Ozzie Snell – Blacksmith

Snell Blacksmith Albert Avenue

Courtesy: Rob Pittman Family Photo

According to Rob Pittman, grand nephew of Oswald Snell the photograph above shows: “My great uncle Oswald Henry Snell 2nd from L at his blacksmith shop in Albert St Chatswood 1932. The striker’s name is Colin Goss. Two others are Dan Daniels and Skit Lambert”. The exact location of these premises is unknown but it is more likely to have been in Albert Lane at the rear of the Pacific Highway next door to to the original Chatswood Fire Station, Chatswood. (The Good old days : reminiscences of early Chatswood and Willoughby / edited by Valmai Phillips, 1983)


Oswald Henry Snell appears to have operated blacksmith/farriers works in Chatswood from the 1920s to at least the 1940s. It is reported that his premises were initially in the vicinity of the original Chatswood township near the corner of Mowbray Road and the Gordon Road (unconfirmed), Albert Lane Avenue and behind 42 Devonshire Streets in Chatswood.

There  is evidence that Snell operated a farriers or blacksmith works in Chatswood at least from 1925 (perhaps as early as 1920). In 1925 there is a report in The Labor Daily that Snell failed to keep time and pay sheets and to exhibit a copy of the award. He was fined a total of eleven shillings for both offences.Snell’s great nephew, Rob Pittman (Snell was married to Maud Margaret Pittman) recalls that “Oswald had a had a blacksmith;s shop on the corner of Mowbray Road and the Pacific Highway (Gordon Road) from about 1920 until World Ward II (1939?)”. Unfortunately, there is no corroborating evidence for the location of these works.

In 1928, 1930 and 1931, Oswald and Maud are shown as living in a house called ‘Carinya‘ at 75 Orchard Road, Chatswood in a property owned by William Barrett. This property was opposite the current Chatswood Park in the vicinity of the church property. So it could be that Oswald lived in these premises and worked elsewhere.

From 1932 to 1935 there is evidence that Oswald lived in 46 Albert Avenue, Chatswood (between Claude and Victor St and nearly opposite Spring St). The site is now occupied by a multi-storey car park. Oswald and Maude lived in a house known as ‘Melrose‘ owned by Ms Evelyn Friend of Northbridge. It appears that Mrs Friend moved into the property in 1935. The Pittman supplied photograph above is dated 1932 and at 46 Albert Avenue. So it is likely that Snell operated a farriers/blacksmith works at this site, perhaps up to 1937 or after.

Rob Pittman reports that Snell had semi retired around 1939(?) and that he set up a ‘smithy’ behind Devonshire Street. From 1937 to at least 1944 there is evidence that Snell lived in a residence at 42 Devonshire Street, Chatswood. This property appears to have been in the immediate vicinity of the current Currey Park. They appeared to have lived in a house known as ‘Valeria‘ on a property known as ‘Curry’s Orchard‘ owned by John Alexander McKay McLean. There is a 1944 death notice for a Hilda Marion Snell showing her funeral was to leave from the residence of Mr Oswald Snell, 42 Devonshire Street, Chatswood.

Terry Fogarty

The Local Studies Team from Willoughby Local and Family Studies section has provided the following information about the Snell family:

  • the 1930 electoral roll records Oswald and Maud Snell living at 75 Orchard Rd and records Oswald’s profession as a blacksmith.
  • the 1928 Rates and Valuation book shows 75 Orchard Rd (known as ‘Carinya’ owned by William Barrett, as does the 1931 Rate book.
  • the 1932-1933 Sands Directory lists Oswald Snell as living in 46 Albert Rd between Claude St and Devonshire St???
  • the 1933, 1934 and 1935 Electoral rolls show Oswald and Maud living at 46 Albert Avenue in a house known as ‘Melrose’. This property was owned by Mrs Evelyn Friend of Northbridge in 1932 and by 1935 it appears that Mrs Friend had moved into the property.
  • the 1937 and 1943 Electoral Rolls records Maud. Myrtle and Oswald Snell in residence at 42 Devonshire Street, Chatswood. Oswald’s profession is listed as farrier.
  • the 1938 and 1944 Rates and Valuation Books list the estate of the late John Alexander McKay McLean as the owner of 42 Devonshire Street. It appears to have had a house “Valeria” on the property known as Curry’s Orchard
  • there is a September  1944 death notice for Hilda Marion Snell. Her funeral was to leave from the residence of Mr Oswald Snell, 42 Devonshire Street, Chatswood.
  • there is no corroborating evidence that Snell owned land on Tingha Street between 1938 to 1947.
  • similarly, there is no corroborating evidence that Snell owned land along either the Gordon Road or Mowbray Rds between 1922 and 1938
  • similarly, there is no corroborating evidence of Snell(?) in Hercules Street in 1935.
  • there is  1925 report in The Labor Daily of Oswald Henry Snell, Chatswood, farrier, failing to keep time and paysheets, and to exhibit a copy of the award. He was fined a total of eleven shillings for both offences.

The following entry occurs in the West Ward Bicentennial Book: 

SNELL, Oswald H:

Blacksmith, residing in Orchard Road. He had a blacksmith’s shop in a lane off Thomas Street at the rear of Pacific Highway. The Good Old Days says it was next door to the old Fire Station. Nearby was a saddler’s shop and a horse trough.

After further research the Local Studies Team of the Library found that in the vicinity of 763 Pacific Highway, Chatswood there was a “shop & smithy” operated between 1944 and 1955. The property at the time was owned by a Peter Joseph Fitzsimmons who lived in Mowbray Rd West.The old fire station was located at 769 Pacific Highway.ray Highway.  Later the property was owned by F.Mills Pty Ltd then Reliance Investments before becoming a Funeral Parlour in 1960.

It is interesting to note that there property was described as being in the locality of Chatswood Station.