Helensburgh Post Office History – Author: Pat McAuliffe.
A petition from residents of Camp Creek was forwarded in June 1886, seeking the establishment of a post office at a point on the “Illawarra Railway near the 28 mile”, known as Camp Creek.
The request was unsuccessful. Camp Creek was described as being midway between Cawley’s Creek and Otford, being about 3 miles from each.
In another letter, Cawley’s Creek Post Office was described as being about 2 miles from Waterfall. In the same letter it is stated that Gibson’s saddle (horseback) mail ran between Clifton and Otford.
Repeated efforts were made to obtain a post office at Camp Creek but only about three letters a day were being sent there.
In a letter to the Postmaster-General in August 1886, C. Harper asked again for a post office and added, “Helensburgh is the name desired by inhabitants”.
Harper gave his address in the letter as Helensburgh Waterfall.
Eventually approval was given for a post office at Helensburgh, with Thomas Horan, storekeeper, as postmaster.
The office was opened on 1st December 1886. In conjunction with this some alterations were made in the local mail timetables. The mail which served Helensburgh left Waterfall at 10.30am, then: arrived [at] Cawley’s Creek 11am, Helensburgh 11.30am, Otford 1pm.
Money Order facilities were extended to Helensburgh on 2nd May 1887.
In March 1887, Thomas Horan was given the contract for running a mail service from Waterfall to Helensburgh via Cawley’s Creek by means of a horse drawn chaise cart, and to and from Helensburgh and Otford by horseback, six times a week for £80 per annum.
During 1889 the Metropolitan Coal Company who owned all the land on which the town was built gave notice to the postmaster that they required the land on which his store and post office was built. Accordingly, Horan arranged for the erection of a new building about 12 chains from the old one.
On 1st October 1889 a branch of the Government Savings Bank was opened at the Post Office.
An agitation began for the establishment of a telegraph office apart from the one conducted by the Railway Department at the station. Several schemes were considered but eventually it was decided to appoint Horan who was a former Railway Department Telegraphist in Tasmania, to take charge of both the post office and telegraph office and a line was built from the post and telegraph office to the Colliery. The telegraph office was opened on 29th or 30th September, 1890. Horan became post and telegraph master, and his sister was appointed junior operator.
The post office building which was rented from the Coal Company for £1 per week was a most unsatisfactory one, being too small. No fence enclosed the property, and there were many other shortcomings. However, repairs were made in 1892 which made the building habitable.
Joseph Kershaw commenced duty as a temporary Letter Carrier (Postman) at the office on 1st February 1892. His salary was £39 Per annum which rose to £52 per annum in April 1893.
On 1st October 1896 Thomas Horan was appointed to the permanent staff of the Postal Department as official postmaster at Helensburgh, with a salary of £100 per annum. This was a deserving appointment, as he was a good citizen and was described as an asset to Helensburgh. It was mentioned in 1896 that a police station had just been built next door to the post office.
Post Office Building
In 1899 a request was made by a local resident for a post office to be built in the business centre, which he claimed was at the other end of the town.
It was decided to place £400 on the Estimates for a new post office at the south west corner of Cowper Street and Parkes Street, part of a recreation reserve. Tenders were called in July 1900 but the successful tenderer did not proceed with the job. Fresh tenders were called and George Rickett secured to contract for £615.
The new office was occupied on 25th February 1901. A public opening ceremony was held at which the Honourable John See represented the Government.
An interesting reference to Helensburgh appeared in a press cutting dated 16th May 1901, wherein it was reported that: “the Helensburgh postmaster has had his new office illuminated by acetylene gas. The street front of the office has been lighted in a similar manner and is much admired by the public.”
A telephone was installed at the office during 1907, and public telephone facilities became available on 4th April of that year. The Helensburgh Telephone Exchange was opened either in December 1914, or in February 1915. The earliest list of subscribers available is that which appeared in the Directory for December 1915, as Follows: –
- HELENSBURGH. (9am to 6pm)
- 5 Marin, James, “Centennial Hotel” Park Street.
- 3 Metropolitan Coal Co.
Also connecting with –
Drawing Officer and Delivery Officer
Thomas Horan was transferred to Woonona Post Office and the following postmasters succeeded him on the dates shown:-
J. W. Connolly 1.1.1908
C. Mc. Ireland 1.1.1909
S. W. Cambridge 2.1.1918
C. J. Mathews 50.8.1932
A. Edmundson 20.3.1938
R. B. Craig 9.4.1941
s. w. Wood 16.5.1944
R. S. Turner 17.5.1946
W. F. Cullen 27.9.1946
A. K. Blackwell 20.7.1950
H. H. Macey 8.12.1955
S. E. Davis 1.11.1960
J. K. Jones 2.3.1967
K. R. McDonald 11.5.1978
R. J. C. Eaton 1986
R. Newson 1987-1992
J. Collins 1993-2002
(Any of the information used must be acknowledged to the Historical Officer, Australia Post, G.P.I., SYDNEY 2000)
NSWPOA 351 70 R/A u.79
Thanks to Meryl O’Conner for supplying the article, which was produced by Pat McAuliffe.
Images, and Article © Ian Piggott 2013 – all rights reserved,