Millicent Chalmers

Millicent Chalmers lived on Sydney’s north shore in and came to Millers Point in 1990 with her adult children after she purchased the lease to operate a boarding house in a large old residence. In her interview she talks about the social mix of the area; resident action group activity; excessive alcohol consumption; tourism; establishing Darling House for aged care; and newer residents in high rise buildings. In the excerpt below she recalls the state of her boarding house when she took it over after several years of neglect and occupation by squatters.

This interview is part of Housing NSW’s 2005 Millers Point Oral History Project. The City of Sydney acknowledges the State Library of New South Wales as the archival custodian of the project and digital preserver of the masters.

When we came the house had no kitchen at all because it had all been pulled out; there were the holes in the plaster where they had pulled all the dangerous gas pipes out and just left everything as it was. Weekend after weekend we would come, and I’d come sometimes after work and do a couple of hours, dragging the rubbish down from the [upper] floors.

We found things like a shopping trolley from Woolworths or Coles or whatever, and it had been cut in half across, strange, why, we could never work out. It was dreadful; cartons and boxes and old clothes and strange colour on the walls and old mattresses with great cuts and rips in them along the hall, and obscene messages on the walls. Touchingly, up on the top floor, some transient person, a man, had left his shaving gear in a little row there, laid out, on the floor, but neatly in a row. He’d got drunk and forgotten where he’d left it, or died, or whatever, we don’t know.

Siobhán McHugh