If you have spent any time around the Narrabeen area, you may be wondering the significance of the name Berry which marks many streets, reserves and buildings in the area.
This weekend, as Council marks the official opening of the highly anticipated new Tramshed Arts and Community Centre in Narrabeen, the focus has re-ignited interest in the namesake of Berry Hall and the adjacent Berry Reserve.
Bill Berry was a prominent businessman on the Northern Beaches in the 1940s, 50s and 60s and an unerring and dedicated local public servant. He was a Warringah Shire Councillor and President in the 1950s and 60s, served on or led many local organisations such as the Narrabeen Chamber of Commerce, Narrabeen-Mona Vale Building Societies, Warringah Shire Town Planning Committee, Manly District Ambulance Board, Narrabeen P&C and was a staunch advocate for building a Hospital for Warringah at Mona Vale.
Owning a large and popular garage and service station on Pittwater Road in Narrabeen since the 1940s, Mr. Berry built four shops on the vacant lot next door with two flats on top. Bill, his wife Elsie and their children John, Roslyn and Peter lived in one of the flats up until 1954 when the family moved into a house in Collaroy.
You will see Bill’s name on a number of plaques up and down the peninsula including the Narrabeen Ambulance Station, showing Clr W. E. Berry opened the building on 26 November 1960 and the Avalon Community Centre.
When Bill died in August 1965, Warringah Councillors voted to honour his service to the local area by naming Berry Reserve. To further commemorate his contribution to the area, the building at the Tramshed Arts and Community Centre site was named Berry Hall. Also Berry Ave in North Narrabeen and Bilberry Ave in Bilgoa Plateau honour his service.
With a gorgeous and relaxing outlook over Narrabeen Lagoon, Bill’s adult children are still connected to the Reserve having watched their own children play in the park, walk around the lake and feed the ducks in years gone by. They know their father would be proud to see his name still connected with the community he invested so much time and effort into making better and stronger. Continuing the Berry commitment to public service, daughter Roslyn still volunteers at Mona Vale Hospital Kiosk where her father was Chairman of the Board and one of the original founders.
Berry Hall has kept its old name, but has a whole new lease on life with upgraded bathrooms, new kitchen facilities, a larger office, lift accessibility, high speed Wi-Fi and a cafe. Outside in the Reserve, a new kids inclusive playground, basketball courts, and a restored Tram are proving popular with families and young people ensuring this area will be enjoyed and cherished for many more generations of locals.