Margaret and Charlie Hicks’ home on the corner of the Murray Valley Highway and Lady Augusta road in Echuca Village was across from Charlie’s parents home. It started as a small skillion cottage. The property was 400 acres of mainly grazing and stock (wheat and sheep). Margaret and Charles’ first child was Florence born in 1896 – Margaret was 26. William (Billy) was born in 1898.
As stated previously, my guess was that the growing family was what prompted the major house extensions. It would have been very cosy with two babies in such a small house. I would imagine that the room on the right, as you entered the “front” door was a lounge room as it had a fireplace, the room on the left, the bedroom. In the skillion section would have been the kitchen and perhaps a nursery which were knocked down when the new section was built. The house was to become a district show piece with it’s grand features and it’s well patronized tennis parties in later years.
The extension added two more bedrooms, a large formal lounge and a second adjoining lounge. These lounges were off a very wide hall which made a “T” with the original hall of the skillion cottage.
The first room on the right then became another bedroom. Earlier pictures show the kitchen and bathroom as a separate room. Later this was joined to the house and the laundry built over the old cellar.
The formal lounge had a beautiful stained glass bay window, piano and an elaborate asymmetrical fireplace. Pip Byrne has restored the bay window and the room beautifully. She did not take the chimneys and fireplaces however. Lorraine Couchman (née Hicks) has the formal lounge fire-place and has had it restored. I have the other lounge fire-place, still waiting for somewhere to be installed again.
Margaret and Charlie’s 3rd child, Frances was born and died in 1903 – Pam Robbins wrote in the family tree that she was born prematurely and died at birth. Margaret gave birth to twins Margaret (Rita) and Charles Binden (Roy) in 1905. They were born in the front room of the house, with Dr Binden attending (hence Roy’s unusual second name). By this stage Margaret had her niece Ethel living and working with her as a maid. I imagine with 4 young children Ethel would have been indispensable. Ethel was to live with them until her own marriage.
Lorraine Couchman wrote that “ Margaret was of a gentle, retiring disposition, with a quiet sense of humour. Etiquette was observed diligently.” She always dressed elegantly and was highly socially regarded by her peers. Margaret was a keen gardener and some of her original garden has survived to this day in Lorraine and Keith Couchman’s yard where the house once stood. There is still a productive Mulberry tree a Lilac bush which date from Margaret’s time. Margaret sewed many of her own clothes, was keen on embroidery and was interested in turkey breeding. She continued to play the piano and encouraged her daughter Florence in her music studies.
Barbara Pavone (née. Hicks) was told by her father Roy, that Myers in Melbourne would send her clothes to wear to the races. Margaret was 5 foot 10 inches and always looked very regal in photos with a fine head of auburn wavy hair.
According to Lorraine Couchman, “Charles was known as a keen judge of wool and stock”. In his younger years he excelled at athletics with, he was a councilor with the Deakin Shire, a member of the Masonic lodge and as Rainee wrote “had considerable influence in the district through his association with the establishment of the Echuca Cooperative Butter Factory. Charles had a reputation of being quite gruff. He was a hard boss and “did not suffer fools gladly.”