160 DENISON ROAD DULWICH HILL – A FAMILY HISTORY
Alexander Mackie was a builder who bought the property at 179 Victoria St around the corner from Denison Rd in 1884. At that time Dulwich Hill was mostly open fields. He and his family lived there in a 2-bedroom semi-detached house with a well in the back yard before the water and sewer were connected. In about 1890 he bought the double block at 160 Denison Rd and built the present free standing 3 bedrooms 2 story house there, moving his family to the larger home.
When he died in 1911 aged 55 it passed to his son John Mackie who lived there with his wife and 3 daughters, Vera, Gladys and Norma. The elder two married but the youngest, as was the way of youngest daughters in those days, stayed home and kept house for her parents. On his death in 1972 aged 86 it passed to his unmarried daughter Norma, who had continued at home caring for him and her mother in their old age. Vera had died in 1954 and Gladys and her family were then living at 179 Victoria St. Norma continued to live there by herself until she died at the end of 2016 aged 89.
John had a big wooden shed which stretched across the rear of the property and housed his workshop and stable for their horse “Dolly” who pulled the family sulky. Dolly was replaced by a T-model Ford and then a 1926 Pontiac tourer, and finally an FX Holden. After his death Norma had the shed demolished and replaced by the present garage where she kept her Hillman Hunter, which was still there, long unused, at the time of her death.
John’s hobby was breeding cage birds and he was secretary of the cage bird Society and a nationally recognised cage bird judge, still traveling thousands of miles a year around NSW in his mid-70s judging at country shows, as well as at the Royal Easter Show. His aviaries, since demolished, stretched along the southern side of the back yard between the house and the shed.
When and how the house got the name “Mandalay” I don’t know, but it has been called that for as long as I can remember (back to the 1950s.) The original house name sign was painted in John Mackie’s script, but it got stolen in the 1980s and the present commercial one was made.