by Lyn Collingwood, from Bulletin 4 of 2021

Real estate salesman Peter Tighe enjoyed a fleeting moment of celluloid fame in 1913 when he featured in Picturesque Stanwell Park a 20-minute silent film advertising a new land release. Tighe and his family are seen leaving their home Kareela 154 Glebe Point Rd and squeezing into a taxi waiting outside. The movie was made for Tighe’s employer Henry Ferdinand Halloran, an entrepreneurial property developer who used colourful brochures and high-pressure salesmanship to market his multiple subdivisions. On sale days, Tighe attracted buyers with sports carnivals and free transport and food. He bombarded rural newspapers with information about Halloran’s Bright Waters Estate at Singleton and the Ferodale Estate, dairy country outside Raymond Terrace.

Peter, Gertrude, Irene Tighe and a young friend leaving 154 Glebe Point Rd for the trip to Stanwell Park, 1913 (Image: Helensburgh Historical Society)

Peter Tighe was born at Gundaroo on 31 July 1860, the oldest son of ten children born to Isabella and Joseph Conlon Tighe who shifted around the State, from Broulee to Hay to a 40-acre selector’s run at Jandra near Bourke, to Wilcannia. Joseph was twice insolvent: as a lodging housekeeper at Bourke in 1884 and in 1890 at Broken Hill. Peter too was constantly on the move and was likewise declared bankrupt: as a Bourke hotelkeeper in 1885 and as a Wagga Wagga salesman in 1891. He achieved some success as a seller of Singer sewing machines before switching allegiance to Beale and Co., piano manufacturers and importers of Singer’s rival, the Torpedo. As Western District manager, Tighe’s territory included Dubbo, Wellington, Nyngan, Cobar, Bourke and Warren. He also sold medical books. His knowledge of country NSW was useful when he began working for the United Land Investment Society.

In 1883 Peter Tighe married Gertrude Mary Higgins (1860-1950) at Bourke. Their children: Orville Reginald Roy (1884-90), Leila Olga Fanny (1886-1959, married name Bond), Ada Ethel Nina (1888-1982, married name Moore), Garnet Leslie (1901-1906) and Irene Gertrude Mary Ann (1904-91, married name Swan). In about 1903 Gertrude and the children began living in Annandale while Peter put up at country hotels on his weekly rounds. By the time of Garnet’s death the family were at 18 Avon St Glebe. They then moved into Calmar (designed by Edmund Blacket and still intact at 128 Glebe Point Rd) and were at Kareela from 1909-15.

Peter Tighe’s employer, land developer Henry Halloran, was born into the Reuss and Halloran families of Glebe architects (Image: Lake Macquarie Libraries)

After completing her education at the Misses Haslingden’s Holtenham School at Petersham, Leila Tighe qualified as an optician. She treated patients in country towns and in Glebe at Charles West’s Pharmacy 183 Glebe Rd. Peter Tighe moved to West Maitland where he went into partnership as an auctioneer, but by 1925 was back in Glebe (19 Alexandra Rd) and working as a land salesman (with Richardson & Wrench). He and Gertrude subsequently lived with their daughter Ada and son-in-law Aubrey Moore at 27 Mansfield St. Peter Tighe died on 14 January 1946; his widow died on 3 December 1950 and was buried with her husband in the Anglican section of Rookwood Cemetery.

The Federation terrace including Kareela was built in 1903 and first lived in by A F Jarrett. A more recent occupant was Ivor Howard Cawley, a publisher, Wentworth Park trustee and deputy mayor of Leichhardt Council.

Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography (Halloran entry); Helensburgh Historical Society; NSW cemetery records; NSW electoral rolls; NSW registry of births, deaths & marriages; NSW State Records; Sands Directories; Trove website.