New book uncovers stories of Lismore’s past

LISMORE now has its very own history book uncovering stories of the past, bringing light to 158 sites in the CBD, hundreds of businesses and previous residents.

Last November, with the help of publisher Richmond River Historical Society and two grants, Author Robyn Braithwaite released A Stroll Around the Block - a book exploring Lismore's central business district, locally known as "The Block", featuring heritage buildings and quirky shops fused with personal stories, past business owners, residents, and workers.

"The book gives people a better sense of the place, because we need a sense of place if the city is to grow," Ms Braithwaite said.

"You want people to love it because it has a very precious past."

 

Author of A Stroll Around the Block, Robyn Braithwaite was determined to find out about every single site in Lismore's CBD, and she did.
Author of A Stroll Around the Block, Robyn Braithwaite was determined to find out about every single site in Lismore's CBD, and she did.

Ms Braithwaite's passion to discover Lismore began when she moved to Lismore in 2001, joined the historical society and started walking tours, guiding people around the streets.

"There have been people who have already done a bit of digging."

Sid Drew, Peter Tsicalis, Jean McNaught, Dorothy Edwards and Maurie Ryan are among those who have contributed to research of the CBD.

The book covers sites on both sides of the road from the end of Molesworth Street at the Visitor Information Centre, and then down to meet up with the central block at Magellan Street.

"I found it really interesting that there were some big secondary industries that started here that nobody knows about," Ms Braithwaite said.

 

Lismore's streetscape in the process of changing, when post-supported awnings were demolished by an edict of the Council, to be replaced by cantilever awnings. 1938 - 1940.
Lismore's streetscape in the process of changing, when post-supported awnings were demolished by an edict of the Council, to be replaced by cantilever awnings. 1938 - 1940.

Among a 'huge' sweet manufacturer on Magellan Street going bust in the 1920s depression, the book details the journey of an English migrant arriving in 1910 and became a multi-millionaire making his fortune from sulkies and springs for popular motor cars appearing in Australia late in the horse era.

Ms Braithwaite said one of the buildings people have memories of but doesn't exist anymore was a dance hall at the Kirkland Riviera car park.

"It was vitally important in the 30s, 40s and into the 50s. Everybody used to get there and meet up."

The book was launched on Thursday November 14 and sold out 300 copies before

Christmas.

The Book Warehouse in Lismore sold 160 copies in one month and 15 people have their name on the waiting list for the next release.

Ms Braithwaite said the greatest challenge in writing the book was the difficulty she had tracking down information since the mid-1950s.

After effects: Post - supported awnings were demolished by an edict of the Council, to be replaced by cantilever awnings.
After effects: Post - supported awnings were demolished by an edict of the Council, to be replaced by cantilever awnings.

"You would think that should be easier, as it is still within living memory for many people, but unfortunately there is no online access to most newspapers after 1954, due to copyright issues."

"Apart from information in the files at the Historical Society and some of the secondary sources, I had to ask people for their memories, which were often conflicting!

"There is a lot of interesting things about a couple of the big riots in Lismore."

Ms Braithwaite said she is very pleased for the society and hopes the book will attract more tourists to the city, for them to have the opportunity to know Lismore's past and for locals to learn more too.

A Stroll Around the Park is currently being reprinted and copies should be available for sale by Monday 20 January at the Museum (165 Molesworth St) or Book Warehouse in Keen Street for $25.