Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Alcon bicycles from Marrickville

My father passed his (I guess) mid-to-late1940s-era Alcon road bike onto me and later I (lamentably) passed it on as a trade-in on another bike at Mick Mazza's shop in Illawarra Rd, Marrickville. Now I realise that the bike was probably made just a kilometer or so away from where we lived and that Mick Mazza had a hand in selling the brand, albeit perhaps a few years later. Anyway, the story as I see it... with links....

Alcon circa 1930 bicycle drive detail 76_912 - Sydney Cyclist
Alcon circa 1930 bicycle drive detail 76_912
My first bike... 2 gear ratios, just flip the wheel around to change gear... perfect! (with photos)
Alcon circa 1930 bicycle drive detail 76_912 - Sydney Cyclist
Assume when you say 'Alcon' the frame was made by Bill Connolly of Victoria Rd, Marrickville. If so, not sure if the frame dates back to 1930. Bill was born in 1917 (give or take a couple of years) so doubt if he had his own business at 13. Believe he started making frames from 1943.
BNA - Australian Cycling Forums • View topic - 1948-ish Alcon
Alcon was set up at 312 Victoria Road, Marrickville in about 1948 by Alvia Mervyn Connolly (1918-1974), who (unsurprisingly) preferred to be known as Bill Connolly. Connolly was a former bike racer who was building bikes (employer unknown) by 1943. Alcon derives directly from his name, ALvia CONnolly. I understand that Mick Mazza was associated with Alcon and sold Alcon bikes. As best I can work out the Alcon name disappeared with Bill Connolly's death.
BNA - Australian Cycling Forums • View topic - 1948-ish Alcon
My uncle Alvia (Bill) Connolly made Alcon bikes. I remember visiting him at Marrickville lots of times when I was a small girl.with my father Ron Connolly who was Alvia's older brother. In fact
my brother & I were given custom made Alcon bikes as a Xmas surprise one year. Memories of a workshop with Lionel Cox's
poster on the wall & an Uncle who was always covered in grease. I also remember a cart made out of bicycle parts was pulled around by his Great Dane dog. He also made bikes for Russell Mockeridge. Many happy times were spent at his house with his wife Mary.
BNA - Australian Cycling Forums • View topic - 1948-ish Alcon
My father is Raymond Connolly... nephew of Alvia Connolly. He was telling me about reading your post on this site and sharing many of the same memories as you, especially the huge dog! Cycling has been, and still is, a huge part of his life. I know he would love to catch up with you if possible. Please contact me if you are interested. Thanks, Gemma Currey (nee Connolly)
And so on.... I threw the last one in because I Have Curreys in my family tree... probably no relation but anyway...!

Oh, worth mentioning that the "Alcone" brand is from the Connolly line as well. It seems to have been the racing or premium frame. 

Some images of 'my' Alcon, hopefully still out there in the wild...







Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Secrets, Sydney's airports and the Central Coast

Yes, I live on the Central Coast, but I grew up in inner western Sydney right under the flightpath to what became the main, longest runway. I loved it. My mother hated it. Of course she had earlier moved from Kogarah (which was under what was then the main runway's flightpath) to Marrickville when it was affected only by the "second", less used runway. And before the jet era, anyway. But they grew that short, secondary runway into the bay, an eminently sensible option in many respects, didn't they?

Of course the noise could be horrendous - and isn't much better now, even if high-bypass engines are demonstrably quieter and cleaner. And back then planes were smaller, so there were more of them at peak times. But now they are larger but quieter, which somehow sounds good on paper but in reality is as bad as ever. But they bought out the worst affected homes and insulated others, too. So "bearable" may suffice, if you like.

Anyway, point is that it's been there - Sydney Airport - since a certain Mr Love turned some distant Sydney swamp into an airfield not long into the 20th century. The runways were grassed and switched around a bit over the years, but it wasn't a problem for the locals, really, as it was just a swampy area fit only for pony racing, golf courses and industry (at least to a developer's eyes). When international air travel began to take off it was from Rose Bay, not Mascot. Flying boats were the long-haul heavy-lifters of their day. What happened next however is that Love's Mascot airfield slowly grew and so did the surrounding suburbs. And when the flying boats boomed then declined after the second world war Sydney's major air traffic needed to shift to the land - and thus the chickens came home to roost.

Traffic of course grew and runways became fixed - and longer. Aircraft now flew in and out over those growing suburbs to the west and the golf courses to the east. Until suddenly 747s arrived with larger payloads and longer runway requirements. Hence the focus shifted to the short north-south runway which was lengthened substantially into the bay. And then a parallel runway to that was built as well. But well before all of that came to pass various plans were put forward for a "second" Sydney Airport. Indeed there were studies galore.

In the 1970's it was proposed that the Central Coast could well be the right site for a second airport (although in truth there have always been many more airfields in Sydney than just one, indeed Bankstown Aiport has regularly exceeded Sydney in air movement volumes) and a lumpy, foggy and expensive Somersby site was seriously considered, amongst others. But political will was weak and impetus was lost until finally the Badgery's Creek site was selected in western Sydney. Or so we thought. In fact it stalled. And we are left here, decades later, with just the one "main" domestic and international airport at Mascot. Which suits the commercial airport operator just fine, of course, and keeps things simple for airlines and passengers, too. (There's no confusion over which airfield is which, for example, and no expensive transfer to distant termials to change flights.)

Of course Sydney AP could stay "as is" for decades, anyway, or even grow further into the bay.  But the wheels are still turning on a "second" airport - if slowly - and Badgery's - or is it Wilton? - may one day come to be. But that doesn't stop the odd proposal for a regional airport that could siphon off some Sydney air traffic, just like Newcastle airport does today but moreso. It's not a "second Sydney airport" like the beat-up kings at The Telegraph would have us believe but a serious regional airport that would - if allowed to proceed - attract many northern-dwelling Sydney-siders looking for an easier way to fly within Australia. It would be an economic  boon to the Central Coast and make interstate air travel more attractive to many, getting more cars off the roads. But it will get tarred with the usual brush, of course, and is almost certainly doomed.   

Council's airport fibs put region in tailspin | thetelegraph.com.au
Wyong mayor Doug Eaton last month accused the media of a beat-up after The Daily Telegraph reported the council's plans for a second Sydney airport. "The key words here are 'regional airport'," he wrote in his weekly local newspaper column.

"The Sydney media have built it up to be our grab for Sydney's second airport.

"But all we ever proposed was a single runway, type 3 regional airport, similar to Coffs Harbour or Port Macquarie."

Mr Eaton has repeatedly stated it was meant to be a small regional airport despite the proposal featuring a 2600m-long runway, which would make it the second longest runway in NSW behind Sydney's main runway and capable of accommodating international flights.

Yarramalong resident Laurie Eyes, who lodged the GIPA request, said Mr Eaton and the council had been caught out in a "bare-faced lie".

Back-peddling yesterday, Mr Eaton said he strongly refuted claims he or the council misled the public in that the proposal started out as a push for a second airport.
Here is an updated list of Sydney's airports.