Arnott’s Famous Milk Arrowroot Biscuits ‘Make Bonnie Children’ – Doreen and Edward Webb – 11a Burren Street Erskineville

Doreen Dulcie Webb, aged 2 years and one month; and Edward Eric Webb aged 4 years and 8 months of 11a Burren Street Erskineville appeared in an advertisement for Arnott’s Milk Arrowroot Biscuits in February 1919:

Arnotts famous milk arrowroot biscuits erskineville.pngThe Australian Worker (Sydney) Thursday, 13 February 1919

A check of the registry of Births Deaths and Marriages’ Family History Search allows for the identification of the births of Doreen (in 1916); and Edward (in 1914) to Edward and Neta Webb.

Their home – 11a Burren Street Erskineville appears in the Sands Directory for the first time in the 1915 edition, indicating it was completed some time the previous year. The first occupant was Edward Webb – and the Webbs remained at 11a Burren Street for many years, appearing for the last time in the 1926 edition.

11a Burren Street Erskineville.png

11a Burren Street Erskineville


Unlike other Arnott’s Milk Arrowroot Biscuit advertising of the time, there is no mention of the ‘Arnott’s Living Pictures’ or ‘Arnott’s Milk Arrowroot Biscuit Children’ slogan. Instead, the claim that the biscuits ‘make bonnie children’ draws the reader’s attention to the biscuit’s positive virtues.

And that’s it. Just a single appearance of young Doreen and Edward Webb; and just one appearance of the Arnott’s line to ‘make bonnie children’ can be identified from the National Library of Australia’s Trove collection.

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Lemon Rings – a 1920 recipe from Erskineville, Sydney

The World of Women.png

On 22 February 1920 a request from ‘Elsie’ of St. Leonards appeared in the ‘Housewives Exchange’ – a column within ‘The World of Women’ page of Sydney’s The Sun newspaper.

‘any kind of useful wrinkle concerning the home-cooking,
dressmaking, care of children-will find a place in this column.’ 


Recipies wanted - February 1920

The Sun (Sydney) 22 February 1920

The request for a recipe for Lemon Rings was one of many requests published in The Sun on that particular Sunday, appearing amongst appeals for getting rid of small black ants; a method for turning beef and mutton suet into soap; and a request for how to make pumpkin jam. Continue reading

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John’s Terrace – 1 & 3 John Street Erskineville

Two houses, Nos. 1 and 3 JOHN-STREET, close to Erskineville-road, of brick, front and side cemented, verandahs and balconies in front, and each containing 4 rooms and kitchen, shed with bath, &c. The land has about 33ft. frontage to John-street, depth through to George-street [Charles-street], to which the frontage is about 8ft.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 January 1900

John’s Terrace (1 and 3 John Street Erskineville) is comprised of two adjoining two-storey terraces on the east side of John Street near Erskineville Road.

The terrace makes its first appearance in the Macdonald Town Assessment Book in the assessable year commencing February 1880. This suggests that the terrace was completed some time the previous year. The entry notes the ownership of the two houses by ‘P. (Patrick) O’Farrell’ -pencilled in at first, then overwritten in ink. The entry notes also that both houses were also occupied by Patrick O’Farrell. Continue reading

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Arnott’s Living Pictures – Dorothy Kathleen Cronin – 122 Union Street Erskineville – A Girl Who Loves The Biscuits

Dorothy Kathleen Cronin – the beautiful daughter of Mrs. Cronin – of 122 Union Street Erskineville was featured in newspapers around Australia for several years as ‘One of Arnott’s Living Pictures’ – appearing for the first time in print towards the end of 1910. Advertisements featuring young Dorothy appeared regularly throughout 1911 and 1912, and continued, on and off until around the middle of 1917.

Dorothy Cronin Arnotts 122 Union Street Erskineville

The Murchison Times and Day Dawn Gazette (WA) Saturday, 21 October 1911

The Arnott’s celebrates 150 years website describes the ‘Living Pictures’ advertising campaign as running from 1892 until the 1950s and as having involved tens of thousands of proud mothers sending in testimonials with portraits and photographs of their well–fed babies. The lucky few would have portraits of their children featured in print.

Almost every advertisement featuring Dorothy Cronin featues a commentary: ‘For the Sake of the Bairns’ (‘For the sake of the children’ – ‘Bairn’ is Scots, Scottish English, and Northern English for a child):

For the Sake of the Bairns.

In order to ensure absolute purity in the milk used in the manufacture of Arnott’s Milk Arrowroot Biscuits, it is obtained twice daily from Mr. Arnott’s Model Dairy Farm of 5,000 Acres, on the Hunter River, N.S.W., where there are upwards of 700 Choice Cattle.

The use of the term ‘For the Sake of the Bairns’ is almost exclusively used in advertising featuring Dorothy Cronin – its only other known appearance being in 1912, featuring Colin Edgar Elphick (son of Henry J and Annie Elphick) of Wongarbon (near Dubbo).

William Arnott Limited of Newcastle NSW were seemingly very proud of their herd, with editorial-like articles featuring on a regular basis in 1910 informing readers of the secret of Messrs. Arnott’s success:

Arnotts Living Pictures.png

Casino and Kyogle Courier and North Coast Advertiser – Saturday, 19 February 1910

122 Union Street Erskineville.png

122 Union Street Erskineville

A check of the NSW registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages shows Dorothy Kathleen Cronin was the daughter of Michael and Elizabeth Cronin, her birth registered in the district of Newtown in 1906. At the time the image of Dorothy was made she would have been about three or four years of age.

A check of Sands Directory entries for Erskineville shows the Cronin family resided at 122 Union Street for many years, with Michael Cronin listed in the 1904 to 1918 directories. Further evidence suggests the Cronin family remained in Union Street for many more years thereafter.

Arnott's Milk Arrowroot BiscuitsSunday Times (Perth) Sunday, 27 August 1911


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Mrs. E. J. Curtis, Paralysed with Rheumatism – Restored to Active Health by Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills

Helplessley Crippled – Wheeled About in a Chair;
Hospital Treatment Hopeless. No Power to Move.
Restored to Active Health by


‘As bad a case of rheumatism as there is on record, in which the patient had given up hope of ever regaining health, has just been cured by Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills. The patient in question is Mrs. E. J. Curtis, of 1 Flora-st., Erskineville, Sydney, and the facts of her case are known to hundreds.’ Continue reading

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Daisy’s Dripping Biscuits

Women's sphere The Sun Newspaper

In 1919, Daisy of Erskineville submitted her recipe for Dripping Biscuits to the ‘Women’s Sphere’ page of Sydney’s The Sun Newspaper. Daisy’s recipe appeared in the ‘Housewives’ Exchange’ column: ‘any kind of useful wrinkle concerning the home-cooking,
dressmaking, care of children-will find a place in this column.’ 

The recipe for dripping biscuits appeared amongst several recipes submitted by residents of Sydney, which included wheatmeal pastry, apple strudel, sponge cake, carrot pudding, and honey toffee.

Erskineville Dripping Biscuits

The Sun (Sydney) Sunday, 12 October 1919

Daisy’s recipe uses dripping, or beef fat in place of the butter or oil that most biscuit recipes tend to use today. In 1919 beef dripping would have been an inexpensive ingredient, a by-product of family cooking, dripping being the fat that dripped from roasting meat. Today, beef dripping is sold at the supermarket at great expense as a gourmet ingredient.

The recipe appears pretty straight forward right up until the direction is reached to add ‘sufficient flour’ and ‘bake in a brisk oven’ and finally ‘a little cornflour added to the flour is an improvement.’ How much? How hot? For how long?

Would that be a Britsh Imperial measure of sufficiency?

Well, there’s nothing for it but to pre-heat the oven to ‘brisk’ and get down to business with a beater and some rendered beef fat…

Daisy’s Dripping Biscuits
Erskineville Dripping Biscuits stack.png

There are some modern recipes for lemon-sugar biscuits that provide some guidance for this 1919 recipe. All use butter in place of the dripping, so if a slight departure from Daisy’s recipe is preferred consider this recipe for lemon sugar cookies, or these lemon and condensed milk biscuits.

1 cup (200grams) beef dripping
2 cups of caster sugar
Finely grated rind of two fresh lemons
1 cup of milk
2 large teaspoons of baking powder
3 cups of plain flour
1 cup of cornflour

1. Preheat oven to 180º Celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Place dripping in a mixing bowl, and using an egg-beater, beat dripping until stiff peaks form.
3. Start adding the two cups of caster sugar. Continue beating to incorporate the sugar into the dripping. Continue beating, adding the lemon rind and milk.
4. Sift flour and cornflour into the batter, incorporating one cup at a time.
5. For a firm dough chill in fridge for two hours prior to rolling. Otherwise, take teaspoons of dough and roll them into balls, then place them on a greased baking paper.
6. Bake at 180º Celsius for 17 to 20 minutes, or until starting to brown underneath. Allow the biscuits to cool on a cooling rack.

These quantities make about 1250 to 1300ml (5 cups) of biscuit dough (several sufficiencies worth). Left-over dough may be frozen following these instructions.

[A first trial of these biscuits baked in a ‘brisk oven,’ said to be round 220º Celsius produced burnt edges at the 8 minute mark].

The Metters ‘Triumph’ Oven
So we have established that Daisy’s recipe works in a modern oven; but how will it perform in a Metters oven? Given Erskineville’s association with Metters the opporunity to try Daisy’s recipe in a Metters stove could not be passed up!

Metters plaque and mosaic – Erskineville Road

Metters stoves were first produced in the late 1800s in Adelaide. With the success of the stoves a Perth factory was opened in 1896; and in 1902 a small factory opened in Alice Street Newtown. The Newtown premises was quickly overwhelmed and in 1906 20 acres of land was purchased in Alexandria and a new factory built. An additional 10 acres was added to the site in 1937 (The Story of Metters, 1965). The extent of the Metters factory extending from Alexandria and Erskineville is shown in the City of Sydney Building Surveyor’s Detail Sheets 1949-72. The residents of Erskineville and Alexandria could even tell the time of day from the factory whistle eminating from the Metters Factory.

Metters Limited – The “Triumph” Gas Range – Double Oven

Legend has it that this stove first saw service in a pub in Mittagong. Today in retirement, it does occasional service in a shearers’ quarters kitchen not far from the NSW town of Crookwell.

Whilst there is not much information available to establish just how old this particular oven is, ‘The Triumph’ does feature in the 1936 Metters gas stove catalogue:

Metters’ Gas Stove Catalogue October 1936

‘This range represents the last word in efficient capacity cooking equipment,
and is very suitable for pastry cooks, restaurants, hotels, etc.’

Keen-eyed Metters enthusiasts might have noticed that this stove is fitted with an accessory plate rack and an automatic oven heat controller (‘why cook by guesswork?’). Not that the temperature guage serves anything more than a decorative purpose today. This oven has two settings only: ‘Off’ and ‘Flaming gates of hell.’

Metters Limited – ‘The Triumph’

The combination of Daisy’s Erskineville biscuit recipe and the Erskineville oven was met with success! Well, initial success… The first batch of biscuits came out perfectly after the standard 17 to 20 minutes, but given the lack of temperature modulation (and baking without the convenience of an oven window) saw the subsequent batches well-cremated!

Any news of attempts at Daisy’s recipe; or any of the other recipes featured in the the October 1919 ‘Housewives’ Exchange‘ will be gladly received!

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Chamberlain Terrace – 64, 66 & 68 John Street Erskineville

Chamberlain Terrace Erskineville.JPG

Chamberlain Terrace Erskineville

Chamberlain Terrace (64, 66, & 68 John Street Erskineville) is located on the western side of John Street Erskineville, near Albert Street. The terrace makes its first appearance in the 1885 edition of the Sands Directory, indicating it was likely completed the previous year.

Chamberlain Terrace Erskineville 1884 to 1887.png

Sands Directory – John Street Erskineville 1884 – 1885 – 1886 – 1887

Three new residences are seen to appear north of the property of James and Elizabeth Cranston in the 1885 edition of the directory. In 1886 and 1887 the name of the terrace appears as ‘Cumberland terrace.’ In the 1888 edition of the Sands Directory the name of the terrace appears instead as Chamberlain terrace:


Sands Directory – John St Erskineville – 1888




So, a change of name or  some less than accurate record keeping by the Sands Directory transcribers?







Turning to the Council Asessment and Rate Books gives some insight into the name of the terrace and the likely derivation of the terrace’s name. The first appearance of the terrace is in the 1885 edition of the Macdonaldtown Assessment Book. The entry for John Street ‘West Side going South’ records for the first time three brick houses of five rooms each:


Macdonaldtown Assessment Book – John Street- 1885 (City of Sydney Archives)

The 1885 Assessment Book shows in the second column the ‘name of person in occupation,’ which appears to align with the 1886 Sands Directory. The name of the owner of the three houses is shown as ‘J. Chamberlain,’ overwriting the crossed out A. (Albert) Coote. J. Chamberlain is also listed as the payee of the rates.

J. Chamberlain’s association with the property appears to have been short-lived, with J. Chamberlain listed as having paid rates on the property once more in the 1886 Assessment Book, albeit with A. Coote listed in 1886 and in subsequent years as the property owner.

The name of the terrace appears to have stuck however, with advertisements for a household mangle placed by Mr. and Mrs. Coote making three apearances in August and September 1889:

18980827 Household Mangle John Street Macdonaldtown

Evening News (Sydney) Tuesday, 27 August 1889

18980829 Household Mangle John Street Macdonaldtown

Evening News (Sydney) Thursday, 29 August 1889

18980914 Household Mangle John Street Macdonaldtown

Evening News (Sydney) Saturday 14 September 1889
(No. 3 Chamberlain terrace, now 68 John Street)

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