Clive Roughley - Roughley House


Interviewee: Clive Roughley, 1914 - 2002

Interviewer: Frank Heimans,
            for Baulkham Hills Shire Council

Date of Interview: 14th January, 2002

Place of Interview: Roughley House

Transcription: Catherine Sapir, June, 2006

This interview represents the personal recollections, views and opinions of the interviewee


My name is Frank Heimans and I’m doing an oral history interview with Clive Roughley. Today is the 14th January 2002 and I’m in Clive’s house, talking with Clive. Which room is this Clive that we are in?

This is my flat. This is not open to the public.

Tell me Clive, tell me a little bit about what you remember about this house, The Pines.

Well this is the second place. The first one, see grandfather owned all the ground down to the shops and the first house was down there and then he built that up here, this one, and it’s 150. We have been here for 156 years. Now that was one of the reasons why I gave it to the Council. They were saying I was the hero for what I gave away and I don’t reckon I was. I rate my great grandfather, grandfather, dad and I did my share of guts-busting too but I reckon they were the heroes. They had no horses, no winches or anything, it was all ordinary bush timber and they dug it all out with a mattock, shovel and axe and worked the ground up with a fork (?).

How long did it take them to build this house?

A fair while... They were convicts you know. They were down the Castle Hill Road and they had a property down there next to Rothman's then the Government took it all over, they were losing money see and they bought this. This wasn’t a grant or anything. They bought this from a bloke by the name of Mobbs. You’ve heard of Mobbs Hill?

So that’s the Mobbs Hill that’s at Epping is it?

Yeah. I tell you what. They did alright, by gee they’ve made some money. The old grandfather, he had a big family, he put the boys through Newington.

How long have you actually lived in this house Clive?

I was born in the front room. I was born in the front room, Dad was born in the front room.

Clive, what about you take me on a guided tour of the house. Would you be able to do that for me?

We’ll do a tour. I can hardly move. I had this bad fall last Sunday week. I had four weeks in hospital. I broke my arm from there to there. Three doctors reckoned it was the worst break they had ever seen. I had four weeks over there and every time I fall down I fall on my crook one but I went this one as well this time. Gee I have suffered with this one and we can’t do anything about it. We just gotta wait until we gets over it.

Well take it slowly then Clive.

How it all happened was, you see, I had finished up at (?) and we was working on a truck one night and he backed over the top of me -10.00 at night, pitch dark. We had trouble with the big truck, I brought it up, we got it going. Anyway, I missed out by six inches and I took the back wheels and the diff across me feet, across me legs cross me knees and never broke a bone.

When was this Clive?

Three years ago. I took all the skin off me, I was nine days over in the San.

Well you must be a survivor Clive.

But the old legs are giving out now. That what the doc said to me this morning that you’re body may be falling apart but your brain’s not. I said thank goodness I said I had feelings that it was. Away we go.

After you Clive.

No, no it’s your home today.

I never knew any of my grandparents. You see, dad was the youngest of his family and I was the youngest of dad’s family. I was the first one (?) three boys and girl, that’s four, five of us. But the most peculiar thing about it was, it worked out that there’s practically seven years between each child, so that made my oldest brother and me years and years apart and we couldn’t get on, no, he turned Commo and I’m a good Liberal.

What was the name of the eldest brother?

Ern, Ernest. He was clever. He served his time with Hudsons. In those days they had to work, everything was done by hand, no machinery in those days.

What else in this room Clive, there’s a doll on the bed. How old do you think the doll is on the bed?

I don’t know. We bought that.

And the little kid’s dress on the bed in the box there?

Oh that was the, I think it was the eldest one, the eldest brother, he died when he was two.

Child's clothing belonging to Clive's brother Roy

What was his name then?

Roy. Funny thing. Mum was fair, dad was darkish and all the family were fair bar me. Now I have always been a horseman. I was only an amateur compared with him (dad) with horses and they couldn’t care a less about them, or farming. The second brother, he was no good unless he was working for somebody. They could never understand, I had twenty acres of orchard out here, where the Coffee Shop and all that is, that was mine, anyway I had twenty acres of orchard and 2000 chooks. They couldn’t understand me spending all that money and working all those hours. But I tell you what, during the Depression years, many, many a time I never had a shilling in my pocket and yet I turned around and was able to give two million dollars away, so I came good didn’t I. Poor old dad had it tough but I don’t know, most of the Roughley’s made a lot of money. We’re all over Australia now.

Is this the kitchen you grew up in, in the house you grew up in?

No, no. I built this on when I got married. That’s a photo of me first wife on the chest of drawers in the front room. I was only married fifteen weeks when she died.

That’s terrible.

Asthmatic heart. I tell you what I’ve had some bloody ups and downs. She was (?) up to her sister’s, she was living up the road, so I built this on so old mum always felt it was still her home. She was always independent though she used to eat with us. Her and Viney they were like that. Years later I married again and she had two kids to a former marriage to Johnny Young. I reared them up. Put the girl through Meriden and the boy through Hawkesbury and they walked out. Thank god.

How long did that marriage last?

Oh I’d been for years on my own since. Never any more, no, crikies no. When she went, that finished it. By the way those doors are all solid cedar.

All this timber is cedar, architraves, skirting boards. Where are we going to start?

Wherever you like Clive.

We’ll start in the front room where I was born.

Okay, let’s go.

Right, away you go.

Dad was born in here. I was born in here and old mum died here. And she was always terrified that she would go into an old people’s home and I said she never would. I had two brothers, they went their way, my sister went nursing, there was only old mum and I. I was never the snowy headed boy but I’m the one that stuck to her.

Is this the bedroom where you were born?

Yes. Now see that bed, mum’s people was George Hudson the timber people. They built Clyde Engineering Works. They built the first railway trains, first rolling stock and her uncle made that bed. It all comes to pieces and it’s not cedar, it’s rosewood. Mum’s been dead a lot of years now, goodness knows how old the bed is. This was dad and mum’s room. That was their furniture and that’s the photo of my wife that died.

When was that photo taken?

Oh she’s been dead a lot of years now. I remember it as much today as the day she died. All the time we were together I never once knew us to have an argument of any sort. We always seemed to want to do the same things at the same time. It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful. When I got the other one, I thought it was going to be the same.

Black dress belonging to Clive's grandmother

Now there’s a dress in the corner, a black dress on a stand.

Feel the weight of that dress.

It’s very solid, isn’t it.

Fancy wearing that in summer time. That belonged to mum’s mother.

So it must be at least 120-130 years old, isn’t it?

Easy. This is all history.

Tell me a little bit about the Roughley family. Who were the first ones to come out to Australia?

Joseph and then there was James and then he had a son, so there was James the First and James the Second. Now Joseph, him and James the First, they got caught. They pinched fivepence worth of material and got seven years. Joseph left his family behind. Now there was another bloke connected with them but he was never picked up. He was never put on the junks, he was never brought to Australia, but when Joseph and them came out he went back and married one of Joseph’s daughters. Now we are Methodists, right. Now old Joseph, that was when there was a bust up with the Church of England, corruption and that Wesley took over and they called it the Wesley church. Well he was very strict, Wesley, so I don’t ever think he pinched, I reckon this bloke put him in.

James the Second was my grandfather and he married one of the Hunts from down here who died (?). Now he married Linda Hunt and he was a great bloke for buying land up and he talked my grandfather into doing it. They owned half the flaming district, you know. Anyway when she died, at 46 after having about fourteen kids or something, he married again to one of the Tuckwells at Castle Hill and they moved to Parramatta. Do you know where the Darling Mills are on the creek there, there’s a new Catholic church on your right, that’s where they lived. Anyway, when he died, his second wife had him buried out here in the Methodist church cemetery beside his first wife. Now I never ever knew her, she must have been a wonderful woman. Dad worshipped her. We used to call her Aunty. She reared dad up.

Your father’s name was Archibald wasn’t it?

That’s right, Arch. Archibald Edward Charles.

What did they used to call him, what was his nickname?

Always called him Arch. When he died it was one of the biggest funerals you’d ever seen. He was liked sort of by everybody. He must have been a wonderful man. As I say I wasn’t eight so it would be impossible for me to say what principle and that he had.

When were you born Clive, which year?

Now this will beat you. I was born on the seventh day of the seventh month of the fourteenth year. That’s all sevens and seven hasn’t been lucky for me. I’ll tell you something. My dad never seen an aeroplane fly because they only brought them in towards the end of the First World War. That’s incredible isn’t it?

Sure is today, yes.

Well same as grandfather. He used to grow a lot of oats here and he used to cart them into Sydney to the old Haymarkets, it’s still Haymarket isn’t it where Anthony Horderns used to be and take them in the wagon and bring the stores back. It used to take him a week. You could leave here now and go to Sydney in two hours. Doesn’t seem possible does it. They used to get bogged on Parramatta Road. I remember the traffic here was horse coaches. Also you’d see the big teams coming through with logs on. As I say I’ve always been horse crazy. Soon as I see, it was was all dirt road, as soon as I’d see the dust coming up they used to pull up at the bottom of the hill, there was a dam there and they’d water the horses, down I’d go. Believe it or not I finished up buying that block of land.

The one where you’re standing on now, do you mean?

The one where I used to go to as a kid.

How did that happen?

See I bought it when I took this over. See, the family didn’t want to look after mum, they didn’t want the responsibility. So that’s how I got it. Dad died without a Will and that made things tough, so they asked me, I said well I want to get married and I’m working my guts out, I had a good place here and I said I’m going. So they asked me if I’d buy them out and take it over. But I also had to sign that I’d keep old mum the way she wanted to be kept. They wasn’t going to commit themselves, anyway I did it. I did it, and I’ll tell you another thing I did, I always kept it in her name so as she always thought she was living in her own home. When she died I got caught for bloody probate and at the same time me divorce came through, it came through and I got hit for the two at one time. That was the only time I ever borrowed money to bide meself out. I paid it back in a bit over twelve months.

Dining Room with Clive's poultry prizes

Now Clive, you said you were a farmer. What did you farm here?

Everything. Citrus, peaches, crops. I used to do most of the work and then I contracted with horses for years, ploughing up peoples paddocks – oh it was busting work. I used to have up to six horses here. I don’t know, I was only saying to one of the blokes on Saturday, if I had me time over again I’d still do it.

You also had chickens here didn’t you?

I had 2000 chooks.

So did you sell the eggs?

Sold the eggs. When the Egg Board went out I went out over it. Then I went into Show birds. Did you see all the ribbons on the fireplace?

Yes I did actually.

They couldn’t beat me. Gee I had good ones. They were worth $1900 each but when I got smashed up I couldn’t do it. Then I had a mate who used to take them to the shows for me because I couldn’t run me honey business and take birds to shows, they were only a hobby and that was bread and butter. Anyway he died so I said to myself, listen mate that’s the end of the road, so when I got smashed up I gave them away but when I was giving them away I think half of them had disappeared.

What was your favourite rooster or bantam rooster?

Peek(?) hens. Feather legs. Little feather legs. I had (?) hens, black, white and then I had Orpingtons(?) and the last show I did, I got a schedule up last week from Blacktown, I showed 17 birds, I got seventeen prizes plus six champions. Then I got a letter from Hawkesbury Show, "Clive will you bring your birds over". I couldn’t take them over, I was over in the San hospital with me crook legs, so that was me last show.

You did very well there Clive.

I did. I mean they were good and I bred some. I had three old mates, they were all master breeders and all master showmen and they reckon I was addicted. Anyway they said to me what are you going to do. I said I can’t carry on, so I just gave them away.

How do you feel about having done that?

Nearly broke me heart but I had enough sense to know that it was just impossible. You can’t ask your neighbours to come and look after your birds all the time. And then, me sight's going bad. I can’t read or write now. I’ve had the cataracts taken off but there’s a vein behind the cataracts that’s blown up. Anyway I couldn’t pick birds out anyway.

What about the grain that you grew. Tell me a little bit about growing grain. What sort of grain was it. Was it wheat?

Only oats for me horses. There’s two things I really liked growing. One was oats. Oh you’d go down and have a good bed and see the wind blowing, it was just like waves, you know and the other - I loved growing potatoes.

Did you have a good crop, did you grow commercial crops?

Well matter of fact I took one out, you won’t believe me, it weighed 2 ½ lb. One potato.

Well it must have won a prize at another show, did it?

Oh no, we ate him. Oh no, I’ve had a good life. Now with the Council I get treated like a king. You’ve seen how Matt goes on with me.

He’s very nice with you isn’t he?

Oh, he’s a wonderful bloke. He’s a wonderful person.

Tell me, why did you decide to leave this entire house, this whole estate to the Council?

Well, a lot of them said why didn’t I give it to an Institution. And I said when they were short of money they’d sell it, now with the Council they can never sell it but there’s plenty of Roughleys coming up and when I told Matt what I told you about I reckon grandfather was the hero, he had a special sign built down there, the Historic Roughley Home, so all the Roughleys come back here. So as long as the house is a house, it’s going to be a Roughley home, isn’t it?

Roughley House in Spring 2005

Let’s look at a little bit more of the house, show me another room.

Come on, away you go. Now this is the dining room, the sitting room, we call it the lounge room. This was mum’s. My lounge suite (?) but old Aunt Ruth, George Hudson’s wife, used to come up to see mum and they used to sit in here and I used to hang about like a bad smell because I always got a quid from Aunt Ruth.

Now there’s a bayonet I see lying on the dresser. Is there any significance in that bayonet?

I don’t know where it came. That would be from the old muzzle loader. Fancy having that run through your middle.

What activities would go on in this room, what do you remember about this room Clive?

It’s always been the sitting room.

Were you allowed to play in this room?

It was always open house, you know. Old mum was very, very fussy. All the furniture is cedar, it was always kept polished.

What about the paintings on the wall. Any significance in those paintings?

Old mum got those. They came from, you’ve heard of Pear’s soap. That’s where they came from. That’s the original ceiling. They wanted to take it down and put gyprock up but I wouldn’t let 'em.

When was this house built Clive?

18…’s in the book anyway.

Beautiful house.

It’s all slab you know. All cut on the place. Now that would be the first timber cut in Australia. It would be hundreds and hundreds of years old, wouldn’t it?

What the timber of. Is it ironbark?

Ironbark, blackbutt, white mahogany, mostly ironbark. Cedar floor is not tongue and groove, it’s only butted.

It’s very solid.

She’ll never fall down.

Do you want to show me another room now?

Yes, away you go.



 Go To Part Two