The Lane Cove History Prize is now in its third year. The winning entries of the last two years have provided moving and entertaining evidence of the lives of local people in Lane Cove. They testify to the value of recording local history.

The 2016 entry by Margaret Clark, was entitled Arthur, Luce and the Fleur-de-lis 1916-2016. A History of the Fence at 444 College Road South Riverview, NSW. This essay, which was very carefully researched, provided a well written and well-illustrated history of a World War I soldier, Arthur Frederick King, and his French wife, Luce Marie Victoire, who settled together in Riverview after the War. Arthur served in the Somme and was badly wounded. While convalescing after his injury, Arthur met Luce, and the meeting changed their lives forever. Despite some disappointment expressed by Luce’s parents, they married and travelled to Australia. Margaret Clark traces their story very movingly, dwelling in some detail on the home that Arthur built for Luce in Riverview, with its distinctive fence, made of wrought iron panels representing  fleur de lis, the symbol of Luce’s French family. The house is now gone, though the wonderful fence that Arthur built his wife remains, a reminder of their love story.

In 2017, Simon Cole provided an oral history documenting the life of a local identity, 96-year old Les Heap, whose varied life experiences included some memorable incidents working at the Cockatoo shipyards in the Second World War. Simon recorded a long interview with Les, who had witnessed many changes in Sydney in the course of his long life. He grew up in Narrabri and in the Depression, he travelled to Sydney where he trained as a fitter and turner in Balmain. He worked on Cockatoo Island during World War II, and, among other things, had a role in building ships for the Royal Australian Navy. After the war, he set up his own successful business manufacturing rakes for sale throughout Australia. He settled in Lane Cove with his wife and has remained an active and highly regarded local identity, having been awarded the Lane Cove Council Citizenship Award in 2011.

In 2018, Penny Ransby Smith, wrote her prize-winning essay entitled, ‘Lane Cove Schools 1876 to 2018: A History of Lane Cove told through its Schools’. After attending Harmony Day at Lane Cove West Public School in 2017, Penny was inspired by the number of children dressed in the national costumes of their parents, grandparents and forebears. This caused her to reflect on the nature of Lane Cove as an area and how the local schools reveal a great deal of the character of Lane Cove. Overall, contemporary Lane Cove has a valuable history to reveal in all aspects of its schooling.

The winning entries for 2016 and 2017 were published in full in the Society’s journal – this years essay will be published in an upcoming journal. In addition, copies of the winning entries are held in the archives of the Lane Cove Historical Society.