Jack Smith and Ron Smith
Baulkham Hills Shire Council
The following contains excerpts from material supplied by two former employees of BHSC Electricity Dept, Jack Smith (born 1930) and Ron Smith (also born 1930, and unrelated to Jack). Additional editorial commentary (in italics) is by Noelene Pullen.
This interview represents the personal recollections, views and opinions of the interviewees
NOTE that there is no audio incorporated into this transcript.
In 1924 it was proposed that Council establish electricity in the shire from Parramatta along Windsor Road to Kellyville Public School, then down Showground Road to Castle Hill, up Old Northern Road to Rogans Hill and along Castle Hill Road to Pennant Hills Road and then on to North Rocks Road. In 1926 it was definitely available for connection in Castle Hill with other suburbs soon following. In 1937 there was a proposal for Dural, Middle Dural, Kenthurst, Cattai, Annangrove and Maraylya and in 1938 a proposal for Rouse Hill and Glenorie, followed by Carlingford South. The number of households connected to electricity increased as follows: - 1930- 388 consumers (households); 1931- 402; 1932- 442; 1933- 462; 1934- 487; 1935- 542; 1936- 720; 1937- 915.
Council records also mention that in 1939 it was proposed to extend the supply from Rouse Hill through Box Hill and Maraylya, along the Hawkesbury River to Wisemans Ferry and Lower Hawkesbury, along the McDonald River to St Albans, and then to Colo; and from Glenorie to the Forest (known then as Five Mile Forest but now Forest Glen). On 21 Aug 1945 Electrical Engineer Roy Hollis reported that restrictions imposed due to the war effort did not exist any more and recommended these proposals now be proceeded with. This commenced by 1946 and in 1949 Council borrowed more money to finish the project.
BHSC Electricity Dept Lines section erecting telegraph pole Wisemans Ferry c1949
During World War Two Ken Vickerage and Geoff Mercer were the only two electricians on Council staff and they were assisted by apprentices George Stewart and Jim Extrem. Due to the increasing shire population after the war and the growing use and availability of electrical household appliances, the Department increased quickly to fifty employees, many of whom were war veterans.
Baulkham Hills Shire Council Chambers c1948 with 1927 Whippet car Old Northern Road Castle Hill
The foreman was Charlie Hickinbotham, and other staff included Len Cullen, ‘Tug’ Wilson, Clarrie Rose, Keith Stevens, George Stewart and Dick Webb. Brian Kenway and Arthur McKinnon worked in the engineer office and Keith ‘Weary’ Wilson was main storeman. Apprentices who commenced by 1948 included Arthur McKenna, John O’Brien, ‘Bull’ Kenny, Ron Smith, ‘Pony’ Moore, Jim Kenny, and Jack Smith. Jack Berryman was the first installation inspector and Alec Forrest the meter reader. In a room underneath the Council Chambers, electricity department staff members were rostered to manufacture meter boards from ply timber that was excess from Mosquito Bomber requirements.
L-R Bill Lane & Roy Hollis on 'Miss Margaret', Arthur Edwards, Jimmy Baker, Jimmy Mills, Dave Lindsay c1949
The Lines Section included foreman Jimmy Mills, powder monkey Bill Lane (who blew the hole for the telegraph pole), Arthur Edwards, Jimmy Baker, Bill Glazier, George Armstrong, ‘Chicka’ Charlie McInerney, Stan Spring and Dave Lindsay. New telegraph poles were delivered to Council’s depot behind the Council Chambers in Old Northern Road Castle Hill (now the Castle Towers Piazza cinemas site). Each work morning truck driver Jimmy Chalmers put one pole on the side of Council’s 1938 Chevrolet 30 hundred weight truck and drove it to the required location. Before the line reached Pitt Town, men and vehicles returned to the depot each work night. Once work progressed further north, the men camped overnight returning only on Fridays. They gradually extended the line along River Road and reached Wisemans Ferry by 1951.
BHSC Electricity Dept Blitz truck was modified underneath with rollers to traverse rocks c1949
Their Leyland truck was replaced by a Blitz ex army four wheel drive vehicle to traverse difficult terrain. It was modified with sheer legs to steady itself as it lifted poles into place. Poles were also transported along the Hawkesbury River on barge ‘Miss Margaret’, a converted ex army vehicle, attached to a punt that the Department had acquired. After completion of the line, ‘Miss Margaret’ was abandoned in the reeds near the Wisemans Ferry punt.
Transport used included a Leyland truck, a 1938 Chevrolet 30 hundred weight truck, a 1940 Ford V8 ex army vehicle, and a 1945 Ford Prefect van with the slogan ‘Make Electricity Your Servant’ painted on it. Council vehicles were usually dark green in colour. They were serviced by Len Booth at Rogans Hill and housed at Council’s Depot located behind the Council Chambers in Old Northern Road Castle Hill. There was a long garage for vehicles, a building containing a meter room, a testing area and appliance repairs. There was also a general workshop building. The Council Depot was relocated to Doran Drive, off Carrington Road Castle Hill before the new Council Chambers opened in 1982.
Baulkham Hills Shire Council Electricity Dept Ford Prefect 1945 model at Depot
In August 1952 Parramatta, Holroyd, Fairfield, Baulkham Hills and Blacktown Councils advised the NSW Government that they wished to establish the Prospect County Council to manage the electricity supply to their areas and this was eventually gazetted on 1 January 1957. The County Council consisted of ten delegates two from each Council area. Mr R.A. Hingston, then Shire Clerk of Baulkham Hills, was appointed County Clerk and served until 1981 at the Wentworthville offices. It later became Integral Energy.