The change of venue and format for the Sydney Christmas Party worked out well. It was held at Linnwood House at Guilford - another of Sydney’s hidden treasures and well worth a visit.
Linnwood House was built by George and Susan McCredie in 1891 when Guildford must have been in the bush. George was a successful Sydney business man and later became Mayor of Holroyd and the independent state member for Central Cumberland. Described as a country retreat, Linnwood is a very spacious elegant Victorian mansion. It must have been lavish for the times – there’s a very wide hall, very high ceilinged well-proportioned rooms, light floods in through the generous windows and beautiful etched glass remains above the internal doorways.
George McCredie was obviously a progressive Victorian man. From the time it was built Linnwood generated its own electricity and also had the first telephone line in the district. On the site was a summerhouse and small hall which was big enough to hold the first Presbyterian church services in the district. George McCredie was a strong advocate for female suffrage. After retiring from government, George supervised the clean-up of the city of Sydney after an outbreak of bubonic plague.
Over the years the house has been used for other purposes. After Susan McCredie died in 1903, George leased the house to the Department of Education. It set up as a school for boys with a history of chronic truancy, the first and only school of its type in NSW. In 1921 the Department of Education purchased the property outright and by 1936 Linnwood was converted to a residential school for female state wards aged 14 years and older. By 1966 it had become a special training school for girls from deprived backgrounds. However, as attitudes to state care shifted towards integration of children into mainstream schools and changes to the welfare system homes like Linnwood were no longer used. In 2002 the property was sold by the Department of Education and is now under the trusteeship of Holroyd Council and the care of the Friends of Linnwood.
Linnwood’s grounds cover five hectares and once must have been magnificent gardens. The sweeping driveway swings around a grassed area big enough for a playing field and it comfortably could accommodate at least 100 cars. On Sunday 13 November, there were a number of other car clubs there proudly displaying their vehicles. The Veteran Car Club was represented by Neil and Lynette in the 1912 Renault, Susan and Tony in the 1911 Armstrong Whitworth, and Geoff and Louise in their 1914 Wolseley. Quite a number of other members turned up to enjoy the day, albeit without their veterans. Lyn had baked Christmas goodies which everyone enjoyed and even the adults received a small gift – a thoughtful surprise and reminder that Christmas is coming!
After some tinkering on the Armstrong-Whitworth, people left for home. Unfortunately, the Armstrong stopped about 5 kilometres from home had to be ignobly towed home for more tinkering. Hopefully it will be on the road soon!
The full article about the Christmas Party will be published in Spit and Polish