Maureen Gordon, (nee O’Hagan)
In January 1927 my parents were married and bought a section at 162 Derwent Street where the pine trees were cleared and a house built. I was born in that house in November in the same year. The family grew over the years to four boys and two girls and the house, in that position, turned out to be a wonderful place for children to grow and live. We had the playground along the street, the beach close by and the local scrub and gorse covered hills to roam over but the greatest place for our family was the “pines” as we called the extensive pine plantation that grew along two sides of our property and stretched over the hill to Severn Street at the back and as far as the intersection of Derwent Street and The Parade on the south side.
Our cousins lived in Severn Street and it was much more fun to run through the trees than to walk along the road! Chilton St James had had a building in the middle of the trees at the top of the hill, but it was no longer there by the time we played there. We were told that it had burnt down. The chimney still stood and concrete steps all of which gave us a great place to play as another house was not built for some years.
We spent hours in those trees, after school and in the holidays, playing games that would send present day authorities into a spin – mind you, thinking back, it would probably have sent our parents into a spin too had they known the dangerous, exciting games we played. Sledges, made from old pieces off corrugated iron that slid down the pine needles at a great rate. Forts built from old planks and cardboard that hid all sorts of treasures. Tree houses that involved quite a climb for young children but gave us a marvellous view of the Bay.
However, the greatest pleasure came from climbing up and over the hill, among the trees, to the gully where the land joined Severn Street and where a little creek ran along the valley floor. Supplejacks that grew on the surrounding trees meant we could hold on and “fly” over to the opposite bank! It would have been very easy to jump across but not as exciting. Many times that area was transformed into a Jungle with Tarzan whooping through the trees with a horde of “monkeys” following behind We were a very popular family among our school friends and never were short of friends to play with in the holidays – nobody else had such an exciting back yard. Armed with sandwiches and fruit, exercising our bodies and imaginations we had hours of fun – none of us were fat or even chubby?
Over the years the creek was drained, houses built in what is now Kellesmere Crescent, most of the pine trees have gone but the memories of having space friends and fun still seem very real.