“MY NAN” - FLORENCE ROSINA BARRY (Nee WESTAWAY)
BORN 3rd JANUARY 1885
AND HER PARENTS
LAWRENCE BEARE WESTAWAY & FRANCIS ELLEN WESTAWAY
(In Loving Memory of a very Special Lady “My Nan” and to the great grandparents Lawrence Beare and Francis Ellen Westaway that sadly I never knew).
From the day that I was born in 1946, my nan, Florence Rosina Barry(nee Westaway) was a very special person for me. Not only did I carry forward her middle name “Rosina”but she always has been a very special part of my life, from the day that I was born until the day she sadly passed away in 1976 at the grand old age of 91. She was always there for me, no matter what the circumstances and I have many a happy memory of being with her.
My nan emigrated to Sydney,Australia back in 1895 when she was 10 years old, with her father Lawrence Beare Westaway, mother Francis Ellen Westaway (nee Perryman) and brother also Lawrence, 12 years old.(Lawrence Beare Westaway was the son of William Sweet Westaway from the Henry of Coscombe and John of Reddaway/Dorothy Snell- Sampford CourtneyWestaway line). Lawrence Beare Westaway, born Meeth,Devon1853,occupation Engine Fitter with the navy in Portsmouth. He married Francis Ellen Perryman, Portsmouth,1881 and had two children, my nan, Florence and her brother Lawrence. I would think for the reason of work he emigrated to Sydney,Australia 1895,setting sail from Southport, England bound for Australia aboard the Orient Pacific “Oruba”.. He settled again with the Navy at Garden Island, Sydney as an engine fitter and also supervisor in later years until his retirement. He also lived with his family in one of the homes on Garden Island. (To anyone that is not familiar with Sydney,Garden Island is a beautiful island right in the middle of Sydney Harbour and is still a Naval post.Sadly today it is no longer an island, having being joined to the mainland of Sydney back in the early 1940's. It is still a lovely place to visit and although certain areas cannot be visited due to security some areas are open to the public.
My nan used to have many a happy tale of the many picnics she used to have in the park areas when young and being visited by her friends. Her friends had to come by row boat from the main part of Sydney and for schooling she was went by row boat to Sydney every day in all kinds of weather. She really was one of the so called“strong Westaway stock”right from a young age. Sadly she was widowed after only 10 years of marriage, being left with 3 young children to raise.. My Mum was only 2 years old at the time of her husbands death.. Her husband James had owned hotels from the time that they were first married and on his passing, had left her with the business to continue to run..Of course, as was the case back in those days, women were at home with the children and not involved in the business life so to speak. With three young children to look after and very little assistance she had no choice but to learn the hotel trade very quickly.She did this successfully for quite a few years and also had to look after her three young children..My Mum can still remember being upstairs in the hotel with her brothers, being looked after by my nan's friends whilst my grandmother was looking after the books and running the hotel downstairs. After this she got involved in the property investment market,which was also something very special for a women to do back in the early 1920's, as it was really a man's world in those days. She bought and sold various properties making money as she went to support herself and her children.. She would usually buy a “duplex”property,live in one side and lease out the other which would give her an income to live off. She continued to do this, finally buying a block of four flats in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield where she remained until just a few years before her death. She continued with the same principal for the remainder of her life, living in one flat and renting out the other flats to give herself an income. My mother and father together with myself lived in one flat next door to her for a number of years.
Even in her late 80's, she was still living alone, doing all her own housework and also daily trips to the shops or to visit her brother who lived quite a long walk on the other side of the suburb. (She would often say she couldn't be bothered waiting for a bus to visit him, by the time she waited she could be there by walking). It was only in her last couple of years before her death that sadly she became too frail to live by herself and had to move to a nursing home which she hated.
She was an amazing lady, despite her very hard circumstances, loosing her husband so young (she never re-married), she always was immaculate in her dress and was always doing up her hats with different ribbons or net to make them “look different” or for a change of style. She would never leave the house without make-up or without hat or gloves. Everyone used to comment on how smart she always looked.
I admire my “special nan” so much and miss her greatly. I consider that she was an amazing lady and a true “Westaway”.
by Kaye Rosina Thompson
Many thanks to Kaye for sharing this with us.
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