The Coal Yard & other stories (Part 2)

Contributed to Kaikorai – Then & Now by David Still

Across the Kaikorai Valley Road, from the coal yard was Taylor’s bakery. During the bread deliveries, Alec Taylor would stop for smoko (morning tea). Alec would take the centre from a loaf of bread and give it to his horse. Then he would butter the crust and eat it for morning tea. At Fraser’s Road, Davie Anderson would fill up the hollows in the ground with the ashes and sweepings from the tram sheds. In this way, Davie made his property and what became Ellis Park, level. Bill Ellis, used to graze his horses on the other side of the flock factory at Fraser’s Road.John Fraser lived in the Bush above the galley, overlooking the swimming pool. Damson plums grew around his hut. (For some reason, the pool was closed every February when the weather was hottest. ) Mrs Robinson would send soup and bits of meal up to Johnny, he may have been related or just a friend. The Kaikorai cable car, line came down to Fraser’s Road. It was designed first to come down Falcon Street, but the curve at the top of the hill was too sharp. A new route was found that came down from Ross Street. There was once a man killed on the track. He was drunk and was crawling up the line. The cable car came down and tried to stop and they would put sand on the line to help with the braking!. But the man ended up underneath the tram car. It was night-time and there was a big kerosene lantern on the front of the tram.

Greenock Street.
When they were sealing the road with tar, they left a barrel on the steep hill overnight with chocks under, but someone pulled away with chocks and it rolled down the road and dropped over the bank where Kelso Ellis was living. Someone could have been killed! When Kel first went into that house there had been a childless couple living there. The lady was very house proud. There was a wee kitchen built into the bank. My Grandfather bought it and told Kel to move in. One of Kel’s children, (David) got scalded, because another child turned on the hot tap at the side of the coal range, and boiling water poured on to the boy. He died at the hospital.

Helensburgh Road.
A Miss Roberts lived at No. 10 and grew grapes and tomatoes in big heated glass houses. She bought coal dross from Ellis’s to heat them. It was very slow burning stuff. The Thornicroft truck had solid tyres, skidded and couldn’t pull itself up the hill when the load was gone. Bill Ellis put old ropes around the wheels to get traction. On another occasion Bill Ellis had to help another truck that was stuck on the other side of the valley. He was able to free the other vehicle and the owner asked how much the cost would be? Bill replied that there was no charge as the same thing had also happened to him once and he was passing the favour on.

Up on Brockville.
McLeod’s had a billy goat amongst the cows, to stop the cows aborting. The goat peed on diseased grass and the cows would not eat it and so did not get ill. At one of the McLeod farms there was a tin shed at the back of the house with a copper (a big copper cauldron over a firebox) to boil water for sterilizing the milk cans. It was Archie McLeod’s turn to wash the cans and he set the fire ready to light with paper and kindling wood. When Archie heard the milk cart come, he went to the shed to help unload the cans. A big billy goat had eaten the paper, as the firebox door had come open. Give me a hand Arch said, and he filled a big syringe with warm water and formalin. He then put it up the goats backside and the goat took off like a rocket. Every time the goat put a foot down, a knob of dung came out its rear end and every one laughed. Later they made a gate from Macrocarpa poles to close the shed door.

Bill Ellis's brother Alex had a dairy farm in 1916. McLeod's was in the 1920's

Bill Ellis’s brother Alex had a dairy farm in 1916. McLeod’s was in the 1920’s

(Original Article by Alan Gilchrist)


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