Oral Histories

What is an oral history?

One way of finding out about the past is to ask someone who knows about it. Oral history is a way of preserving the past by recording the unique life experiences of ordinary people. Oral histories capture both the memories and the voices of people as they tell their stories, and allow us to share in very personal accounts of events, places and periods from our history.

Oral Histories of the City of Ryde

These interviews were recorded in the late 1990s with long-term residents of the Ryde area. 

The aim was to establish a collection of oral history recordings that reflect the history of the district, as seen through the eyes of a wide range of long-standing local residents. The focus of the interviews is therefore people-centred rather than topic-centred. Interviews are specific in that they deal with life in the Ryde district between 1920 and 1960. 

Each interview contains a fully searchable transcript with audio extracts and images. Paper-based versions of transcripts as well as original recordings and photos are available by contacting the Local Studies Librarian on 9952 8222.

25 Result(s) Found

Interview with Arthur Mashford

Arthur Mashford, son of Gladesville's first mailman, describes his childhood and young adult years from World War I to World War II. He discusses various events such as the celebrations at the end of World War I, the 1919 flu epidemic and the impact of the depression on the district. He recalls his education and discusses his working life, particularly Weils Hardware, and concludes with post World War II problems in the retail trade.

Interviewer: Pauline Curby 
Date of the interview: 21 October 1997

Audio extracts (.wav format):

  1. Childhood memories in Gladesville
  2. Billy Hughes and World War I
  3. 1919 Flu Epidemic
  4. Growing up in Glades Bay
  5. School days
  6. Veterans' homes
  7. Second World War memories
  8. High school education
  9. The Depression and early working days
  10. Working at Clem Weil’s shop
  11. Transportation
  12. Local food sharing during the Depression
  13. Entertainment during the Depression
  14. The beginning of World War II
  15. 40 Thieves Gang
  16. Teaching standards

Transcript(PDF, 246KB) - 62 pages

Interview with Bert Goodchild

Bert Goodchild recalls his childhood on his parent's dairy farm in Ryde in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly his own duties from the age of four until he began work for his father at 13. He describes dairying in the area, the 'milk wars', and changes in the industry within the Ryde area.

Interviewer: Pauline Curby 
Date of the interview: 5 March 1998 
Transcription: Gabrielle Godard

Audio extracts (.wav format):

  1. Early school days
  2. Early life in Morrison Road, Ryde
  3. The Goodchild family
  4. Looking after the cows
  5. Remembering people in Ryde
  6. Life during the Depression
  7. Horse riding
  8. Memories of Bill Arnott
  9. Poultry business and school days
  10. Leaving school
  11. Dairy maintenance
  12. Life during the Second World War

Transcript(PDF, 173KB) - 41 pages

Interview with Dorothea Nichols

Mrs Nicholls came to live at Ryde, where her father operated a shop, when she was 11 years of age. She describes her experiences as a young woman and provides insights into the community.

Interviewer: Pauline Curby 
Date of the interview: 29 July 1997 
Transcription: Gabrielle Godard, February 1998

Audio extracts (.wav format):

  1. Life in Shepherd Street, Ryde
  2. The family shop at Top Ryde
  3. Widening Devlin Street
  4. Shops in Ryde
  5. School days
  6. School uniforms
  7. The Catholic community
  8. Catholic nuns
  9. Working days
  10. Blackouts during World War II
  11. The 40 Thieves gang
  12. Dancing entertainment

Transcript(PDF, 153KB) - 32 pages

Interview with Dorothy Packer

Dorothy Packer moved to Ryde at the age of 2, and has lived in the Ryde area ever since. She describes her childhood in Ryde in the 1920s and her teenage years in West Ryde in the 1930s. Details of home, school and leisure activities and the impact of the Depression on her family are detailed. The impact of World War II and her career in the armed services, working in a hotel in Sydney for men on leave is described. Her family's strong Labor sympathies, the dynamics of a large family, discussion of various social attitudes including childbirth, sex and death and the role of Methodism in life provides interesting insights into life at that time. The interview also includes lists of names of shop owners in Ryde, and teachers at the Ryde Public school.

Interviewer: Pauline Curby 
Date of the interview: 12 September 1997 
Transcription: Gabrielle Godard

Audio extracts (.wav format):

  1. Life during the Great Depression
  2. The Larrikins
  3. Food relief
  4. The opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  5. Shops at Ryde
  6. Childhood activities
  7. School days
  8. May poles
  9. Childhood
  10. Family life
  11. Socialising and working
  12. School subjects
  13. Life in the Army
  14. Married life and politics

Transcript(PDF, 188KB) - 47 pages

Interview with Greta Hardingham

Greta Hardingham arrived from Scotland with her family in 1921 and settled in Gladesville. Her family founded the Caledonian Society in the area.

Interviewer: Ruth Jones 
Date of the interview: 6 November 1998 
Transcription: Gabrielle Godard,  January 1999

Audio extracts (.wav format):

  1. Emigrating from Scotland
  2. Early days in Gladesville
  3. School and church at Gladesville
  4. Ryde/Gladesville Caledonian Society
  5. First jobs
  6. Meeting husband Wilf
  7. Getting married

Transcript(PDF, 114KB)  - 18 pages

Interview with Jean Blunt

Jean Blunt discusses her childhood in a frugal and hard-working family, in Ethel Street Eastwood during the 1920s. Particular detail is given to the semi-rural nature of the area and associated home routines. She includes comments on her education, social life, parental responsibilities and working life.

Interviewer: Ruth Jones 
Date of the interview: 11 April 1997 
Transcription: Gabrielle Godard, July 2000

Audio extracts (.wav format):

  1. Early childhood in Ethel Street, Eastwood
  2. Memories of my mother and father
  3. School days and early employment
  4. Childhood illness - the Depression years - Buying a house
  5. Memories of Eastwood
  6. Memories from childhood

Transcript(PDF, 109KB) - 17 pages

Interview with Jean Goddard

Jean Goddard shares her memories of growing up in Ryde. She talks about her life as a young woman and the various social activities that she and her friends enjoyed.

Interviewer: Pauline Curby 
Date of the interview: 24 July 1997

Audio extracts (.wav format):

  1. Growing up in Ryde
  2. Scarlet fever in the family
  3. Life in Bowden Street, Ryde
  4. School days and family weddings
  5. Early working days
  6. Going out with friends
  7. Dancing before the Second World War
  8. Socialising with American Servicemen
  9. Sport and bushwalking
  10. Trip to Manly and political views

Transcript(PDF, 153KB)  - 36 pages

Interview with Jean Widmer

Jean Widmer describes growing up in May Street, Eastwood. Her father operated the family business, Meadowsweet Jam factory, from the rear of the home.

Interviewer: Pauline Curby 
Date of the interview: 30 July 1997 
Transcription: Gabrielle Godard, March 1998

Audio extracts (.wav format):

  1. Meadowsweet Jam factory in May Street, Eastwood
  2. Working in the family business - Part 1
  3. Working in the family business Part 2
  4. Family home in May Street, Eastwood
  5. Mrs Widmer's grandparents
  6. Piano lessons and singing
  7. Motherhood

Transcript(PDF, 118KB) - 20 pages

Interview with Jim Brown

Jim Brown discusses his childhood and adolescence working in the timber industry and on his grandfather's farm on the South Coast. At age 15, Jim moved with his family to Ryde. In Sydney he worked at Primrose Timber Mill, and later delivered milk for Goodchilds and Hoppings. Jim recalls his leisure activities with family and friends, particularly his involvement in amateur boxing.

Interviewer: Ruth Jones 
Date of the interview: 6 April 1998 
Transcription: Gabrielle Godard, December 1998

Audio extracts (.wav format):

  1. Timber strike at Primrose Mill
  2. Working with Hopping's dairy
  3. Working at Primrose Mill
  4. Weekend fun and games
  5. Boxing, and life during the Depression
  6. Milking industry regulations
  7. Delivering the milk
  8. Amateur boxing

Transcript(PDF, 100KB) - 14 pages

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