Select a historic site to study. Number 10 Busby Street, the home of Ben and Elizabeth Chifley throughout their married life, has been preserved by Bathurst Regional Council as a memorial to Prime Minister Chifley who was born in Bathurst and always called the city home. Maintained as a house museum, the five roomed house contains the original furnishings and many personal effects of Ben and Elizabeth Chifley creating a snapshot of life in the 1940's. A study of the Chifley Home provides a fascinating insight into the lives of Ben and Elizabeth and into life in the 1940's.
Research the site through guide books, photos, maps and other reference material. The house, believed to have been built in the 1880's, is a late Victorian Italianate semi-detached residence built of rendered brick. From 1914, until Ben's death in 1951 and that of Elizabeth in 1962, this house was the only home known to the Chifleys, even during Ben's time as Prime Minister when they made little use of The Lodge in Canberra.
Over the years some modest and practical improvements were made to the house. The kitchen, originally a separate building, was joined onto the house, providing a pantry in the gap space. Electricity was installed; water and sewage were connected. A weatherboard bathroom with asbestos cement lining and a Derwent gas water heater was added at the rear. A gas fireplace was added in the sitting room and a Challenger gas cooker went into the kitchen. The collection of oral histories brings the past to life by creating a picture of the past through people's own words of their lived experiences. The outhouse was replaced with a flushing toilet adjacent to the house and a modern laundry constructed at that time.
Research the location. The Chifley Home is located in South Bathurst, an area formerly known as Milltown after the many flour mills that were based close to the railway line. It was also the home of the railway community, railway men and their families, as it was close to workplaces and low in rent. A walk around Milltown (Historic Milltown Walking Tour guide available from the Bathurst Visitor Information Centre, 1 Kendall Avenue, Bathurst) from the Bathurst Railway Station to the Chifley Home provides an understanding of the community and its close ties to the railway. Take a self-guided tour around Ben and Elizabeth's neighbourhood (using the brochure A self-guided tour and social history of Elizabeth and Ben's neighbourhood which is also available from the Bathurst Visitor Information Centre) to gain an understanding of the historical and social context of the site.
Tour the site. Undertake the tour relevant to your topic - Living in the 1940's or In Search of Ben Chifley to experience the home and lifestyle. Consider the uses of the rooms and the clues they provide into Ben and Elizabeth and to life in the 1940's. Identify the similarities and differences between the Chifley Home and modern houses.
Significance of the site. Following your visit to the Chifley Home consider the importance of the site through the following questions:
- Why is the Chifley Home a significant site?
- How does a study of this site contribute to your understanding of the Chifleys and/or life in the 1940's?
- Should this site be preserved for the future?
- How is it preserved and maintained? What are some of the associated challenges?