19 May 2017

Buying a book sometimes offers more than what is published in print

Often when we borrow or buy an old book, we get a sense of what the contents reveal, by the illustrations and text thoughtfully placed to form the cover. But, every now and then, the makings of another story appears that the author hadn't intended. The hands that touch a book can be quite anonymous until...something is scrawled on a page, or notes are wedged in pages as markers, or the book is used as a vessel to press something flat, or protect something precious. This is when the beginnings of a whole new tale can emerge.

A few years ago, Canberra resident Rachael Chandler of Holder was looking at children's books at the Q Bookshop in Curtin. As she was browsing, her eye was caught by the colourful cover of the book Our Darlings' Treasure House, edited by Alexander Watson in 1936.
Cover of Our Darlings' Treasure House edited by Alexander Watson,1936.
Cover of Our Darlings' Treasure House edited by Alexander Watson,1936.
She picked up the book, and out fell some papers consisting of: a student report and notice of the 25th Annual Speech Day from Telopea Park School, a membership to The Gould League of Bird Lovers of NSW and a program for a musical evening at the Albert Hall.

Inside the front cover of the book was the  inscription: To Dick From Dad & Mum Xmas 1939.
 Inscription in the front cover of the Cover of Our Darlings' Treasure House edited by Alexander Watson,1936.
Inscription in the front cover of the Cover of Our Darlings' Treasure House edited by Alexander Watson,1936.
On the next page, under the heading "This book belongs to" the following was written:  Richard Henry Talbot Adams "Grevilla" Waratah Pathway Kingston Canberra Christmas 1939.

Details inscribed on the first page of Our Darlings' Treasure House edited by Alexander Watson,1936.
Details inscribed on the first page of Our Darlings' Treasure House edited by Alexander Watson,1936.
Rachael didn't buy the book that day, however she told her husband how fascinating the papers werebeing so old and from Canberra. He encouraged Rachael to go back to the book store the next day to purchase the book, with the intent to try and find the owner, or their family. Unfortunately the Chandlers did not have much luck finding any information, so Rachel contacted the ACT Heritage Library, firstly to donate the papers, but also to see if we could come up with any other information.

The staff here at the ACT Heritage Library were abuzz with the prospect of finding out about Dick Adams and his family. Thankfully 'Talbot' was an uncommon name that we could latch onto in our quest. It wasn't long before we were able to piece bits of information together. Here's what we unearthed:

Waratah Pathway or Parkway became Telopea Parkway, no 20. Telopea Parkway, (20 Telopea Park, Kingston). It was a private residence and the home of Talbot (Tom) Leonard Adams, master butcher, his first wife Jessie (Eileen) Sophia Adams (deceased 28 April 1949, aged 41) and then later his second wife Jean Briged (deceased March 1971). Tom had four children with his first wife: Richard (Dick) Henry Talbot, Francis (Frank) Leonard, John Talbot and Mary Burke (nee Adams).

The house was built and completed in 1927. In approximately 1937 the leadlight windows were placed in the front of the house to enclose the verandah. According to Mary Burke's recollections: "In the front yard Dad had the 'Speakers Chair'it was a pine tree and he had trimmed it in the shape of the Speakers Chair at Parliament House. People used to come by often just to have a look at it." (Emerton, page 104).
Map of Eastlake (Kingston) with early residents and shop owners marked out. The Adams Home and Shop are circled in red. Source: Emerton, page 172
Map of Eastlake (Kingston) with early residents and shop owners marked out. The Adams Home and Shop are circled in red. Source: Emerton, page 172
Tom was one of Canberra's first butchers, supplying meat to early construction camps in Canberra out of his business in Queanbeyan. When the Kingston shops were built in the mid-1920s, he and his three brothers, Tom, Harry and George, opened one of the first butchers in the precinct (then known as Eastlake).

By 1936, the partnership between the brothers dissolved so Tom took over a shop in Flinders Way, Manuka. Tom was not content with one shop, expanding his business to O'Connor Shopping Centre, Garema Place, Civic, Bungendore and then back to Kingston, in which T.L. Adams Pty Ltd commissioned the Adams Building (Jardine St, Kingston), also known as Adams Arcade. The Arcade, consisted of a mix of shops and offices and included their new butchery and delicatessen. The architects responsible for the design of the building were Divola and Anderson, with the builders being S. D. C. Kennedy and Bird Pty Ltd.
Advertisement from ArchivesACT Collection, Kingston Traders Association Canberra ACT, Page 13
Advertisement from ArchivesACT Collection, Kingston Traders Association Canberra ACT, Page 13
Tom also erected and named two buildings using his first and second names: Talbot House at Sargood St, O'Connor, in 1953, and in 1955, Leonard Chambers, Kingston.

With the assistance of his sons Frank and John, Tom continued to run these businesses until he died in October 1961 at the age of 75.

In 1962, Dick took over the family business T. L. Adams Pty Ltd; however, a couple of years later, in 1965, the company dissolved.

Dick lived in Red Hill in the 1960s and then moved to Main Beach, Queensland in the late 1970s. Sadly he passed away on 8 February 2017.

The HMSS 0468 collection held at the ACT Heritage Library contains the papers of Dick Adams that were found in the book. They give a little insight into his boyhood interests and schooling.

If you have memorabilia or records associated with this story we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at act.heritage.library@act.gov.au 

A sample from the HMSS 0468 ADAMS, Richard (Dick) Henry Talbot Papers.  Dick Adams' Membership card to the Gould League of Bird Lovers of NSW 1910-1946
A sample from the HMSS 0468 ADAMS, Richard (Dick) Henry Talbot Papers.  Dick Adams' Membership card to the Gould League of Bird Lovers of NSW 1910-1946

Bibliography

1956, 'New Kingston Shopping Block Ready', The Canberra Times, Canberra ACT, 16 March, page 2.

1965, 'In the A.C.T. Courts', The Canberra Times, Canberra ACT, 5 June, page 8.

Australian Government, 'ABN Lookup' Australian Business Registerhttp://abr.business.gov.au/SearchByAbnHistory.aspx?SearchText=48022087638

Australian Government, 'File 1965GN33', Federal Register of Legislation https://www.legislation.gov.au/file/1965GN33

Australian Government, 'File 1977GN45', Federal Register of Legislation https://www.legislation.gov.au/file/1977GN45

Australian Daily Funeral and Death Notices, http://www.deathnoticesaustralia.com.au/notices/2219/adams/ 

Emerton, Val & Canberra Stories Group (1996). Past images present voices : Kingston and thereabouts through a box brownie. Canberra Stories Group, Murrumbateman, NSW.

Gugler, Ann (2010). 'Kingston 1928', Canberra camps, settlements & early housing, Ann Gugler, Canberra, ACT.

Kingston Traders Association, Canberra ACT (prepared by) Kingston Shopping Centre. Federal Capital Press. Canberra, ACT.