Halloween Children’s Home
Strathfield Children’s Home, Albert Road Strathfield c1925
Image courtesy of the National Library of Australia
Halloween Children’s Home, also known as the Strathfield Home for Children, at 167 Albert Road Strathfield was officially opened on 16 May 1925 by Sir Thomas Henley, MP for Burwood. A photograph in the Sydney Mail of 20 May shows that although the weather was inclement, the event was well attended. There was great publicity and many donors gave gifts to the Home. In August 1925 United Distributors donated a wireless radio set valued at £100 for the entertainment of the children.
Sydney Mail 20 May 1925 p.14
A large number of philanthropic locals worked hard to fundraise for the 30 or so children who lived in the home. The committee members resembled a who’s who of the notable residents of Strathfield and included aldermen and their wives, and families such as the Arnotts. Concerts were regularly held at the Strathfield Town Hall. At one such entertainment on 5 December 1925, a Christmas tree laden with toys was produced at the end of the evening, donated by the costumed comedic female performers, The Fantastiques. At this time, 16 of the 29 children living at Halloween were under the age of five years.
Just before Christmas 1925 a concert, arranged by the Metropolitan Band, was broadcast from Halloween by Radio Station 2FC. Soprano Miss Elsie Peerless also performed. What excitement there must have been!
Sydney Morning Herald 18 October 1926 p.14
On 16 October 1926 a garden fete was held in the grounds of Murralong, the home of Mr William Croker in Albert Road Strathfield, to raise funds for the children of the Halloween Children’s Home next door. The fete was opened by former Prime Minister Billy Hughes and his wife, Dame Mary. The grounds were dotted with brightly coloured marquees, with sideshows and a Punch and Judy Show. At the sweets stall, 50 boxes of chocolates were offered, some with prizes of theatre tickets to see Mercenary Mary at the St James’ Theatre. Music was provided by the Leichhardt District Band and the Headquarters Fire Brigade Band. Sadly, the planned aeroplane flight over Strathfield, Burwood and Homebush by pilot S.L. Tyler dropping prize envelopes had to be cancelled, but other prizes included a first-class ticket for a six-week trip to the Solomon Islands, donated by Messrs Burns, Philp & Co., and a portable gramophone. A day nursery was also offered for mothers with babies. University students held a ‘Court of Injustice’ at which their former Prime Minister was charged with various misdemeanours. He gave a spirited defence and was let off with an admonishment.
The Sun 17 October 1926 p.2
At the well-attended annual general meeting held on 3 November 1926 in Strathfield Town Hall, it was reported that £550 had been raised at the fete for the 30 children in the home. The President was Mr H.B. Sevier of Albyn Road Strathfield, an American gentleman who was also President of the Chamber of Manufactures. Miss Millicent Preston Stanley MLA, the first female Member of the NSW Parliament, gave the address at the meeting and commended the work done at Halloween. This photo of the children at a picnic was taken just two weeks later.
Daily Telegraph 18 November 1926 p.10
Dame Mary and Billy Hughes must have taken considerable interest in the home, as they returned on 15 July 1927 to unveil the new kindergarten which had been established in the old coach house building. Dame Mary was welcomed with a bouquet of flowers by one of the children. The kindergarten had been given by Mr S. Peters, on behalf of daughters Judith and Mary, and the Ladies Auxiliary of Halloween raised the money to pay the teacher.
Daily Telegraph 18 July 1927 p.12
In August 1927 daffodils were sold by Miss Beppe de Vries and other ladies of the Madame Pompadour Co. to aid the fundraising.
Daily Telegraph 1 November 1929 p.32
A very special Halloween party was held on 31 October 1929 for the children of the Halloween Children’s Home. Photos of the party appeared in the Daily Telegraph of 1 November. Here the children are listening to fairy stories after ducking for apples in a tub. Miss Margaret Tolmie was then matron of the home. In New York the stock market had crashed and the world was plunging into the Great Depression. A garden fete held on 9 November that year was opened by the Premier, Mr Bavin. At that time there were 40 children in the home aged between two and eight. As the Depression continued and families struggled, fundraising was of vital importance to charitable institutions such as Halloween.
In December 1931 a gymkhana was arranged in the grounds of Yaralla to raise funds for Halloween. The event was organised by Mrs E. Greenland and her daughter, Marjorie. Mrs W.E. Arnott was President.
In 1933 the fundraising events included a Flower Show held at Strathfield Town Hall on 18 March. Locals were awarded prizes for the best dahlias and roses, among other categories.
By 1934, there were fewer children in the Home. The worst of the Depression was over and social legislation such as widows’ pension schemes and child endowment meant that more children could stay in their own homes or with relatives. Eventually it became unviable to continue operation and Halloween was closed as a children’s home. During its last 12 months, only 18 children had been in residence there. However, other contemporary sources claimed that Halloween and other children’s homes were suffering from a lack of funds.
Labor Daily 24 May 1935 p.8
The children’s home closed in 1935 and the building was offered for sale in January 1936.
The large house soon became the Loreto Convalescent Home. The Edward Clancy Building of the Australian Catholic University now stands on this site.
by J.J. MacRitchie
Local Studies Advisor
Sunday Times 16 August 1925 p.3 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/128165751
Sydney Morning Herald 28 November 1925 p.14 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/16257542
Sunday Times 29 November 1925 p.3. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/128167604
Sydney Morning Herald 18 November 1925, p.19 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/28064843
Mercury (Hobart) 22 December 1925 p.4 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/29123949
Daily Telegraph 5 November 1926 p.11 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/245920800
Daily Telegraph 17 July 1927 p.2 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/246990094
Sydney Morning Herald 19 July 1927 p.5 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/16386003
Leader (Orange) 15 August 1927 p.1 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/254423913
Sydney Morning Herald 11 November 1929 p.5 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/16600702
Daily Telegraph 11 December 1931 p.4 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/246571129
Sydney Morning Herald 20 March 1933 p.4 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/16981563
Sydney Morning Herald 25 January 1936 p.27 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/27995916