Wf020 : Rhondda Valley, Grounds and Railway Sign | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Wf020 : Rhondda Valley, Grounds and Railway Sign

Item details

Name of item: Wf020 : Rhondda Valley, Grounds and Railway Sign
Primary address: 106-120 Railway Parade, Wentworth Falls, NSW 2782
Parish: Jamison
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
106-120 Railway ParadeWentworth FallsBlue Mountains JamisonCookPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

Criterion (c) Aesthetic
Rhondda Valley is an interesting example of a late Victorian house, well sited to take advantage of views across Podgers Glen. The half-mansard roof is an unusual variation of the Georgian form. The house appears to be largely intact.

The gabled pavilions are unusual for their large stained glass windows suggesting a higher importance given to their design than would normally be provided for outbuildings.

The extent of the grounds, which run for 1.5 kilometres through the native bush of Podgers Glen, bounded on the north by National Park, gives the estate a significant aesthetic. Podgers Glen was described in a walking guide published in 1933 as ‘a secluded narrow glen walled in by precipitous mountain sides clad with a luxuriant growth of a native flora’ (Fox, 132) and although this refers primarily to the northern part of the Glen, it has relevance to the aesthetic significance of Podgers Glen within Rhondda Valley.

The views of the south side and east frontage of the house available from Railway Parade have substantial aesthetic significance.


Criterion (g) Representative
Rhondda Valley is a good representative example of a country retreat built by a Sydney professional family in the later nineteenth century
Date significance updated: 23 Jan 05
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

Builder/Maker: Emil Gerlach, Interior Joinery
Construction years: 1882-1892
Physical description: Rhondda Valley is a substantial two-storey sandstone house with influences of the Victorian Georgian style, set in an 80-hectare (200 acres) bushland estate. To the rear of the house are two single-storey weatherboard buildings. Further to the west is a modern skillion-roofed pavilion with vinyl weatherboard cladding.

The main house has a symmetrical front facing east to take in views across the valley below. The slate roof is hipped, with the front and back slopes extended over the first floor level in the manner of a mansard. Three dormer windows open to the front mansard, the centre being enlarged to create a Juliet balcony. There are two sandstone chimneys. A single-storey bullnose verandah at ground floor level runs across the eastern front and returns around the north and south sides. It has sandstone piers at the basement level and timber posts with a slated balustrade at ground level. Decorative timber brackets trim the verandah. A substantial sandstone stair provides access from the east.

French doors open to the verandah either side of the central four-panelled door with a toplight. 2-over-2 pane double-hung windows are used elsewhere.

A rear hipped-roof wing probably housed the kitchen.

The gabled pavilions to the east have slate roofs with terracotta ridging with rams horn finials, suggesting an early twentieth-century construction date. The pavilions are set at right angles to each other. The eastern most pavilion has large circular stained-glass heraldic windows in the gables finished with architraves with egg and dart mouldings. Framed and sheeted doors open to the southern side. Casement windows are used at the sides. The second pavilion has similar stained glass in the gables as well as an additional gable with a stained-glass window on the centre of the south elevation.

A tennis court was located to the southeast of the house and its level terrace is still clear in the garden. The land slopes away steeply to the north and east down into the upper part of Podgers Glen, which is part of Rhondda Valley estate as far north as the boundary of the National Park. This part of Podgers Glen has relatively gentle slopes: the gorge begins only to the north-east of Rhondda Valley estate. There are two creeks, running north-east to join as a substantial tributary of Blue Mountain Creek (which is not within the property boundaries). Podgers Glen was described in a walking guide published in 1933 as ‘a secluded narrow glen walled in by precipitous mountain sides clad with a luxuriant growth of a native flora’ (Fox, 132) and although this refers primarily to the northern part of the Glen, it has relevance to the aesthetic significance of Podgers Glen within Rhondda Valley.

The garden, which once had a formal rose-lined lawn on the east front (photograph, Duvollet, A Place Called Weatherboard, 22), is now relatively underplanted.

The house is approached by a long drive from the south, leading off Railway Parade, which is not bitumined in this section. Opposite the driveway are gates to the railway line. Next to the gates, within the railway reserve is a sign announcing the location of Rhondda Valley halt.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good (house); some degradation of the bush valley near the house to the east.
Date condition updated:23 Jan 05
Modifications and dates: Modern pavilion c.1990
Further information: There is a good deal of degradation in the part of Podgers Glen which lies adjacent to the house immediately to the east, but the ecology of the Glen improves quickly to the north, still within the Rhondda Valley estate, especially as it approaches the National Park.
Current use: Holiday House
Former use: Country Retreat; Guesthouse

History

Historical notes: Rhondda Valley was developed as a country retreat set in very extensive bushland over a decade after 1888 by a Welsh builder called Lewis Thomas (Land & Property Information, Vol. 2336 fo.27). Thomas ran a building practice in the Glebe area of Sydney in the late nineteenth century (Sands directories) and presumably had affinities with the Rhondda, the great coal-mining valley of South Wales. The stone for the house was quarried on the property, down Podgers Glen. (Fox, Upper Blue Mountains Geographical Encyclopaedia, 140) The interior joinery was done by a Bavarian immigrant, Emil Gerlach, and his son (Duvollet, A Place Called Weatherboard, 15) .

The conditional purchase of 1888 was finalised in 1913 and Thomas retained the property until his death in 1934. Just before his death he added lots 1 to 89 of the adjacent DP 7988, just to the west of his original portion 516 (formerly portion 108A) in the parish of Jamison, co. Cook (LPI, Vol. 4498 fo.63). Lewis’s widow, Annie, their three married daughters and one son inherited the property in 1934 and held it until 1951.

During this period, Rhondda Valley was leased to became a guesthouse, run first by R. Hethrington and then by Mrs Ross between 1936 and 1949. Mrs Ross had earlier run Holly Lodge in Lovell Street, Katoomba as a guesthouse. (Silvey, Happy Days, 107, 117)


The boarding-house phase ended when the Lewis family sold the property in 1951 when it was sold to Herbert and Dorothy Palmer of Sydney. Herbert was described as a ‘chief steward’ in the certificate of title. (LPI, Vol.2336 fo.27)

Part of the Palmers’ land was resumed in 1968 by the Commissioner of Railways for a transmission line and in the following year the Palmers sold Rhondda Valley to Dorothy George of Wentworth Falls. Part of DP 7988 lots 1 to 67 and 73 to 89) were sold to Lawrence Browning Pty Ltd in 1971 (LPI, Vol. 4498 fo.63).

Podgers Glen was named in 1931 after S.G. Podger who was the Chief Electrical Engineer with the New South Wales Railways (Woods, Yellow Rock to Green Gully, 131; Fox, 132). The southern part of Podgers Glen became known locally, although not on the topographical map, as Rhondda Valley after the house (Fox, 140)

During World War I there was need for a more convenient railway halt for soldiers being taken to Bodington Hospital, which was halfway between Wentworth Falls and Bullaburra stations, so a special halt called Rhondda Valley was created. (Fox, 140) This had nothing to do with the convenience of the owners of the house, Rhondda Valley, and is not at all comparable to stations like Lucasville (G 029) or Numantia, which were private halts for grandees. The station sign survives but is on railway land and is not and never was on Rhondda Valley estate.

After the Thomas family sold the property in the twentieth century, it became a guesthouse, run first by R. Hethrington and then by Mrs Ross between 1936 and 1949. Mrs Ross had earlier run Holly Lodge in Lovell Street, Katoomba as a guesthouse. (Silvey, Happy Days, 107, 117)

In 1962 the Rhondda Valley Fire Trail was constructed through the northern part of the property’s bushland (Fox, 140). The Fire Trail remains the only vehicular access to that sector of the estate.

The house is now privately owned and is apparently used as a holiday residence.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Rhondda Valley is an interesting example of a late Victorian house, well sited to take advantage of views across Podgers Glen. The half-mansard roof is an unusual variation of the Georgian form. The house appears to be largely intact.

The gabled pavilions are unusual for their large stained glass windows suggesting a higher importance given to their design than would normally be provided for outbuildings.

The extent of the grounds, which run for 1.5 kilometres through the native bush of Podgers Glen, bounded on the north by National Park, gives the estate a significant aesthetic. Podgers Glen was described in a walking guide published in 1933 as ‘a secluded narrow glen walled in by precipitous mountain sides clad with a luxuriant growth of a native flora’ (Fox, 132) and although this refers primarily to the northern part of the Glen, it has relevance to the aesthetic significance of Podgers Glen within Rhondda Valley.

The views of the south side and east frontage of the house available from Railway Parade have substantial aesthetic significance.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Rhondda Valley is a good representative example of a country retreat built by a Sydney professional family in the later nineteenth century
Integrity/Intactness: High
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:

The appropriate curtilage, since heritage values are inherent in the house, in views to it and in its extensive bushland, is the entire property, as shown on the attached diagram. The railway sign saying simply ‘RHONDDA VALLEY’ is unconnected with the estate, bearing its name merely for convenience: it relates to Bodington Hospital (WF 047) and to the railway: it has never been on land belonging to Rhondda Valley. We recommend that it should be removed from the Rhondda Valley heritage listing. Further investigation of the construction of the gabled pavilions, particularly the importance of the unexpected stained-glass windows, would be desirable. Any development of adjacent land should be designed to maintain the significant views of the south side and east frontage of the house from Railway Parade.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanLEP1991WF02027 Dec 91 183 
Heritage study WF020   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Study1983WF020Croft & Associates Pty Ltd & Meredith Walker  Yes
Heritage Study Review, Blue Mountains1992WF020Tropman and Tropman  Yes
Blue Mountains Heritage Review2003WF020Jack, Hubert, Lavelle, MorrisIJ; PH Yes
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008WF020Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Photograph 2001Photograph of Rhondda Valley House and Garden, circa 1930 in Mindah Duvollet, A Place Called Weatherboard
Written 1934Certificate of Title, Vol 2336, fo 27 (1888): Vol 4498 fo 63
WrittenBrian Fox2001Upper Blue Mountains Geographical Encyclopaedia, 2nd Edition
WrittenChristopher J Woods1999Yellow Rock to Green Gully: Place Names in the Blue Mountains
WrittenGwen Silvey1996Happy Days: Blue Mountains Guesthouses Remembered
WrittenGwen Silvey Rhondda Valley
WrittenJohn Sands1905Sands' Sydney and Suburban Directories 1880 to
WrittenMindah Duvollet2001A Place called Weatherboard

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1170729


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