People & Places
Eric Wilksch (1918 – 2002) Historian & Conservationist
[Updated 29 April 2009]
When the 85 year old Eric Wilksch passed away a chapter in Naremburn’s, and indeed Willoughby’s, history was completed.
Born and educated in the Barossa Valley of South Australia, Eric served with the RAAF during WWII and then worked until his retirement with the NSW Department of Agriculture, also being seconded to the Commonwealth Departments of Primary Industry and Plant Quarantine.
In 1950 Eric and his wife Violet, settled in Market Street, Naremburn. He became involved in many community activities. Eric was the longest serving President of the Naremburn Progress Association (NPA) – 1960 to 1990. Through the Naremburn Amenities Development Association (NADA) he worked to establish a Hall, a Children’s Library, Public Gymnasium and Baby Health Centre.
He was founding President of the Crows Nest Gardening Club, serving 30 years in that position, and, a founding President of the Willoughby Environmental Protection Association (WEPA) as well as a member of the Flat Rock Area Conservation Action Society. Eric worked strenuously to preserve bushland in the Flat Rock Creek area, recorded its flora and helped build what is called Wilksch Walk from Brook Street end of the Gully to Tunks Park.
Eric was a foundation member of the Willoughby District Historical Society and Museum and a member of the Willoughby Bicentennial Community Committee. His book The Naremburn Story was published as part of the Bicentenary and is available at our Naremburn Library. Eric also completed a history of St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church.
In 1984 Eric Wilksch received the Willoughby Municipal Council Citizen of the Year Award for services to the community.
A heart attack and triple bypass in 1996 slowed him down. At his passing in 2002, Willoughby Mayor Pat Reilly said:
“Eric’s passing is a very sad day for Willoughby. He made a great contribution to the area not only in the historical recognition of places of interest; but his heavy involvement in environmental issues, especially around Naremburn”.
In addition to Wilksch Walk in Flat Rock Gully, a lane in west Naremburn honours his name.
Sir William Prentice (1919-2004) Lawyer, Humanitarian, Environmentalist
[Updated 29 April 2009]
William Prentice was born in Ermington Sydney, one of six children.
Like his four brothers, Bill attended St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, completing his Leaving Certificate in 1936. With the benefit of a scholarship, he enrolled in Arts and Law at Sydney University where he joined the University Regiment, and, as a man of duty, volunteered for service at the outbreak of WWII. He was sent to the Middle East with the 2/33 Battalion. He was recalled to support the militia in the defence of Australia and was involved in the ferocious Owen Stanley Campaign and fought on the Kokoda Track. Bill returned on one of the undefended troopships that Prime Minister John Curtin brought home. He was mentioned in dispatches and was awarded an MBE.
In 1946 he married Mary Dignam, a teacher and a member of an Eastern Suburbs family well known in the legal profession. Bill was admitted to the bar in 1947. After the war, he continued his interest in Papua New Guinea and its people. He became a member of the Council of PNG Affairs that was responsible for the promotion of legal education for Papua New Guineans. He was influential in the establishment of the Faculty of Law at the University of PNG. As Independence approached he encouraged young Papuan New Guineans to study law. Many in the pursuit of their degree stayed in the Prentice home in Olympia Road, Naremburn.
In 1970, he was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of PNG, serving on that court for ten years. He was knighted in 1977 becoming PNG’s first Chief Justice in 1978 after Independence. His time on the bench transacted the momentous years of change through Self Government, Independence and Post Independence. Bill was responsible for many leading judgments, particularly in the area of constitutional interpretation, that have had a profound effect upon the development of the law in PNG. When he resigned as Chief Justice in 1980 he returned to Australia where he served as a senior member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Bill called Naremburn home and was known for his love of cricket, reading, robust Friday night debates and an aversion to television, ironic considering the family home lay in the shadow of the Channel 9 tower. Bill and wife Mary had a great love for the Australian Bush and were pioneers of the native suburban garden.
Both he and his wife were people of deep faith and compassion and were actively involved in the St Leonard’s Catholic Parish of Naremburn. As a member of the St Vincent de Paul Bill visited the needy and lonely. Mary was a relief teacher at St Leonard’s, assisted in remedial reading programmes and helped set up the library at Marist Brothers North Shore. In February 1997 both Bill and Mary joined the Naremburn Progress Association.
A park between Olympia Road and the freeway in west Naremburn was named in honour of Sir William and Lady Mary Prentice on 18 August 2007, in the presence of WCC Mayor Pat Reilly, Naremburn Ward Councillors Lamb, Thompson and Coppock, the Member for Willoughby, Gladys Berejiklian MP, His Excellency Charles Lepani, PNG’s High Commissioner to Australia, and the Prentice children Damien, Toby, Felicity and Jacinta, his brother, Gordon, and members of the Naremburn Community.
Gordon Prentice, an NPA member, still lives in Glenmore Street.
Fred Stolle Tennis Legend
Places of Interest
Flat Rock Creek Bridge
St. Leonards Catholic Church & School
The Naming of the Lanes of Naremburn
In 2008, un-named lanes within the Willoughby City Council Local Government Area (LGA) were named; 16 Naremburn lanes now honour some of our past residents who contributed to our community.
Barnes Lane: A privately owned bus service, commenced by Stanley Francis Barnes in the 1920s, operated from Naremburn, and was run by his son, Harold F J Barnes.
Broome Lane: In 1916, John Broome was appointed Headmaster at Naremburn Public School and held the position until 1932.
Bucknall Lane: Charles H Bucknall (LLCM) sought pupils for pianoforte tuition. A concert pianist (gold medallist), he resided at 116 Northcote Street
Burke Lane: John Burke, a founding member of our Progress Association.
Carden Lane: Carden Lane Sign Edwin Edward de Baskerville Carden presided over the public meeting at the Temperance Hall in Central Street on 27 November 1901, for residents who showed concern for Naremburn’s future welfare. A builder and leading figure in the community, when the meeting decided to form itself into a Progress Association, he declined the position of President in favour of another public-spirited citizen, Harold McBurney.
Corbett Lane: Corbett was an early member of the Naremburn Progress Association.
Crowley Lane: Jeremy Crowley was the first Treasurer of the NPA
Faunce Lane: A D Faunce of Garland Road, an Alderman, Deputy Mayor 1964-66; President of the NPA; also President of the NPA sponsored Naremburn Amenities Development Association (NADA) when the Baby Health Centre, Public Hall and Library were opened on 18 October 1958. His wife, Ivy, was awarded Willoughby Council’s Citizen of the Year 1973 for her outstanding charity work.
Furnedge Lane: Furnedge was an early member of the NPA.
Hutton Lane: An early member of the NPA and an Alderman of Willoughby Council.
John Allen Lane: John Allen lived in Olympia Road; a member of the NPA, he held various office-bearer positions in the NPA; also President of the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations (FWPA) from 1995 until his death in September 2007; to read more about John Geoffrey Allen, see Naremburn Matters issues for December 2007 and June 2008 on this website.
Kershaw Lane: H J Kershaw was a founding member of the NPA
Medlands Lane: The Medlands Cup was for the Annual Gents’ Singles Championships held at was known as the Remah Tennis Courts, in Grafton Avenue; the courts were laid down in 1928. The trophy went missing for many years and eventually turned up in a box of odds and ends left for a charity white elephant stall.
Schultz Lane: C Schultz, a local builder, was elected Auditor of the 1901 NPA
Swann Lane: William Swann, foundation Headmaster, Naremburn Public School, 1887.
Woodcock Lane: Easter’s Grocery was in business on the corner of Rohan Street. Later this shop was conducted by Joseph Woodcock as a family business; the whole family was a driving force in the Congregational Church and Joseph Woodcock was recognised with a Life Deaconate in 1947.