Grandmother was the granddaughter of UK 1st Fleet convicts, John Small, Mary Parker and . Charlotte’s father was Samuel Small, who was born in 1804, the youngest of John Small and Mary Parker's seven children. He had married 'Rachel Rebecca Bradley', daughter of fellow 'First Fleeter James Bradley and 'Sarah Barnes', a convict on the 'Third Fleet' from the UK. Lucy was the paternal grandmother of my mother, Joan Adams, nee Callcott.
Guesthouses in Thirroul, formerly known as Robbinsville, continued to undergo great change after the completion of the South Coast Railway in the late 1880's - moving from farming to coal, brickworks and of course tourism.
Around that time there were many advertisements in the Sydney papers for holiday accommodation in Thirroul. They often featured comments like “1 min to surf", "close to the railway" and “I". Others offering accommodation in Thirroul back then, were the Cooney’s, and also Hughie Ross (also grandfather of Julie Ross of The Spicey Apple), and his sister Ruth. There were cinemas (Arcadia and New Kings), dance halls, refreshment rooms and Ryan's Bulli Pass Hotel.
Lucy and Alf were also estate and insurance agents in the town – and were regular advertisers of Accommodation To Let in Thirroul Sydney Morning Herald from 1915-1939. They often advertised reduced rates for the winter months. Lucy continued the business, as a widow, for about 7 or 8 years after the death of Alf . Amongst their most famous clients, were the sometimes controversial English author, DH Lawrenceand his wife,Baroness Frieda Von Richtofen. Frieda was also a cousin of The Bloody Red Baron of WW1 Germany.
It seems that the Lawrences were in tight financial circumstances and took advantage of Thirroul’s reduced winter rates, advertised by the Callcott’s. In 1922 DH and Frieda Lawrence stayed at the Californian bungalow, Wyewurk, which overlooks McCauley’s Beach, and was then owned by Lucy’s sister, Beatrice Southwell nee Midson.
There are varying thoughts on “Kangaroo" – a total fiction or a semi-autobiographic work by Lawrence? And like Somers in , did really make contact with people from both the political “Right” and “Left” of the era in such a short time frame ? It was quite possible, as there people with strong views, from both sides of the political divide, in the Northern Illawarra during that time period. On the Left, there were the Coal Miners, and on the Right, the Small Business Operators. In 1920 was clearly a senior local member of the .
And Lucy was seemingly interconnected into this milieu. Lucy and Alf's son-in-law was Victor Farraher, husband of their younger daughter Clarice. Victor was also a son of Elizabeth Farraher (nee Kirton), sister of John S Kirton, who had opened the Excelsior Coal Mine on his Thirroul property. So there would have been potentially a close family tie-up between the Farraher family and the Kirton family. And both Kirton‘s wives, Florence and Bridget, were also sisters to Murty Farraher, Victor‘s father. Incredibly convoluted ?
John S Kirton had been President of the North Bulli Shire Council and was also President of the local Nationalist Committee. He presided over a dinner held at Ryan’s Bulli Pass Hotel in 24 January 1920 to celebrate a Nationalist Victory; in Federal Parliamentary elections (Source - Sydney Morning Herald January 26 1920). Some years later, Victor Farraher, wrote in support of Captain De Groote, who rode in on horseback and cut the ribbon at the opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge in protest. This was ahead of the NSW ALP Premier Jack Lang in the official party, in 1932 (refer Joe Davis‘ book "DH Lawrence in Thirroul“).
DH Lawrence used the family name Callcott for one of the main characters in his novel, “Kangaroo“. There have also been suggestions that a woman, and her 11 year old son, commenting on the aeroplane landing incident in the novel, are in fact Lucy Callcott and son Russell. However, in 1922 Russell Callcott was already 19 years of age, and much older than the boy described by Lawrence in “Kangaroo“.
So, it was this short stay, at Wyewurk, that provided some of the inspiration for “Kangaroo“, according to Thirroul historian Dr Joseph (Joe) Davis. Coincidentally, Joe also taught Lucy's
For many years, Lucy also found time to be the organist in St David's Anglican Church in Roxborough Avenue next to Thirroul Public School - a plaque was placed in her memory on the church wall. Unfortunately Lucy did not enjoy a warm grandmotherly relationship with most of Russ's children. However it reminds me of the story of Paul Mercurio on the TV program "Who do you think you are ?" Paul discovered that his grandmother ran a hotel in America which left little time for her children, including Gus Mercurio, father of Paul. Perhaps it was the same for Lucy ?
In the 1980's with the electrification of the South Coast Railway, many Sydneysiders chose to become residents in Thirroul and commuters up to Sydney. And a small motel had operated in Thirroul since the 1970′s, a notable customer was the artist Brett Whiteley.Whiteley, and fellow artist Gary Shead, had a fascination with DH Lawrence, Wyewurk and "Kangaroo".
Bed and breakfasts, together with holiday home lettings are also starting to appear in Thirroul and its neighbouring suburbs. Recently Wollorowong, a property in Thirroul had been placed on the market. It was among the holiday cottages that Lucy Callcott had managed in 1937, operating as a guesthouse up until WWII. Wollorowong has been described as the last of the Thirroul Guesthouses by Joe Davis.
Lucy Callcott died in 1952, three years before I was born. And when I first stood for election as an Alderman on Wollongong City Council in 1989, I was at the Thirroul Leagues Club and was asked by a local "Was I a granddaughter of old Mrs Callcott?" I replied "No, I'm her great granddaughter". Despite the tensions that had existed in my family, nevertheless I have to acknowledge Lucy Callcott's pioneering contribution to the early days of tourism in Thirroul and as a small businesswoman nearly a century ago.