History: Arthur Blacket's connection with the Hawkesbury

An image of Arthur Blacket which appeared alongside his obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 1929.

An image of Arthur Blacket which appeared alongside his obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 1929.

Born in Oxford Street, Sydney in 1848, Arthur Blacket was the third child and eldest son of notable government architect Edmund Blacket and his wife Sarah Mease.

After completing his school education in Sydney, he joined the staff of his father's business, however Blacket realised that many opportunities were available in prosperous country towns.

In 1879, Blacket designed the bridge over the Lachlan River at Condobolin and then supervised the construction of the Forbes Waterworks, completed in December 1883 and bringing a reliable reticulated water supply to the residents of the town.

The death of his father in 1883 prompted his return to Sydney where he was appointed diocesan building surveyor for the Church of England from 1888 to 1895. His commissions during this time included private homes, the hospital in Junee (1890), a wool store in Pyrmont (1893) and the Hunter Baillie Memorial Church, Annandale (1886-89).

In 1895, due to ill health, Blacket sought a quieter life away from the city. He selected two properties fronting what is now Stahls Road, Oakville, the first in October 1895 and the adjoining property in 1905. He named his property 'Alneau Glen' and advertised his services as an architect, civil engineer, and surveyor in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette.

An article from the Windsor and Richmond Gazette, February 24, 1900.

An article from the Windsor and Richmond Gazette, February 24, 1900.

It wasn't long before commissions began to come his way. In July 1896 he supervised the repainting of J J Paine's prestigious home in Windsor, 'Sunny Brae'. In August he called for tenders for the erection of a water tower for the Hawkesbury Dairy and Butter Company Limited, Windsor.

Wherever he and his family resided, Blacket immersed himself in local affairs. He was a lay preacher for St Paul's Anglican Church, Elizabeth Street, Riverstone standing in for the incumbent, the Rev S G Fielding on several occasions. Blacket was also commissioned to design and supervise the construction of the additions to this gothic style brick church comprising the cancel and vestry.

In Windsor, he organised the repairs to the Windsor Presbyterian Church in George Street and the painting and renovating of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Asylum.

Apart from his professional work, family and farming matters also occupied Blacket's time. The couple's sixth and last child Guyon was born there in 1898 and sons Nigel and Ulric serving in World War One and returning home safely.

In 1900, he patented his 'improved stump extractor and weight mover' which he christened the 'Alneau Shifter'. He advertised his invention to be lighter, stronger and more easily operated than existing machinery, reducing the time and effort it took to clear land.

By March 1921, the Blacket family's association with the Hawkesbury was coming to an end with the sale of 'Alneau Glen' to Thomas Stahl. Then in 1928, Doris Emily Stahl purchased the adjacent property on the corner of Stahls Road and Bocks Road.

Arthur Blacket died at his home in Harbord, NSW on August 4, 1929 at the age of 81 years and was buried in Manly Cemetery. His wife Mary Louisa died in Springwood on the January 23, 1948 and was buried beside her husband.