Sydney Harbour is possibly my favourite place to just sit and be. I love the smell, the air, the peace.
I visited Susannah’s Place Museum in the Rocks earlier this year and stood in a room that I suspect my great, great grandfather spent many an hour. It was a room with great views to the Harbour.
After touring the museum, we asked the tour guide if they knew of the Snedden’s who had operated the store at number 64. They were able to tell us a little of Robert’s last years.
Robert & Eliza likely responded to this advertisement (or one similar) from the Sydney Morning Herald in 1930. They had previously run a store in Martin’s Creek and perhaps wished to be closer to their daughter, Margaret who was living in Botany.
I was told that Robert, who had one leg due to a mining accident, lived on the top floor of number 64 (pictured below). The stairs to the top floor are at a steep angle – Robert would have been unable to manoeuvre them without assistance. In essence, he was trapped staring either at the street below or across the rooftops to the harbour. Dependent on his wife who was running a business during the tough days of the Great Depression.
I imagine in these circumstances, the harbour loses much of its appeal – although it must have been interesting to watch the Sydney Harbour Bridge take shape.
In the year of Robert’s death, Walter Jago romanticised Gloucester Street in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald:
“Old people at their windows, with the last rays of life meeting the morning sun, see the younger people go by. Occasionally one stops. There is a gift from a better-to-do neighbour; a cloth-covered tray. Such a tray is always beneficent; the white, smoothly ironed cover inspires anticipation, quickens the heart, and evokes gratitude. The formality of bellringing is unnecessary; the windows open to the street; the people outside brush past the people inside or stop to greet them, When they brush past they do so in a sociable fashion, without envy or disdain. There is no class-pride in this street, for here is the equality of heart; here is the outer church of humanity; here is the flesh and blood of self-cultivation.”
(1934 ‘GLOUCESTER-STREET.’, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), 5 October, p. 17. , viewed 16 Oct 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1713)
In July 1934, the following advertisement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald:
On 31st March, Robert had passed away. His death certificate states that he had been suffering from endarteritis obliterans (an inflammation of the artery wall so says Google) for ten years and a died of a stroke an hour before.
The death certificate says that the informant was Alexander Snedden whose address is also given as 64 Gloucester St. I like to hope that he was living with them and assisting his parents in his father’s last days.