Buying and Building at Dyson Street South Perth

Excerpts from Queenies Diary

June 26, 1922 Monday

Last week Mr Thorogood offered Mum a block of land on Fremantle Road for 40 Pounds 1/4 acre, the tram to pass by it, – or two blocks in Dyson St for 35 Pounds each.

We (Norman, Mum and I) went round in the trap after Sunday School yesterday afternoon, and saw such a lot of people out to look at the new tram line which is not yet up the hill – Fremantle Rd. We thought the Dyson St blocks were very good, and accordingly today (Bank holiday ) Mum and I went down to Thorogood’s and agreed to buy. At least I am buying. The terms are 30 Pounds deposit and 30/- monthly. The blocks are 100″ frontage altogether and face west on rising ground. Norman and I have sweet visions, and new ideas are working out.

August 14, 1922 Monday

Last night Norman brought me two blue flowers from our Block, I am preserving one as a memento.

Charlie (Norman’s closest brother) is buying a block of land & intends to build on it. It is in Hubert St. Carlisle, & Mrs A Dev.  told Mum.

October 9, 1922 Monday

Mr Deering is helping Norman secure bricks. Mr Snashall has had the plan made out. It cost 25/-. Norman bought a lot of timber & two door frames a week ago & they are stored at his mother’s place. We are going over to the Estate on Wednesday (Show day) to find the pegs.

October 23, 1922 Monday

I have been going to write for such a long time, but have been so busy. On Show Day (holiday) 11th Oct Norman & I went over to the Estate accompanied by Ralph & Bob & shovel etc. to find the land-marker. We left at about 8.45 & went across the bush behind “Holmwood”. The air was fresh & crisp after a wet night, and as we got down into the hollows between hills we could see the hill tops flat against the morning clouds & the rise of the sun. 

Of course when we got there my feet were wet & I had to sit on Norman’s oilskin until Ralph & Mac (whom we met) went home to get me another set of shoes & stockings. And Bob & Norman wandered about with the tape measure & shovel trying to locate the corner peg. They were not successful – but measured from the next corner to where they thought it should be & staked the place. My dry shoes seemed ages gone, & the various trams whizzed past on their way to the Zoo. We had found one of our pegs on a previous search & after much wandering found someone else’s & then took a line through to find the next. 

However, we had Dad & Mum come over at 11 o’c. with Mickie (the horse) & the trap, & though we all searched we only found one other. Then lunch at home (50 Leonard St, Victoria Park). Back again came Norman & myself, after promising to be at Jean Hair’s 21st Birthday party by 6.15 p.m.

We found various pegs & then Norman measured & said “I think the front middle peg is there” pointing, and so he dug – & there it was, right down under the ground. We celebrated, solemnly shaking hands over the stop. & then we shared an orange with Mickie who galloped his & wanted my bit.

Then, elated with our success we dragged the axe & spade & hoe over to the North corner & Norman said “Ill just dig round this peg we put in & see if the Council’s one is there!” and to our astonishment it was, deep down, but so close that one sheet of paper would hardly go between. Whereupon we sat flat down on the scrub & stared at each other. All day we had searched, & then found them so simply – Norman had his working clothes on & was rather sweaty & sunburny & I cannot say my hair was at its tidiest & no doubt I looked bedraggl’d – However, 4 Trams shot by to the Zoo, one after another & that electrical display on the new Tram line is somehow connected I my mind with the evidence of our cleverness at surveying.

Here is a preliminary sketch plan of house:

Sketching of House Plans for Dyson St South Perth
Sketching of House Plans for 40 Dyson, St South Perth.

[Following letter from Kirby Nicholas about house plan. (Kirby is 21 years old, Jagoe St is Grandpa Kirby’s house). “Farmyard II” – probably planning to include chooks, veg garden & cow at 40 Dyson St., same as at 50 Leonard.   R.]

Last Thursday night Norman asked me to come out for a walk instead of sitting in the dining room. We had a long talk all about cement paths, & whether we will have a cement floor in our verandah, & fences etc. When he went home he had told me some of his home affairs that made me want to take him away from them all and I felt more closely that he is mine. A new sweet feeling of being loved more fully – that he is strong & true & that his wish is for my happiness just as mine is always for his. I say “new” – but it is not really “new”, only more intense – & past the borderland of “friendship” into a more intimate communion of “kinship”. In my soul is a sweet soft song – and I know that my spirit can call his spirit “husband” in all the sacredness of the spiritual meaning.

November 23, 1922 Thursday

Today I have had such a lot to do. My spirits are down to zero, and I feel so cross I could almost cry. I think Norman & I have seen too much of each other just lately, and have not done enough work although we have done a lot towards the house. It is not Norman’s fault I spose, but of late nearly everything he has been doing in regard to building the house has been disappointing. Cant get bricks, can’t do this & that & now tonight can’t find the stonemason he’s looking for. I must not blame him, but it seems to me he does not worry much, & I of course think I should help him out, but now I think I should leave it & I don’t think we will get the building till next June [wedding day 9th]. Anyhow, I spose it’s more disappointing to him than to me, as he has the running about.

Today I again saw the Water Supply people, and because there is no main in Dyson St. (being no houses) we have two alternatives – Guarantee £4 year & have them put a main, or lay our own water pipes from the Fremantle main. We think at present that it will be best to lay our own pipes. 

Norman rang up the SP Roads Board today, & the Clerk said our plans are approved, but we have to pay 1/- Application Fee, 15/- Building fee, 23/- Sanitary before we can obtain permission to start.

November 24, 1922 Friday

After all my bad humour of the last page, I have had a surprise, – I got a puncture yesterday as I was coming home near the Library. Norman took out the tube for me, & found a patch lift last night but as we had no Solution (Ralph used it up on his football) had to leave it, & I said I would catch the tram today.

What was my surprise & delight when I passed the bike at 7.30 this morning, standing right way up & all mended, I could hardly believe my eyes & thought someone had turned it over, but could not see the slack tube handing – Norman must have come up here before 6.30 this morn & mended it before going to Claremont where he is working. He is a dear.

December 6, 1922 Wednesday

It was Norman’s birthday last Thursday. On Wed. evening I began to make him a surprise cake, & he walked in just as I got it in the oven. So I sent him outside to discuss our water supply, the terms of which came that day (concerning Dyson St). but he came in just too soon… I iced the cake with him looking on…

I got up at 5.30 & put his initials on it in currants & a little toy dog to sit on my note on top. The note was “Third Epistle John, 2nd verse” and then I took it round on the bike at abt 6 o’c [Norman lives with his parents at 36 Shepparton Road]. He was asleep on the verandah& I crept along & placed it on the windowsill & then I gave him a birthday kiss but he did not wake up til I shut his mouth by pressing his chin up. Then I fled.

… And after work in the evening he met me & we went home & he pulled out of his pocket the piece of the Cake with N on it & gave it to me to taste.

December 28, 1922 Thursday

Last Friday as I was riding to work I saw a Stonemason at work. Norman has been looking for one for a fortnight so I got off my bike & went over & practically engaged him to do our foundations – Dyson St. Then commenced an exciting day.

I rang up Snashall to let Norman know, & N. ordered the lime to be there on Wednesday morning, (day after Boxing Day). On Boxing Day we drove up Basinghall St to see about a lime-box & arranged to have one sent out next day. And on Wednesday 27 Dec Norman took a day off work & helped the mason (Mr Beaton) & his two sons.

January 16, 1923 Tuesday

I am so busy these days, and get to bed so late and rise at 6 a.m. & yet have no time to write in this book. One has the helpless feeling you get when you know you are missing a tram and yet cant somehow get there to catch it. – I want to write all the history of our house building & yet it all rushes by & I miss it at the right time & then it gets crowded out. 

All my spare minutes last week were put into a Lamp shade for Mum’s reading lamp. I had to do it in the mornings because it was too trying to work it at night. I finished it yesterday & Mum gave me 2/6 for it. I priced them in Foys & they cost 27/6 & 32/6 there. Altogether this cost Mum 7/6.

This month I could only allow myself 7/- for daily expenses as I do want to clear (the loan on) that land this month. There is £21 to pay, & I have £7 in the bank & a War Loan Bond to be delivered this month worth £10.2/- cash at present. So on pay day (which is 6 weeks from last pay-day, Christmas coming between) I hope to raise enough next month to begin in earnest on my clothes for my trousseau.

The house now has the foundations finished & Norman laid the [foundation for] last wall himself because they had to get more stone. He has also put down all the floor joists – and there are a lot of bricks ranged round it. I go over there on Saturday afternoons to keep him company & get afternoon tea for him & whoever of the boys who is helping him. Bob & Harry Auger have been of great assistance. 

[10.30 pm.]

Norman has been up tonight & I looked forward so to his coming. I had not finished the washing up & I hate him to find me doing that now, it wastes his time. I wanted to tell him my thoughts about ourselves and he was very conscious to fix up the plan of our front door at the block, ready for ordering shortly. We had to go down to the telephone first to ring up Snashall & find out where Norman works tomorrow. He has to go to the shop at W. Leederville & perhaps to Fremantle. And then we got talking of Geo O’Hara & then he had to go. I will not see him tomorrow, & although I can’t explain it, for I feel so at peace, I want to cry.

January 17, 1923 Wednesday

Tonight I was sewing & Norman came up to tell me that Mr Deering will begin the bricklaying next Wednesday 24th Jan. He also wanted to know what I thought about the height of the bay window.

February 7, 1923 Wednesday

I meant to write all about the house, but have not had time. Each day is so full of work that I have no time to write. We both plan our doings, & plan our little jobs for the house & talk nearly all the time we are together. Sometimes I sew while Norman goes over the bricklayer’s requirements etc. 

Last night we were both too tired when he came up. I was sewing but I dropped it & we just talked out on the front verandah. I thought we could not love one another any more truly that we did six months ago – but lately I think we have grown another step…

It is great to see the walls of our home going up. Norman goes over every day, & is working very hard on it. They have nearly finished the outside walls, & Norman was to spend the day putting up the concrete lintels.

February 23, 1923 Friday

Yesterday I sent my resignation to the Manager of the Bank, Miss Newsham sent her’s in too, but she wants to leave on the 9th April while I stated the 16th… The time seems to drag although I have so much to do both home & work. it is beautiful getting ready for the hour that is to be [Wedding date is 9 June.].

I spoke to Mr Smith (Security Clerk) about the mortgage after I leave & he says the Bank will give special concession to me. It is payday tomorrow, the first clear pay since the War Loans began. Mum & I are going shopping.

March 14, 1923 Wednesday

On Monday 12th Miss Newsham & I received the acceptance of our resignations. They only took 10 days to get the reply from Sydney, from the day our resignations left here to the receipt of the reply. The reply was that my pay is to be given me to the end of August = 4½ months pay as a wedding present. It amounts to £85 odd on the day I leave, also my Superannuation subscriptions are repaid later on plus Interest.

April 3, 1923 Tuesday

So much has happened of late that I have not had time to write it down… Norman put the tiles on our house (which I intend to call “Sunshine”) last week & the building is calling for much comment from all who see it.

April 17, 1923 Tuesday

Yesterday was my last day at the Bank. It was not pleasant thinking that I would not be typing again, & but of course I felt glad that the routine is over. All the boys shook my hand, & Mr Riddle (Mgr) presented me with a set of stainless cutlery. I felt very nervous with all the Staff looking on, & I had to make a speech in reply – I did so, but cannot remember what I said. Violet Young gave me a bunch of roses & a pair of silk covered garters.

All this time Norman & I had a bit of anxiety regarding the mortgage on “Sunshine”. The Bank have let us believe we could get it from them, & then when I rang them up on Saturday morn, Mr Smith told me we could not have it on the security at present. So on Monday I made an appointment with the Manager per phone for Norman to see him at 2.30. then I got the plan of the house from Norman’s & went & explained the case to H W Bevilaqua, who told me that if the Bank would not lend it after I had tried again, to apply to the Building Society of which he is a director.

Then I saw Mr Thorogood who assured me that if the Manager rang him up he would speak for me saying that the house was worth £800 or £1/5/- per week rent. 

After paying Electric light bills & ordering some timber for Arthur Blake & buying a few more prizes for the Primary [Sunday School] (a dog bit my foot as I was riding along & it hurt me for quite a long time) I went home & wrote out a list of the advantages & points of interest in “Sunshine”.

After lunch we saw the manager – and it transpired that it is because we have no contractor that the Bank was holding off. Mr Riddle said he could lend the money if the house were complete. But as I worked in the Bank, he considered it favourably & at length allowed us an advance of £150 to carry on until completion when we could get the £325. Even this is a tight squeeze for us & Norman hopes to put in a lot of overtime to make ends meet. I left the deed with the Bank.

Today I signed the mortgage & had a cheque book handed to me – Yesterday I gave the Bank Authority to accept Norman’s signature on cheques. We insured the place for £600 for 12 months. Also – I paid the premium today £1/7/- including 3/- duty stamp. 

I also bought my Bridal veil (3/11d yd. silk net 72” wide, I got a square, ie. 2 yds) & Floss silk. Miss Hassell is working it for me. 

I also bought 2 quilts & a pair of white blankets at Aherns, and drew the money £4/3/- for Arthur Blake’s wages at “Sunshine,” & paid him. Arthur is putting a side verandah & back verandah & room on 50 Leonard St & I am his secretary. 

Millars’ Timber Co. know me well but I have to watch they don’t mess Dad’s & Norman’s accounts up together.
Early May 1923 Queenie goes for a holiday with her friend Mrs Hall at Wilson Street, West Guildford. Here is an extract from her letter to Norman 9 May:
… He [Mr Hall] says that the oxidized door locks are the bet to get (keep clean) 4/9 at Harris Scarfes (American) & 5/6 (English) Sedgewicks, & that Sedgewicks is the best place for hinges etc. 

Another important message -! Mr Hall says if you like to get the cement ware at Tindales’ you can put it on his account there and get 12½ % discount. No, he says you could get the stuff and he’ll send you the bill -. The payment runs the same as Millar’s 28th. He mentions that he can get you 25% discount on Mantle pieces but I didn’t like to ask if that was to be a promise or not. …

I haven’t started the cooking yet but am taking hints galore. I’m starting tomorrow morn…

May 26, 1923 Tuesday

It is a month since I last wrote. I have spent a week at West Guildford at Mrs Hall’s, 8-15th May. I had a restful time & Mrs Hall taught me a number of cooking recipes & hints. We had many talks of home management. Mrs Hall was very good & made offers to Norman of assistance.

Norman came up on the Sunday afternoon on his bike. Mrs Hall’s brother-in-law & family came over in their motor-car (Mr Batey) & Mr Hall, Batey, Gertie Parlor & Miss Batey, Norman & myself went to West Midland for roses.

It was a lovely drive on the old roads & the fields looked green & fresh. We saw a shop in Guildford with 1847 on the front. The streets are very wide in Guildford.

I had missed Norman since the Tuesday & felt very happy sitting there beside him as we drove along with our laps full of flowers & our hearts full of song.

The Batey’s went home. We had tea, but first we looked at a house which Mr Hall is building in the next street. Norman went on his long ride home, at 10.30 after a shower of rain. He got home dry. I went to bed in the little room & the night was clear, & the frogs sang a lullaby.

I came home full of energy & on the way I bought a new hat for 35/-. A going-away hat, & I’ve never spent so much on a hat before, but they all tell me I was not extravagant & Norman was pleased.

Next Saturday week is my wedding-day. Norman is so busy about the house & furniture I hardly see him. The beds arrived over there yesterday. Norman is making a skeleton wardrobe & a plate-rack. They put on the electric light to our house on Thursday 24th & so N. is working over there of an evening. Things are almost finished inside now. Arthur put the front door on the wrong way & I want him to alter it if possible. Norman & I have had quite confidential talks of late & we know each other’s thoughts very well.

WEDDING DAY, 9-6-1923. At 7.45 a.m. Queenie is writing in her diary:

This is my Wedding day. It has rained for a week, and yesterday morning the hail covered the ground like ice. We have all been praying for a fine day and the morning shows promise. It is very cold weather. In this room where I sleep are all the Wedding presents. There are two tables full & my set of shelves is also covered, and on the floor are a set of aluminium pots, a mincer and a picture.

… It is a wonderful thing to think of that I will no more sleep in this little bed & call it mine. I have made the mattresses & pillows for “Sunshine” & all those things are ready.



Got up late yesterday after tea & toast in bed. We lived by the dinner gong. Went sundry walks. Imagined we could see “Sunshine” from the top of a hill. Picked flowers, pressed herein . In the afternoon we took Norman’s new rug & sat on some rocks within the sound of the brook & I read Evangeline aloud.

[Norman’s writing] 13th June 1923, 8.20 am

I am scribe this morning, as the wife is sewing the Pleats in her skirt so please excuse the scribble. [writing is actually very clear and even.]

We both slept on Monday night from 9 p.m. and both opened our eyes as one at 7 am. 10 hours sleep – the effect of Kalumunda Hills. Queen dreamed about money all night and was sure it must mean something. During the day, midday it was, a money spider was crawling over her hand – which she calmly shoved on to me – poor hubby – this she said confirms her dream about money.

After breakfast which (being late) ended at 9.30 we established ourselves on the verandah in the sunshine and commenced our duty of writing letters. Queen wrote to mum & Dad also put a caustic note in for Bob & Ralph re confetti. We can see them laughing at us.


May 26, 1923 Tuesday

[PHOTO]  9 June 1923, Queenie & Norman at steps of Victoria Park Congregational Church. [20141009 Photo No. 305]

[PHOTO] View of “Bramford” cottage, Kalamunda in 1920s where Queenie & Norman honeymooned. [No. 19 in 20141009 Robin’s lot: “Chalk” album.]

June 17, 1923 Sunday

We caught the train [from Kalamunda] all right, & had a first class carriage to ourselves all the way. The hills looked beautiful in the morning air. We came down out of a cloud which was enveloping Kalamunda station. I have never been in a cloud before. It was tiny particles of vapour. The view was magnificient.

We staggered out of Perth Stn as the hour struck 9, across the road & left our basket & coats at Boans’ parcel office. Upstairs we went to the wonderful 3rd Floor & there purchased some necessities such as baking dish, broom, etc. these were bulky & we left them there until we secured groceries.

We tried the cheap grocer but couldn’t wait all day to be served, so returned to Boans & there filled Norman’s suitcase with eats. I bought some meat & stewing pears. So we collected all things on the Murray St corner & waited ½ hour for the tram !!!. We saw Alice Pumphrey & Jack Warden who spoke for a while (separately) Put luggage on tram & away home.

I could hardly wait quietly till we got there & going up Manning’s Hill we espied Ralph & Bob in the trap with Mac riding his horse beside. There was a great excitement when car stopped & we unloaded all our parcels – quite a cavalcade. Anyhow, they carried the heavy things over for us & after about an hour of indescribableness we decided to accept Mum’s invitation to dinner.

August 25, 1923 Saturday

Often I have wanted to write in this book, but the days fly so, and there are so many lovely things to do. Even now I am itching to finish a sock for my husband. All the happinesses I would like to write about would fill this book. How we planted the six rose trees, made the Blinds, laid the dining room linoleum, and Norman’s work on the skeleton wardrobe, kitchen shelves, knife box etc. and how I walked Perth over for curtains for the Bay window, and planted lettuces, turnips and peas and also flowers. The sunflowers seeds which are growing along the fences & the many kinds of geraniums which I have planted. How I bought the O’Cedar Mop and use it with satisfaction. And sometimes when Norman was working nearby I would take him his lunch. And the long time it was before Arthur Blake put up our grill in the passage. And all the visitors we have entertained, 14 in one week. How we nearly always are invited out to Sunday night’s tea and always to Mum’s to dinner on Sunday. How Eddie Cox gave Norman a two-year old mulberry bush. 

Norman was working on our hill nearly all the time till last week when he had his first broken week – and this week when he is at Mandurah . 

Sometimes after tea when we were both very tired Norman would pick me up bodily carry me round to the clock, which I would bring, & take me & lay me on my bed. How secure and happy I am when he does this. – it seems there will never be anything I will fear while I have him. He has been away nearly a week & I have felt so lonely. I am staying with Mum because it is here- W.C.T.U. Convention week & I can do the housework for her – she thinks it’s a holiday for her. All the time I feel only half here – my mind seems like a tree which has been dug up by the roots and put away from the sunshine, and all because Norman is not here. I received a letter from him this morning and have been waiting for it for 5 days – the disappointment when the postman passed by twice a day was indescribable. I am sure if he had known he would have written before. Now I am back here is my old niche at home it seems as if I have been asleep since my wedding and it was all a beautiful dream, and yet I go over home and cannot realize its mine and that Norman will come back to me there. I feel I can almost call him – I want to call out loud and I pretend he will answer. I don’t want to leave the place, and yet it seems terrible to be there and not Norman, as if he will never see the things I am preparing to surprise him. I know this is senseless imagination but I feel our separation terribly, more keenly than he will ever know. I try not to think of it.

September 16, 1923 Sunday

8.15 am.
Yesterday we got the young fruit trees we ordered from Mr Atkins at Harvey. 6 Almonds, for 7/6, 2 oranges 2/6 & 3/6 & 2 Fig, one 1/6 the other free.

It was very windy and just as Norman went to plant them the rain came. But after a while it slackened and we both went out. we planted the Almonds first as the holes were all ready & Norman had carted manure & road dust for them. They are fine little trees of about 18 inches high all pruned. We both got our feet wet wandering about the bush collecting cow manure for the others. Two big herds of cows go past our place every day, and of course it’s very handy. 

We are going to church this morn so will have to speed up the bath. Norman made his wheelbarrow himself last Saturday & filled in the big hole with it on Monday and straightened up the back yard. So now things are tidy.
I am going to teach Kath Leach millinery starting tomorrow, at £1/1/- a quarter. I am also going to open a Playschool for tiny children on our back verandah on the 24th. Norman is going to make the chairs.

October 7, 1923 Sunday

I started the Playschool with 2 children, Jimmie Leach & Peggy Puttick. The next Monday I got 2 more & now have 4. I am hoping to get some more tomorrow. Norman made the little chairs in the evenings, and also a little table to match. They are so light that they can be lifted by the smallest child. Norman let me have his little cupboard to keep the materials in & each child knows where to put everything & has to put it away. Of course, they do not yet understand all the little doings and I am gradually getting them into a routine, but each [child] has a play when I think it is tired.

Mum let us have Bob’s rocking horse & that is a great attraction, also the kitten has a lot of attention. They like gardening, & often want to water the garden even if it is raining. They use plasticene, & sewing cards, also pencils, chalk & paper folding. When it is fine I sometimes take them into the bush next door where there are many kinds of flowers. I have invited Betty Colt over to see us & possible she will give me some hints, as she went to the kindergarten centre for some time.


Queenie’s Play Group c1923, back garden at ‘Sunshine’.
[No.007 on 20120731 by ‘Diamond’: copies from 22 B&W photos]

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