Our Place: Erskineville, Alexandria & Beaconsfield

Our Place - Erskineville - Henry Brown

Henry Brown was an official of both The Communist Party of Australia and the Liberal Party. As a kid he liked to visit Mascot airport because he could wander in and out of the hangers. He saw the Clancys’ “Skybaby” and Amy Johnson’s plane. Later, after a friend got a Rolls Royce that was not working and fixed it up, they used to go and collect their dole in the Rolls Royce “until the fella up here at Erskineville reckoned that wasn’t the way to come and collect the dole!” Henry also tells of the unofficial greyhound training track near Rickety Street, St Peters, around 1936: “After a while, of a Sunday, bookmakers would go down there, and people with hot dog stands. The Telegraph came down there and there were twenty-five thousand people making a Sunday picnic, and of course when they drew attention to it, the police banned it …” A local identity, Nigger Fox, “was a bit of a bookie and later on he opened up the door one night and someone blast him with a shotgun. He was dead in Mitchell Road.” Of transporting poultry from Paddy’s Markets, “They’d give you an old sugar bag with a hole cut in the bottom corner and stick the fowl or the duck’s head through the corner of the sugar bag and you’d carry it home in the tram, and everybody’d be going crook at the chook or the duck having a peck at people sitting on the seat beside you”. Henry also describes the various theatres and entertainments, including Jim Gerald’s AIF show and Mr Dicky Spring the female impersonator.

Caveat: This video was shot on a Sony Hi 8 video recorder. It was not until 2010 that we could get the analogue tapes digitised. Despite careful storage in the intervening period there has been some deterioration in quality. While we have retained the original .mov files from the original digitization in the SRA Archive, by necessity uploaded here are .mp4 files. The video is raw and unedited, a primary source document recording the occassion.