Bh039 : Osborne College (Site Only) | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Bh039 : Osborne College (Site Only)

Item details

Name of item: Bh039 : Osborne College (Site Only)
Other name/s: Centennial Hotel; Crammond; Osborne Ladies College
Primary address: 52-106 Thirroul Avenue, Blackheath, NSW 2785
Parish: Kanimbla
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
52-106 Thirroul AvenueBlackheathBlue Mountains KanimblaCookPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

Criterion (a) Historical
Although the site has important historical resonances, there is virtually no physical evidence of the large and handsome building which was in use sporadically from 1888 until 1923 and then consistently until the 1950s. The historical heritage significance of the place has simply been eliminated.

Criterion (c) Aesthetic
The present buildings have no aesthetic significance.

Criterion (e) Technical
There is no likely potential for archaeological evidence to be revealed to amplify the history of the site from 1888 to the 1950s.
Date significance updated: 17 Oct 04
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Construction years: 1960-1970
Physical description: The Blue Mountains Christian School is located on a large site on the west site of Blackheath with substantial views towards the Kanimbla Valley.

The main school building is a large 1960s brick and metal block with a low pitched gabled roof. Other buildings on the site are of brick with metal roofs. The buildings are linked by walkways with low vaulted roofs on metal pipe frames.

There is no obvious trace of any details of the earlier school building or of its garden arrangements, although some of the large conifers date from the Osborne College period.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good
Date condition updated:17 Oct 04
Current use: School
Former use: Boarding School

History

Historical notes: The site now occupied by the Blue Mountains Christian School was first developed from bushland in 1888 by the builders, Elliott and Taylor. The large building was intended to accommodate holiday-makers and was named the Centennial Hotel, but it does not seem to have opened its doors. During the bank crash of 1892-3 it was resumed by the bank and remained disused for a time, until Charles Lindeman, who ran the Palace (later called the Ritz) in Leura from 1892 until 1894 moved to the Centennial. It was later converted to a ladies’ boarding school under first Miss Macarthur , then, renamed Crammond, under Dr Paton. (Historic Blackheath, 248; Silvey, Happy Days, 80)

The dates for Miss Macarthur and Dr Paton are uncertain. The school neither appears nor advertises in the Progress Committee’s booklet of 1903 and the first firm date is 1923, when the Osborne Ladies College transferred its operations from Epping in Sydney. The building erected as the Centennial Hotel in 1888 seems to have been still intact and remained the premises for Osborne until it closed in the 1950s. (Low, Pictorial Memories, 110) There were 28 single bedrooms, eight double rooms for sisters and two dormitories for the younger girls. In the pine grove, which partially survives, the girls would sleep in hammocks during summer. (Historic Blackheath, 248).

To mark the transition to new premises, a new honour board was unveiled in 1924 by the ubiquitous Sir Charles Rosenthal, the architect, controversial officer in World War I and member of the far right in politics. The school itself had taken the name Osborne when it started in 1900 in honour of the Royal Naval College on the Isle of Wight in Britain; school houses were ‘ships’, newcomers were ‘middies’ and the formidable headmistress, Miss Violet Gibbons, addressed Assembly from the bridge as Admiral of the Fleet. It was all very disciplined and distinctly spartan. But it was healthy and there are photographs of the girls in school uniform (which was not naval) on bush-walks or practising the fashionable eurhythmics in the grounds, while old girls have reminisced about the pre-breakfast marching in all weathers in ice-cold gum-boots. (Low, Pictorial Memories, 108-111)

All this came to an end in the mid 1950s, the school closed, no alternative use for the large building seems to have been found and after an interval it was demolished. In its place, and on the same site, there was erected the huge brick and metal rectangle which contains the Blue Mountains Christian School, with its motto ‘My Best for God’s Glory’. Even the original entrances to Osborne seem to have been removed and replaced, the gardens have gone and there is a car-park where once the young ladies tried to dance like Isadora Duncan.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
6. Educating-Educating Education-Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally. (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Although the site has important historical resonances, there is virtually no physical evidence of the large and handsome building which was in use sporadically from 1888 until 1923 and then consistently until the 1950s. The historical heritage significance of the place has simply been eliminated.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The present buildings have no aesthetic significance.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
There is no likely potential for archaeological evidence to be revealed to amplify the history of the site from 1888 to the 1950s.
Integrity/Intactness: Integrity of site: Low
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

This site should be deleted from the Blue Mountains Heritage Inventory. The present buildings, which entirely obscure any remains of the Victorian splendour destroyed forty years ago, have no aesthetic significance and eliminate any likely archaeological potential.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanLEP1991BH03927 Dec 91 183 
Heritage study BH039   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Study1983BH039Croft & Associates Pty Ltd & Meredith Walker  Yes
Heritage Study Review, Blue Mountains1992BH039Tropman and Tropman  Yes
Blue Mountains Heritage Review2003BH039Jack, Hubert, Lavelle, MorrisIJ, PH, CM Yes
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008BH039Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGwen Silvey1995Happy Days: Blue Mountains Guesthouses Remembered
WrittenJohn Low1998Pictorial Memories: Blue Mountains
WrittenRotary Club of Blackheath1976Historic Blackheath

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1170655


Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.