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History Week 2022 – ‘Hands-On History – Building Camden Town’ Exhibition

Camden has a strong history of hard work. The local pioneers built the community with their ‘hands-on approach’ to their own daily measures to make ends meet as well as working together to create a better place for all to live. Often their income relied on their management of land that was virgin bush. Other times they needed to work together as a community just to get things done. The village of Camden was built on land designated for the purpose by John Macarthur’s sons.   Here are the stories of some residents of the area and their endeavours, looking at the period from 1850s to post World War 2 and how they built up business and trade in Camden. Many were also involved in local government as well as supporting community service groups, local lodges, and sporting clubs.



Please take advantage of the special History Week events being held by Camden Area Family History Service and Camden Historical Society in partnership with Camden Library Services: -

Photographic Display at Camden Library

Fourteen of the above photographs will be on display during library opening hours in the rear section of Camden Library at 40 John Street Camden for History Week 3- 11 September.

For more information, please contact the library on 02 4654 7951 or check our website www.library.camden.nsw.gov.au

"Finding Rachel" Talk

Camden Area Family History Society meeting, September 6th, 7:30pm, at Camden Museum. 

Guest speaker is author Jeff McGill, speaking about the research behind his new book Rachel, the story of his pioneering great, great-grandmother Rachel Kennedy – a fascinating story of life in the Warrumbungles. For more information email cafhs2570@gmail.com or visit their website www.cafhs.org.au

Camden Museum in partnership with Camden Library is presenting a History Week themed pre-school story time on 6 September at 11 am. including a “Mini-discoverers” Museum tour. Bookings are essential and can be made through the library website. www.library.camden.nsw.gov.au

“Ben Hodge” book”

Camden Historical Society is hosting a talk by author Kellee Cordina at Camden Museum on 14 September at 7.30 pm. Kellee is the author of a book about local shopkeeper, Ben Hodge and his association with Camden’s businesses and the construction of Camden hospital. Camden Historical Society can be emailed  secretary@camdenhistory.org.au or check their website www.camdenhistory.org.au



CHS 1120, Valtin Thurn outside his bootmaker’s shop in Argyle Street Camden, Courtesy of Camden Historical Society

The family name Thurn is remembered primarily because Martin and Anna Thurn were part of the group of German winegrowers contracted to Camden Park Estate by the Macarthur family to help establish their vineyards. They arrived in August 1852 on the ‘Reihersteig’. After fulfilling their contract with the Macarthurs, the family moved to a rented farm on Richardson Road, (then known as German Road), Elderslie, for around 12 years. In 1868, Martin bought a large property that backed onto the Nepean River near Cowpasture Bridge. It was known as Camden Bridge Farm. He managed to survive drought and devastating floods, especially those of the 1860s. He and Anna raised a large family of seven sons and five daughters, although two of the children died at an early age. Members of the family continued to live and work in the Camden area, helping to establish the community through both farming and business.

Their son Valtin was a cobbler and ran his business in Camden for some years before his marriage to Amy Wheeler and taking up successful farming in North Camden. He went on to buy out his parent’s 50-acre farm after his brother Anton’s death in 1939.

CHS 1119, Thurn family home, Macarthur Road Elderslie. Courtesy of Camden Historical Society

CHS 0397, Stuckey’s Store Camden, 1890s – Granny Stuckey’s Store was at 182 Argyle Street Camden. Mrs Joan Stuckey wearing black apron.
The Stuckey family came to Camden in 1854. Elgar and Amy arrived with their family, Dorcas, Ellen, and Henry from Somerset to live in a cottage on Camden Park Estate where Elgar worked. The family grew as another six children were born. They opened a confectionary shop in Argyle Street. Descendants of the Stuckey family remained in the area, doing various types of work such as ploughing and working in the local textile mills. Les Stuckey, a grandson of Elgar, became a baker, later establishing Stuckey Bros bakery.  Lou Stuckey worked on the railway at Camden. In 1912, Lou left the secure position he held with the railways to go into business with his brother Les and buy out a bakery that was for sale in on Argyle Street in Camden. It was located next to the Whiteman’s building and was rebuilt on two occasions on the same site during its business life.

The business required long, irregular hours with arduous “hands-on” work. During periods of local flooding large bundles of bread would be rowed across the Nepean to supply customers. Many employees were members of Camden’s pioneer families, including the Dowle, Taplin and Wheeler families. The business was sold to Mr Les Warby in 1960.

CHS 0450, 104-106 Argyle Street Camden, 1917. Rideout's bullock team which usually was timber carrying. Post card - written on back 'June 19, 1917. Removal of the old palm at Stuckey Bros. It took 18 bullocks to shift it. Love from all at home.'

CHS 2844, Jack and Laura Dunk with Dunk Bros. ‘Tow truck, outside Clifton Bros.’ shop, 130 Argyle Street, Camden. Jack and Laura Dunk standing beside the tow truck. 1925/26 Buick on the tow truck.

With the increasing ownership of automobiles, there was a surge of motoring related businesses in Camden. Amongst the early garages were H. McAleer’s Garage, Hansen’s Garage, Cook’s, and Souter’s. Many garages also sold motor vehicles and offered mechanical services such as Dunks Bros who were agents for General Motors.


CHS 1609, Shop on Argyle Street. 1930s. Mick Young, saddlery, on left; Elmo Dominish, bootmaker, on right with Dominish standing outside 64-66 Argyle Street.

John Dominish was born in what is now Croatia. He came to Australia with his brother in 1856. His agricultural background and experience as a winegrower saw him working at Cawdor on one of the Macarthur farms. His grandson Elmo was born in 1895. By the 1920s Elmo had his own bootmaker business in Camden. It was in the Whiteman building on Argyle Street, next door to Ben Hodge’s Jewellery store. After the Depression, Elmo relocated to premises behind his family home at 3 John Street. The Pepper trees planted by Elmo are still standing in the John Street Playground on the corner of Exeter Street.

You can read the Dominish family story on Camden library website on the Heritage page.


CHS 0567, Argyle Street Camden, building at 59-61 Argyle Street with James Pinkerton, tailor at left and W.R. Wilson chemist shop next door.

James Pinkerton operated his tailor’s business from 1901. His shop was located at 59-61 Argyle Street, Camden. His father had his own jeweller’s shop on the corner of John and Argyle Street on the site where the Commonwealth Bank was later constructed. James Pinkerton was also a partner with Mr J Fox in the Paramount Theatre at Camden. He had served on Camden Municipal Council as an alderman and was also a stalwart member of the local golf and rifle clubs. After his death, his son Arthur took over running the business.

Mr Les Pinkerton, brother of Arthur ran a refreshment room/ pastry and cake shop next door to the tailors. Another brother, Bob was an experienced wireless repair man and could be contacted via the refreshment room.

Mr Wilson, at the chemist shop next door stocked gift items such as soaps and perfumes as well as filling prescription medicines. He also sold a variety of cameras and Kodak supplies. Before 1882, there was a small timber building on the site of Mr Wilson’s pharmacy. It was used as the local Post Office until the present-day building was erected. By 1933, Mr Wilson had sold out to H. J. Bloom who had been his prescription pharmacist. The pictured building still stands in Argyle Street and accommodates a dental surgery and offices upstairs.


CHS 1414, Ben Hodge’s Shop Camden. Ben Hodge on footpath outside his watchmaker and jeweller’s store at 76 Argyle Street (corner Hill Street)

As well as selling jewellery, Ben Hodge’s shop was advertised as being the place to go if you needed a wireless or any wireless (radio) accessories.

CHS 1202, Argyle Street, 1910s, near the corner of Murray Street with the Showground on the right. Horse attached to hitching post. The large building on the left is Betts and Co. General Stores at 184 Argyle Street.

CHS 2862, Dunk’s Butcher Shop, outside the corner entrance of the butcher shop of F & G Dunk at 155 Argyle Street, Camden. Pictured in the photo is Lorna Watson on the left and Gwyneth Dunk aged around 2 years.
This shop has been operating as a butcher’s shop since 1894, when it was leased to Edward Griffiths. Prior to that, the shop was used by stone mason, William Buchan dating back to around 1840. Buchan was followed in the late 1850s by Richard Potter, a harness maker. From 1878 to 1889, Charles Whiteman established his first store in Camden, selling produce.

Glenroy Charles Dunk and his older brother Frederick Wesley Dunk ran the shop before selling it to Reg Tildsley and his sons in 1946. Although passing out of this family’s ownership, the business still operates under the Tildsley name.


CHS 0956, David Doust’s Shop, Camden.

David Doust and his wife Ann migrated to Australia from England in 1857. Prior to operating his general store in Argyle Street, David Doust had helped to build the first wooden bridge across the Nepean River in 1861. He took over ‘Lustard’s Store’ in 1863 and renamed it ‘David Doust Store’. He was elected to Camden Council as an alderman in 1891. He was remembered as being kind and generous – often to the detriment of his business as the credit he extended to many customers often remained unpaid. He was a steadfast member of the Methodist Church and a strong advocate of temperance.

His only surviving son Horace was Town Clerk of Camden Council for more than 40 years. At one time Horace held five positions on the council, namely Town Clerk, Clerk of Works, Sanitary Inspector, Dairy Inspector, and Inspector under the Pure Food Act. Each position came with its own salary earning him and average of £160 per year. David also had five surviving daughters. One son and one daughter had died at an early age.


CHS 1243, Watson’s Bakery, 68 Argyle Street, Camden. This shop was located on the corner of Argyle and Hill Streets, with the office of Captain Larkin at left. The children are Hope, Victor and Aubrey Watson.
William George Watson bought his bakery from Mr Barter around 1904.He grew up on his family’s farm in Carrington Road. After marrying Evelyn Sheridan, they built their family home on the corner of Elizabeth Street, and Mitchell Street He served on Camden Council from 1908 – 1914. He also trained and raced trotting horses. He was a member of the Sons of Temperance from July 1899 until his death in 1944. He had a property at Spring Creek known as Calf Farm where he grew peas and raised livestock.

CHS 1249, C. T. Whiteman Store, 86 -100 Argyle Street. 1890s.
The Whiteman family established a well-known produce store which was relocated to the current site of Whiteman’s arcade in Argyle Street Camden. The shop evolved into an early version of a department store. Their hard work saw the family held in high esteem in the community with six generations of the family worked in the family business. Members of the family also served on Camden Council including in the office of Mayor.

The Whiteman store closed in 2000, however the building evolved into the current day configuration of smaller shops and arcade. Unfortunately, the building is, at present, undergoing extensive repairs due to damage caused by a devastating fire in September 2020.


CHS 2548, Elsie Fanny Pool. 1910s. Elsie was the daughter of John William and Fanny Poole. She was a nurse at Camden Hospital and died of influenza in 1921.

CHS 0928, Red Cross Fundraising. Red Cross ladies holding a street stall in Argyle Street Camden. One has a spinning wheel and a mock hut at the roadside.

Members of the local business community were strong advocates of local services and societies. One such group was Camden Red Cross sewing circle which was first established in 1914 at the School of Arts building in John Street Camden. The members took part in many fundraising activities and regularly held street stalls. They produced necessary supplies for Australian military hospitals and clearing stations. Amongst their valuable products were items such as kit bags, bed shirts, flannel shirts, underpants, pyjamas, and slippers. Spinning wheels were used to produce yarn used for knitting sock, scarves, and jumpers. They reformed during World War 2 and once again produced many much-needed supplies for the war effort.

CHS 0614, Miss Llewella Davies. In Red Cross Volunteer Aid Detachment uniform during World War II. Taken in her garden in Exeter Street.


CHS 1079, Camden Cottage Hospital. 1905.


CHS 0652, Land Army Girls, 1940s. Working at Camden Park Estate during WW 11
Between 1942 and 1945, the Australian Women’s Land Army was very active in the Camden area. Its main campsite was at Orangeville, as well as having several others in the area. Members of the Land Army undertook to keep the food supply chain in motion during the war. The shortage of labour caused by the enlistment of farmers and labourers meant that the Land Army members were engaged in fruit and vegetable growing, tending livestock and other tasks that helped fulfill Army contracts with farmers to supply essential food. The Land Army had around 4000 recruits, sent across Australia, comprised of full- time members and auxiliary members. They were paid about half of the rate paid to men doing the same jobs. They worked a 4- hour week and their accommodation varied from local hall to shearing sheds. They were largely unappreciated as a highly valued asset to the war effort. Some of the women married local men and stayed in the area.