From an era when members of community took on public duties

Norman William Sidney, c.1914
Norman William Sidney, c.1914

THE name of Sidney & Hacking has been a by-word in the commercial life of Lismore and district for many years. The firm has adapted to new conditions and the needs of customers. Its founders were strong, able, honest men with an interest in community as much as in their workplace.

Charles Hacking was an Englishman, trained as a master plumber.

Norman William Sidney had been born at Nowra in 1880, the son of Hugh Ernest Francis (Frank) Sidney, a produce merchant, and his wife Amelia. He trained as a tinsmith with James Gibson, Nowra's leading plumber/tinsmith and was in his employ for about 12 years.

In 1901 he married Lucy Martha Moore at Nowra. Some time after the young couple headed to the Richmond where many southerners were settling. He obtained work with WT King in Keen St and remained there for about three years.

He soon realised there was great potential in the area for his line of work. The farming community, especially dairying was booming and local government was busy installing town water supplies and sewerage systems.

About 1905 Hacking arrived in Lismore. He had considerable experience in the surveying and installation of water supplies and sewerage systems.

The two young men decided to combine their skills by forming the partnership of Sidney and Hacking. The new firm prospered. More staff were employed to keep up with the demand for cream cans, buckets, vats, and water tanks.

Early advertisements show, however, that the firm would tackle almost anything, including repairing parasols (umbrellas) and making/repairing Primus-style stoves.

Tin baths and tubs were a specialty, much cheaper than the heavier metal and enamelled models. As well, because they were lighter they were easier to transport over rough roads.

However, Norman Sidney was also very interested in community affairs. He was a member of the Lismore Volunteer Fire Brigade for many years and served for several years as an alderman on Lismore Council.

He was a member of the board of Lismore Hospital for 27 years, including 14 years as honorary treasurer and he was a justice of the peace, frequently sitting at the Lismore Court of Petty Sessions. He was a prominent member and financial supporter of the Lismore School P&C.

His wife, Lucy died suddenly in 1918, leaving him with a young family of seven children.

In 1920 he married Elsie May Knight in Lismore. It is possible that she was a cousin as Norman's mother had been Amelia Frances Knight. His parents had both come to live in Lismore in retirement, and both died there.

An interesting sideline is that Norman's maternal grandfather, Joseph Knight, had been a convict who was given a life sentence and sent to Australia for stealing one handkerchief worth 3/- (30c), certainly a very harsh punishment these days!

Norman retired to Ballina in 1946 and was president of the East Ballina Progress Association. He died in 1962 and is buried with his first wife, Lucy, in East Lismore Cemetery. His second wife, Elsie, died in 1970.

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