on a lifetime living in North Sydney and recycling the past
Journalist and film critic Doug Anderson was born in Neutral Bay in 1944. In this interview and house tour, recorded in 2015, Doug uses his extraordinarily vivid memories of childhood to paint a word picture of life in Neutral Bay from the last months of World War Two to the 1950s and 1960s, when European immigrants started to change the longstanding Anglo-Celtic culture of the area.
Doug also recalls his family house, ‘Strathaird’ at No 4 Highview Avenue, where he grew up and his parents entertained regularly. He remembers the arrival of ‘the developers’ who proceeded to change the built environment as the old homes were torn down to build flats in the late 1950s and 1960s. ‘Strathaird’, built in the early 1900s, was demolished in the 1970s.
The era of relentless development and demolition created opportunities for a young man who loved the fabric of past eras. Doug eventually bought a small late 19th century timber cottage in North Sydney which he turned into an eclectic two-storey house, in ‘a slow evolutionary process’ that entailed the reuse of gates, doors and windows rescued from condemned buildings. Of the informal acquisition of his beloved stained-glass windows, destined for the tip, he remarks: ‘We called it liberating, if we got there first they were fair game. We were recycling them.’