George Lambert and 'Windamere'
Thursday 8 February 2007 by Janda Gooding. No comments
George Lambert: Gallipoli and Palestine Landscapes, Exhibition, Conservation, Exhibition Tour, Gallipoli Mission, George Lambert: Gallipoli and Palestine Landscapes Exhibition, Symposium
Lenore Heath who works in the Photographs section at the Memorial has an interesting link to George Lambert. Lenore's grandparents, Ben and Alice Heath, owned the guesthouse 'Windamere' where Lambert died in May 1930.
Ben was born in Slough, England in 1887 and migrated first to New Zealand and then Australia, settling in Sydney. He married Alice Ward in 1915 and shortly after enlisted in the Australian Flying Corps, serving three months in Egypt as a sergeant air mechanic before being invalided back to Australia after being diagnosed with an 'irritable heart'.
Ben and Alice bought the property in Cobbitty in late 1925. It backed onto the Nepean River and was ideal for a guesthouse. In 1928 they built 'Windamere' that boasted facilities including its own electricity plant (bought from a Kings Cross theatre), a nine hole golf course and polo ground, dining, lounge and dance rooms, and a resident pianist. Activities advertised included billiards, tennis, table tennis, shooting, horse riding, swimming, and fishing. Ben and Alice were helped by their four children one of whom was Jeffrey, Lenore's father.
In May 1930 Lambert stayed at 'Windamere'. Lambert had contacted his friend Brigadier General George Macleay Macarthur-Onslow to ask about horses he could ride during his rest break. Macarthur-Onslow suggested that the owner of 'Windamere', Ben Heath would have some good horses, but Lambert decided to take his own horse 'Old Iron'. Although Lambert was under medical instructions to have complete rest, this did not stop him from riding 'Old Iron'.
It was at 'Windamere', that Lambert, while repairing a feedbox had a heart attack and died. A newspaper reported the incident: "Yesterday morning he [Lambert] took some light exercise, and, in the early afternoon, he decided to get a piece of timber to mend a feed-box. He walked directly to the wood-heap, and as he was about to split a piece of wood he fell forward unconscious. Help was quickly forthcoming, and Dr. Crookston, who was summoned, made a hurried journey to Windamere, but the famous artist was then beyond aid."
'Windamere' continued operating for some years but business declined and the Heaths sold it. During the Second World War Ben enlisted in the US Army Small Ships Division and served in the South West Pacific for ten months. His son Jeffrey served in 30 Squadron, RAAF in Papua New Guinea and fortunately father and son were able to meet in New Guinea twice during the war.
Today, the 100 acre Windamere property is surrounded by the rapidly growing outer suburbs of Sydney's south west.
Lenore Heath and Janda Gooding