Robert Hammond

Robert Hammond (1870 – 1946) Anglican clergyman, social reformer
Hammond was an impatient individualist, a compassionate doer who showed Christ to the world through a rare blend of gospel-based practical Christianity. His practical demonstration of his care and concern meant that men and women listened to what he had to say and responded to his message. He was a leader at a time when there were so few.

The third son and the seventh of ten children of Robert Kennedy Hammond, a stock and station agent from NSW and his Scottish wife Jessie Duncan, nee Grant, R B S Hammond was educated at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School where he was school captain in 1888. A school footballer, he later became a member of the Essendon football team which won the premiership in 1897 and went on to represent his state.

Hammond was converted in 1891 by George C Grubb, a Church of Ireland clergyman, who led a team of evangelists to the colonies. A derivative of the Keswick Convention, the Grubb Mission emphasised the attainment of a higher life of holiness, and transformed evangelicalism from a low church account of past events to focus upon the revitalising power of the Holy Spirit. These were Hammond’s spiritual roots.

Hammond was deaconed by Bp Goe (q.v.) on 20 May l 894 and priested in l 896. He served as incumbent at Omeo (1894-97), as curate in charge at St Mary’s, Caulfield (189798), and as incumbent at Walhalla in 1898. In 1899 he moved to Sydney and was curate of St Phillip’s at Church Hill 1901-04. On 9 June l 904 Hammond married Jean Marion Anderson, 26, daughter of Robert Anderson, at Church Hill. On 29 June 1905 the couple’s only child, Bert Anderson was born. The child died in his mother’s arms three weeks later on 29 July, while the couple vainly sought medical help for his asthenia. Jean Hammond never recovered from her child’s loss and remained at home under medical attention and medication tor the rest of her days.

R B S Hammond, however, threw all his energies into his ministry and became the most successful Sydney Anglican parish clergyman of the first half of the twentieth century. He firmly believed that there was no dichotomy in the ministry of Jesus between words and works. Between 1904 and 1911 Hammond transformed the Mission Zone Fund of the Home Missionary Society (HMS) into the spearhead of the Anglican church’s ministry to the inner city. Hammond evangelised in the streets and in the factories of the inner city. He addressed thousands of meetings, made tens of thousands of visits to the poor and sick, and proclaimed vigorously the temperance cause. His ministry in Surry Hills, where many clergymen had floundered, flourished. Sunday services, which were but part of the ministry, saw a ten-fold increase in attendances, the Sunday schools were filled to over-flowing, while the success of ‘men’s meetings’ demonstrated that the working class man was not uninterested in the gospel.

Hammond’s success put the HMS to shame. Its work presumed that the mere provision of clergy and lay evangelists resolved the problem of poor and new areas and that poor relief was best left to others. Hammond’s success meant that the Mission Zone Fund was becoming bigger than the HMS. His desire that its work relieve the material as well as the spiritual conditions of the inner city was not a vision which other church members in the Society in the tradition of Frederic Barker (q.v.) shared. Hammond, an impatient individualist, resigned from the Mission Zone Fund in 1911, and continued the work based from his own parish in Surry Hills and then, when he moved to St Barnabas’, Broadway, in 1918, set up his own social service structures.

Before Hammond arrived at Broadway, the parish had fallen upon hard times. The closure of the Blackwattle Bay abattoirs and government resumption of lands in the parish meant that the population had dwindled from 26 000 to around 2000 and consideration had been given to selling the church. Hammond’s arrival changed that: the church soon became a centre for welfare activities which reached well beyond the parish and the Church of England. Hammond acted with vigour: at the Mission Zone Fund he had established the first ‘Hammond Hotel’ for seven destitute men in Newtown. Two further ‘Hotels’ followed at Surry Hills for fifteen and eighteen men. At Broadway he expanded this work with a fourth hotel in a disused warehouse in Harbour Street housing 120 men. Even before the depression of the 1930s dramatically increased the need this ministry was providing over 3500 beds annually; providing 9000 suppers and 7000 meals, together with thousands of boots and clothes. Poor families were given groceries and in the days before job centres or the dole, the St Barnabas’ Employment Bureau found scores of jobs.

Hammond saw himself as an evangelist. St Barnabas’ Broadway was to become a centre for practical evangelism as Hammond demonstrated to people his concern for all their needs. The notice board fronting Broadway became famous for its pithy sayings on practical Christianity or anti-grog messages. The men who came to Broadway for material help stayed for the weekly night meetings at which 28 000 men heard the gospel preached each year.

Hammond, like Bertie Boyce (q.v.), saw alcohol as one of the most significant causes for the poverty which surrounded him. He was a vigorous prohibitionist who exulted in the title ‘the Wowser’. He was president of the Australasian Temperance Society from 1916-41 and of the NSW Temperance Alliance from 1916-25 and from 1929. In 1907 he founded Grit, a tabloid temperance weekly which he edited until 1941. Hammond became known internationally in the temperance movement, travelling to a number of international conferences on alcoholism and assisting in the New Zealand temperance campaigns.

Hammond and other St Barnabas staff visited drunks at the Regent St Police Court each day: 8000 came under Hammond’s ministry this way in 1925 alone, and 20 percent of them signed a total abstinence pledge. These men were then put into contact with members of the St Barnabas’ Brotherhood. There was a weekly Business Men’s Bible Class in the city which attracted two hundred men. Mothers’ meetings were also held each week which combined a religious message, fellowship, and an attempt to teach working class women how to budget and save. All of these activities were extraordinary in the 1920s when organised opportunities for Christian fellowship were few. Over 4400 men became Christians through Hammond’s ministry.

In all, Broadway spent £1000 each year in the 1920s in the relief of poverty, far more than any other Sydney Anglican parish or diocesan agency. It was the acknowledged leader in social services, and the conduit through which much Anglican and inter-denominational poverty relief was channelled in Sydney. It was also a success which would put Hammond’s social services, as they became known, at the forefront of relief through the troubled 1930s.

The wealth of expertise and goodwill which Hammond had in social service meant that he was able to gear his organisation to meet the challenges of the depression. Unlike others, he did not have to create an organisation, but merely superintend its expansion. By 1930 there were already six Hammond hotels housing more than 200 unemployed men and by 1933 there were eight hotels accommodating more than 1000 men throughout the year. Most were disused warehouses: the largest in Buckland Street, Chippendale, was formerly an engineering factory and housed more than 300 in dormitories. For the cost of their dole, the men received a bed, meals, hot shower and the services of a tailor, barber and boot repairer. Over 250 000 meals were served annually.

There were also five Hammond Family Hostels which sheltered 114 homeless families in 1934. The first and largest of these had been one of the Church of England Homes for Girls, ‘Tress Manning’ in Glebe, which together with the house next door accommodated 30 families. These derelict mansions and the three other smaller locations were known as ‘Rafts’ —not as good as a ship nor as safe as dry land but a Godsend to shipwrecked families. Hammond’s social services had many other branches apart from the hotels and hostels: 18 000 men used the emergency depot to shave, to mend clothes, to wash a shirt, clothing and furniture was distributed; food relief was given to thousands. Little wonder that Hammond was dubbed the ‘Mender of Broken Men’.

Much of the work of Hammond’s social services was palliative. It was essential and extremely worthwhile, but it provided no lasting solution. Hammond’s most adventurous project aimed to provide a more long-term solution to the problem of destitute families who had suffered, or were threatened with, eviction from their rented homes. Influenced by Henry George’s idea that no man could be unemployed who had the use of land, Hammond aimed to link idle men with idle lands by establishing a land settlement outside Liverpool. The philosophy was simple: destitute families who already received public assistance in the form of unemployment benefits and child endowment would be able to participate in a home ownership scheme whereby the family with three or more children would rent-purchase simple wooden homes on one acre of land for an initial payment of five shillings per week, with no deposit and no interest. The initial proposal was for the first ‘pioneer homes’ to cost £25 for the land and £75 for the building. Settlers would therefore be able to own their own home in about seven years.

Little financial support was forthcoming for the scheme even though the project was the only one of its kind and not one of a number competing for public support. Hammond’s efforts at marketing the scheme saw considerable interest from potential participants but financial support was poor. By the second half of 1932 there were over 800 applications from prospective settlers. Thirteen acres were bought two miles from Liverpool, with Hammond surrendering his life assurance policy to complete the purchase. An option on a further nine acres lapsed for lack of money. The basic clearing of the bush and the roadmaking was effected by volunteers who camped on the site at ‘Hammondville’, as the project was appropriately named.

On 20 Nov 1932 the first home was officially opened by Governor Sir Philip Game, with nine houses of ‘Hammond’s Pioneer Homes’ already built. The settlement was isolated: Liverpool was two miles away; at first there was no electricity. Within two years there were fifty homes, a shopping centre and post office, a school, a community hall and by 1939 110 cottages had been built on a 225 acre settlement which had grown into the suburb of Hammondville. In 1940 St Anne’s Church of England was opened. Hammondville proved to be one of the few successful land settlement schemes in Australia’s history; the charity, Hammond’s Pioneer Homes, was an enduring testimony to Hammond’s vision and foresight. In 1937 he was made an OBE.

Hammond remained rector at St Barnabas’ until 1943. Other diocesan roles were also bestowed upon him: a canon of the Cathedral from 1931-44 and archdeacon of Redfern from 1939-42. He eschewed church party politics, criticised the caucusing of the Anglican Church League and tolerated diverse views. Ever an individualist he had little faith in committees and often remarked that ‘if Noah had had a committee he would never have built the Ark’.

Jean Hammond died on 3 June 1943 at the age of 65. Hammond, suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, was also failing in health. He retired from Broadway on l0 Nov 1943 and three days later married Audrey Spence, a 39 year old nursing sister who devoted herself to his care. He died of cardiac failure on 12 May 1946 and his ashes were interred in St Andrew’s Cathedral.

Hammond was an impatient individualist, a compassionate doer who showed Christ to the world through a rare blend of gospel-based practical Christianity. His practical demonstration of his care and concern meant that men and women listened to what he had to say and responded to his message. He was a leader at a time when there were so few.

Complete article :


Refer also :

Two lives and a city intertwined for eternity
At the age of 15, Arthur Stace was arrested and jailed for being drunk. Thirty years later, in August 1930, as the Depression descended onto Sydney’s poor he walked into St Barnabas Anglican Church, Broadway, and heard the evangelist and temperance crusader Canon Robert Hammond. Stace gave up the grog that night. He also converted.”I went in to get a cup of tea and a rock cake but I met the Rock of Ages,” he was to recall. Two years later, in 1932, both men presented gifts to their home town that are still there today. Stace’s copper plate rendition of the word ”eternity” appeared on city footpaths. Hammond initiated a home ownership scheme for unemployed men and their families in an area that became the suburb of Hammondville, near Liverpool.




Faith in Action tells the history of HammondCare :

Author Q&A :: Meredith Lake. Faith in Action – the story of Rev. Hammond :

Making your life count for eternity
During the Depression, a metho drinker, dirty, badly dressed, had to be the least likely of any to get a job. Outside the Court House there was a group walking up Broadway. The word had gone around that a cup of tea and something to eat was available at the Church Hall up at St. Barnabas’. In the 1930s one would put up with almost anything for free food.

The date was Wednesday August 6th 1930 – and it was a meeting for men conducted by Archdeacon R.B.S. Hammond, the Rector of St Barnabas’ Church.

There were about 300 men present, mostly down and outs, but they had to endure an hour and half of talking before they received their tea and rock cakes. Up front there were six people on a separate seat, all looking very clean, a remarkable contrast to the 300 grubby-looking males in the audience. Stace said to the man sitting next to him, a well-known criminal: “Who are they?”

“I’d reckon they’d be Christians”, he replied.

Stace said: “Well look at them and look at us. I’m having a go at what they have got.”

Arthur Stace knew that his life was in a mess. He knew that he needed to change. And he knew that he needed help. After the service was over, he crossed the road to Victoria Park where he sat under a tree and committed his life to Jesus Christ.

Source :

Arthur Stace (1884 – 1967) Mr Eternity

John G Ridley ( – ) the man behind Mr Eternity (Arthur Stace)

Hammond’s Pioneer Homes
HammondCare today is an independent Christian charity specialising in dementia care, palliative care, rehabilitation, older persons’ mental health and other health and aged services. HammondCare has a particular commitment to dementia care and research as well as to people who are financially disadvantaged.

Hammond’s Pioneer Homes (now known as HammondCare) was established in 1932 by Anglican Archdeacon R B S Hammond in response to the eviction of inner-city, rent-paying families in Sydney during the depression. These families were provided with homes through a rent-purchase program on land now known as Hammondville, near Liverpool (approximately 40 kilometers from central Sydney).

R B S Hammond was a man of great courage and vision. To make this project work, he contributed his personal savings as well as earning support from the general public. It was Hammond’s vision and leadership which established the organization at the cutting edge of meeting community need.

Hammond’s Pioneer Homes website  :

Hammondville, New South Wales
From Wikipedia
Hammondville is a suburb, in south-western Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia.   Hammondville is located 31 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district in the local government area of the City of Liverpool.

Hammondville was originally a settlement for destitute families during the Great Depression. It was founded in 1933 by Minister Robert Hammond from St Barnabas at Broadway close to the city centre of Sydney.

Complete article :,_New_South_Wales

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One thought on “Robert Hammond”

  1. Hi there,
    I am a senior learning designer at UTS. We are creating a history of palliative care in Australia and would like to use this image of Robert Hammond if you will permit us to use it.
    Kind regards,

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