Thirroul signal box meets the house of Margaret 'Grannie' Riach

Christine Hill’s painting depicts Grannie Riach’s home, which stood in the same location many years ago. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Christine Hill’s painting depicts Grannie Riach’s home, which stood in the same location many years ago. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

It was once just a green signal box on the corner of Railway Parade and Lawrence Hargrave Drive in Thirroul. Now, it’s an image of the past from nearly 100 years ago, thanks to artist Christine Hill.

“I saw [the box] and thought, wouldn’t it be nice if people knew the story of who used to live there?” she said.

Passers-by stopped to watch the artist at work and asked about her painting. Few knew the history of the lady who once occupied the same corner.

The painting depicts the house of Margaret Riach, affectionately known as “Grannie”. Her garden was known around town for the wisteria in spring and the jacaranda in summer. But that’s not the only reason she’s remembered. 

D.H. Lawrence described a monument that once sat opposite her house.  

‘‘A real township monument bearing the names of everybody possible: the fallen, all those who donned khaki, the people who presented it, and Grannie Rhys,” he wrote. 

He was describing Thirroul’s first war memorial, which now sits in a small park beside the railway. Grannie was instrumental in fund-raising for the monument and unveiled it herself in 1920.  She is one of few females to have her name engraved on a war memorial, according to local historian Joe Davis.  

Volunteers including Ms Hill now tend to a garden in memory of Grannie. Ms Hill hopes that people enjoy the garden and learn about its history through her artwork.  

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