Anzac celebration

Even Marjorie Williams’ 100th birthday cake was cottage-shaped. In the decades after the family.

MT HAWTHORN mainstay Marjorie Williams has returned to celebrate her 100th birthday at Anzac Cottage, where she was born on January 3, 1921.

The cottage on Kalgoorlie Street was built by the community in 1916 both as a memorial to Anzac soldiers, and to serve the practical use of housing a veteran.

Private John Cuthbert Porter, wounded at Gallipoli, was chosen as the resident. Mrs Williams was born in the front room of the house, the fourth daughter of Pte Porter and his wife Annie, and the only surviving member of the original family to live there.

Ms Williams’ daughter Anne Chapple, from volunteer group Friends of Anzac Cottage, says: “Anzac Cottage holds a special place in mum’s heart and to be able to host this milestone birthday celebration at the cottage means the world to her.

“Whenever I visit mum, her first question is: ‘How is Anzac Cottage?’

“Even after all these years, the cottage continues to be one of the most valued and important aspects of her life.”

Mrs Williams, who served as an air raid warden and was in the Australian Women’s Army Service in World War II, lived in the cottage until 1946 before moving to the Goldfields.

In the decades after the family moved out, the cottage fell into disrepair, and there was even murmurs it ought be demolished in the late 1980s. Mrs Porter used her war widow’s pension to fund a legal ruling, and the cottage was deemed to be vested in the state.

It was restored by a group of Vietnam veterans in the 90s including Peter Ramsay, who says: “Marjorie always worked really closely with the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia WA while we were restoring and renovating the cottage. 

“Her memories of life in the cottage and her historical knowledge were invaluable in ensuring that our restorations were accurate and resembled the original building as closely as possible.”

By DAVID BELL

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