Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Dr and Mrs Dwyer

Interviewed by Eve Klein on 30 November 2000

Dr. Dwyer. We went for this approach of building a house on a vacant block, rather than buying a house that had already been occupied by someone else, simply because you got very little financial help if you were buying a house that was already in existence. You got very little assistance from the banks, whereas you got much higher assistance if you were building your own. For people to be building their own house was pretty unusual at the time – in Mosman certainly.

Eve Klein. And it was not developed at all.

Mrs. Dwyer. The road was not built.

Eve Klein. There was no road, and so how did you gain access?

Mrs. Dwyer. There was a bit of a mud track.

Dr. Dwyer. Yes, but otherwise you were up the top….

Mrs. Dwyer. …..which is down the steps….

Dr. Dwyer. This is the front of the house….

Eve Klein. ….the Victoria side. So what was here, any other houses at all?

Dr. Dwyer. No. On the top of the road, there were some houses.

Eve Klein. So you were actually the first….

Mrs. Dwyer. ….at this far down we were the first, and then the road went in fairly quickly afterwards, and then all these other houses followed the road.

Eve Klein. How did Mosman compare to other suburbs you visited. How did you feel about Mosman? What were the advantages?

Mrs. Dwyer. The water.

Eve Klein. The view of the water, or just the access to it for swimming?

Mrs. Dwyer. Access and the view. I remember Brian saying: ‘I want some sky’.

Dr. Dwyer. After dear old Oxford where the air was pretty black and wet and cold, we missed the sea enormously. I wondered at the end of the years I’d been there, which were all post-graduate, and I had to make up my mind where I was going to continue to work, I came home. I just wanted to get some sun, I couldn’t stand anymore of the English winters, but I loved England, and I loved the people.

Eve Klein. When you returned was it comparatively easy to get your family established and everything underway?

Mrs. Dwyer. Well it’s never easy – small children are never easy.

Eve Klein. Yes, but financially and the area, was that conducive? Did you find there was access to what you wanted, shopping etc?

Mrs. Dwyer. Oh yes everything was there, except I didn’t have a car, Brian took it to work, so that made it rather difficult. I had things delivered quite a lot, and my mother was very helpful with shopping.

Eve Klein. So you got about in trams?

Dr. Dwyer. Yes, trams still.

Eve Klein. Still trams?

Mrs. Dwyer. I can’t remember when the tram stopped.

Dr. Dwyer. I’m not too sure either, I must say. I think there were still trams.

Mrs. Dwyer. But not down here. The biggest challenge in those days actually, was what sort of a house you were going to build on these sorts of slopes because in those days Mosman was built mostly along the ridges, and these very precipitous blocks were considered to dangerous to build on. We looked around for a long time for an architect whose work we liked and fortunately, found one. He was sympathetic to the fact that it was a precipitous block, and sympathetic to the fact that we had no money. He was enormously helpful – he was a very great architect – Sydney Ancher – Ancher, Mortlock & Murray – that firm. He used to build houses that were dug into the rock, as opposed to houses that were up on poles, and this was dug into the rock.

Dr. Dwyer. And flat roofs.

Mrs. Dwyer. Yes, and which linked, of course.

Eve Klein. How soon were you in your house?

Mrs. Dwyer. A year or so.