As John Bradley sits at his dining table talking about the memorable moments of his life you can’t help but notice he’s very proud of the suburb of Ainslie, a place he’s called home since 1947.
He remembers when the roads were nothing but gravel, when a travelling merry-go-round would regularly come to Corroboree Park, when there was initially no hot water in his home and the arrival of the “Ten Pound Poms” to Ainslie’s hostel.
The sounds of his childhood include the sirens from Canberra Steam Laundry, churning machinery from Black Mountain quarry, the wood merchants at the foot of Mount Ainslie, and the double bass rhythm thumping continuously from dances at the Ainslie Scout Hall.
John moved to the inner north suburb with his four siblings and parents. His mother was six-months pregnant at the time.
“We came here when I was two-and-a-half on the back of a truck,” he says
“Our entire house contents was on the back of the truck with us, even the chookpen.
“It was just after the war, my family moved from Leeton NSW to Queanbeyan and then to an Ainslie government house.”
That home, 5 Hargraves Crescent, has been John’s residence for more than 70 years.
“When my mother died I bought out the family estate because I love the location,” he says fondly.
The quaint cottage is located in Ainslie’s tightly held Corroboree Park Heritage Precinct. The home was built in 1927 and has all of the character and charm you would expect in a dwelling of this era.
However, in the 1980s John revamped his home before it was given heritage classification.
“All cottages built in the 1920s in Ainslie were classified as heritage. You’re not allowed to do dual occupancies and all renovations must match up with the original front styling,” he says.
John owns a building company, H J Bradley Pty Ltd, and has won several building awards over 40 years.
“I did it up in my style – I’m an old bachelor in the building industry and this suits me.”
The old-world bachelor pad style is evident in John’s bar, which he says has seen its fair share of parties in its time, and is where he likes to hang out and relax.
“On Sunday afternoons I sit at my little bar, have a few drinks, read the paper a few times and play some music,” he says.
He also spends a lot of time in what he calls the “footy room”, watching his beloved Saint Kilda.
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There’s been a great deal of change throughout the inner north and John has witnessed this first hand. One of Canberra’s most profound changes in recent times has been the redevelopment of Braddon, which John describes as “unbelievable.”
“When my brother has to go to Sydney he leaves his car here and I take him down to the bus, he refuses to go anywhere near Lonsdale Street – too busy now,” chuckles John.
John has decided to downsize and move on from the Ainslie address. His cherished home is listed for sale.
The home holds a special place in John’s wider family, and he says they’re feeling rather sentimental about saying goodbye.
“We have a family Christmas party at the home every year, about 40 people come. They all bring their own meats, grog and even chairs,” he says.
“There’s a lot of emotion in the family but it probably won’t hit me for a while.”
The home will be going under the hammer this Saturday at 11am.
John hasn’t fully planned his next move but one thing he knows for sure is he won’t be leaving the area.
“When I first set foot in the home I just thought ‘this is my house’, and that’s how I feel about Ainslie. I knew I was going to live here for a long time and I have no intention of leaving,” he says.