Andrew Purcell, a prominent figure in Canowindra society throughout the 1920’s and 30’s, has largely faded from the annals of local history. His great wealth generated through lucerne production allowed Andrew to invest heavily in building a palatial home and commercial buildings. An endless river of wealth seemed assured but the Great Depression that snatched away the dreams and livelihoods of so many also bankrupted Andrew.
His fine home, ‘Lucerne’ has since become Lyndon House and served a number of purposes never envisaged by Andrew himself. The department store he built in Gaskill St now lies largely unused and the commercial bakery that was meant to extend his commercial empire has since been converted for use by the CWA.
It’s important to remember people like Andrew Purcell and other pioneers and entrepreneurs who took the risk to invest in their future but failed to achieve their goal. You won’t find a public monument or plaque for Mr Purcell in Canowindra, the area doesn’t have a Purcell Street or a Purcell Park however his contribution to the fabric of Canowindra is as important as many whose names are more easily remembered.
In hindsight, Andrew’s mistake was to ‘have a go’ – a trait so admired and recognised as being Australian. Having a go has been the foundation of the lifestyle all Australians enjoy and maybe take for granted. I suppose the lesson of Andrew Purcell’s experience is to never expect things to remain unchanged. We live in a beautiful, prosperous, peaceful country, a lot of which has been built in only 200 years. Maintaining our lifestyle might take more than just expecting it to continue. Thanks Andrew for ‘having a go’ and leaving a legacy that I’m reminded of every time I travel past Lyndon House.
By Brian Johnston