Jack Bell

Jack Bell, born in 1914, built a house in the Rosebery Estate in 1940.
In this interview he discusses his sixty seven years in the house on Ripon Way,
family life, the meaning home has for him and many other aspects of life in inner
Sydney, including the dramatic hailstorm of 1999. In the excerpt below he recalls specific
details about buying land and designing and building a house during WWII,
and regulations governing residences in the Rosebery Estate.

I used to own and train a greyhound or two. And I was very, very fortunate that I won a very big stake in 1939 for which I got £200. That enabled me to pluck up enough courage to go and ask my future father-in-law for his daughter’s hand in marriage. He said: “Please”. In 1940, of course, the Second World War had commenced then and all the banks had closed their books for lending money so I was in a bit of a dilemma. I wanted to get married, we were engaged, but I didn’t have the money [apart from £200 for deposit], but my uncle was extremely friendly with the general manager of the Bank of New South Wales in those days – and that manager opened his books for one person, and he lent me £1,000. So I borrowed £1,000 and built the house for £900. It had to be a brick house; there were no weatherboard houses in the estate, this is in the Rosebery Estate now I’m talking about, which originally was governed by the Waterloo Municipal Council. It had to be so many feet back from the footpath, it could not be a two-storey house, it had to be of such a design – there were a number of restrictions, and I think they still exist. There were a number of horse owners, racehorse owners, in the district, who had stables at the back. But you were not supposed to have fowls; they were frowned upon. We felt very proud of walking into a new house, one of the best houses, certainly in the street and probably in the district, looked upon by our neighbours with envy. We were very proud. And I had a good job. We felt very happy with what we had.

Virginia Macleod