Quodling, Robert

Robert Alfred Quodling was born in Paddington, Sydney, in 1866, son of an Irish-born father, Robert, a surveyor, and an Australian-born mother, Susan Ann (née Powell). Robert Alfred Quodling became an accountant and lived in Lewisham. In 1896, at St Clement’s Church of England, Mosman, he married Emilie Mary Gould, daughter of David and Mary Elizabeth Gould.

Robert and Emilie possibly lived in Wahroonga before moving to Cheltenham, where they at first leased a house in Boronia Avenue. Their only child, Harold, was born there in 1906. The following year Robert purchased a block of land on the north-eastern corner of Hull and Copeland Roads, and there built to his own design a larger house. It was of the new Federation style, with tall chimneys, large bay window, timber trim on the veranda and a side entrance. The house was well back from the road on the highest part of the block and had a large garden. On a clear day the sand hills of Botany could be seen from the front veranda. The name ‘Wolobrai’, given to their first house, was transferred to this one.[1]

Emilie Quodling had a lovely soprano voice and sang in the operettas produced by the Beecroft Musical and Dramatic Society. She died in 1909 after suffering a sudden heart attack while she was dressing her young son for them to go to an afternoon tea party. Six months later Robert was operated on for appendicitis in an emergency operation at his home – performed on the kitchen table, according to family tradition. As his job as a traveller for Tooth’s Brewery took him away from home frequently, Robert ensured some permanent care for his son by marrying a second time.

In 1910 he married Gertrude Susanna Slingsby, aged 31, at St John’s Church, Beecroft. Gertrude was the daughter of Arthur and Susanna Slingsby of Copeland Road. There were no children from this marriage. Gertrude Quodling was a talented contralto and she also sang frequently in local operettas. She died about 1939.

Robert remained at ‘Wolobrai’ with Harold and his wife Helen and their children, enjoying bowls at the Beecroft Club and taking his grandchildren to theatres in the city. He was remembered by his family as being ‘rather short and of solid but neat build. He was always well-dressed and in summer wore Fuji silk cream sports coats. Most likely these were brought by Harold from Hong Kong, as he was a wireless operator aboard various ships engaged in the eastern run.

In 1949 Quodling suffered a stroke at ‘Wolobrai’ and died, aged 83 years. Harold and his family remained there until 1951. The house was largely destroyed by fire in 1984 and only a shell remained.[2]

[1] Land Titles Office 1819/64. The Boronia Avenue house is now No. 24 and the Copeland Road house is No. 40.

[2] Information from the late Harold Quodling and Mrs Barbara Ballment of Normanhurst.