BEYOND THE TREE | An old US Navy gaol was my Dad's workshop

The Beyond the Tree exhibition at Liverpool Regional Museum includes a growing community tree to which you can add your own family history. Bring in photos of your family moments to be scanned, printed, mounted and added to the display. It's in conjunction with Liverpool Genealogy Society. Volunteers on Tuesdays to Saturdays help with research and family enquiries. The Champion is running a series of local family stories in conjunction with the exhibition. When he got back from WWII, Ebb Cruwys and two blokes set up a machinery-repair business at Warwick Farm, using a US Navy gaol as their premises. His daughter Pat loved to go to work with him and play in the cells which were used as storerooms. She once asked her Dad to write down his story . . .

MY DAD Edward "Ebb" Cruwys and I were very close and as a youngster I was always thrilled to go to work with him. I used to climb all over the machinery, sit on the top of the trucks and would think it fun getting zapped when I touched the electric fence around the building -- well, not too often (yes, I was a bit of a wild child).

Shortly before Dad died in 1994 I was beginning to become interested in his story (which certainly wasn't family history at that stage!).

I asked him to tell me a little about that company for which he'd worked for nearly 40 years. Here's what he wrote:

"Two years after I returned from World War II I was offered a job assembling old second-hand machinery at a new company at WarwickFarm [then HargravePark].

"There were only three of us, including the owner Rex Schoeffel, and our factory premises had been the US Navy gaol HMS Golden Hind during the war. We used the offices for machinery and used the cells as storerooms -- and played cricket in the courtyard at lunchtime.

"We put a roof on the courtyard as the company grew. I had the key to have the place open by 7.30am and lock up at night -- but I enjoyed it. But it was a long trip by bus from Gladesville to TopRyde, walk to the station, train to Strathfield and change for WarwickFarm.

"So, eventually, I built a new home for the family at Villawood and restored an old truck which I found in a chook yard. Now the trip to work was much easier.

"By 1952 we were employing 80 men, but one Friday afternoon, on December 5, a fire destroyed most of the factory. On Saturday morning almost every employee turned up to start rebuilding again. They worked all weekend, without pay, and by Monday morning we had most of the workshop ready to start work."

"One Friday, a fire destroyed most of the factory. Next day almost all 80 employees turned up to rebuild. They worked all weekend, without pay, and by Monday most of the workshop was ready."


Dad was such a valued employee at United Buyers -- later called Grasslands after the factory moved to Villawood -- that 30 years later he was offered the opportunity of a lifetime. The business decentralised to Taree where Dad and Mum were caretakers, with a new home built for them on the 100-acre property, an amazing thank-you for his years of dedication to the company.

This story I played in Dad's old cells first appeared on Liverpool City Champion.