Everitt’s Signal Dining Rooms was established by Eva and Charles Everitt, parents of Alice Doyle, who with her husband Jack opened the Doyles seafood restaurants at Watsons Bay and Rose Bay.
Two hotels were built oppose the Signal Station in 1859, however when the tram line was built from the city to the Signal Station in 1903, they saw the opportunity for a venue for afternoon teas and dining. Two articles about the tearooms are of interest. One is that Billy Hughes, Prime Minister during WW1 was a regular visitor and the second is that the locals gathered there to reminisce.
Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), Thursday 30 September 1926, page 20 HISTORY IN SMOKE ‘BILLY’S’ RETREAT BURNT SOUTH HEAD TEA ROOM
Fire drew a veil of ashes across a page of history to-day. It swept away a little wooden tea room on the heights of South Head. They scorched another house.
They turned the cafe into a heap of glowing coals. But they did more than this. Historic associations died in the smoke clouds that rolled down through the pines. For that tiny weatherboard tea room on the wind swept cliff had fame thrust upon it. Mr. W. M. Hughes, as Prime Minister In the war years had fled to the seclusion of its little tables within sound of the boom of the surf to ponder over political strategy and national problems.
Thoiry has its inn where Dr. Stresemann and M. Briand agreed. London had Wills’ coffee house where Johnson dogmatised and other cafes where wit and intellect flashed, Saarbrucht had its inn where Louis Napoleon met Bismarck. But the little, red-painted tearoom in Old South Head road, in a way, was as famous as these. There, over cups of tea, “Billy” had discussed war problems with one or two of his colleagues. There, who knows, how many of his meteoric moves in Federal and international affairs were thought out. Nearby, under the pines, lovers whispered. Inside, at a little white table, the political destinies of Australia were wrought
WALLS HEARD SECRETS Those papered walls, that crumbled before the flames this morning, had heard a Cabinet secret or two. Those tables had shaken to the thud of a brown gnarled fist, as Billy drove home telling points. Mr. Hughes lilted the tranquility of Miss Bridgewater’s tearoom. In the midst of the turmoil, and the endless rancor that grew out of the conscription campaigns, he often snatched an hour in the little tea room with Dame Mary, to collect his distracted thoughts. There he moved out quietly, too, with supporters or opponents, to “talk things over” far from prying pressmen, “In the war years,” said Dame Mary Hughes today, “it was the only place In Australia where it was possible for Mr. Hughes to get away from the incessant ringing of the telephone-” Up to today the cafe was occupied by Mrs. Chappell. It is now owned by Mr. Dyke, who also owns the house next door. The blaze started at 4.45 a.m. But for the strenuous efforts of the District Fire Chief (Mr. Pickering), Fireman Wallace, and Mr. T. McNamara (secretary of the Firemen’s Union), who lives near, the wooden cottage next door would have been destroyed.
On the 13th Mav,1904. Charles Everitt and Sidney Preston, both of South Head Road, South Head, via Watson’s Ray, N.S.W.—Lodged an application for a patent … An improvement in the game of table pool.
Saturday 13 December Evening News pg4
EARLY WATSON’S BAY
GOOD OLD DAYS RECALLED
Stories of the Pilots
Tucked away under tbe lee of South Head and nowadays brought into prominence only on the occasion of an interlude at tbe Gap, or some event of more than ordinary interest in the shipping world, Watson’s Bay, nevertheless, has a history of more than pasting interest, a history replete with humor, pathos, and tales of ‘derring do.’ The oldest Inhabitants held the floor at a ‘Reminiscence Evening’ arranged by the local Civic Improvement Association on Wednesday night at Everitt’s Rooms, and held it well, for the man who could go no farther back than the eighties was looked down upon as a mere ‘Johnny- come-lately.’ Mr. P. K. Buchanan presided.
About Skeletons Mr. J. Gonsalves, a youthful-looking ‘eldest inhabitant’ carried his hearers back nearly fifty years, and recalled the recovery of several skeletons during building operations In Camp Cove, giving unmistakable evidence that where the residence of Alderman Samuels now stands was a portion of the aboriginal graveyard. An Inquiry was held on the first skeleton, and a big fuss made. Three or four more were found and there were further inquiries, but the thing became monotonous, and no further trouble was taken with them. A fisherman named Murphy found one under his cabin and not wanting any excitement, pitched it into the water.
The First Settlers About the first settler In Watson’s Bay, continued Mr. Gonsalves, was a man named Humphreys, an ex-British soldier. He had a fairly large grant of land, and was possibly one of those soldiers who, according to the existing monument, helped to build Old South Head road in 1817.
There were only thirty houses In Watson’s Bay forty-six years ago, and the four hotels did a thriving business. The suburb was a great picnic ground in those days, and on a Saturday afternoon and Sunday twenty or thirty thousand people would come down. He remembered 50.000 on one occasion, when there was a review. Touts for the boats to carry the people used to fight on Circular Quay, and carry on their business as far up as Market-Street.
First Ferry Steamer About the first ferry steamer was the Fairy Queen, a little paddle-boat, doing three trips a week. She could not be depended upon, and people often had to walk. The pedestrians had to pay a toll to a black, legless beggar, Rickety Dick, of Rose Bay, or his vocabulary—he could swear for thirteen minutes without repeating himself-would follow them home.
Sir John Robertson, who lived at Watson’s Bay, had a typical tattooed Maori warrior, named Blanket, as his servant, and on one occasion, when a boat upset. Blanket kept one man who could not swim afloat for two hours before he was rescued.
No man, woman, or child would go up the gully in the Gap Park after nightfall, because of the ghost there. Many saw it, and some were chased by it. There was another one at the top of Parsley Gully, at a big rock known as Dead Man’s Rock, and there was another at the stone wall.
Mr. H. Christenson then took up the theme, and recalled the old pilots, who used to row out to incoming steamers in whale boats, and charge the vessels 4d-a ton coming in and 4d a ton going out, and paid the Government a penny a ton to collect it for them. The Thetis was the first pilot boat after the Government took over the service.
Old Pilot’s Story Mr. F. Dunn, who came to Wataon’s Bay in 1858, when the only residences at one end of the bay were humpies and tents, among the high ti-trees, recalled that there were 15 houses at the other end, Including five ‘pubs.’ He Joined the pilot service, and related how pilots often had to row down as far as Bondi and Coogee to pick up ships. Competition came, and the contests between tbe rival pilots provided many a thrill. On one occasion, his boat ran down another, one and the captain was pluming himself that he had got his rivals out of the road, only to find, after a hard row out to a barque, that his competitor was in charge. The victim of the collision was one Johnny Gye, an innocent fisherman.
He recalled an almost forgotten tragedy ot the Heads, when a boat was wrecked at the harbor entrance, and the occupants were rescued by a butcher boat. The butcher boat, in turn, was wrecked, and also a third boat which came to their assistance. There were 17 men in the water at once, of whom only seven were rescued.
The First Mail Captain Lawrence, who used to run the first mail, related how be walked from Watson’s Bay to Wynyard Square, via Waverley and Paddington twice a day— 32 miles. He was later master of the Golden Rose, one of the first ferry Steamers, which used to run when the residents wanted her to, and when the engineer was sober. Messrs. E. Farrell, W. Selkirk. Grice, and E S. Sautele also contributed to the discussion.
South Head Independent Chapel, 1841 / artist unknown
Format: 1 painting : watercolour and pencil on card; 18 x 25.5 cm.
Inscription: Unsigned. Titled in pencil on verso: “Watson’s Bay, 1841”.
The chapel depicted in this watercolour was erected near the Macquarie Lighthouse on South Head at the entrance to Sydney Harbour in 1839-1840. It was erected by public subscription as an Independent Chapel, built to the design of architect John Bibb, and was the first church established in the emerging village of Watsons Bay. The foundation stone was laid in October 1839 and the chapel was opened in July 1840 with a ceremony attended by nearly 200 people. A Samoan chief named Leatona (or Leitona) was a special guest at the opening and addressed the congregation in his native tongue.
The chapel was a landmark for many years, partly because it had a chimney – the chimney was associated with living rooms at the rear of the building. After the erection of a new Congregational Chapel in Watsons Bay in 1891 the old chapel was allowed to fall into disrepair and was finally blown down during a wild storm in July 1910. [ref: Megan Martin ‘A Thematic history of Watsons Bay’, unpublished report prepared January 1997.]
Provenance: Estate of Miss Dorothy Cuninghame Farran (1887-1963); Caroline Simpson Collection, Clyde Bank, The Rocks, Sydney, 2000-2004.
Source: Museum of Sydney ; MOS2007/93
Rights: You may save or print this image for research and study. If you wish to use it for any other purposes, you must contact Sydney Living Museums to request permission.
Material Type: PictureRecord number: 42493
In a history of Watsons Bay published by a newspaper in the early 1900s, it was recorded: “The establishment of public worship is a story of primitive Christianity that makes one understand why the Founder sought his followers among fishermen. Pilot Siddins, keeper of the Macquarie Lighthouse, and his son (also keeper afterwards) held service in his largest room for people of all creeds. Mrs. William Charles Wentworth and her children attended, with the family of Newtons, the oldest fishing people in the Bay; also Mr. Thomas Sidney, and his family. So far back as 1833 we find records of the foundation of the South Head Congregational Church (long prior to Pitt-street
Church). The funds were raised by liberal contributions, collected by Captain Siddins, and Mr. and Mrs. James Graham (his son-in-law and daughter) ; Mr. Chas. Graham (a son) still lives
at the Bay. The church was opened 1841 by Dr. Ross, the Rev. Mr. Crook going every Sunday
from Sydney to take service. In 1847 Mr. Peacock was the clergyman. He lived in a small weather
board cottage (now pulled down), opposite the Signal Station. In 1842 the Rev. Mr. Threlkeld,
who had been aboriginal missioner at Port Macquarie, took the service, also coming weekly
from town. In 1845, he went to the South Head to live, and the simplicity of the times is shown
by the pastor and his family living in three small room’s, under the same roof as the church, behind
the hall for worship. This has caused it to be called “the church with the chimney.” Not only did Pastor Threlkeld preach and conduct service, christen, marry, bury, and spiritually advise, but he held day school in the hall ; and many residents of the Bay, now elderly, learned the elements of education under his kindly guidance. He was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Traveller, who had the church for some years. In those times sectarianism was little known, and the Rev. George Macarthur and others have preached in the church, which was attended by everybody around.
Some time ago it was decided that the old building, long disused in favour of a fine new galvanised iron erection in the Bay, should be offered for sale, and the council contemplated using
it for offices, but Mr. Lambert, a zealous worker in the Congregational cause could not bear to think that the building “from which so many prayers had risen” should be used for other purposes, so she bought the property, and it still stands, somewhat desolate and ruined, but undisturbed. The writer is indebted for this information to Miss Threlkeld, a daughter of the clergyman and granddaughter to Mr. Thomas Arndell, second assistant surgeon on H.M.S. Sirius. of the times is shown