Commonwealth Avenue Houses | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Commonwealth Avenue Houses

Item details

Name of item: Commonwealth Avenue Houses
Other name/s: Staff Cottages for Small Arms Factory
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Location: Lat: 8931-3-\S Long: KJ 344904
Primary address: 1-3 Commonwealth Avenue, Lithgow, NSW 2790
Local govt. area: Lithgow
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1-3 Commonwealth AvenueLithgowLithgow  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Historic: the quality and location of these three substantial houses with well planned gardens are earnests of the importance of the Small Arms Factory in Commonwealth Government eyes in 1912 and the care taken to provide attractively for the two American managers. The houses have a symbiotic relationship to a major national enterprise and have both variety and state significance. Aesthetic: the old plantings, the secluded avenue, the elevated situation overlooking the Small Arms Factory and the satisfying architecture combine to give these houses state significance.
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.


Designer/Maker: Ratcliff
Physical description: Edwardian Brick/iron. A group of three Edwardian houses - two single storey, one two storey with adjacent stables and cul-de-sac driveway.
No. 1: two storey - asymmetrical brick house on sandstone foundation, 1st floor coated in roughcast. Also a basement. Projecting gable rooms and verandah 'L' shaped between with octagonal corner. Shingle decoration to verandah ground floor frieze, double posts, triple windows and French doors arched at top. Slate roof.
No. 2: 'The Manor' - single storey version of the above with iron roof in hipped form with gablets.
No. 3: Single storey almost rectangular in shape with large hipped roof and gablets. Verandah roof extends from the main hip, otherwise detail similar to 2 and 3. Landscaped gardens bounded by a sandstone base wall and timber picket fence reinforced with a varigated privet hedge.
4. Stables building adjacent to the two storey building is of similar design with attic.
Further information: A group of three houses and communal stabies for senior management at Small Arms Factory.


Historical notes: The Small Arms Factory, opened in 1912, brought a significant new industry to Lithgow and was critical in the town's economic well-being for the next 80 years. The senior executives were highly important and appropriate accommodation was at once built in 1912 for the Manager (an American A C Wright), no. 1; the assistant manager (Ratcliff, also from the American firm of Pratt and Whitney who supplied the initial equipment), no. 3; and the accountant, no. 2. Perched above the factory in the exclusive precinct of Commonwealth Avenue (comparable to Bellvue Place in Portland but grander and more remote), the three principal executives contrived to occupy the houses until they were sold by the Defence Department in the 1980s. No. 1 is now owned by Mr and Mrs R Dicker; no. 2(now named The Manor) by T Staines; and no. 3 by Mr and Mrs D Fowler. Historical Period Built pre 1901 - 1925, Used 1901 - 1925, Used 1926 - 1950, Used 1951 - 1975, Used post 1975

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. (none)-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
This item has historic significance and is assessed as rare on a state basis.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
This item has aesthetic significance and is assessed as rare on a state basis.
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:

All sites: historical and archaeological sites A Keep buildings in good order B Continue to maintain building in good order. C Record , photograph, research any changes D Continue to record and research this place’s history. E Ensure that any new owners are advised of the Cultural significance of the site F Encourage collections of moveable heritage to stay together with the building or place G Consider making available publicly interpretive information that will enable visitors to appreciate the site. H With assistance from Council make available publicly interpretive information that will enable visitors to appreciate the sites. I Draw up conservation plans or interim Management Plans


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanLithgow Local Environmental Plan 2014I26719 Dec 14   
Heritage study  01 Jan 97   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Greater Lithgow Heritage Study 1997-19981998B267Ian Jack in conjuction with Graham Edds & Assoc, J Colleran & E Higginbotham.  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Oral History  Mrs Carolyn Fowler, owner of no. 3.
Written 1979Australian Government Small Arms Factory, Lithgow

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: 1960326

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