The early days of Mosman’s European settlement have been richly detailed in a new book, Mosman: Times Gone By.
The culmination of years of research by Mosman Historical Society members, the book was launched at Mosman Library last week by Mayor Carolyn Corrigan to a large and enthusiastic audience.
The launch also marked the 94th birthday of the society’s patron, Gavin Souter, a well-known local historian, author and authority on the area.
The book launch also marked the 94th birthday of Mosman writer Gavin Souter. Image: Graham Monro.
The death of member Phillipa Morris in 2022 moved the society to pen a book in recognition of her regular input to newsletters and her generous bequest to the society, the mayor said.
Coordinated by society member Margaret Szalay – who described the project as “challenging”- the book creates a fuller picture of life in Mosman, and the changing environment, over two formative centuries. Valuable stories written by members, as well as articles by history academics, Professor David Carment and Dr Perry McIntyre, saw the book finalised, Ms Szalay said.
At the time Mosman Council was formed in 1893 there were 800-odd people registered to vote from a population of roughly double its voters.
Mosman’s population – around 28,000 – has remained relatively unchanged for many years.
Over the years, Mosman’s population boomed, and higher-density living was the solution to the influx. Interestingly, steady at 28,000 today, Mosman’s resident numbers closely resemble those of long ago.
The suburb had hit saturation by mid last century; aided earlier by the arrival of better roads and amenities enjoyed by throngs of weekend visitors, some of whom stayed put.
The public’s mood had unmistakably soured surrounding ‘progress’, evident in a Sun editorial dated 16 March 1930 about the ethics of courting. The writer warned against one party giving chase, as “she” risked “a pursuit as relentless as that of a Mosman alderman on the trail of a bag of cement.”
The new book reveals more detail on the Balmoral Amphitheatre, demolished in in 1950s. Image: Mosman Library.
Within a single book, disparate strands of Mosman life have been intertwined to show all that’s been gained and lost over the period, including historic landmarks sadly erased.
Emeritus professor of history at Northern Territory’s Charles Darwin University, David Carment was on the editorial team. Professor Carment contributed several articles detailing some of the beautiful buildings that were razed and the land sold to developers of (arguably) ugly blocks of flats, slabs of business premises, car yards, petrol stations and high-street shops.