Kenneth James Simmonds
1920 to 26th December, 2013
Sydney and Melbourne Royal Show harness judge; country show judge; Bankstown/Punchbowl horse and cart milkman; Show vehicle restoration craftsman; Butcher; past member of Camden Driving Society and winner of many, many show ribbons and trophies for sulky and buggy outfits and harness horses.
A sad farewell was made to Ken Simmonds at Parkes on 3rd January, 2014 after his death on Boxing Day morning at Niola Nursing Home, Parkes.
Ken was a well known harness horse and vehicle showman, judging the harness sections of the Melbourne and Sydney Royal in his later years. Ken attended the Sydney Royal Easter Show for 41 years without a miss, competing in the harness classes and winning many ribbons and trophies for his efforts.
He was also well known for his restoration of harness vehicles, buggies, sulkies and other horse drawn carts. His work extends across Australia.
Tributes flowed in for Ken to his family, expressing the sadness at the passing of another era, a gentleman horseman who won many friends for his honesty and kindness mixed with a gentle frankness.
EULOGY FOR KEN SIMMONDS by Kathleen McCleary (nee Simmonds)
by Kathleen McCleary (nee Simmonds)
Kenneth James Simmonds was born 27th March, 1920 at home, which was 118 Canterbury Road Bankstown, to Charles and Olive Simmonds. He was raised on their dairy farm at Canterbury Road.
Ken’s father had migrated from England in 1910 and his mother came from Alexandria in Sydney. Ken was the eldest of five children. He had twin sisters Marjory and Olive, and then there was Joan and then a brother Milton (Mick) who was 14 years younger.
A man of faith: Ken said that his mother always read Bible stories to them when they were very young. In the mornings Pop was on the milk-run and all of the children would join their mother in bed. She always told them if you can’t work out what to do, ask the Lord God and He would help you
Generations of horsemen/milkmen: Ken’s mother must have had her hands full with twin babies, so Ken became his father’s shadow, he would go to the dairy each day while his father worked. Ken’s father was a “battler”, milking 40 cows and delivering twice daily, early morning 3 o’clock to 7 am, and then in the afternoons when Ken would go with his father and sit on the cart while he served the milk all around Bankstown.
There was no problem with Ken being left on the cart while his father delivered the milk in measures to the householder’s jug or billy can, the horse was absolutely reliable and would not move off without a word from Charles, his father.
By age 11 Ken knew all the customers on the run. This came in handy one day when one of the workmen didn’t show up, Ken was able to go and help a new man, showing who to serve and how much milk they took.
School days: Ken started school at Bankstown, and the first day he went home at 11 am recess. His father asked him “Why did you come home for; he replied “they let us out, so I came home.”
One of his jobs after school was to gather an armful of sticks in the bush for Mum to light the stove each morning; this was the rule in most households. There were no gas stoves then, everyone had a fuel stove to do the cooking.
Like all mums, Ken’s mother insisted that he should have a trade, so Kenneth stayed at school and got his Intermediate Certificate and then got a job in the “Kande” Kitchenware factory at Dowling St Sydney. When he got home that day after work, his family asked how he got on, he said “a proper slave house”. There was no sympathy from his father who said “a bit of work won’t kill you”. He lasted three days earning eleven shillings and sixpence.
His next job was at an engineering factory, the pay was fifteen shillings per week, unfortunately the boss had to put him off because the work was slack and after this he learnt the butchering trade.
During this job he got his driving license on the 29th April 1937 so he could deliver the meat. He worked in various butcher shops, Dulwich Hill, Armours Shop, King Street Sydney and Mr Lumley’s butcher shop in Punchbowl. Butchering came in handy later on in between milk runs and occasionally after he retired.
War years: After three years at Lumley’s, World War II was on and he was called up for Army duty. When the Japanese came into the war it was full time army. He enlisted on the 18th December 1941.
Mr Lumley tried to get him exempted from the army to keep working for him. The man power department told him if Ken had been his son he could have got him out of the army. Ken was not sorry as he felt he was doing his duty for the country.
Kenneth James Simmonds joined CMF 1940;
then fulltime military forces June 1941 to January 1944.
62 years of marriage: Ken met Muriel after one of the evening services at St. Saviour’s Church of England, Punchbowl. She was 16 at the time, but Ken often mentioned that he remembers his girl when she was 3 years old at Sunday School. They became engaged at her home on her birthday, 19th May, 1938. They married at St. Saviour’s Church Punchbowl on 22nd August 1942, and honeymooned at Leura. They were able to celebrate 62years of marriage in 2002, receiving the appropriate letters from Her Majesty, the Queen, the Governor General, and Prime Minister etc.
In the first year of their marriage Muriel farewelled Ken to go to New Guinea where he served for just under two years in the 10th Australian Army Ordnance, as a Cook in the Army. He was away when Peter was born on 19th June 1943. Ken wasn’t to become acquainted with his son Peter for some time; in fact Peter was walking when he first saw his father. Robyn was born on 3rd December, 1946 and Kathleen on 23rd May, 1949. He was discharged from the Army, 31st January, 1945. After the war, the family settled in Punchbowl and Ken once again found himself delivering milk.
A short while later Ken and Muriel set up their home in Fairford Road Bankstown near his father’s dairy, and Ken began working on the milk run, using horse drawn vehicles. When he eventually bought a milk truck he said he missed the horse and cart because with the horse and cart Ken could continue delivering from one end of the street to the other as the horse would walk on. The horse knew when to stop.
They built a house at 68 Canterbury Road, Bankstown and one morning in December 1945 when Dad came home from work and had had breakfast, Mum said "Let us move in today". So Dad harnessed up Bon the horse and they moved in. It took five cartloads and the last one contained a crate of fowls and 6 pups from Lassie, their red cattle dog. Ken’s sisters had come over after having tea and walked behind the last load, now dark, and followed the cart picking up pups here and there as they fell out on the road. They were very happy having their own home; the total cost was 650 pounds.
About 1965 Ken and Muriel moved their house to 17 Mooral Avenue, Punchbowl. I well remember the move as I was on a school excursion at the Snowy Mountains and on my return caught a taxi from the station, saying to the driver: “Please drive passed Canterbury Road, if the house is not there, go on to Punchbowl” I am sure he thought I was mad. But the house was moved and I went onto the new address at Punchbowl where the house now proudly stood, stacked up on its blocks.
Muriel often found Ken missing on Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays as he would be at the Homebush Horse Sales, just as he used to do prior to the war. At that time Ken collected old horse-drawn vehicles and spare parts. These he restored and many are still used and prized by many well-known driving identities. The line work on these vehicles was often done by Ken’s cousin, Billy Mason. Muriel used her skills as a tailoress to help with the leather hoods and seat covers.
The Sydney Royal Easter Show: It was Ken’s wish at age 12 to own and drive the best turnout at the Sydney Royal Show.
The Simmonds family began showing at Sydney Royal Show in 1954 and did not miss a year, bowing out in 1997, the last year at Moore Park. In that period they received over 200 ribbons, including a number of Champion and Reserve Champion ribbons.
Ken drove the horse to and from the showground along Canterbury Road, hemmed in between the trams and the traffic. The journey took an hour and it wasn’t until sometime in the 1970s that he decided this was becoming a little daring and resorted to trucking the horse and vehicle to the show.
Without Muriel, Ken admitted that he wouldn’t have been able to compete; Ken said “She was responsible for the sulkies, harness and accessories. They were always “spot-on”. I wouldn’t have got into the show ring without her”. Muriel would respond “He used to chatter too much.”
We have fond memories of seeing Mum and Dad at night around the kitchen table polishing the harness. But, for Ken and Muriel this was part of the joy of showing, renewing of friendships and making new friends.
Ken’s best horse was Fidential Lad, a black, part-hackney gelding, winning best Buggy Horse not exceeding 15 hands for many years and he loved being in the Grand Parades. I remember riding with him around the ring, always very exciting, but Dad would let Lad have the rein and we would be passing horses going around the ring at such speed. Mum always said he should slow down, but I must admit going faster showed off his lovely stepping action. His favourite breed of horse was Hackney.
Ken had a pet hate regarding showing, it was when people told him he had his lamps around the wrong way when he was showing the milk cart, He said "Real milkmen always shine their lamps on the taps, not on the road”.
After their retirement to Werombi, they joined the Camden Driving Society and took a great interest in this and enjoyed the various events, especially the Centennial Park Drives and gained lots of friends at the Club. They received a few trophies and a number of ribbons during their time with the Driving Society.
Ken also did judging of harness classes at The Royal Melbourne Show, Sydney Royal, and various other competitions.
Author: Ken wrote a book “Show Sulkies and Buggies” in 1992 to help pass on his knowledge of show vehicles. He had a passion for good vehicles.
Whilst Dad loved his horses, his Christian life was first. Ken and Muriel established a loving Christian home. As a family we acknowledge their lives were a real blessing to us. Ken loved his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Family were very important to him.
A man of faith:
A man of faith:Ken attended St. Saviour’s Church of England Punchbowl most of his life. He had gone to Sunday School and church but wasn’t as regular in his teenage years. He remembers one Sunday afternoon while horse riding with his cousin Tom, a small voice saying to him - 'go to church to night'. He went and continued to do so. Here, Ken would say, “Don’t forget, going to church doesn’t save you, it is believing in and knowing the Lord Jesus as your Saviour which gives you eternal life.”
Ephesians 2v8 and 9 “For by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Ken and Muriel attended St. Saviour’s until 1983 when they moved to Werombi and they attended St. Paul’s Cobbitty.
Then in 1999 they moved to Parkes and attended Parkes Baptist Church. Ken and Muriel were both grateful for the friendship and fellowship which they received on moving to Parkes.
Ken was actively involved in the church at Punchbowl, he was Secretary for over twenty years, he was a churchwarden for a number of years and was Minister’s Warden to Rev. Walter Spencer.
Ken represented both St. Saviour’s and St. Paul’s Cobbitty at the Sydney Diocesan Synod as their Synod representative. He quite enjoyed going to these meetings and listening to all the debates and decisions to be made. He commented once that he had elected three Archbishops to their positions.
Musician: In 1954 a Church Hall was opened on land in Moxon Road Punchbowl and church services and Sunday school were conducted there until 1966. Ken as a milkman had to deliver milk on Sunday mornings, so was unable to attend morning services. He attended the evening services in Moxon Road and played the organ. Later on he was glad when Sunday milk deliveries stopped.
In Ken’s time on the Church Committee, the church was looking to build a hall for the large Sunday School, and at that time there was the Bankstown Outpatient’s Hospital for sale. In summary they purchased this and Dad overseered the project, breaking up of all the concrete floors himself and then organising for the buildings to be moved in two parts to Punchbowl. The only day allowed to move was Sunday, so I remember being at Sunday School and watching the building coming down the road. Such excitement for all of us.
He also played the organ at St. Saviour’s for many years.
St. Saviour’s had a cemetery at the rear of the church and Ken had the oversight of the burial register.
When they moved to Werombi and attended St. Paul’s Cobbitty, he helped with the organ playing and became involved once again the church business side of things as Church Warden, Secretary and Synod Representative. Also Ken and Muriel held a weekly Bible Study in their home at Werombi, for their neighbours and friends.
After they moved to Parkes Ken attended church regularly until he was no longer able to go and we are sure he appreciated the mobile church coming and giving communion and then chapel at Niola.
Muriel died in June 2003 and Robyn (Ken's daughter) and Roger were living with them in Parkes at that time and were able to care for Ken until May 2006. Ken was cared for by the Niola Aged Care Home for 7 1/2 years.
As a family we want to thank Kylie Sense and all her staff at Niola Aged Care Home for lovingly looking after our Dad, Ken Simmonds, for 7½ years. They all have been so kind to Dad and us as a family as we visited. We always felt welcome and we have made friends with the staff. Thank you.
Thank you to everyone here today for your presence, thank you to those of you who have travelled far to say your goodbyes. We are most appreciative of all the love, prayers and support we have received.
I would like to close with these words from a hymn called "Finally Home”, words by L.E. Singer
“But just think of stepping on shore and finding it heaven!
Of touching a hand and finding it God’s!
Of breathing new air and finding it celestial!
Of waking up in glory and finding it home.”
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalms 116 v.15
I am so sorry to learn of the death of Ken Simmonds. I'll always remember him as a proud man, who loved God and his family and also loved his horses. I'll always remember the time my Dad took me to the Royal Easter show to watch the Grand Parade. I remember seeing Mr Simmonds, Robyn and Kath riding past in their horse and carriage. It's these sort of memories one never forgets. He truly lived life to the full. A good man who knew what God's will was for his life and now he has been richly rewarded with God's loving grace and peace eternally. Wendy.
I feel privileged to have known him. The most lasting impression I have of him was his smile - it would sort of sneak up, not heralded by some raucous laughter, but just his enjoyment of something would show on his face. Margaret and Rick
Today we are here to honour the memory of our dear Grandpa. I hope that today will be a very special day in which you share some time with others remembering and fondly farewelling such a wonderful man. Although we have the grief of losing Grandpa, we also have the joy of having known him to balance our grief. Grandpa was a friend to so many, a man of integrity, honesty and strong godly principles. a true gentleman. a family man. a man who adored his wife, Muriel. Grandpa's sparkling blue eyes would light up as Grandma entered the room and he would say, "Ahhh, here comes me girlfriend.' A man who loved his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, calling us his princesses and princes. he made us feel like we really were royalty. Grandpa was a wonderful role model and mentor to all of his grandchildren. reliable, hard working, even in his retirement, dignified, kind and considerate. Grandpa always took an interest and had time to talk to us about what was going on in our lives. He loved to help others. He routinely went down to the Nuns at Camden to help do maintenance and odd jobs for them. I can remember Grandpa coming to Mudgee to help Dad do fencing and build our house. He always helped Grandma in the kitchen and always washed up for her. Grandpa was a man with a great sense of humour, who loved to tell a story. He often told us stories of time he spent serving his country in New Guinea, shielding us from the true atrocities of war, Grandpa told us the most fascinating funny stories like that of the giant pythons lying dead across the road to Kokoda with it's head deep in the rainforest on one side and no sign of its tail on the other, only two humps where the army vehicles had driven over it. Grandpa was a man who loved to read, especially the Bible. Grandpa's faith in God is a legacy he leaves his family, a shining example to us all, a life spent following God. He loved his horses and proudly showed them with the buggies he restored each year at the Royal Easter Show. He often gave us pony rides as kids, which we all thought was just wonderful. Grandpa was a talented musician. he played the organ, piano and cornet. Grandpa encouraged us all musically. I remember when he brought his grandfather's cornet up to Mudgee when I was 10 years old and taught me how to play. He had the patience of a saint. Grandpa also wrote a book called ';Show Sulkies and Buggies' of which the National Library of Australia has not one, but two copies. Grandpa had a long and fruitful life. I remember in my early teens, Grandpa telling me not to be sad when his time on earth was up. "I've had a wonderful life..." his words then, repeated many times over the years, are comforting now. He was sure of his faith, his God and his salvation. He DID have a wonderful life. We all have so many happy memories of Pa and these are what we should hold dear in our hears and cherish then, just as he cherished us. Granddaughter Jeneen
Iremember the dairy farm, at Canterbury Rd. I loved the bit how my Grandmother, Ida, thought he looked like John Wayne and come to think of it, he had those same rugged features that "The Duke" had. As you know Miles did the Milk Cart bit at both Bankstown and then over here at Warners Dairy at Castlecrag where we lived so he had a few similarities like Ken. I also remember Dad taking me to the Showground to watch the Grand Parade which Ken would have participated in. It means more to me now that you have included it in Ken's eulogy than it did then as I was pretty young. When i see what Ken and Miles did in their lives makes mine pale into insignificance compared to the hardships they endured.
Hugs and blessings to you both as you and family remember a wonderful, gentle man. He was the last of 'the grand Simmonds menfolk' of his generation, which included my Dad and his brothers, Mick and Jeff. Jan and Jerry.
I had a rather personal attachment to Peter's father despite never having met the man. Peter will recall that there was never an occasion when he and I had a meeting that I never forgot to ask, "How's your Dad doing in Parkes?" and Peter never failed to give me a detailed response to my question. Over the years Peter has told me so much about his father that I feel that there isn't too much I don't know about the old man. I feel a certain sadness that I will never be able to ask the question, "How's your Dad doing?" anymore. Anyway, when the time comes I will be able to meet up with the old man and ask of him directly, that is if he will put his harp aside for a while to tell me. James