NORTH LAWSON HERITAGE PRECINCT

The area of North Lawson is a central and historic location of this town. The North Lawson precinct has strong ties with early business and cultural developments, with important Lawson figures and wi th many key town developments--early water sources, the coming of rail, the commissioning of town water and electricity. Many of the traces of this history are still readily evident, and there is much for the history student to glean here.

A very notable early development, The 'San Jose Sanatorium' was built here, and despite the destruction of this key feature by fire in 1980, the precinct has retained a good deal of its character, with most of the original buildings still standing, presenting a reasonably authentic streetscape. The ruins of this Sanatorium remain an object of great interest, and the remaining stairwell tower can be spied from many spots allover Lawson.

Situated not far from a number of pleasant walks: to Frederica Falls, Echo Bluff, Dante's Glen and Fairy Falls, originally boasting fireflies and glowworms in addition to waterfall  glens an d pools, the area was once a tourist drawcard, and quite a few guest houses operated: a local businessman claims that there were approximately 30 guest houses in Lawson in his youth, in the 1940s/50s.",A number of cottages in this precinct were originally used for holiday lettings. The walks which begin at the end of San Jose Avenue are listed so early as an 1882 Gibbs and Shallards directory to Sydney and environs.

The earliest town plans for Lawson were based on this northern side, but after the coming of rail, it was the southern side of Lawson which began to take over. Land running along the lengths of San Jose Avenue and Badgery's Crescent, Lawson, including a considerable number of residences in a mountain weatherboard streetscape containing many original features original features.

Area near corner of San Jose Avenue and Badgery's Crescent

Former railway reservoir, now converted to a bowling club.

Hilda Gardens (remains thereof)

San Jose Avenue: eastern side: From comer of Badgery's Crescent, much of the eastern side of the street up to the second last house. A series of original weatherboard cottages, many of which wereowned by key, early Lawson identities.

Western side: the original Council chambers, original San Jose Sanatoriuml'Coffee Palace'/Stratford School site, 'Avon' historic cottage, a number of weatherboard cottages with some charm.

Badgery's Crescent. Houses from comer of San Jose Avenue, proceeding east past Hughes and Frederica Streets to No. 31, and including a stone former gatekeeper's house in Frederica St.

Significant items: North Lawson precinct.

Corner Badgery's Crescent and San Jose Avenue

bowling club

Lawson Lawn Bowling Clubhouse:(left) housed inside the former water reservoir, used by the railway, and converted to a building in the 1975. Now a "watering hole" of a different description! All trains had to stop here, to water and to refuel.




Hilda Gardens

(now a mere remnant) was named after a Hoskins daughter, who was killed in an accident down Victoria Pass. Hilda Gardens was established by Blue Mountains Shire in 1918, with permission of the Railway department. The Hoskins family donated 250 pounds and contributed upkeep of 50 pounds per year. Once a much bigger, beautifully landscaped garden. Hilda Gardens now is only a remnant.

lawson marker

A sandstone oblisk similar to those used by surveyors, stands outside the bowling club, commemorating Surveyor George William Evans' first survey of the Blue Mountains in 1813-14,and was unveiled by his great great grandson A.Keith Weatherburn.

Council building: (opened May 8 1915). A handsome brick building, arts and crafts style, originally the Council Chambers, now used by Council Depot, day care centre, and as branch Public Library.A plaque inset on the left entrance pillar states:Lo! The Open Way

In memory of Australia's first road engineer, William Cox, builder of the Great Western Road, completed 14th June 1813.

lawson council building now library

Another plaque in the verandah entrance is dedicated to Councillor and former Mayor Percy Wilson, 'In public gratitude for his services to the Blue Mountains 1919-38.'

This building would have been used as Council chambers at least until the amalgamation of Blue Mountains and Kanimbla shires in 1947.




San Jose Avenue:

western side Many of the residential buildings in this precinct are the original dwellings. Most date from between the 1890s and early 1900s.

srtatford tower

San Jose Sanatorium/Coffee Palace/Stratford Schoo

Built by Joseph Hay in 1879 to crown a large grant which extended westwards to Bullaburra. Now a ruins, with only a stairwell tower (left) and some landscape details and remnants remaining. Very significant site with a long and colourful history in its various incarnations, used from 1879 to 1979.

read more about Stratford

Originally the site of the San Jose Sanatorium, it must have afforded fine views to the distant mountains. It soon became a guest house, the 'Coffee Palace', later simply 'The Palace'. Apart from the main building, it also boasted additional cottages, and later the Freemasons added another structure. In 1918 the renowned Stratford School moved here. One can still faintly discern this lettering on the apex of the stairwell.

There was a tennis court. Overgrown steps can still be found on the southern boundary of the property, leading down towards the waterhole in 'Snake Gully' or 'Frog Hollow' as the swampy Railway reserve was once known: the town's (and later the Railway's) original water supply, which became a dam and later, an Olympic swimming pool.

At various times it was a meeting place for the Lawson Literary Institute and for Masons. Its final incarnation was as a Community School in the 1960s and 70s. Burnt down in 1980, and subsequently demolished: a tower still remains and this monument can be seen from different sites allover Lawson.People now like to stroll over the unkempt grounds and ponder its history.

avon

Avon": 10 San Jose Avenue

adjacent to the "Stratford" site. Originally named 'Ingleburn', it was the site of the first Council meetings, until its partial destruction by fire in 1914. Later it was the residence of the founders of the Stratford School: who were originally from Shakespeare's birthplace in England: hence the naming of the school and the cottage.It is believed that part of the cottage was used to board students at one time

Rest of western side of San Jose Avenue, extending north

The rest of this part of the Avenue is characterised by many weatherboard dwellings, of different construction to those on the other side of the street. One still boasts a shingled gable.

House numbers 14 through to 28 have varying degrees of charm and authenticity. Number 30 has taken the Spanish suggestion of 'San Jose' somewhat literally, with an out-of-character construction. On both sides of the street, the final dwellings had been burnt down in bushfires.

The history of most of these dwellings is as yet unknown, although it is known that a house just down from the comer of Park St and San Jose was originally a bakery.

San Jose Avenue, Eastern side

corner san jose

"Lyttleton": 2 Badgery's Crescent 1883.

(Comer of San Jose Avenue, originally called "The Avenue".) Built by John Geggie and named after his mother-in-law Bridget Lyttle: a fiery short Irish woman who is still a legend amongst her descendants. Bridget amassed considerable wealth largely through property deals, and was based in Ashfield She bought 2 and a half acres of the original 3 acres which John Geggie acquired in 1883."Lyttleton" was Lawson's first store.

Lyttleton later became a boarding house, and the first Congregational services would have been held in this home. Part of the building is now a private residence, and part is used for Badgery's Antiques.

" 1 San Jose Avenue,c.1890. Currently being researched.Unsympathetically renovated since 1970s, now slowly being restored. Built between 1890 and 1905 by William Chipperfield, probably a "Geggie connection" since he's listed as a bootrnaker, of Ashfield. Keith King states that Chipperfield was connected with a timberyard in Staples St. He appears to have had substantial wealth, since he bought a number of properties allover the state, and did not take out a mortgage on this property.A Chipperfield is recorded as having played cricket for the Lawson club in 1894.

His son Arthur went on to play test cricket for Australia and, like the recent example of Ricky Ponting, almost but not quite scored a century in his debut innings.In 1907 this property was sold to James and Sophia Duff. James was a former leading Sydney solicitor and "one of the oldest lay readers of the Sydney Diocese". He was of "good" birth, being "connected with some of the oldest families in the British peerage...a son of the Earl of Boscawen, and direct heir to the Irish title of the Duke of Fife", according to an obituary in the Echo of 31.8.1917.

Upon the death of Sophia, the property passed to a William Boscawen Ranclaud--presumably a nephew or other relative--a manager, of Watson's Bay, who eventually gave the property to the South Sydney Methodist Mission. "Woodlands" was renamed "Stonbee" in the1930s and became a holiday home for children, attended by their nurses. A Miss Wood of Wilson St Lawson used to take children up to Stonbee from Redfern in the 1930s.

3 San Jose Avenue: "Merriott". Let out by Geggie as a holiday cottage.

5 San Jose Avenue: "Cawthorne"/"Sunnyside":

Built by Bridget Lyttle. Possibly used as the Geggie's home after they had sold "Lyttleton" while they were building "Alnwick"; possibly indeed used until "Ellamatta" was built. Bridget left the house to her granddaughter Fanny.Max Geggie states that Fanny never married;she "had a prospect" but nothing came of it since she had to tend her sick mother....Renowned Australian cartoonist George Finey spent his last years living here, and daubed the steps of flat 5A. These paintings remain.

7 San Jose Avenue: Comara

Built by an important early Lawson figure, Dr William Moore. "Comara" was the residence of Dr William Moore, the homeopathic doctor responsible for Moore's Ointment ("Good for Man and Beast"), and later for a short while, a Congregational Church Manse. It is believed that this house was originally used as a Cobb and Co. staging house.

9 San Jose Avenue:Thought to have been the home of printer Chas. T. Wright, general manager of W.C. Brookes.

Remainder of eastern side of San Jose Avenue

Most of these properties have not been researched yet. A number of very aesthetic or interesting dwellings can be seen practically till the end of the street: numbers 13, 19 and 27 in particular.

oldest building in lawson

At the rear of Number 19 ( see left), "Clareville", (1881) which has been recently renovated, stands an old building which according to local historian Heather Mollenhauer is the oldest existing structure in Lawson, having been used as the original post office by Mrs Geggie. Mrs Mollenhauer states that 'Cobb and Co. delivered mail here'.

BADGERY'S CRESCENT Corner of Badgery's Crescent and San Jose: Lawson's first shops

"Badgery's Crescent was surveyed in 1880 into 6 x3 acre lots, shortly after re-subdivided and on one of the blocks John Geggie built a house...and store. The first store, later the first post office operated ITom this store in 1885, Mrs Geggie as postmistress. W.G. Staples had it as 'The Popular Store' in 1905 until 1907 when he moved to the newer shops..."(on the southern side of the highway). (Mollenhauer, 1996, p.12)"Alnwick".

Also built by Geggie, in 1909, and named after his birthplace in Northumberland. (Maxwell Geggie, grandson of John, says that the family originally were of Scots stock and came from the county of "Gaegie" in Scotland.)Until recently, used as "Parcels" cafe, shop and gallery, reopened as 'Badgery's Cafe',incorporating a shop and gallery.Currently trades as "The Wicked Aussie".

ellamatta

6 Badgery's Crescent: "Ellamatta":

completed by Geggie in 1914. The family home of the Geggies for the rest of their lives. John Geggie ran his Lawson House and Land agency from a small building next door, on the western side of his home. John Geggie had a powerful influence on the development of Lawson into a significant town, in many ways. He served four times as councillor, from the very first Council.

Upon the death of Charlotte Geggie in 1937, Albert and Florence Thompson took over the home and business. In need of restoration and until recently threatened with destruction by sustained neglect, the exterior of the house is now in process of being partially restored. While the streetscape should be preserved, the interior of the cottage is being completely revamped in an unsypathetic style. This has been a popular cause amongst locals, much discussed in local presses and owes its continued existence to the strength of local spirit.

8 Badgery's Crescent A very attractive old house with slate shingle roof and immaculate garden.

24 Badgery's Crescent 'lllawarra': charming, and with historical associations. Formerly "Narbethong". In 1908 Miss Lillian Austin conducted a small private school here and renamed the cottage "Wallana'. Later, Miss M.l Hoskins, sister of industrialist C.R. Hoskins lived here.

Corner of Badgery's and Frederica: in the 1890s, this was a Congregational rest home called 'The Rest' (sold in 1930 to Miss E.A. Pepper)

(Turn down Frederica Street.)

'Myee' is the name of the old Railway Gatekeeper's cottage at Bull's Camp, Woodford, transferred after the duplication of the railway line in 1902. Already listed by the Trust. Myee You can access Frederica Falls from the end of this street.

Remainder of Badgery's Crescent: Some very attractive, original weatherboard homes, interspersed with the occasional 1950s fibro, or brick veneer home, up to Number 31. Some standout properties are numbers 13: 'Cicada'; 14, 'Lawson House'; and 19: 'Allawah'.

Beyond Number 32 stood the former dairy.

View the full photo gallery of North Lawson Heritage Precinct

 Acknowledgments

From the Collections of;

Heather Mollenhauer.

Blue Mountains City Library Local Studies Collection

(Springwood Historical Society.)

Dieter Bauer and Jennifer Sattler (Badgerys Attic, Lawson)

"Christmas Swamp" A History of Lawson. By S.J. Bently. Springwood Historical Society.)