In this week’s tale from the Vincent Local History Centre, we hear of the charitable efforts by returned servicemen who rebuilt their lives while rebuilding homes.
THE story of Anzac Cottage – the Mount Hawthorn house built in 1916 by community volunteers for returned WWI veteran Private John Porter and his family – is well known to many.
But there are other less well known ‘renovation rescue’ stories of local volunteers who banded together to support the families of returned servicemen in Vincent.
After WWI, life was tough for many widows and incapacitated veterans, and their families. Charities such as the Ugly Men’s Voluntary Workers Association of Western Australia helped those in need.
The ‘Uglies’ as they were commonly known, set up a training college and employment service for returned servicemen after the war. They also gave out relief payments and organised busy bees to build or fix homes for veterans and war widows in the Perth suburbs.
The Uglies renovated the home of war widow Agnes Brackenridge at 13 Blake Street North Perth in July 1917.
After her husband Douglas died in action in France in 1916, Agnes was left to raise a family of five children in what was described in the newspapers as ‘a little hovel’.
The Ugly Men’s appeal saw a team of volunteers transform the timber cottage into a more substantial, watertight home for her five children. Agnes and her family remained in the home until her death in 1942.
In 1919 the Ugly Men pitched in again to refurbish the family home of returned soldier William Marshall at 210 Carr Street Leederville.
Marshall had migrated from England to Australia in 1910 and built a two-roomed house for his young family.
In 1916, he enlisted in the 16th Battalion AIF and left his wife and two children at home while he fought in WWI.
After being held as a German prisoner of war from 1917-1919, he returned home to Leederville. The Uglies built a wooden extension comprising of a kitchen and dining room at the back of the tiny house, which remained the Marshall’s home until the 1950s.
What about your home?
If these stories inspire you to find out whether your home has an interesting wartime connection, the City of Vincent Local History Centre, in collaboration with Anne Chapple from Friends of Anzac Cottage, are offering an Anzac-themed house history workshop on May 12. The workshop will highlight the information and resources that can help unlock the stories and secrets of your home.
Following the workshop, participants are invited to Anzac Cottage in Mount Hawthorn for a guided tour.
Bookings are essential: 9273 6090 or firstname.lastname@example.org