Knuckey Peggy

Knuckey Eileen M. (Peggy)
Knuckey Family
Richard Knuckey’s Recollections 1969
Pioneer Women of the City of Armadale, Mary Knuckey

Knuckey Eileen M. (Peggy)

Information gathered from an interview between Peggy Knuckey and Lesley Choules on 12th July 2005 and other sources.
Researched and compiled by Gordon Freegard

Peggy’s father, Charles Frederic McKay was born on 12th June 1892 in Toodyay. He joined the Australian Army Forces during World War One and served in the 16th and 51st Battalions in Serapeum, Marseilles and Vignacourt. He was plagued with illness during this time. Suffering trachoma in April 1916, mumps in September 1916 and in January 1917 was struck down with conjunctivitis. He was discharged on the 5th January 1918.

He worked for some time as a labourer at the Jarrahdale Sawmill. He met Clara Margaret Risdon who was born in 1900 probably in Manjimup and they married in Fremantle in 1924 and Peggy was born in 1928.

When Peggy was about two years old, Charles obtain work for the Foresty Department at Carinyah. Because there was no accommodation available at Carinyah they were able to move into what was previously the mill Managers house at Canning Mills before it closed. It was the closest house available. It was a very large house with a fireplace in each room and a large verandah. Very few families lived at Canning Mills about this time. There were the Sharps, Weymans, Hanburys, Bovanis, and the Ursichs.


Life at Canning Mills was very basic. There was no runing water, no electricity and no gas. It was very cold and you had to remember to fill the kettle up from the watertank before going to bed, because if you didn’t the pipe would freeze up overnight and you couldn’t get any water in the morning. If this happen you would be out there with paper burning under the pipe to unfreeze it and get the water flowing.

Initially they only had candles or kerosene lamps but later they experience the wonder of an Aladdin lamp with a mantle.

During those depression years things were tough. Sugar came in 70 pound hessian bags whilst flour came 25 or 50 pounds cotton bags. Mrs. McKay saved these empty hessian and cotton bags, which after washing and undoing the seams became piece of material. Then on her old treadle Singer sewing machine she made them into pants for the boys. She also was renowned for her sponge cakes which she made by beating with a fork to make them light and fluffy.

Charles initially rode the twelve kilometres to work on horseback but later rode a bike. He did this for about five or six years, starting work at half past seven in the morning and knocking off at five o’clock. In those days they had no machinery, only an axe, a hand saw, a mattock and a shovel. He would strap an axe onto the handle bars and attach a large fire rake to the carrier at the back. The rack had no handle because they would always find a suitable sapling in the bush that would do the job. Their main job was to fight bushfires in the summer and during winter to keep the fire breaks clear and to build more fire breaks.

Later on they had a little Bedford ute and a few knapsack sprayer to help put out the fires. They did a lot of back burning so as to control any fires. This was their main way of control as they had no way of transporting a lot of water out into the forest. It’s amazing how they managed in those days.

The Canning Mills School closed at the end of the end of 1930. However demand for a school increased two years later and as there was no school building, Mrs. McKay offered the Department the use of a rather large room on the north-west corner of her house as a temporary school room. The house had originally been occupied by the Mill Manager when Canning Mills supplied much of Perth’s jarrah. Approval had already been given for a new school to be built on a site due west of the railway siding.

Because they were desperate to make up numbers Peggy started school at four years old. The first teacher was Miss Lilian Roberts who drove to school in a little baby Austin car from her parent’s orchard property in Carmel. She would occasionally take Peg home to Carmel on some weekends. Three years later the new schoolroom was complete on the south west corner of Canning Road and Canning Mills Road. It was only one room with a verandah and Mr. Bert Forrest was the first teacher there


By now there were five children in the McKay family. Jim, Kevin, Peggy, Albert and Kath. Peggy was eight years old when they moved to live at Carinyah as a house had become available. It was fairly small compared with Canning Mills and was built out of weatherboards and asbestos. However not long after moving there someone left so there was a shuffle in the house that were there and the McKays were able to move into a larger house. There was only six or eight house there. Mr. Sullivan was the boss and the only one that had a car. A large rock in the area was named after him – “Sullivan’s Rock”. Other families at the time were; Humphreys, Willies, Farrells, O’Neils, Saunders, Barrons and Harold Stanbury the teacher.

Obtaining food and supplies was difficult not having any means of transport. However the grocer from Karragullen called at Carinyah on Mondays and Thursdays, Andy Hope the butcher from Kalamunda called Tuesdays and Saturdays, Jimmy Crabb from Kalamunda called once a week and always bought lollies and the McKay kids were allowed a halfpenny stick once a week.

They had their own chooks who were allowed to wander free during the day but were locked up at night. Some would go off and lay a nest of eggs and next thing they would bring home chickens. They always had their own poultry to kill. Also they always had one or two cows that supplied milk, cream and butter. They had a milking shed near their home and a paddock in the bush about two mile away. The children had to take them out to the paddock in the morning before going to school and then go and get them after school. The family also ate a lot of rabbits and kangaroos.

A Doctor Streich would visit Barton’s Mill every Tuesday and would called in at the McKay’s house regularly, so if anyone was sick at Carinyah they waited for him at the McKays. He would always have a cup of tea, or lunch or whatever depending what the time was. During the war years he covered a very large area said to be from Victoria Park through to Serpentine. This put a lot of strain upon the poor man and he used to keep a bottle of whisky in Mrs. McKay’s cupboard and if he was feeling real bad he would grad a quick nip to keep him going.

The Forest Department had three look-out towers to watch for bushfires. One at Mundaring, one at Mount Dale which was the closest and one at Gleneagle. These were manned by staff to spot bushfires, who then checked their maps and notify the staff at Carinyah to go and fight the fire. It was a lonely life and Mr. Sullivan would call every Friday bringing their groceries or whatever they needed.

School report results for 1936 show Jim McKay – pass, Kevin McKay – very good pass and Peggy McKay – good pass. In 1939 Mrs. McKay was appointed Sewing Teacher at Carinyah School which she did for a couple of years.


In those days you could leave school when you turned fourteen years old or you could go on to High School. Because they were so isolated at Carinyah, with no transport, no school buses and the nearest High School was Kent Street at Victoria Park, Peggy left school and after a year at home started work at Illawarra Orchard packing apples. Many varieties were grown and were ready at different times of the year. They grew Cleos, Democrats, Doughertys, Dunn’s Seedling, Granny Smiths, Jonathons and Yates. Starting with the first ones ready from about the end of February and the last at the end of May and sometimes getting into June.

One year she stayed on and helped Mrs. Price in the house when she was very sick. And another year when Alice Beard who was pregnant with twins, she went and helped there for a few months.

During World War Two Peggy’s father Charles, enlisted on 24th April 1942 and attained the rank of Lance Corporal serving with 2 Platoon of “A” Company of the 12th (Jarrah) VDC Battalion. Peggy and other local girls, along with girls that were members of the Australian Women’s Land Army performed a lot of work at Illawarra Orchard, Karragullen during those years that the War was on. This group was formed to do some of the work on the orchards, farms and other places that were normally done by the men that were away fighting.

Fund raising dances were regularly held nearly every Saturday Night at either at Pickering Brook or Karragullen. A band from Pickering Brook, consisting of Alice Beard on the piano, Beard on the drums and Reg McCorkill on the saxophone played for very little money or nothing at all.

Whilst working at Illawarra she met Kenneth (Ken) Arthur Knuckey, who worked there and was recognised as a champion case maker, nailing the wooden fruit cases together. Ken was the youngest son of Richard and Mary Knuckey of Roleystone and was born in 1927. In 1921 his father opened a blacksmiths shop on the east side of the first corner in Peet Road, commonly known as “Blacksmiths Corner”. Not as reported elsewhere at the corner of Brookton Highway and Soldiers Road, opposite Snook’s Store

Mary Parker came to Roleystone in 1911 to teach at the recently re-opened Roleystone School. She meet local identity, Richard Knuckey who was a blacksmith, Postman and Road Board member, and they married in 1923. They had a family of three children – Curnow, Lloyd and Ken. Curnow and Lloyd married two Bettenay sisters. Lloyd married Eleanor in 1948 and Curnow married Dorothy in 1950.

Peggy and Ken were married in July 1948, at the Registry Office because neither of them had any money. It was just after the war and they were very young, Peggy was nineteen and Ken was a year older, so they hadn’t had a lot of time to get money together.

Baby Lynn was born 12 months later and they were offered an apple packing job at an orchard called “Apple Dell” in Bedfordale. After that they came back to Roleystone and took over the running of the family orchard after Ken’s father retired. The orchard grew mainly apricots, Santa Rosa plums and a few oranges. So they planted a few pears to supplement the range.

Their first born, Lynn, eventually became a teacher and a very talented pianist after her Nanna. She lived in Roleystone and played at a lot of concerts until her three boys came along. Later she went back to teaching and started at the “Hillside Farm” for underprivileged children and she really loves the work. The next born was John who became an engineer and ran his own business called Capital House, and he has three children of his own. Then ten years later the next born was Michael who became a teacher and taught at the Denmark High School. He was quite a character and played a lot of cricket.

Both Peggy and Ken became very active sportspeople. Peggy played a lot of tennis whilst at Carinyah. When Greta Wilson and Colin Langley started the first hockey team in Roleystone, Peggy joined and started a new sporting career playing Hockey. She became very sport active and also joined the local Badminton club and Bowling Club. While her husband, Ken along with Ray Pound convened the inaugural meeting of the Roleystone-Karragullen Cricket Club held in the “old” Roleystone Hall on Brookton Highway on the 13th March 1950. The first shelter built on their cricket oval was a Bough Shed constructed of roughly hewn limbs and thatched with palm fronds. Peg Knuckey’s old kitchen table was placed in the centre.


Peggy holds Life Membership Medals for both the Roleystone Cricket Club and the Roleystone Bowling Club. Incidentally a membership badge with Peggy’s name on it, played a large part in the recovery of some of the stolen property when Peggy’s house was robbed in late 2019. A volunteer group called “Wednesday Warriors” who, two Wednesdays each month collect rubbish from road verges etc. In January 2020 they found some dumped stolen items which included the membership badge, allowing them to be identified and for the founder June Copley, to return them to a very grateful Peggy.

Sadly Ken passed away in 2009.
Peggy is living her retirement in the town she loves, Roleystone.
Her father Charles, retired in 1958 to Croyden Road, Roleystone then moved five years later to 95 Mars Street, Carlisle. Sadly, his wife Clara died on 29th November 1965 aged 65. In 1977 Charles moved to 8 Pritchard Street, Carlisle.

Every endeavour has been made to accurately record the details however if you would like to provide additional images and/or newer information we are pleased to update the details on this site. Please click here to email us at We appreciate your involvement in recording the history of our area.

References:           Article:          Pickering Brook Heritage Group
                                                       City of Armadale Birtwistle Local Studies Library

                                Images:           1, 9, 10          Roleystone Courier     
                                                        2, 3, 4            Pickering Brook Heritage Group
                                                        5                   Internet
                                                        6, 7, 8           Tom Price

Knuckey Family

The Knuckey Family were of Cornish mining stock. They lived in the village of Stithians, Cornwall, for many generations where they worked in the surrounding mines. In 1825 the family moved to nearby Redruth where they remained for twelve years before moving to the parish of Gwennap in 1837. Moving to wherever there was work available at the various copper mines in the district.

In the 1841 census a family of twelve people were living in Chenhall, Gwennap and the father was working as a copper miner along with six of his children, who were aged between 10 and 18 years. In the 1851 census a family with 14 children is to be found in Crofthandy.

With the decline in the Cornish mining industry almost half of the family left Cornwall for either Australia or Chile in South America during the 1850’s and 1860’s.

Richard Knuckey's Recollections 1969

I was twenty when I left Cornwall in April 1902. Not until November 1903, was I to see Roleystone. First came to Kalgoorlie, because about the fields was still the quick beat of the early gold rush days. But I found no nuggets, and indeed no wealth, so I made my way westward and worked for a time at Kalamunda. Something drew me to Roleystone with its hills and valleys and rich soil awaiting the orchardist and the graziers. Here perhaps was not a fortune but certainly a livelihood. But where in Roleystone was I to establish myself?

Finally I chose 10 acres within the present boundaries of Brookton Highway, Peet Road and Contour Road. (I almost wrote Knuckey Road instead of Contour Road but time and circumstance change names and other things). In those days they were little more than tracks. The bituminised sinuousness of Brookton Highway was a switchback horror and the steepness of Peet Road made the driver of many a vehicle think twice before he put his horses to it


When I picked Roleystone for my future home only a few others were in the neighbourhood. One was Archie Cross who had a 10 year lease of James Butcher’s farm and orchard which could be viewed from Picnic Rock, beside the now closed picture theatre. Towards what became Araluen were Hugh and John Buckingham who owned the area eventually bought by Bevan. John Buckingham also had a place over the Canning River ford. Also over the ford was Lockyer’s property more lately occupied by Mr. Murray and that was all.

It was a tough job clearing the land for the orchard I intended to establish. Much of it I had to tackle myself and could do that only when I had time off, such as weekends from my job in Kelmscott. Generally I rode to Roleystone and back again after slogging into the felling of trees and so on. But I was strong and in my early twenties and I worked for wages and at the same time developed the orchard. Then in 1921 I started a blacksmith’s forge on the Peet Road frontage. That helped to keep things going for several years and when it closed in 1951 because the horse was yielding to the motor car, I felt that it had not only helped district needs but had also provided some of the wherewithal for life on an orchard.

In 1923 I married Mary Parker and began a partnership which ended with her death at 79 years on April 22nd 1969. Today in my 87th year – I was born on August 11th 1882 in Cornwall – I look back on that companionship as the most understanding, inspiring and rewarding in my life. We did much together, as well as raising three sons and maintaining an orchard which was never mortgaged. We were members of the Roleystone Choral and Dramatic Society of which my wife was leader. We were both members of the Dawn of Peace Orchestra which originated in Kelmscott and of the Armadale Choral Society. After of marriage we were playing members of the Armadale Boys’ Brass Band. My wife trained our three boys, two of whom became playing members of the band. Our experience in life was strenuous and exacting, but it was rewarding, and now she is dead.

I’ve never purchased anything on time payment, nor have I ever paid rent during my 67 years in W. A. If you added the savings from the pregoing to one’s income I suggest it leads to mutual contentment in married life.

In 1929 I was more or less forced into local government by two ex members of the Armadale-Kelmscott Road Board, Mr. Snook and Mr. Piesse. I am not quite sure but I think a Kelmscott man, Sydney Ward also nominated when I stood and was elected for the Kelmscott-Roleystone Ward. Eventually I became Chairman of the Board and during that chairmanship we built the Armadale Hall for 10,000 Pounds ($20,000) after a referendum had agreed to it. When I entered the board there was only one room which had to accommodate 13 members and a secretary. Whenever there was a meeting the assistant secretary had to go to an outhouse. This went on for a considerable time. There were financial difficulties. For instance, in 1928, the Board contracted to do a certain work and lost 3,600 Pounds ($7,200) which it was compelled to make good.

The financial state of the Roleystone Ward was deplorable. I made a fuss which resulted in an investigation by Mr. Millen of the local Government Department. After a full days sitting hearing the pros and cons, the result was an improvement in Roleystone’s finances.


During the depression I was called mud and perhaps worse because I put sustenance men on to repairing Peet Road, which no vehicle could use from Urch Road northward. I urged a bitumen programme, arguing that we were spending money on gravel every year for the same result – dissipation in dust in summer and down the drain in winter rendering progress impossible. I pleaded for a loan, for which Roleystone Ward would be responsible, to do a section of Peet Road and a section in Karragullen, so that both sections should share fairly. This was agreed.

When Kelmscott ratepayers heard of the proposal they got to their member urging that Knuckey was not to have a monopoly of the Road Board finances and urged him to follow on the same lines. Bituministion of roads became a Road Board policy.

My membership of the Board ended in 1947 because of differences over the building of Bevan’s Bridge over the Canning. At that time more produce was coming from Bevan’s farm than all the rest of Roleystone. Therefore I regarded the provision and maintenance of a bridge to Bevan’s property as a district rather than a personal responsibility for Bevan. The bridge that had existed some years before had been washed away by the flooded Canning because it was too low. Mr. Bevan offered 400 Pounds ($800) if the bridge was restored. I advocated acceptance of this offer. When news got about, ratepayers held a meeting and protested against my recommendation.

My attitude was that I would rather the bridge to be built and lose any seat on the Board than retain my seat and minus the bridge. However the bell tolled and at the following election I was defeated, thus ending 18 years on the Board.

That was my exit but I am not repentant, I am grateful for many things during my life at Roleystone. Among them are the opportunity to serve the community in local government, physical and mental strength over so many years, a wife and sons who have meant more to me than I can say, above all, a final content of mind in which the hills and valleys of Roleystone fall into context with the Great Beyond.

When I closed the Blacksmith’s Shop in 1951, I took my wife to England and Scotland, traveling up the east coast and returning by the west coast to Wales, where we stayed with the brother of Mr. David Gwynne of Roleystone and his wife.

We liked our trip so much we returned to England and Wales in 1954 for a seven month stay.


Every endeavour has been made to accurately record the details however if you would like to provide additional images and/or newer information we are pleased to update the details on this site. Please click here to email us at We appreciate your involvement in recording the history of our area.

References:           Article:         City of Armadale Birtwistle Local Studies Library

                                Images:      1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6     City of Armadale Birtwistle Local Studies Library

Pioneer Women of the City of Armadale Mary Knuckey

“Who will tell me about Mary Knuckey?” asked the new concert party pianist plaintively as we stood together recently – “Time and again I hear her name mentioned; she must have been a remarkable woman” and with that sentiment I could heartily agree.

Mary Knuckey always seemed to me to be a remarkable and memorable character from the days when I first saw her tall figure striding round Roleystone and marveled at the breadth and depth of her involvement in community affairs to the time in later years when I came to know and respect her for her humanity and for the selflessness with which she shared her special gifts with all those who loved and appreciated music in all its forms.

Born Mary Parker in 1890 she was the eldest daughter of Joseph and Mary Parker of Dulwich, London, who emigrated to Western Australia in 1911 bringing with them their children, Peter, Lillian, Edward, Mabel and Alfred. Mary at that time was 21, a well-educated young woman already trained as a teacher specialising in music, the possessor of a beautiful soprano voice which enabled her to take her place in various musical activities in London.

The Parker family decided to settle in Roleystone and Mary’s first appointment was the newly re-opened school in that area. The earliest surviving journals of that little school on Brookton Highway contain her concise notes on the conditions of the day, the difficulties of the one teacher school, so different from the conditions of Urban London. Later postings saw Mary Parker teaching at Pleasant Grove near Mandurah, and Corrigin, before marrying Richard Knuckey, the first orchardist in Roleystone, and settling down to rear her three sons, Curnow, Lloyd and Kenneth. Over the years the family’s involvement in local affairs grew and Mrs Knuckey’s great love of music began to manifest itself. As a District Music Teacher she trained numerous children in a wide range of musical instruments; there were very few she could not play herself and she was always ready to teach others what she knew. She organised concerts, choirs, orchestra socials, musical evenings and surprise parties with boundless enthusiasm, played the organ at Church meetings, the trombone in the Armadale Brass Band. On one memorable occasion at the opening of the Roleystone District Hall she and her sister-in-law, Mrs Ted Parker, arranged an entire programme enacted by the “Orange Pierrots”, a comedy troupe made up of members of the Parker family, young and not so young.

Oblivious to the whims of fashion, her tall form clad in a ‘non-nonsense’ evening gown with the inevitable sturdy walking shoes on her feet became a familiar figure at the South Suburban Eisteddfods where for many years she was competitor, accompanist and choir conductor, a fact attested today by the pile of winning Certificates awarded to various choirs from the Roleystone Choral and Dramatic Society and the Women’s Association.

As the family grew Mary’ Knuckey’s interests widened. She was a formidable member of the Progress Association, the Country Women’s Association and the Parents and Citizens Association, taking her place as office bearer many times. She played the organ regularly at the Congregational Church, was an avid rambling reporter in the district newspaper. She found time always to organise socials, to provide musical entertainment and to collect information on the history, flora and fauna of the area – for a long time her notes on the early history and the wildflowers of Roleystone district were the only ones available in the Battye Library. And she always was the ‘master mind’ of the Choral Society, planning, accompanying, taking part in one entertainment after another.

“I have my doubts if this will work” she wrote to her niece, Verna, in later life when planning a new musical, “but what does it matter so long as we are doing it ourselves taking part, instead of being merely onlookers.” Her philosophy in a nutshell – ‘to be doing not watching’.

“I wish they wouldn’t give me presents,” she said earnestly on another occasion when I asked to present her with an ornamental plant as a ‘thank you’ gift from a grateful choral group, “if only they would realise that I have my reward in singing with them.” And singing and teaching she continued to do well into her late 60’s despite serious illness, traveling regularly to the local school to assist in the music studies of the children, encouraging them always to appreciate good music.

A neighbour of ours tells an oft repeated story of driving home very late one night after a lodge social and overtaking this solitary figure climbing Roleystone Hill. It was Mrs Knuckey coming home from a performance with the University Choral Society – she had caught one of the last trains to Kelmscott and was walking the 3½ miles home through the frosty night – this when she was in sight of her seventies; not an isolated instance for her work in metropolitan choirs was a regular pastime, and the steep walk home was apparently a small price to pay!

In a sense she was a Foundation Member of the Historical Society for it was an early conversation between Mr Birtwistle, Mary Knuckey and others which discussed the need of an organisation to preserve the District’s History before it was all lost. When the first steps to inaugurate the Society were taken it was Mary Knuckey’s carefully collected notes and photographs of early days in the area which formed the basis of our archives and though she was hospitalised at the time she was listened with interest and approval to my reports of the Society’s formation. Faced towards the end of her life with a series of major illnesses she fought doggedly on, striving to retain her faculties, her mind chafing at the restrictions of age and illness. She died in August 1969 at the age of 80 after a life time of community service and involvement, a lady whose influence was felt far beyond the circle of family and friends. Of her it could be most truly said as her sister Lillian wrote when supplying me with biographical notes of her early life – “Her song is ended, but the melody lingers on”.

Every endeavour has been made to accurately record the details however if you would like to provide additional images and/or newer information we are pleased to update the details on this site. Please click here to email us at We appreciate your involvement in recording the history of our area.

References:           Article:         City of Armadale Birtwistle Local Studies Library

                                Image:         1         City of Armadale Birtwistle Local Studies Library