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Nita Child with her new book ‘Memories of Southgate village’ (left), which was compiled from a huge file of research. Image: Lynne Mowbray

Memories of Southgate village

Lynne Mowbray |

Grafton historian Nita Child is about to launch her book ‘Memories of Southgate Village’ which outlines some of the history and early days of the small village, just north of Grafton.

Nita who was born in Grafton, has always had an interest in local history; a lot of which was passed on to her from her mother. Her love of local history led Nita to become a volunteer with the Clarence River Historical Society at Grafton’s Schaeffer House and for the last 20 years she has worked mainly in the research department.

Nita began writing ‘Memories of Southgate Village’ in 2004 after completing the history of the Copmanhurst Shire.

Nita is currently the caretaker of the Southgate community hall and former school, which was built in 1881.
In 2008 Nita said that she began holding private functions and community dances in the hall, to help breathe life once again, back into the historic building.

“I enjoy bringing people together in peace and hearing people laugh brings happiness to me,” she said.
The launch of the book ‘Memories of Southgate Village’ by Nita Child will take place at the Southgate community hall, School Lane, Southgate, at 10am Sunday October 28.

History of Southgate
The first school was built in 1869 and closed in 1875. The timber building housed 35 pupils.

The second school was built on 19 June 1881 by William Kinnear using 100,000 bricks at £1 17s 6p per thousand and had a shingle roof.

The land was given by William Smith – two acres at £20 an acre. The school closed in December 1975.

The school building is now the Southgate community hall and holds both WWI and WWII honour boards. The cricket pitch and tennis court are still on the grounds with six camphor laurel trees planted in honour of WWI and six Jacaranda’s planted in honour of WWII, with garden beds around them.

Old time dances are held in the hall along with weddings and funerals and the original school stools, black board and hat and bag hooks are still on display.

Southgate village once had sugar mills, three churches, bakery, butchers shop, slaughter yard, creamery, blacksmith shop, hall, post office, Wingfield store and the original hotel is still standing.

The Southgate Hall and garden surrounds will be open to the public with a gold coin donation, during the Jacaranda Festival. The Grafton Camera Club will also have a display at the hall, during these times.

Opening times: Monday 29 October, Wednesday 31 October and Friday 2 November between 9.30am – 4pm. Morning and afternoon tea is available for $4.

For more information contact Nita Child 6642 4539.

Nita Child with her new book ‘Memories of Southgate village’ shows the story of one of the early pioneering families fight to maintain their heritage. Image: Lynne Mowbray