Fischer Family

The Fischer family have been a part of Darlington since c1910's when Hugo and his wife, Gwendolyn, arrived in Darlington. Two of their children, Pauline (1911 - 2001) and Peter (1916 - 2005) have had their recollections recorded about their long association with Darlington. 

Contents:

PAULINE FISCHER INTERVIEWS

INTERVIEW WITH PAULINE FISCHER BY JUDY LOVE ON 30 JUNE 1992

Recorded on a cassette tape – the quality has deteriorated over time, transcribed by Christine McConigley in 2015. Extra information in bracketed italics by Lyn Myles Dec. 2015

PERSONAL HISTORY

I was born in Claremont in 1911. It was about that time that my father, Hugo Fischer, (my mother was Gwendoline Paxton whom he married in 1901 in Adelaide) bought the land in Darlington, about 1910. We didn’t come straight up here to live on the land.

The first house our family lived in in Darlington was in Lionel Road (now 26 Lionel Road). There was an original house on the land, a tiny cottage, up the road where Mayhew Road now is. It had been owned by an old sea captain who sold the land to my father – he left all his old relicts around. He had lived there for some time I believe.

There were lots of huge jarrah trees around the house, about five or six.

My Dad got rid of me for a while, I went to Adelaide for about six months. Dad came up to the property every weekend with my sister, who was eleven at the time, and my brother who was thirteen. My sister cooked dinner on an outside stove, I couldn’t have done it but children seemed to be more capable then. Everyone worked hard, they made bricks out of gravel, lime and straw, I don’t know the proper recipe. It went into some sort of machine and then the bricks were sun dried. They would last forever if you protected them from getting wet.

The house in Lionel Road, the one that the Lyons now live in, (42 Lionel Road) was built with those handmade bricks. It was two rooms at first with a side verandah.

When I got back from Adelaide I got a surprise as the house had been built while I was away. I can remember when the family moved in there was an enormous summer storm, wonderful lightning, now I think it was probably a cyclone. I’ve loved stormy weather ever since.

I had a very happy childhood. My Dad had come from Adelaide around 1905, I think he was thinking of going to Fremantle. He had several positions in Perth. He had a saddlery and hardware business and went down to Perth every day to work by the train.

My Dad built another house “Kirkcaldy” in 1920, he had it built.  I lived in that house for 21 years.

DARLINGTON PRIMARY SCHOOL AND THE SURROUNDS OF DARLINGTON

My sister Jo and I went to school in Darlington Primary, you had to go through the rough bush to get there.

There were two room and two monitors as well as the teacher.

Judy and Pauline discuss the part of Trea Wiltshire’s book “Darlington Primary School – 1912-1982” in which Pauline was mentioned.

“Pupils at that time remember the school grounds as being attractive, with mauve and white pelargoniums planted by parents along the solid fence that surrounded the school. Miss Pauline Fischer recalls: “The grounds were carpeted with Guildford grass and there were many trees and granite outcrops with native plants. It had a wonderful park like feeling. The area down by the nearby creek were frequently used by the school because it as open and untouched and very beautiful. The first sports day was held there, with races being run along the flat area beside the brook.” (Page 13).

It used to take us an hour and a half to walk home” remembers Miss Fischer, “but it was quite a social occasion with three or four of us walking together. We never complained because it was so pretty. This was a green deserted valley apart from the vineyards. The wild flowers were indescribable.

We used to call Greenmount Hill ‘spider orchid hill’ because it was covered in in the orchids that are now so rare. From the hill you could look down on acres of vineyards stretching right across the centre of Darlington, with pine trees planted all the way around” (page 5)

I had an extremely happy childhood and made many friends and have kept some of these school friends all my life.

When I was growing up the roads were nothing, just small gravel tracks with the natural bush on all sides. It was like that up until the 1940’s, there were lots of wild flowers, hoveas, up the sides of the tracks. When people started to get cars things started to change. People used to take their rubbish into the bush and dump it.

At our place Dad had a big hole for rubbish, near where the tennis court is now, and that’s where we put all the rubbish, we didn’t seem to have as much as nowadays. I can remember people commenting that they didn’t know what would happen when someone finally bought the bush where all the rubbish was dumped.

Judy Love, of 4 Lionel Road, Darlington comments that she agreed with that there was lots of rubbish as in the bush opposite her home, students from Helena School came up and helped clean the area after a big fire and there was lots of household rubbish, they found a 1921 half penny which pleased them.

THE TRAIN AND ITS EFFECT ON DARLINGTON

My Dad and all the other men in Darlington went to Perth by train, he saw everyone, and everyone seemed to enjoy the train. I know they played bridge on the train. It really was a community thing, everyone caught up with everyone else. I’m sure they planned activities and other things on the train.

I can remember Laurie Pell, he was always running late and they had to stop the train, I think every morning for him, everyone knew that.

I can remember the war finishing, there was a special railway train, I can’t remember if there were flags, perhaps there were but we all sang songs.

Darlington was really a dormitory place, even then. Not like Glen Forrest which was much more industrial, they had the timber mill, clay works, brick works and charcoal industries. There was the vineyard and some people, like the Victors, who were primary producers but most of the Darlington people grew fruits and veggies for their own use.

TREES FELLING IN DARLINGTON AND WILD FLOWERS

I can remember men coming to cut down the huge jarrah trees around Stone Crescent, I can remember three or four large trees.  The men probably came from the Glen Forrest saw mill. They sawed the trees down by hand.

Once the trees came down that altered the bush underneath. The wild flowers were amazing. My sister would have clearer memories than me. People would come to Darlington to pick the wildflowers, great armloads of them, it wasn’t illegal then.

CHINESE GARDEN

I can’t really remember much about the Chinese vegetable garden. (Judy Love comments that the Chinese were listed in the 1906 postal book. Mr Elliot has the names, apparently you had to be registered in the post book – (Some names were Ah Nim,1902-1904, Ah Ling & Co., 1905-6 and Sam Woo, 1896) I believe that the Chinese garden is where the stone wall is, where Pauline McGuinn’s house is, on the corner of Dalry and Darlington Road. On the south side the Sandovers' had their cottage.

VINEYARD AND THE VICTORS

It was about the end of World War 1 that the vineyard closed I think. I was told that there was a problem when the roots of the vine got into the clay and died if it was that or whether if it was low production or it could have been the War. It was never the same after the War.

There was an Italian labourer who lived in the one room cottage, the stone one near the Hall. It was later used as the Supper Room for the Hall.  The Hall and the little cottage were all built by the same stonemason, an Italian I think. They were real Italian, a lovely family. It must have been hard living in the one room house, it must have been like living in a deprived area of Italy. I can remember the daughter, Mary. She went to Darlington Primary School. When the family (Joseph Pellisier) went back to Italy we all went down to the Station to see them off.

The 1920’s came and the vineyard went. It was vacant for some time. Mrs Stevenson or Dorothy Victor may know more.

The Victors had horses and a vast number of fruit trees. I can remember the Victors bringing fruit to us at the Darlington Primary School. I know they produced raisins but then many families did that. We grew some grapes. People were innovative; we all had to be at that time. People tried different things, some worked better than others.

TRANSPORT

Judy Love said that Mrs Lyons (who, at the time of the interview, lived in the Fischer’s original house, now 42 Lionel Road Darlington) had found a vast number of huge horse shoes around the property.

I don’t know about the huge horse shoes as we only had one horse, Topsy. She did all the work around the place. There were lots of horses around this area, most people had horses to get around, carry things, including themselves before cars became more common.

Everything was moved by horses, what those horses moved in those days was unbelievable, they were very strong. Of course some horses were treated very cruelly, they were beaten. Mr Hogarth used to say that the best thing for the horse was the invention of the internal combustion engine.

Life was much tougher then. It looks fine looking back but it must have been hard for horses and for people who had to work so hard physically. Some of the houses were very basic.

There was always a track from here (Stone Cres) down to the Station, I think the steps in Montrose Avenue were put in about 1918/19. In 1919 Darlington Railway Station was made into a booking station. I supposed there were many more people catching the train so they needed better steps. We used to use the path in Allestree Road, there were sort of steps there, they were properly made and there was a path.

My father paid a man ten shillings to make a track from the top of Lionel Road from Hogaths’ to the railway station but it was washed away when the rains came, there were no roads but it was a short cut so we kept using it.

There were few people living up here on the top of the hill. You could go for a half a mile without seeing a house. Mother stayed home all day, like all the mothers. We all know each other and were very close. If there was sickness everyone would help.

There were only two cars in Darlington, ours and the Neilsons. If people needed a car my father would drive them. Mr Neilson couldn’t actually drive, he used to get the boys to drive him. Peter (brother) loved that, Leith Maslin also would drive Mr Neilson’s car. Mr Neilson would get someone to drive him down to Perth, they wait around while he did his business and then drive him back to Darlington.

You could hear your own car coming up the hill, well not that many cars came up Greenmount so that’s not surprising.

CHURCHES

People all went to church then. We went to the Presbyterian Church service, mother had been a Presbyterian. There was no church initially but every second Sunday afternoon we always went. It was a very community things. V.K Jones, lived in Holmesdale (Leithdale), he was probably renting it, and we’d use the wonderful lounge room, they’d bring in seats from the garden into their lounge room. Someone would come up from the Ross Memorial Church to take the service. They’d come up on the 11:00 am train, there would be the service and then lunch at the Jones and then catch the 5:30 pm train back to Perth.

The Anglicans were struggling to build their church and used to have their services in the Darlington School, we’d go there sometimes, we liked the singing.

There was a Congregational Church, a nice little church, it was a combined Methodist and Congregationalists. It was the only one religion that had an actual church building. We’d all go to that for special things. They’d have meetings there. There were quite a few Methodists in Darlington then – Fremantle had a huge number of Congregationalists / Methodists in the 1920’s, there must have been some scheme to encourage Methodists to come out here, but I don’t know about that. Methodists seem very independent people, they like to sort things out by themselves. We never went to the Congregation Church.

NELSONS

Our family was very friendly with the Nelson family, really their house was the closest to ours as there were no other houses there then. To get to what is now our Stone Crescent house (now 7 Stone Crescent) you came in via the corner of Hillston and Lionel Road, so we were really over the road from the Nelsons. The view was staggering from on top of the tower, you could see all the way to the city.

Mr Nelson probably bought a virgin block, I’m not sure. There were twelve huge trees on the block that he called the twelve apostles but he knocked them down.

He was a builder, he built the first Railway Station. He had a farm at Bantine and the family were reasonably well off but I think things went wrong for them in the Depression. The house you see now was really the third house built up there. At first they lived in a tin cottage, then Mr Nelson built around it, like a card house. I think it was built with rubble, crushed bits of rock, to make up the walls. The walls are very thick. The rooms in the house were spacious and lovely to go into. Peter would know all about the building, he used to go over there a lot with Leith Maslin.

GUEST HOUSES

Judy Love mentioned that her husband remembered staying in a Guesthouse, Mrs Price’s at 2 Orange Rd.

I can remember Guesthouses, people used to come up from the city to have a country break. The first one was run by Mrs Pope (Edith Mary), she was a widow, and her husband (Charles Pope) had won the Victoria Cross in 1917. It was after the War that she set up her guesthouse in 1919 (ran until 1921). I think it was one of the few ways a woman could make money in those days, renting out rooms and such. Mrs Pope’s guest house was on Hillsden but went right through to Dalry Road on the side (Later this house was owned by the Mofflins and called Blackwood)

Mofflin’s (Blackwood) was a lovely big house on Dalry Road, there was a big wooden bungalow at the back and that was the first boarding house I can remember.

The Mofflin’s had a wonderful rose garden and there was a Methodist fete held there for charity for at least 10 years.

Hal Missingham use to live where the Mofflin’s kept their cows.

Leithdale was a boarding house for years. A doctor has it now and it is beautifully done up.

There was a boarding house going down Hillsden Road, round the corner from St Cuthberts, sort of opposite St Cuthberts. It was a bush block next to Saws. Friends use to come and stay, it was very homely (Blair Atholl & Peddars way at 29 Hillsden in the 1930’s)

I can remember Mrs Edmundson having a boarding house as well (Rosendale on Owen Rd). I think it was the only way a widow could make any money.

BUSES

Judy mentioned that she’d found our there were two bus services at least a charabanc began in 1926 and another in 1930.

The original bus I can remember was the Southern Cross Buses. They went up and down to Perth and came every hour. That was probably about 1925/26. Buses went to eleven o’clock at night which was much later than the train. You could catch the 7:00pm bus and go into town which was useful. I think the buses were useful and well patronised, well not many people had cars so there was not much choice.

When my sister and I went to Perth College for our senior school we caught the train down it was more convenient that a bus.

BUILDINGS AND THINGS

Miss Jessie Kennedy’s stone house had the same architect who built the Hall (The Kennedy Cottage was built much later, around 1927, by Rauleigh Webb and was not contemporary with the hall which was around 1888)

Up the top of Lionel Road they cleared a lot of bush in the 1920’s I think. It probably was the Progress Association. The idea was that they were going to build a recreation ground up there, can you imagine, just how would anyone get up to it? It was government land (Reserve 6922) but they found there was rock just underneath so I suppose they knew they wouldn’t be able to plant grass so I suppose that is why they moved the whole idea down to the village centre, thank heavens.

WORLD WAR TWO

I can remember the soldiers marching up and down Greenmount Hill. I do know that they used to come into Darlington village.

There was an army camp at the top of Lionel Road, near the swimming pool. The main camp was on the road. Peter said it was a medical camp, perhaps a rest camp or for recuperation. It was a pleasant place. All the soldiers lived in tents. I was told they were mostly from the Eastern States but I’m not sure.

Judy had discovered lots of cement, reinforcing, it looks as though it may have been a chimney. There were also lots of Bex tablet bottles, which fits into the idea that this may have been some of medical camp. Judy’s neighbour, Thomas Hort, who went to live in Albany, said that the area at the top of Lionel Road was an army camp during the War.

My brother Peter and his wife had just married and they saw lots more of the soldiers than me. They were very friendly with them. I remember meeting the sergeants.

Darlington people took the soldiers to their hearts and had them in their homes. There was a canteen in the village. I know there were lots of Red Cross activities. Mrs Pell, she came from an old Cunderdin family. She had the Red Cross shop in the railway yard and once a week everyone came and supported it. They raised quite a lot of money. I was nursing at the time so don’t know too much. I do know that there were dances at the Hall. It was a happy, friendly time. Lots of fund raising. Her husband Larry Pell was very public spirited and an Auctioneer. He would stop the train in the morning running late.  Olive Pell the daughter was a poet, the family came from Kalgoorlie in the 1920’s.

Stan Williams knows all about the Dad’s Army, it really was called the Voluntary Defence but after that TV programme I thing we all think of them as “Dad’s Army”. They all seemed to get the same size uniforms, regardless of their size.

I do remember the blackout curtains and you had to cover glass doors in case they smash with the bombing. I can’t remember if we had trenches at school. Judy remember slit trenches while at Subiaco primary and all the children had to practice how to get into them.

There were many children evacuated up to Darlington from the city. People sent their children up to stay with family and friends.

Darlington was very friendly during the war. Pauline was nursing in Mullewa on Victory Day in 1945.

THE ARTISTIC SIDE OF DARLINGTON

There was an artistic push here in the 1950’s. I suppose lots of creative people moved here after the war, Missingham, Guy Grey Smith, Juniper, Walters, Holmes a Courts lived here but that was before she was President of the WA Art Gallery. There was always exhibitions of art work in the Hall. There was always arty people here such as Amy Heap – perhaps it is the bush, yet close to the city that makes it a creative place.

Darlington has always been more of a singing place than an arty place.

Mofflins were a clever musical family, as well as Mrs Neilson and Storry Walton.

Mrs Curlewis lived for music, she was very public spirited, she was a bit bossy. She had girls’ choirs. There was an active Glee Club in the Village for years. It was men and women. Really good, a man from Queensland said it was worth coming over to WA to hear them.

Jessie Kennedy was a great singer and music teacher.

Darlington used to be a music nest. Everyone seemed to be involved in a choir in the village – as well as church choirs of course – and people sang extremely well.so it was really more music than art in those days.

HOTEL TALK IN THE 1970S

In the 1970’s there was talk about getting a Village Inn (Tavern at Glen Doone) in Darlington, that did not go down well, the village wouldn’t want one, we’re much to snooty to have that sort of thing. There was a hotel in Glen Forrest down near the railway line (Forrest Arms / Braidwood), I think it was mainly for the mill workers and the workers from the brick works. It closed down when I was young (delicensed in 1921).                                                

Pauline Fischer courtesy of Carol Fischer

 
 

FIRST INTERVIEW WITH PAULINE FISCHER BY ARLENE COLLINGS

17th November 1993 at 13 Stone Cres. Kilkaldy Place Darlington

We were at Pauline’s home. She remembered Miss Amy Heap as they travelled to Perth together on the train from Darlington and chatted at the station. Pauline was about 22 yrs old. Miss Heap was a quite private, very English, and a very approachable lady. She wore good “Liberty’” pretty cotton clothes.

Miss Heap had a sister Ethel and a brother who would walk down to St. Cuthberts church and ring the church bell at midday (during 2nd world war).

The Heap family went to Albany often, especially to take their shoes to be mended by their favourite bootmaker there. Other folk who knew the Heaps were Evelyn Leyland, Jean Williams (nee Maxwell), Una Hynes and Leith Maslin. Amy Heap was an “embellisher with the Western Mail magazine c.1933”. They lived in Dalry Road where Dr. Bastian now lives. Amy painted a watercolour of The Glen, the Victor’s property. It hung in the Victor home for years.

Pauline was born in Claremont 1911. Her family had bought a property in Lionel Rd. Darlington earlier. When she was 3 they came up to Darlington to live in a tiny 2 roomed cottage that had belonged to a sea captain (20 acres). Then Mr. Fischer built a house in Lionel Rd (now the home of Brian and Silvie Lyons) in 1914.  This property became her brother Peter’s poultry farm later. In 1921 Mr. Fischer built a grand house in Stone Cres (now the home of Leon & Jan Prichard).

Pauline remembers a huge flowering Redgum across the road in Lionel Rd, when she was 3 or so, and she’d play in the fallen blossoms of this tree. Her brother Peter built his home in Newman Rd. where he still lives. In 1973 Pauline left the big 1921 house and built her little brick cottage where she lives now.

She had all the old Western Mail magazines and Christmas ones in her shed (All Amy Heap’s work and Fred Flood’s work) but the rats ate them all!

The blocks in Darlington were mostly 20 acres in the early days. The Leschen family were in Darlington before the Fischers. Pauline’s mother was Scottish (orig, Cornish) and her father was German. The Leylands were another early family who came during the war years.

In “Windyridge (A.O. Neville’s) lived Mrs.Curlewis, who was a musician. She altered the old house by knocking out a wall etc.

The Fischer family’s business was wholesale leather goods est.1904-5.Pauline worked here then went nursing then kindy teaching.

The Sandover family (of Sandovers hardware Hay St. Perth) had a holiday cottage on the corner of Dalry and Hillsden Rds

Where Bilgoman pool is now was a rehabilitation and rest home for the soldiers from the war, who were sick or hurt. On the Darlington Railway station was a Red Cross place to help them and also the old supper room behind the hall was used for this.

Circa 1922 the winery stopped functioning and the supper house became the home to the Pellissier family. The building was 2 rooms and is now demolished.

 

SECOND INTERVIEW WITH PAULINE FISCHER BY ARLENE COLLINGS,  8th August 1994

The Fischer’s leather wholesale business. Hugo Fischer had an exhibition in the Wembley English exhibition of 1925.

Pauline thinks that Miss Doon Hawkins (who was related to some English count or the like) lived in the actual Pines shop building during World War 2 time. She had lived in a little cottage on the way up to Leithdale (It was probably where Helena Primary School is now). It was burnt down and so she moved into the shop (Pip Priestner would know).

When the Anglican Church was trying to collect monies for a building, there were concerts etc. At one of these the minister who seems to have come from the Bellevue parish sang a song called “A Monkey on a Stick” Pauline thought this was a very unsophisticated song for a minister to sing! (She thought the name was Grouse and about 1920).

The church met in the school building while saving for the new St. Cuthberts. When Edna, Pauline’s sister, was married in 1926 she was offered to be the first bride in the newly built church. But her father Hugo wanted the wedding at home.

When Pauline was about 6 (1917) she remembers buying a note book at Taplin’s store (Taplins first opened a store in their lounge room). The store had everything, postal agency (1907) and sold bread brought down from Mundaring on the train.

Most of the roads around Darlington are named after pioneers of the area: e.g. Owen Rd, Mofflin Ave, Neilsen Cres and Allan Place, etc. Mr Nelsen built Tower House. It was used as a kindergarten at one time and run by “Rose” a German friend of the Fischers (see the story on “Allambee Kindergarten Home”).

The tea rooms on the corner of Leithdale and Glen Roads Pauline remembers well. She and her mother had afternoon tea there in the 1920s. Pauline was a student at Perth College. The lady who ran the tea rooms, which were built for the purpose in jarrah, was married later to Mr. Russell George of Boya (when he was about 50 yrs. old) She was “quite a person”, actress in the local revue called “Our Boys” an old play of 1900s. She acted as a boy in it (1950s). Her brother was tragically shot dead while carrying money for a bank. (this lady was a daughter of the Greville family, who ran the Grevillea Tearooms)

Wooden Church…c1914

There were a lot of Congregational people in Darlington: e.g. Mrs. Johnson (of Perry’s Place) V.K.Jones of Leithdale,etc. so a little wooden church was built right at the end of Amherst Rd, off Brook Rd. The Presbyterian folk had services in Dr. Hogarth’s home.

A Miss Johnson had Perry’s Place (6 Brook Rd. now Trea Wiltshire’s) It was built with 3 large rooms across the front used as apartments. Miss Johnson’s brother organised this for her. He was an accountant at Midland Railway Workshops and lived in Darlington in Mofflin Ave. (Mr and Mrs Sparrow’s today)

Pauline learnt music in one of these front rooms at Perry’s, taught by a Miss Carie or Kerry. Another tenant at the house was Mr. Ullrich a German gentleman (may be John Ulbrick a relieving Head Teacher at DPS in the early 1920’s)

Memories sent tears in Pauline’s eyes.

In July 2001 Pauline Margaret Fischer passed away.

Peter Fischer's Poultry and Dairy Farm In Darlington 1932 -1967

By Judy Love 1990’s

The Fischer family came to W.A. from South Australia. Peter's father, Hugo, came in 1904 with his scottish wife Gwendolyn (nee Paxton) and two children; Len and Edna. Subsequently another four children were born - Annie, Joan, Pauline and then Peter in 1916. Both he and Pauline were to live most of their lives in Darlington.

Hugo's business in Subiaco was in leather goods (notably saddlery) and when he moved his family to a small cottage in present-day Mayhew Road, Darlington (destroyed by fire, it is believed in 1914) travelled to his business daily by train. Hugo bought Lots 50, 51 and 52 as shown on the early maps of Darlington and built a small cottage (42 Lionel Road) - it is here that Peter lived until he was 4.

Hugo deserves a complete chapter in the history of Darlington because he was a mover and shaker in making sure the Darlington Vineyard Wine Cellar was retained for community use as a hall and surrounding land as parkland, a golf club being set up and a supporter in setting up the Lutheran Church in W.A. The Perth church of this religion was made of stone from his Darlington land, as you will see if you visit it.

However our concern is with Peter, who in 1942 married the petite Win (a teacher who was sent to teach at Darlington Primary School) and they lived in 42 Lionel Road, the senior Fischers having built the grand "Kirkcaldy" at 7 Stone Crescent much earlier (1920).

Kirkcaldy c1925, courtesy of Judi Bracks

Land opposite Kirkcaldy was used by Peter to establish two enterprises - a poultry farm and a small dairy. Darlington was a place of orchards, egg and day-old-chick production, dairies and convalescent-type boarding houses (and people who daily commuted to Perth by train for work) when Peter began.

Peter Fischer, courtesy of Carol Fischer

I am fortunate to have notes of a chat full of reminiscences I had with Peter about his poultry enterprises, plus discussions with his daughter Carolyn, his nephew David Fischer and a younger friend Pip Newman, to help to round out a story of this part of his life. What follows is a composite of these four helpful sources.

He kept some 1 thousand to 2 thousand hens in over 10 big sheds right opposite the front gate of Kircaldy; the hens ranged freely and none of my informants remembered the hens being shut into their roosting areas at night. I suppose there were perimeter fences. There were laying boxes in the sheds and ancillary areas for raising chickens (incubators were electric, but young hatchlings were kept in small wooden glass-fronted cases with a central burning charcoal "chimney" arrangement to keep them warm) and there was a grinder which Peter used to grind whole grain down to a suitable size for chickens.

Later some of these operations occurred at the back of Peter and Win's house in Lionel Road.

Peter recalled about 4 nearby egg farms - one was that of his friend, the Scottish Jimmy Smith who was very close (sheds on the south of the Bertram/Carstairs street intersections where until recently - two lines of Cape Lilacs grown to shelter the sheds and hens in summer could still be seen), another in the Leithdale Road area, one in Amherst Road and another in Bilgoman Road. A carrier called Rauleigh Webb used to do the collecting round from these egg farms and Peter himself sold to Tuckers Stores in Midland. There were three of these stores in early days, and they increased to twelve as the business expanded elsewhere.

Before Rauleigh’s collection however there was a lot of work to do. Collected eggs were sorted into four groups - "good size", "pullets" (small, from immature hens), "cracked" and "dirties". The first two divisions were stamped for sale and the cheaper cracked ones were greatly in demand for Darlington households. Peter told me that when a businessman who began the Dutch Biscuit Man company set up in Darlington, he took all the cracked eggs for cooking. As for the “dirties", although nobody recalled scrubbing them clean, I imagine it happened and guess perhaps the family used them! The eggs were packed in cardboard trays to be sold.

Peter had a trade selling day-old chicks and of course must have continually got rid of older non-producing hens and bred to replace them. This is an area which none of my informants could remember procedures - there must have been some roosters for Peter to have been self-sufficient. And were old hens killed and sold as "steaming fowls"? Perhaps somebody may recall this aspect.

However Peter was full of reminiscences about how Muresk Agricultural College conducted trials in the 1940's to ascertain the best egg-producing hens. Growers selected their best 6 hens and sent them to Muresk, where students conducted and recorded the number and weight of their eggs. A total of 200 over the trial period and a weight of over 2 ounces per egg were the quite Olympic standards, and to achieve them would result in the breeder having a gold ring on the leg of his winners and the College ( I presume ) breeding new roosters from the eggs. Or did Peter do this? He definitely told me top new roosters and hens were the aim of the trials. At any rate his hens did very well, and he was decidedly gleeful about it.

The results of these egg trials reported in the "West Australian". I mentioned “gleeful". Well Peter had an arch-rival Mrs Lowe, who egg-farmed in Amherst Road. In the 1940's Peter was often reported for his hens' success, which made him gleeful, and Peter thought Mrs Lowe used to check on what he did to be so successful by coming by more often than friendship indicated. This Mrs Lowe was known as "Chooky Lowe" or Mrs "Low Lowe", since she lived in the area below the Post Office and there was another family known as the "High Lowes" up near Leithdale.

However, Mrs Low Lowe must have really been quite a friend of Peter's. He referred to her as "a nice old bird”. Coming from him, as connoisseur of bird, this would have been a compliment.

Peter said that in the 30's a reasonable wage for a man might have been 18 shillings a week, and in the 40's it was probably 4 pounds a week. Eggs were 2 shilling and sixpence a dozen then. If my arithmetic is still all right, that means if a man spent his whole wage on eggs in the 1940's , he could buy 384 (or 32 dozen) eggs ! If he felt so inclined.

Like so many men as World War 2 broke out, Peter was "manpowered", which meant that since he was producing food Western Australia needed, he was not able to go to war, but must stay at his job.

It must have been a busy life in the Fischer households. I didn't ask him much about the dairy, though Win told me she knew our block ( 4 Lionel Road) well , as she often had to hunt around under bushes on it before it was built on. The cows liked to hide their newborn calves there apparently. It seems they free-ranged like the hens! Perhaps the dairy/dairies are another Darlington story?

 Newman Rd (Lot111) Peter Fischer's property

The Fischers retired to a big property where they agisted horses at 111 Newman Road Darlington, which was where I met them when I was pushing a grandson round and he wanted to see a dear little pony which leant over Peter's fence. Peter invited us in and young Michael got to meet the pony Peter was keeping for his grandson Hugo. Peter had always loved horses and told me exciting stories of his teenage years when brumbies were found in the Hills and enterprising lads like himself could capture and tame them. He went on to a great interest in Polo and because of this, had some exciting trips to South East Asia where wealthy Asians kept polo ponies.

Peter and Win's two children Carolyn and John had a lovely childhood in Darlington and Hugo is apparently a polo player of distinction. Carolyn has spoken of this childhood to the Darlington Historical Society, so records will have kept her story I hope.

Peter and Win were a delightful couple with a big circle of friends but seemed to be able to make room for one more, me. They talked about their early Darlington days and were a great source of information for a newcomer interested in history. One day Peter took me on a whirlwind tour of Darlington, with commentary, in his old car. We swung in and out of people's drives, with him telling me the past history of the houses - and some occupants wondering what our whirlwind visit was all about.

These are the memories which remain with me. I am hoping others will correct and add to what I have gleaned.

Peter & Win Fischer at the 1988 opening of the Bilgoman Well heritage trail. Photo courtesy of Ron Mitchell.

© Darlington History Group       Ver 2.1.3     Oct 2019