Born in Yorkshire, raised in Shropshire, travelled the world, and now living Adelaide. Love travel, ancient history, horses, cello playing, the unusual and obscure, and pottering in my own back yard. Visit my website www.wadders.co.uk
Published August 5th 2013
People who are after a bit of light exercise and love history will enjoy the street walk outlined in the Blackwood Historical Walk brochure. Produced by the Mitcham Heritage Research Centre, the walk takes you through Blackwood's beautiful tree-lined streets, pointing out the different architectural styles and giving you the historical background along the way.
It's fascinating learning about Blackwood's history, and to see some older pictures of local landmarks and buildings. Blackwood was planned when a new rail line was proposed through the Adelaide Hills in 1879. In a bid to attract more people to the area, new residents to Blackwood were given a free first class rail ticket to the city for three years.
Coromandel Station came a bit later, sometime between 1922 and 1926. Initially it was called Brighton Parade and changed its name to Coromandel Station after a naming competition. There was no platform, and passengers had to wave the train down to stop it.
I started the walk at Coromandel railway station, but it's just as easy to start at Blackwood station. Heading along Johnson Parade, and then Adey Avenue, the brochure highlights some of the older houses, many of which were built by Daniel John Hewett who settled here in the 1880s. The brochure fills you in on the people who owned the houses, and interestingly some of the costs; back in 1935, the plot which was purchased for the Blackwood Bowling Club was bought for just $100!
Along Coromandel Parade there is still evidence of the early village businesses; note the original 'Boot and Shoe Store' sign above one of the buildings, now a private residence. One of the oldest buildings in Blackwood is 20 Coromandel Parade. It was built by a gospel preacher called John Broadbent, known as 'the sons of thunder' because of his preaching style. Later it was a Post Office and now it is home to the Blackwood Music School.
The 'Wheels on Meals' building at 17 Coromandel Parade was the former Blackwood Police Station (closed 1998) and the cells can still be seen at the back of the property.
The walk also encompasses the side streets on the eastern side of Coromandel Parade, and takes you past Hewett House, an interesting architectural style which originated from California between the wars. A must see is the historic Gamble Cottage; the garden is open daily, but the house is open each month on the third Sunday 2.00 - 4.00pm.
One of the main researchers of the brochure is Blackwood resident Pauline Coulls. She is an original descendant of the Hewett family; Daniel John Hewett was her great grandfather.
Pauline told me she'd lived in the area for more than 80 years, and had seen a few changes. "It was just a little village in the 1920s," she recalls. "There was no hospital so I was born at home, and I even had my tonsils taken out in the kitchen!"
Blackwood Historical Walk brochure is free and is available from the City of Mitcham Civic Centre, Blackwood and Mitcham Libraries, Mitcham Heritage Centre, Mitcham Toy Library, Mitcham Council's website or by contacting the Community Information Service on 8372 8812.