SAM IRWIN lived at 88 Sydney Street Willoughby since the 1940s. He used to be in Ella St Chatswood. His father came from Ireland c.1907.
Sam’s family owned the land that was now used as the council nursery near Bales Park, (when was this?). His father had a trucking business and during World War II a huge air raid shelter was built for the whole neighbourhood. Whilst they were building the shelter Sam, who was about 14 used to drive a big truck into the hole in the morning empty and an old bloke filled it through the day and Sam drove it out in the afternoon. The land was resumed by Council who offered fifty pounds for it. (There is an article on the backyard by Jeanette Williamson in the Forsyth 100 years book).
He remembers the Tarzans Grip owner who lived in Headland Road Castle Cove. (Trazans Grip was a popular glue stick manufactured in Willoughby)
Sam played polocross. He was part of the Kuringgai team who practised in Bradfield Park in West Killara. He taught Kerry Packer to play polo there. After the war when the Easter Show started again he was involved in exhibiting, was a steward, played polo, and spent every day at the Show until they moved to Homebush. He went one day only and hasn’t been back since.
Sam had a party hire business that he gave up when he went blind through diabetes. His sight returned but he drives only when he can see well enough. He still has all the gear in his back yard and told me he never throws anything away.
He was very involved in the City to Surf organising (probably using his hire business) until Warwick Fairfax took over the Sydney Morning Herald and paid him $34,000. by cheque that bounced. He resigned and wouldn’t give any advice to the people who took over because of the way he was treated.
Sam is very interested in early motoring history. He had a big collection of tools. He also had an 80 year old Packard 136 Sports in original condition, which goes extremely well. It went on the early Redex Trials. It is the oldest in Australia. It is garaged in a shed with a skillion roof covered with a blue tarp. Visitors from the US think it should be in airconditioned comfort. Sam displays it everywhere – Motorfests etc.
Water skiing is Sam’s other interest. He is a foundation member of the Club at Manly Dam.
Looking around the Museum at the tannery display, Sam remembered the Stephensons, mentioning them by name and noted that Lloyd lived in Tyneside Avenue.
He had old saddles in his backyard – one a side saddle.
Sam Irwin – VISITOR TO WILLOUGHBY MUSEUM 24th April 2003. Notes taken by Mary Thom after conversation with Sam Irwin.