Ornate Family Heirloom: Weekly Photo Challenge

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

I rarely (this is probably the first time) that I have posted two entries in a challenge. I don’t know why I thought of it. Possibly a combination of a post about prime minister Curtin which made me think of my Grandfather and the Weekly Photo challenge of ornate  brought to mind the family heirloom a convert made for my Great Grandfather .

My great -grandfather migrated from Glasgow to Sydney in 1897 arriving on the steamship “Austral.” He started his mission work in the Rocks area of Sydney almost immediately with the Sydney City Mission which had been founded some 35 years earlier based on the model of the London City Mission.

Millers Point and The Rocks in those days had a population of around 112,000 people (almost a 1/4 of the popn of Sydney at the time).  The area had more men that women (a result of the sailors that lived in the area) and was a poor, rough and violent area rife with disease, alcoholism and opium dens. After his first day of work  he wrote

I cannot express my feelings as I thought of the strange place and a strange people, but looking up to God, the thought flashed into my mind; human nature is the same in Sydney as it is in Glasgow, and so is God. So I made a start determined to take every door.”

He involved himself in the lives of the people, with no care to what religion they may follow. He set up free breakfasts for the people and intervened in domestic disputes. His diaries are a fascinating read (although at times heavy going). He became beloved by one and all, gaining many converts along the way.

The ornate clock tower carved by one of his converts, a seaman who had a bit of time on his hands while he served time in gaol. I can see evidence of this man’s travel in the design of his fretwork carving.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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14 Responses to Ornate Family Heirloom: Weekly Photo Challenge

  1. mukhamani says:

    It is so beautiful and thank you for sharing about your great grandfather.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The man gave your granddad an extraordinary gift. Seamen were often gifted artists, but this is a very unusual piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a beautiful legacy

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. To this entire post. The story, the photo, the work that must have gone into that, the quote…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Charli Mills says:

    Both are heirlooms, the diary (stories) and the clock tower. Amazing to have some inkling of an ancestors thoughts and feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes it is great. The diaries are held in the State Library of NSW as the information and detail in them is down to the minute . It is a really good social history of the time. I am thinking that might be my next project (if I ever finish the one I’m on) to write something using them.


  6. Sherri says:

    What a beautiful, unique and unusual family heirloom, the history behind it and the story of your great-grandfather so intriguing. I love his quote. He sounds like a wonderful man. As we’ve said before, I wonder what would have happened if my great-grandfather had stayed in Australia. Love this post Irene 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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