Australian Heritage Festival 2019 – Connecting People, Places and the Past

Date(s) - 11/05/2019
10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Lithgow Library Learning Centre


The library is hosting a guest speaker event to commemorate the centenary of the Pneumonic Influenza Pandemic that struck Lithgow in 1919. Our guest speakers include Les Kiely, of Michael Brown Funerals, Jan Saundercock of Lithgow District Family History Society and Renzo Benedet of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum.

Guest speaker for the Library Australian Heritage Festival Jan Saundercock is a member of the Lithgow & District Family History Society Inc. Jan has been researching her family tree for 40 years and enjoys the challenge of assisting other family historians in researching their family story.

Recently, Jan become interested in the effects of the 1919 Pneumonic Influenza epidemic had on the people in the Lithgow and surrounding districts.

Despite the precautions taken by government at all levels this epidemic spread like wildfire once it could not be contained through quarantine, regulation and inoculation. Lithgow appears to have suffered more than other districts due to the overcrowded living conditions and lack of sanitation. ‘Many of the poor were unable, if houses were available, to pay the high rents and were compelled to build for themselves ramshackle and improvised shelters, humpies that are nothing better than hovels’ according to the Lithgow Council Health Officer’s report to Lithgow Council.

With more than 1,500 to 2,000 people requiring medical attention the four doctors and the hospital nursing staff were unable to cope.

The Lithgow Infectious Diseases Register listed 367 cases of pneumonic influenza of which 48 died. Such was the demand on the doctors that many cases were never entered in the register. The Council Health Officer’s report stated that 102 people died from the disease in the town of Lithgow and Jan was challenged to find out the names of those who were not listed. 

It was when reading through the pages of the Lithgow Mercury that Jan became aware of the family tragedies, acts of compassion by members of the public and dedication of the medical staff and the local council staff until the abatement of the epidemic. Jan’s talk will focus on these stories.

10.00am Les Kiely – Funeral Rites in Modern Times & in the Past

10.45am Renzo Benedet – Lithgow’s Small Arms Factory & Post-WW1 Influenza Pandemic

11.30am Refreshments

 12.00pm Jan Saundercock – Community Challenge, Family Tragedy – 1919 Pneumonic Influenza epidemic.


Admission is free 

Light Refreshments

R.S.V.P. preferred 02 6352 9100


Saturday 11 May 2019


10am to 1pm