Publications, Butchers, Merchants and Landholders

The Levi Barden family returned to the Sydney area from Lake Bathurst circa 1853. Their daughter, Matilda was born in 1849. Unfortunately she was to die aged four years in 1849. and was buried in St Peters Church cemetery, Cooks River Road.

There is no baptism record for Matilda. It might be assumed that she may have been born in Little Boro, in the Parish of Bungonia, Lake Bathurst. Perhaps the roving parson of Bungonia, Rev George Woodd had not visited the Parish of Lake Bathurst in time for Matilda's baptism before the Bardens returned to Sydney.

Levi Barden was to rent a property of four acres at Arncliffe on Illawarra Street in 1853. The address was known as the Parish of St George, Cooks River. It was on this land and property he was to be publican of an inn called 'The Bold Forester' from 21st May 1853 to 19th May 1858.

Levi Barden died on 12th December 1858. At the time of his death he left ten surviving sons and his wife Mary. Levi was buried in his daughter's grave in St Peters Church cemetery, where the headstone still stands today.

In true vigorous style of the Barden family, Mary took out her own publican's licence on 31st May 1860 to carry on the business in 'The Bold Forester' on the Illawarra Street property.

The history and position of 'The Bold Forester' has been lost in time. The inn disappeared after 1865. Only the name has been preserved and the fact that it was in Arncliffe.

It has been found that this inn was on John Pike's original one hundred acre grant. John Pike sold ten acres of land to William Hirst who in turn subdivided this land and sold four acres sixteen perches on 10th September 1841 to Henry Calvert for one hundred pounds John Calvert built a 'messuage'. This term denotes a dwelling house with outbuildings and land attached. By 3rd January 1842 Calvert sold the land and 'appurtenances' to John Hart a 'licensed victualler'. This John Hart may have been the one after whom 'Hart Street', Tempe was named. He died on 17th November 1846.

The property remained with his wife Sarah who remarried William Coombe of Raymond Terrace. The property was left to Sarah until her death. However, it was sold at auction on 22nd May 1865 and the deeds transferred on 11th October 1865.

The exact location of 'The Bold Forester' is described as:

bounded on the north by R Hannams 100 acre grant bounded on the east by D Hannams 50 acre grant bounded on the south on the line of road from Cooks River to Georges River bounded south West of original property 100 acres grant James Pike

Frewin Sleath, carpenter, ran the local rock quarry works. His land was situated on Spark's 'Tempe' subdivision, close by to the quarry in what is known today as Turella. This area remained a rock quarry until the nineteen-fifties. The material from the quarries was used to improve Illawarra and Arncliffe Streets and Rocky Point Road as the growing population placed stress on the road surface. It was not unusual for residents to take the rock from the newly surfaced road for their own personal use. In the 1870's pleas were made by the Council to its constituents to refrain from removing rocks from the road surface. In contrast to the rough road surface in the Arncliffe area was the metalled surface that had been set on the northern side of Cooks River.

Frewin Sleath was also an alderman on the first Council of the Municipality of West Botany and represented the Arncliffe Ward. The toll-house on the river was where polling took place to elect representatives for the first Council. This was held on 11th February 1871.

Spencer Barden who had married Sophia Kinsela in 1857 was to join the family profession as a publican. Spencer may have worked in 'The Bold Forester' gaining experience as a publican. He and Sophia may have lived here after they were married.

On 17th May 1860, Spencer Barden took out his own publican's licence and became lessee of 'The Currency Lass' public house in Gannon's Forest in the Parish of St George. This area was to be later known as Hurstville.

Although the Parish of St George was gazetted in 1838 the early directories list places south of the dam as 'Cooks River' or 'Cooks River Road'. In 1861 the address of 'The Currency Lass' was noted as Cooks River Road.

'The Currency Lass' was quite a distance away from Cooks River on Major Mitchell's Illawarra Road. To pay for the upkeep of this road which was built circa 1840 a Trust was set up and a road levee was introduced. The levee was sixpence per acre for all who had land within three miles of the road. It is assumed that the Barden family would have been subscribers to the levee.

'The Currency Lass' was built by James Flood in 1852 on what was known as 'Flood's paddock'. The inn's name came from a popular colonial expression. 'Currency' lasses and lads was the term given to those children who were the first generation born in the colony. This was in contrast to immigrant children who were born in England. They were termed 'sterling' lasses and lads.

Spencer Barden was shown to hold the licence of this public house until circa 1863. Young Spencer and Charlotte, two children of Spencer and Sophia Barden were born in the Parish of St George in 1860 and 1862 which would suggest that the family were living at 'The Currency Lass' or close by to the inn.

'The Currency Lass' was described as:

being a long and low weatherboard building one of the chief sporting attractions ....was its famous bowling alley, where many a keen game of ninepins was decided. The ball used was about one foot in diameter and was very heavy, bowlers leaning it on their wrists before bowling. In the rear yard of this old hotel, cock fighting was encouraged extensively large sums of money changed hands over these fights, while any disputes were promptly settled in the yard.

The inn was the venue of many 'grand' balls. 'Cabbage tree hats and gay sashes were the order of the day.' The music for these events was provided by a 'lone fiddler'.

Another event that captured the interest of the inhabitants was the horse race that took place on special occasions. The course was run along the Illawarra Road beginning south at at the position where Bridge Street is today to outside the inn. In its final years the name of the inn was changed from 'The Currency Lass' to 'Free and Easy'.

In 1863 Spencer Barden had taken out his publican's licence for 'The Victoria Inn' public house. He was to be the publican here until 1868. At this stage the precise location of this inn is not known although the directory shows it was on Cooks River Road, Tempe. This inn first appeared when Spencer Barden became the publican in 1863 and disappeared from the directories after 1868. It is assumed that it was one of the many public houses on the Cooks River Road.

In 1858 there were nine public houses along this road:

Spencer purchased a property in Union Street Tempe on 15th July 1867.(80)

By 1869 he was noted as the licencee of the 'Cottage of Content' , Tempe. This was another low weatherboard building.

As shown above the publican of the 'Cottage of Content in 1858 was Robert Short. By 1861 it had been taken over by William Eggleton and John Kilfoyle. In 1864 John Kilfoyle had the 'Cottage of Content' while William Eggleton was publican of 'The Prince of Wales', Cooks River Road. John Kilfoyle was to remain publican of 'The Cottage of Content' until 1868 when Spencer Barden purchased the inn from him and became licencee.

The position of 'The Cottage of Content' has been uncertain in local history records. However, it has been found that it was on the eastern side of Cooks River Road between Unwin Street and Cooks River.

A new road was built on the southern side of the Cooks River in the Parish of St George which was to open up new areas for subdivision when more land holders subdivided their grants.

This road linked what was called the Main Road to the Illawarra Road which led to Gannon's Forest. This road became known as Forest Road and was opened on 8th January 1864. This was the same date as the opening of the Cooks River dam toll-bar which was situated on the southern bank of the river.

In 1876 Mary Barden was living in Smith Street, Tempe and had a grocery shop on Cooks River Road.

In 1883 Spencer Barden and Sophia were still running 'The Cottage of Content'. Their eldest son Spencer had displayed the Barden flair for shopkeeping by becoming the proprietor of a hay and corn store on Cooks River Road which was situated next door to 'The Cottage of Content'. It was interesting to note Spencer Barden's neighbours. To the north from Fanning Street to Unwin Street there were four bus proprietors; Charles Cook, J West, D Maguire and William Flood and coach builder Mr Islip. To the south of 'The Cottage of Content' was a boarding house and a brick manufacturer.

It was on the thirtieth anniversary of Levi Barden's death in the year 1885 that Mary Barden donated a stained glass window to St Peters Church in honour of his memory. This remains as one of the many fine windows in this historical church.

This dedication was celebrated in 1985 with a church service in St Peters and a reunion of the present day Barden family.

In her retirement Mary Barden had lived in Campbell Street Tempe. She died on 5th February 1895 at the age of ninety two. In retrospect she had emigrated with her husband and family, raised eleven children, had been a publican and shopkeeper. This would have to be a picture of a very productive life.

'The Cottage of Content' public house in Tempe, remained a popular meeting place until circa 1892 when it was demolished and replaced by 'The Riverview Hotel'. Spencer remained owner of 'The Riverview Hotel' until 1910.

This hotel was far removed from the low weatherboard building which had been so characteristic of the early colonial days. This was a full brick building, two stories with residence and renting accommodation.

It was at 'The Riverview Hotel' and finally on the corner of Cook and Station Street, Tempe that Spencer and Sophia were to live until 11th December 1910, when Spencer Barden died at the age of seventy-six.

A modern version of 'The Riverview' was built in 1922 beside the Cooks River. It stands today on the site of 'The Cottage of Content' and the old 'Riverview Hotel'.

The patrons of the various public houses run by the Bardens would have been derived form the local inhabitants and perhaps the weary traveller. The local population was employed in many occupations which were pertinent to the Cooks River area.

Amongst one of the largest employed group were the brickmakers. The Cooks River Road area was noted for its superior quality clay. Sophia's sister Mary Ann Kinsela had married George Barnes, brickmaker of Kingston [sic Enmore] in 1855. It was this industry that resulted in the transformation of the landscape to gaping pits chimney stacks and ovens to fire the bricks.

There were shell-gatherers in the area of Cooks River. The shells were processed in the lime burning kiln which was situated on the north side of the dam. The lime was the mortar used to bind the bricks. Lime was also used to remove the hairs in the processing of animal hydes. There were sawyers who felled the timber to clear the land and produce the timber for the many weatherboard houses. Quarrying stone was carried on in the rocky area of Arncliffe for road-making. The name Rocky Point Road is a reflection of the character of this area.

Acknowledgements | Origins of the Barden Surname | The Earliest Bardens | The Reasons for Migration
The First (Barden) Arrivals | The Bounty Migrants | Down to the Beautiful Valley
Publicans, Butchers, Produce Merchants and Landholders | A Family Business | The Barden Hotels
Items from Newspapers | Australian Men of Mark | Sidney Barden | Joseph Thomas Barden
Cooks River - A History

©2007 Peter Noone