Friday, March 22, 2013

'Hammondville: a life-saver'

Robert Hammond, minister of St Barnabas' Broadway during the Great Depression, is one of Sydney's great characters. His Pioneer Homes Scheme, established to rescue unemployed men and their families from the calamity of homelessness, was one of the boldest and most successful responses to the crisis of the 1930s. 
With money he raised by cashing his own life insurance policy, Hammond purchased a tract of land out in the sticks and had modest wooden cottages built on it. He offered these cottages, on a rent-purchase basis, to families that were out of work, facing eviction, and with three or more kids. The aim, Hammond said, was to save 'the woman from the fear of eviction, the man from the curse of doing nothing, and the children from the calamity of being undernourished.'
Hammond's remarkable social experiment succeeded. Over time, the settlement's families paid of their houses and land, and Hammondville became a thriving community.
John Hatton, the former independent MP and anti-corruption campaigner grew up in Hammondville. 'Hammondville was a life-saver. And Hammond - we all regard him as a saint. He was a man prepared to back his faith with courage.'
You can listen to Hatton talk about his childhood - and the lasting impact of being  Hammondville kid - on the Open House program here.  


Top: Constructnig the first cottages at Hammondville. HammondCare historical archives. Used by permission.
Middle: Hammondville family. HammondCare historical archives. Used by permission.
Bottom: John Hatton, AO..

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