Springwood's 1923 began with bushfires.
On January 6, the Nepean Times reported: "during the past week North Springwood was badly treated by the flames. Mrs Dawson's and Mr R. B. Fox's properties and furniture and effects were destroyed. Outhouses were consumed in many places, and at latest report the fires were still burning, though apparently approaching extinction."
But all was not hopeless in the small village. Newly-elected Blue Mountains Shire President Percy Wilson successfully began the process of bringing electricity to Springwood (Electricity was switched on on 17.10.1924.)
To entertain the population, on Saturday January 27, the newly-built picture theatre, seating 450, was officially opened by Councillor Percy Wilson. Unofficially, it opened the previous week with the tennis club's very successful euchre party and dance.
Films were planned for Wednesday and Saturday evenings, a dance for Friday nights. The Blue Mountain Echo congratulated Messrs. H. Williams and Jones for their enterprise in building "such an elaborately-fitted hall which Springwood had long needed", replacing the old hall which had previously burnt down. It was "second to none outside the metropolitan area" (26.1.23).
The drought continued. Farmers were desperate for help. Orchardist Ralph Abercromby invited water diviner, Mr A J Barnes to practise his art on Saturday, February 17. Using various sticks and a piece of copper wire, Mr Barnes successfully found water at a probable depth of 10 feet.
But troubles continued. On Thursday, February 22, The Daily Telegraph recorded another Mountains bushfire. On the afternoon of Sunday, February 18, a large fire started in the south of the town. Shortly after tea it had worked up the gully, threatening the School of Arts, Lawler's bungalow, the Presbyterian Church, and four stores. After two hours' strenuous work the fire was beaten out. Springwood was saved.
Percy Wilson was active. He opened the first two courts of the Springwood Tennis Club, on the site of the former brickworks, in April.
April, too, saw the unveiling of a War Memorial at the Springwood School of Arts, a moving occasion.
On May 2 the foundation stone of the first Methodist church was laid by G. J. Waterhouse. It opened that August.
May 20 was a terrible night. A goods train of 29 trucks laden with coal and cement ran out of control from Lawson and was derailed a few yards west of Springwood railway station. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries but damage amounted to £60,000.
Rest Park was created when the former site of the original St Thomas Church (moved to the newer church site to become a classroom in 1921) was resumed by Council on June 15.
Six very memorable months in Springwood.
Robyne Ridge is publicity officer for Blue Mountains Historical Society.