Quilt No.582HIS - Illawarra Historical Society Inc

Illawarra Historical Society Inc
Illawarra Historical Society Inc
NSW South Coast
Ethel Unwin Roberts
Made in
1921 - 1940
Wholecloth quilt, both sides cretonne in different rose patterns. 120mm double frill matches each side. Padding is possibly hessian bags. It is hand quilted in large stitches in white/cream cotton in strips with circles, diamonds and scrolls repeated.
2070 x 2030mm

The quilt was made by Ethel Urwin Roberts probably in the 1920s and remained in the family until it was donated to the Illawarra Historical Society Inc by Pat Roberts in late 1984.


Ethel Urwin Roberts 1887 - 1965
Ethel Urwin Smith was born in Bulli NSW in August 1887 and her father, John Urwin Smith' had been killed in the Bulli mine disaster in March the same year. This explosion killed 81 men and boys.
Ethel's mother was Mary Smith, born Dent. She arrived with her parents from the United Kingdom in 1886 and in 1904 married William Roberts a coal miner. They had 2 children, a son William Ernest Roberts born 1905 and a daughter Marjorie born 1916 who died before she was 2 in Australia's flu epidemic.
[Extracts follow from correspondence with Marjorie Dibden whose paternal grandmother was Ethel Urwin Roberts, October 1999]
"My younger years were spent with my grandparents on holidays and everyday living. We lived in adjoining houses and my mother died in 1938 when I was just 10 years old and we then lived with my grandparents till my dad remarried some years later. Both my brother and I have no recollection of seeing my grandmother sewing the quilts and we both remember back well before 1938."��..
"When Made. My brother and I are of the opinion it (the quilt) was in the 1920s. Probably sewn by kerosene light." Ethel "Did not sew garments, did not crochet, did not knit garments, did not embroider. Did darn very well, almost impossible to see some of her efforts."�..
"My grandparents bought a Dodge car in 1924 and had it converted to a 'sleeper' and used it as their bed when on trips away. I also slept in this car."�..
"When we spoke, you mentioned the centre of the quilt. I really don't know but I would not be surprised if there were some padding of hessian. My grandmother would obtain chaff and wheat bags, open them up, launder annd soften and use them as pot holders, towels etc for the fuel stove. I clearly remember these hand hemmed articles."

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