Monday, February 27, 2017

The Don lived here! Sir Donald Bradman"s childhood home restored

Sir Don Bradman’s childhood home at 52 Shepherd Street in Bowral. Pic courtesy Sir Donald Bradman’s Home brochure.

We remembered Sir Don Bradman on his 16th death anniversary last Saturday. Like in February 2001, the Australian team was in India. Like then, there was an audience to remember the cricket legend. This time they were not under the roof of cricketing opulence at the Cricket Club of India (where its president Raj Singh Dungarpur organised a condolence meeting), but the terrace of the Press Club, Mumbai.

Yesterday’s event, organised by The Hindu and Press Club, Mumbai was not merely a presentation to inform cricket lovers that they can make a trip to Bradman’s childhood home. It was endorsement of why the batting giant is peerless when it came to the art of batting and living a cricketing life, which he did from August 27, 1908 to February 25, 2001.

Andrew Leeming, the owner of Sir Don Bradman’s childhood home in Bowral, New South Wales, speaks at the Mumbai Press Club yesterday. Pic/SURESH KARKERA

Andrew Leeming was deservedly the man under the spotlight because he has successfully and quite brilliantly restored Bradman’s childhood home on 52 Shepherd Street at Bowral, New South Wales.

Leeming didn’t reveal the amount he spent on the house and the restoration work which he completed in 2013, but it could well have taken a fortune for cricket lovers to view it as a pilgrimage like they do when they soak in the atmosphere of the Bradman Museum not far away.

The big shift
Bradman was born in Cootamundra, but his family shifted to Bowral when he was three. A major attraction at the Bradman childhood home is the tank stand, which he used to hit with a golf ball and stump to make him the greatest batsman that ever lived.

Although cricket museums did get mentioned during the event, Leeming does not like to call the Bradman house a museum. He’s right. After all, who can check in and stay at a museum? But the house still has newspaper clippings, some art, a typewriter (to signify Bradman’s love for letter-writing), a gramophone, a piano, an instrument which Bradman took pleasure in playing after being taught by his musically proficient sisters Lily and May.

Bicycle too
There’s a bicycle too although it’s not the same one which Bradman used to pedal away and gain the stamina to play all those long innings. The house, built in 1890, had four rooms, one occupied by Bradman, the youngest in the family, and brother Victor.

He lived there till 1924, but visited the home in 1931 when he was an established player. Interestingly, Bradman, who made Adelaide his home in later years, visited Bowral for the inauguration of the Bradman Oval in 1988, but didn’t visit his childhood home.

What’s it like being on 52 Shepherd Street? Australian cricket historian Gideon Haigh said: “This is as close to Bradman as you will get. It’s easy to walk in Bowral and think you are in the 1930s.”

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