Blacktown’s Boer War and colonial past win Mayoral History Prize

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Research projects covering Blacktown’s links to the Boer War and the ‘inspirational firsts’ of colonial Blacktown have been jointly awarded the top prize in the 2022 Blacktown City Mayoral History Prize.

Local historians Richard de Grijs and John Horne were awarded first place in the adult category for this year’s prize at a special presentation ceremony at Max Webber Library, Blacktown.

Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM congratulated the historians on their winning entries.

“The Blacktown City Mayoral History Prize was established in 2008 to encourage a wider understanding of Blacktown City’s history through research, documentation and promotion,” Mayor Bleasdale said.

“This year marks the 15th year of the prize, which celebrates the rich and diverse history of Blacktown City and its storytellers

“Entries in this year’s prize were diverse and covered topics that will provide a valuable contribution to our shared history and heritage.

“Thank you to the winners and everyone who submitted entries. I also thank members of the local historical societies and Prospect Heritage Trust, as well as Blacktown City Libraries, for making this prize possible.”

Richard and John will share in a $3000 cash prize for their entries, which are available on the Blacktown City Council website to view.

John’s passion for local history has seen him awarded the top prize on 3 occasions. He is currently president of the Blacktown and District Historical Society.

“As an amateur historian, I’ve always loved history and have read history my whole life,” he said.

“I have a particular interest in military history and have been thinking about doing a piece on the Boer War for some time.

“The Boer War was one of those conflicts that is often forgotten and overshadowed by the First World War, but there were at least 30 to 35 men who went off to the Boer War who had a connection to the Blacktown District.”

He encouraged future history prize entrants to research a topic they were passionate about.

“All history is local history – whether its Alexander the Great or someone who opens a shop on Kildare Road – there are so many hidden surprises in the Blacktown area,” he said.

“Always write about what you are interested in. Blacktown Library and the local historical societies are a wonderful resource and are always happy to help.”

Judy Trembath was awarded a Certificate of Participation in the adult category for her entry on Walter Lamb – a politician and one of Blacktown’s first entrepreneurs – and his life at Woodstock homestead in Plumpton.

In the Years 7 to 9 category, Alyssa Neilson was awarded a Certificate of Commendation for her research piece titled:The history of Blacktown’s start of settlement and how it has evolved for the Blacktown we know today.

Mayor Bleasdale encouraged even more high school entries in the 2023 prize.

“The Mayoral History Prize provides a wonderful opportunity for local high school students to explore a piece of local history and develop their research and writing skills,” he said.

“There are $500 cash prizes on offer for the winners of the Years 7-9 and Years 10-12 categories, with $250 for the student and $250 for the school or community organisation.”

Entries in this year’s prize also included topics such as the life story of Maria Lock – a celebrated and proud Darug woman who was the first aboriginal woman to be granted land.

Entries may be included in Blacktown City Libraries’ local history collection for future researchers to access.

Photo: Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM with Alyssa Neilson, John Horne and judge Miranda Routh at the 2022 Blacktown City Mayoral History Prize Presentation Ceremony.

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