brigade was formed. The closest Fire Station was at Springwood.  The boys tell the story of Allan and Beryl’s father having to shelter under the (Anglican/Arthur Street) church when once fighting a fire. While the fire took the homes each side, it jumped the church (divine intervention?).

There was a run down tennis court on the Patman's property when it was bought, which the boys used for fun.  After closing the dairy and no longer having to milk Allan and Beryl had much more time to enjoy more leisure activities. The tennis court was repaired and it was used for social games and fixtures.  Bruce and a friend, Mark Saba, had the job of rolling and bagging the courts Saturday mornings, ready for the adults A grade fixtures in the afternoon. Then the boys played in B grade fixtures at the Tennis club which was near the railway station.

Barry  Parton and 'Mary' (?) on the tennis court prior to a social game. Tennis remained a major part of Warrimoo's social life throughout the 20th Century.
Mrs. O’Brien (formerly Rene Carroll, leading ladies tennis champion) was the station mistress and also coached any of the young people who were interested in tennis.  On Sunday, friends and family would visit the Patmans and play socially. Because of Allan’s contacts with the tennis fraternity, one year Allan organized a tennis exhibition which included Bill Gilmore (Australian Junior champion, later Davis Cup referee) and Beryl Penrose (top Australian ladies player), to raise money for the church. 

When Barry, Bruce and Graham grew up they, with a number of other boys from Warrimoo, were involved in the Blaxland Scouts. John Webber from Florabella Street was the scout master at that time. Jim Boxsell was also involved with running the group and the boys remember many good times, especially bush walking the mountain trails, and scout camps among their many activities.

As teenagers the boys with their friends travelled to Springwood to attend dances and take part in square dancing.  They also went to the movies in Springwood or Penrith.  By this time Bruce was driving and a group would travel together in the farm jeep.The boys and their friends took it in turns to have square dance nights at each others homes.

Bruce was the designated 'driver' to Dances--after performing his role with the Old Jeep, he purchased this MG 'Classic', which must have been a sight on the streets of Warrimoo!
Barry remembers having slide nights to view photos. Allan and Beryl, as well as  the boys, when they grew older, attended balls organized by the Warrimoo Tennis Club and held in Springwood or sometimes in Penrith.

When Bruce started work in Sydney he caught the 6:04 am train with a number of others. It was always a race between Bruce and Norm Leven to the station: through the fence, over the rail lines and a dash into the last carriage.  Barry travelled on the “Chips” to work at St. Marys. In the morning there were two trains that ran for workers travelling to Sydney. The first, the “Fish” was an express train that ran at approximately 7:15 am. The “Chips” ran about 10 mins later, stopping at all stations to Penrith, then express to Sydney.  Then home after work on the Chips; the Fish left about 5 mins earlier, but did not stop at Warrimoo. Travelling 1 ½ hours each way every day there was lots of time for playing cards, reading and friendships as well as romances developing.

Malcolm King's refurbished view of now-passed Old Warrimooian, George Finey's artistic celebration of 'The Fish' in a Springwood bus shelter--along with 'The Chips', these two city -bound trains were legendary commutes for residents of the Blue Mountains. 
In 1956 Bruce moved to Queensland for health reasons. The family stayed on the property and the milk delivery continued until 1957, when they sold the property.  They then bought and moved to another dairy at Bellingen. In 1960 Barry and Graham also moved to Brisbane, and in 1964 Allan and Beryl sold the Bellingen property and bought another dairy in the Samford area near Brisbane.


*SOURCES for this Post are entirely drawn from interviews conducted by EVELYN RICHARDSON and JENNY DUNCAN on behalf of the 'Warrimoo History Project', of BRUCE PATMAN and BARRY PATMAN, and the notes derived from them in 2009 and 2010. Images come from these sources also.


5 comments:

  1. Great piece of warrimoo history. Timeframe just slightly before my time but many names familiar. Thnkx for this trip into the past.
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  2. Very interesting. We can add to that story. The Patmans sold the milk run in 1955 actually, to Reginald and Joan Squires and their young sons Bruce and Dennis. There was 8 acres of land with the house but most of that land was resumed by the government to build the Warrimoo school. The coolroom was lost in a bushfire in the late 1950s. The Squires family had the milk run which covered from Valley Heights to Glenbrook until around 1964 when Reg passed away from a heart attack at the age of 48, Joan felt unable to remain in the house without Reg so the house was sold but the milk run kept. The boys took over the run and continued in some capacity to deliver milk until the early/mid 1980s. Bruce and Dennis both attended primary school at Springwood. Bruce is my father in law.

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  3. Great read, I remember searching and finding the spring mentioned, there were also strong rumours of a distillery in the bush behind the dairy. I’m not sure, but we may have nicknamed those caves “crawl cave”, you had to be brave and thin to get into them...

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  4. I’m advised that the lady holding the tennis racquet is Mrs Mary Boxell (née Broadley).

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  5. Great article! Thanks for researching and sharing

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