Thornton Hall | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Thornton Hall

Item details

Name of item: Thornton Hall
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Homestead building
Primary address: Lot 11 The Crescent, Penrith, NSW 2750
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Penrith

Boundary:

Northern end, Mountain View Crescent. The propert has an area of approximately 1.98 hectars (4 acres 3 rood 21 and 3/4 perches) and includes an 1870s residence and remnant early trees.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Lot 11 The CrescentPenrithPenrith CumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
LandcomState Government 

Statement of significance:

Thornton Hall, including residence and associated lanscape elements, has local significance for its role in the development of the township of Penrith during the mid to late 19th Century. It has local significance for its association with Thomas Smith, early leaseholder and later owner of the property from 1862, for whom the residence was constructed sometine during the 1870s, and his son the Hon. Sydney Smith, local parliamentary representative, who inherited the property in 1892.

Thornton Hall has local and State significance for its association with the many community and sporting activities to be held at Belmore Park, the flat section of land to the west of the residence, during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. These included an early cricket match against a touring English side, which is associated with the establishment of the Sheffield Shield in Australia; early feats in aviation by William Hart, and cycle, motor cycle, can and air races on a purpose constructed speedway. It has local significance for its association with Thomas Smith and his son the Hon. Sydney Smith with whose support and encouragement these activities took place.

Thornton Hall, including residence and surviving landscape elements, has local significance in the Penrith and Nepean district, as an early residence in the Victorian style. It is significant for its unusual design and construction, however this significance has been somewhat compromised by later alterations to and demolition of original fabric. Thornton Hall has aesthetic significance for its prominent location on the rising ground to the east of the former Penrith Engineers Stores Depot, with views spanning almost 180 degrees from the north to the south west.

Thornton Hall has local significance for its association with the Royal Australian Engineers, who have occupied the large area of land to the west of Thornton Hall, known as the Penrith Engineers Stores Depot, since 1942. The depot has significance as part of the massive expansion of military facilities during World War II, and as the main engineering depot for the Eastern Command from 1943 through to the Vietnam War. Thornton Hall has significance for its use as the residence of the Commanding Officer from 1952 to about 1994.

Thornton Hall local significance for the community of Penrith, for its historical associations with the early development of the district, and the descendants of the Smith family (Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd, CMP Thornton Hall).
Date significance updated: 20 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

Designer/Maker: Unknown
Builder/Maker: Constructed for Thomas Smith (1819-1896)
Construction years: 1870-
Physical description: The property known as Thornton Hall occupies the eastern corner of the property held by Thomas Smith during the 1870s, north of the railway line and railway station in Penrith. The immediate surrounding areas are generally industrial. The eastern boundary is contiguous with the 1890s Lemongrove sub-division to the east of the property which is identified as a conservation area in the Penrith LEP. To the west are the extensive grounds of the former Penrith Engineers Store Depot. Thornton Hall is located at the end of the cul-de-sac Mountainview Crescent.

The Thornton Hall property comprises Thornton Hall and a corrugated iron garage adjacent to Thornton Hall associated with eight prefabricated Defence residences along the eastern boundary and sections of the original roadway from Mountainview Crescent. Located on a slight rise the main house has views to the west. The landscape setting includes a mix of established trees and other plantings; key elements in the landscape setting of Thornton Hall include a pepper tree, silky oak trees and a camphor laurel tree illustrate a the variety of plantings. A single Bunya pine at the entrance to the Royal Australian Engineers Store Depot marks the former entrance to the Thornton Hall driveway. The probable alignment of part of the original driveway is defined by rows of later plantings; the exact alignment of the driveway has not been confirmed. There does not appear to be any evidence of the former carriage circle adjacent to the house.

Thornton Hall is a Victorian single storey brick villa. The brick upper walls in English garden bond are supported on sub-floor foundation walls of river stones and ashlar sandstone blocks which may have come from Regentville, a nearby property, which was demolished. Window sills are similarly of well cut sandstone below elliptical soldier arch upper lintels. The essentially symmetrical house features a hipped, corrugated iron main roof with hip roofed projections to either side at the rear. The hip roofed projections feature as pavilions at either end of an encircling verandah on the eastern, southern and western sides which have been enclosed. The enclosure utilises a brick base with casement windows. A separate verandah with tubular steel posts has been formed at the rear on the northern facade, with a weatherboard (Hardiplank) skillion at the north western corner. The verandah base for this rear verandah is formed in concrete at ground level. Roof verges are detailed with narrow boxed eaves and galvanised iron guttering and downpipes. A single brick chimney remains at the north eastern corner of the roof with simple brick mouldings, string courses and cappings. A later brick chimney at the rear identifies the kitchen.
The front, southern, doorway consists of a very tall pair of French doors with raised bottom panels, bolection mouldings and curved glazed top panels behind a 1930s extension. The newer, later entrance features Spanish revival type rendered columns and base walls, brick pillars, entrance posts and stairs.
The main building originally featured seven rooms and open verandahs.
Internally the building features an atypical layout with an unusually large central room entered from the front door, with two rooms to either side. Minor i.e. service rooms are located at the rear. Fine joinery, mostly Victorian. Six panelled internal doors, largely French doors with fine margin bars in the Regency manner. Other notable features include original rendered skirtings and finely detailed Art Deco pressed metal ceilings probably installed during the period 1910-1920.
Elements of high value include:
- the speedway remnant
- the cricket pitch and oval;
- Thornton Hall, driveway alignment and associated remnant plantings; and
- visual links between Thornton Hall, the driveway alignment and the cricket pitch over a 180 degree vista. (Register of the National Estate)

Exterior
Thornton Hall is a single storey brick 'rural' residence in a Victorian style. The house has a hipped roof of corrugated steel with a broken-back extension at the base. Hip roofed projections extend to either side at the rear, and over the central main entrance portico to the south. An enclosed verandah extends from the central entrance porch around the eastern and western sides to the rear projections. The verandah has a skillion roof, which is non-original. The roof has modern galvanised iron roof sheeting, gutters and boxed eaves, and two painted brick chimneys, one featuring a decorative brick top.

External walls are laid in a garden wall bond, comprising three or five stretcher courses to one header course, and have been painted. The house features a rough cut and pick-axed sandstone base, which has been painted. River rocks are also present to the foundations of the rear projections.

The entrance porch has been modified from the original, and retains its original brick columns with rounded corners. Rough rendered masonry sections form the balustrade. A timber framed parapet at the front has a pebble finish fibre cement cladding, which has been painted and is in a poor condition, with sections of the cladding having fallen away. The porch has a painted concrete floor and fibre cement ceiling. The front entrance has been boarded up with plywood sheeting.

The original open verandah retains some of its rounded brick columns, although has been enclosed with painted brick to approximately 1200mm high, laid in a stretcher bond with timber framed windows above. These windows have been boarded over with plywood. Fibre cement infill and external operable metal awnings are fixed above. The original sandstane base to the verandah remains. The sandstone has rounded ends, and features a decorative stucco render below.

The skillion verandah extending along the rear façade has tubular steel posts and opaque PVC sheeting. Two single doors at either end of the façade and window openings have been boarded up with plywood. A former recessed entrance at the western end has been enclosed with fibre cement cladding, and a bathroom added.

A weatherboard addition at the north west corner has a skillion roof and a single door opening on the east. Above this are the markings of a former gable extension to the masonry wall.

Window openings to the rear and sides have segmental arched heads protruding sandstone sills. The openings have been partially infilled with brick, and new heads formed. Terra cotta floor vents are visible to the rear protrusions.

Interior
The present building is approximately 228 square metres, including the enclosed verandah and excluding the rear verandah. The house contains a large central living hall running on a north-south axis through the centre of the house, and two other principal rooms, one on either side of the living hall, with three smaller rooms arranged along the rear. Internal walls are rendered, and the original timber floor boards have been replaced throughout.

On the whole the three principle rooms have non-original pressed metal ceilings, and the smaller rooms have modern plasterboard ceilings. The three principle rooms originally had fireplaces, which have been either rebuilrt or infilled. Much of the original joinery remains, including skirtings, architraves and doors. The front entrance has timber double doors, with a glazed top panel which has an arched head. There are four sets of timber framed multi-paned glazed French doors opening from the principle rooms to the encircling verandah, which are original, although either slightly modified or damaged.

The enclosed verandah has a concrete floor over the original verandah floor. The enclosing walls have been lined with plasterboard, and the ceiling is also plasterboard. A bathroom has been added to a former recessed entrance at the rear, with new plasterboard lining to the walls and a lowered plasterboard ceiling. The original high timber boarded ceiling remains above, as does evidence of the former ladder stair to the attic on the brickwork wall.

Within the roof space is evidence of a former attic space, which lead to the observatory over the front porch. This space has painted brick walls and timber floor boards.

The Property
The landscaping to Thornton Hall does not appear to have any particular design to it. There are a number of early well-established trees within the immediate curtilage, including silky oak, peppercorn tree, camphor laurel, cypress pine and jacaranda. A hoop pine tree marks the entrance to the former carriageway to Thornton Hall from The Crescent. Garden beds around the perimeter of the building, particularly on the sothern and eastern sides, obscure the house from view.

The property slopes away to the wet, and has views spanning nearly 180 degrees from the north to the south west.

There is a small timber framed garage located to the east of the house, which has a gable roof and is entirely clad with corrugated steel sheeting. The garage is presently unsecured (Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd, CMP Thornton Hall).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Structurally Thornton Hall apears to be in a stable condition. External brick walls are generally in good condition, although dirty, and there is some cracking above window and door openings which is typical with age. The roof cladding has been recently replaced, and gutters and downpipes appear in working order. Some of the metal sheeting to the front porch has corroded or fallen away.

The building has been badly vandalised over the recent years, which has resulted in the boarding up of all opening. Many of the glass windows and doors, and light fittings have been smashed through vandalism. There is some damage to the rendered wall finish due to the removal of former fixingts. Plasterboard wall lining has been installed to some of the rear rooms. Sections of the early joinery have been badly treated. Water damage to the pressed metal ceiling would indicate roof leakage.

The present site and landscaped grounds are maintained. Garden beds to the perimeter of the building appear to be causing minor dampness or cracking to exterior walls, the dampness intensified by excessive shading (Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd, CMP Thornton Hall).
Date condition updated:17 Mar 06
Modifications and dates: c. 1870: A sketch of Thornton Hall shows the house as single storey, with a hipped roof, central porch and encircling verandah. The three bay attic observatory is shown centrally on the roof. The apex of the dormer appears curved. The roof protecting the central porch has curved sides. The house features three openings on the front façade, corresponding to those existing, with double doors to the central entrance. The two storey wings at the rear are absent, indicating that these were a later addition.

C. 1880: An early photograph shows the addition of the two storey wings. That these two wings were a later addition is evidenced by the extension of the eastern chimney. These wings appear to be face brick with either stone or rendered trim to the crenellated parapet and window surrounds. There is no roof over the parapet wings. The windows are vertical sliding sashes and the heads are curved. The rear form and access to it is not shown. There was a bedromm located within each wing. This photo provides good evidence of the original appearance of the house including curved front entrance and open verandahs. A curved drive appears infront of the building.

C. 1905-1910: Storm damage to the kitchen wing which extended from the rear north western corner of the house. The kitchen wing is a single storey, with brick walls, a hipped roof of corrugated iron anhd chimney at the rear. This photograph shows the second storey at the rear.

1918: An aerial photograph shows the kitchen and the laundry wing can be discerned also with the stable buildings.

1933-1942: Enclosing of the verandah during this period, including the removal of the brick columns and the built up of a brick wall to sill height and insertion of timber windows.

1945-1950: Demolition of the two storey bedroom wings and attic observatory for either Read or Strong.

1950: A description of the building by the federal taxation office describes the demolition of the first floor and re-pitching of the roof, indicating that these works had been undertaken prior to 1950. A photograph of the same year shows the existing porch. The corrugated steel garage had been constructed, and the window heads have been lowered by this time. New concrete had been laid to the enclosed verandah, and new timber floors laid to the nain house by this time. The walls had been repapered, pressed metal ceilings added, and new fireplaces constructed by this time. A detached building known as the brick stables, was still remaining, although in poor condition.
Demolition of the rear kitchen wing(Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd, CMP Thornton Hall).
Current use: Empty
Former use: Residence, Army housing

History

Historical notes: In 1804 Portion 90 was granted to Captain Daniel Woodriff. In 1814 the Great Western Road was established with Penrith developing along the road alignment. The arrival of the railway at Penrith in 1863 led to increased development in the area. The Woodriff estate was subdivided into two sections by the transport routes, inherited by the grandsons of the grantee in the 1880s. Thornton Hall was built as the residence of Mr Thomas Smith sometime in the 1870s. Thomas Smith was a Penrith publican responsible for the construction of the "Red Cow Inn" in 1860 which still survives opposite the Penrith Railway Station. Smith initially leased land to the north of the Great Western Highway from Daniel Woodriff from 1862, but in 1866 he purchased approximately 216 acres of the Woodriff estate where he bred horses, cattle and sheep. In 1871 Smith was voted an Alderman of the first Penrith Council; Smith died of heart failure at Thornton Hall in1896. Thomas Smith and his wife, Jane Laimbeer, had eleven children.
Thomas Richard Smith, the eldest son, was the Member for Nepean in the Legislative Assembly from 1877-87, 1895-98, and 1901-1904. He was elected an Alderman for Penrith Municipality from 1888 to 1893, and elected Mayor of Penrith in 1889. Another son, Sydney Smith was elected to the Assembly in 1882 for the seat of East Macquarie. He held the seat until 1894 when he won Bathurst. He was also an Alderman on Leichhardt Municipal Council from 1886 - 1892 and Mayor in 1888-89. Sydney Smith served in Parke's last ministry as Secretary for Mines (1889-1891) and was also First Secretary for Agriculture from 1890. He resumed the Mines portfolio under Sir George Reid in 1894 and in objecting to the Constitution Bill was defeated in the elections of June 1898. Smith was gazetted Honourable in 1899. In 1901 he was elected to the House of Representatives for Macquarie, and was Opposition whip in the first Parliament. He was awarded the Postmaster-Generalship having engineered the Reid- McClaren coalition of 1904-1905 and served on royal commissions on old-age pensions and the ocean shipping service. Defeated in 1906, Sydney Smith retired to his inherited estate, Thornton Hall at Penrith. Sydney Smith died at Croydon on 21 February 1934

There was a cleared meadow directly down from Thornton Hall which was referred to locally as Smith's Paddock but was later officially named Belmore Park. Several historical sporting events took place in Belmore Park with the encouragement and support of Mr Thomas Smith and, later, Mr Sydney Smith. Lord Sheffield's English Cricket Team played a Nepean District side at Smith's Paddock on 17 February 1892 . The then Mayor of Penrith was TR Smith who was reported to have paid each English player an inducement of 100 pounds. The venue also appears to have been a Smith suggestion. The first Hot AirBalloon flight in Australia took off from the Smith's Paddock in 1892. An airfield at Belmore Park, the first in Australia, was established in 1910 by George Taylor. The first successful crosscountry aeroplane flight in Australia was made from Belmore Park to Moore Park (47 miles) on 18 November 1911. The pilot was Will Hart who was subsequently issued with the first Australian pilot's licence (No. 1) in December 1911. Motor racing at Belmore Park, later to be known as the Penrith Speedway, took place from 1923 until about 1941. The land around Thornton Hall became Penrith's official golf course in 1938 and continued as such until the Army took over the land in the 1940s. It is thought that the golf course included the centre of the speedway. The speedway meetings ceased in 1941 after a section of the track and property adjacent to the railway was taken over by the army for a proposed siding. Defence activity appears to have obliterated much of the speedway embankment and track.
Thomas Smith's descendants owned the house and property until 1947, when it was purchased by Hugh Read, a grazier from Canberra, and in 1949 the property was sold to Joseph Hamilton Strong, a dairy farmer from Penrith. In 1951 the property was compulsorily acquired by the Commonwealth of Australia for use by the Australian Army. The Army occupied the house as the residence of the Commanding Officer for the Penrith area and built a number of prefabricated houses and a range of functional buildings east of Mountainview Crescent, the accesss road to Thornton Hall, which dates to the 1950s. The former Belmore Park area lies to the west of Thornton Hall. It has little evidence of the former aerodrome, airfield or Golf Course. The former Cricket Oval is approximately central in the Belmore park area with the pitch still just visible. The boundary is defined in part by boundary trees and bench seating. The remains of the speedway are limited to the curve of the road, in use, towards the eastern boundary, extending from a point adjacent to the parade ground and tennis court, to near the railway platform and siding. The land at the base of the speedway is heavily wooded. There is little evidence of the 1941 and 1943 railway sidings installed by Defence, except for evidence of the side and end loading platforms to the 1943 siding. The curved entrance roadway at the south eastern corner dates from the 1943 military use of the site. To the north east are the former parade grounds and tennis court and the remains of the military messes. (Register of the National Estate)

1804: 1000 acres granted to Captain Daniel Woodriff by Governor King. Property named Rodley Farm.

1834: 100 acres granted to Sarah MacHenry, Reverand Henry Fulton and Alexander Fraser as executors of the estate of John MacHenry by Governor Bourke.

1862: Thomas Smith, Penrith publican, leased acres of the land to the north of the Great Western Railway, on which Thornton Hall and the adjacent Penrith Erngineers Stores Depot stand, from Daniel Woodriff.

1866: Smith purchases parts of Woodriff's estate, including approximately 88 ha (217 acres 2 roods) from the north east corner, and 2.5 ha (6 acres 1 rood 12 perches) on the south side of the railway. Total cost was 750 pounds.

C. 1870s: Thornton Hall constructed for Thomas Smith, exact date unknown. Smith sold small parts of his estate throughout the 1870s. In 1879 the estate comprised 86.7 ha (214 acres 1 rood 207 perches).

Feb 1892: The Nepean Distric cricket team reputably played against a touring English team sponsored by Lord Sheffield on the flat paddock to the west of Thornton Hall, later to become known as Belmore Park. Professor Bass and Signor Fernandez conducted aeerial displays in hot-air balloons at Belmore Park.

Sep. 1896: Thomas Smith died at Thornton Hall.

1896: Subdivision of Thornton Hall Estate. Easements granted for railway and electricity transmission lines, and government resumptions reduced the size of the property.

C. 1900: Hon. Sydney Smith took up residence at Thornton Hall. Smith inherited a life estate in the property from his father's will.

1910: The Aerial League of Australia selected Belmore Park as a flying ground for its members.

1911-1912: William E. Hart flew his Bristol Box-kite solo from Belmore Park, and undertook flying tests to receive the first flying licence in Australia issued by the Royal Aero Club.

1923-1928: Motor Cycle and motor car racing began at Belmore Park, to become known as Penrith Speedway, under the Western Suburbs Motor Cycle Club and Penrith Speedway Limited. These were held with the support of the Hon. Sydney Smith.

1933: Thornton Hall Golf Club formed, including a nine hole golf course at the centre of the disused speedway.

Feb. 1934: Hon. Sydney Smith dies at Croydon, and ownership of Thornton Hall passes to his five children.

1934: Thornton Hall Estate broken up for sale, subdivision and government resumption.

1936-1941: Motor car and motor cycle racing resumes at Penrith Speedway, under the Empire Speedways Limited.

1940: Resumption of part of the land by the Commissioner of Railways.

1945-1969: Commonwealth of Australia acquired sections of the Thornton Hall property (Belmore Park) for use by the Royal Australian Engineers. The RAE had already occupied part of the site from 1942.

1947: Thornton Hall purchased by Hugh Read, grazier, from the Trustees of the Smith Estate.

1949: Thornton Hall purchased by Jospeh Strong

Feb. 1951: Commonwealth of Australia acquired Thornton Hall for use by the Army.

1952-1994: Thornton Hall used as the residence of the Commanding Officer.

1955: Construction of eight prefabricated houses by the Commonwealth, as permanent quarters for married defence personnel.

1989: Defence Housing Authority assumed management and control of Thornton Hall.

Mid-1994: 176th Squadron vacated Thornton Hall.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements (none)-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Sport-Activities associated with organised recreational and health promotional activities Tourism and recreation-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Thornton Hall, including residence, surviving curtilage and landscaping elements, has significance at a local level as a surviving early brick residence in the Victorian style in the Penrith and Nepean River area

Thornton Hall has significance for its role in the development of the Penrith township on the northen side of the Great Western Railway during the mid to late 19th Century. It is associated with the early leasing occupation of the land in 1862 by Thomas Smith, local Penrith publican and early landowner, who utilised the land to breed horses, cattle and sheep. Thornton Hall is associated with the development and construction of the Great Western Railway and Penrith Railway Station, which was a key factor in the property's subsequent occupation by Defence.

Thornton Hall has significance for its association with community and cultural sporting activities during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, including cricket, horse racing, motor car and motor cycle racing and early aviation. These were to occur on the flatter part of the land to the west of Thornton Hall, and were conducted with Thomas Smith's and the Hon. Sydney Smith's full encouragement and support. These events are significant at local and State level (Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd, CMP Thornton Hall).

The Victorian villa of Thornton Hall, erected in the1870s, and its landscape setting, including the former driveway and associated planting, the remains of the former speedway and the cricket oval, are important for their close association with entrepreneur Thomas Smith and his son, politician Sydney Smith, who inherited the property in 1896. Smith's Paddock witnessed several firsts: a cricket match, forerunner to the Sheffield Cricket Matches, between England and a Nepean team in February 1892 on the cricket oval located within the site; the first Hot Air balloon flight in Australia also in 1892 and the first successful cross country aeroplane flight in Australia in September 1911 by William Hart.The visual links between Thornton Hall, the cricket oval and the remains of the former speedway track are important in maintaining the historical associations of the place. Smith's Paddock was later renamed Belmore Park when it became the Penrith International Speedway in 1928.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Thornton Hall, was closely associated with entrepreneur Thomas Smith and his son, politician Sydney Smith, who served in Parke's last Ministry as Secretary for Mines and helped to establish Hawkesbury Agricultural College. Under Sir George Reid, Sydney Smith introduced the Coal Mines Regulations of 1896, Water Rights in 1896 and the Artesian Wells Act in 1897. As Opposition Whip in the first parliament he helped engineer the Reid- McClaren coalition of 1904-1905.

Thornton Hall has significance for its association with the prominent local identities Thomas Smith and his son the Hon. Sydney Smith. Thomas Smith, a former Penrith Publican was also responsible for the construction of the Red Cow Inn, located opposite the Penrith Railway Station. Thomas constructed Thornton hall upon his retirement as publican sometime during the 1870s, and established an orchard at the property.

Thornton Hall has significance for its association with the Hon. Sydney Smith, who most likely occupied the property as his country retreat, from the early 20th Century until his death in 1934. Sydney Smith was notable as the local parliamentrary representative, as the Secretary for Mines and the Minister for Agriculture in the NSW government. Thus it is significanct at regional and State level in the theme of Persons.

Bob Thomas Smith and the Hon. Sydney Smith encouraged and supported the many supporting and cultural activities to take place on the flatter paddock to the west of Thornton Hall. These included a number of sporting achievements in the local area and State during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in aviation, speedway, golf and cricket.

Thornton Hall is important for its association with the Royal Australian Engineers, who have occupied the large site to the west of Thornton Hall from 1942, known as the Penrith Engineers Store Depot. The RAE had been associated with the site as early as 1917 however, using the rifle range at the northern end of the site. Thornton Hall was used as the Commanding Officer's Quarters form 1952 to about 1994. The depot has significance for its role in the massive expansion of military facilities during World War II, which operated as the main engineering depot for the Eastern Command from 1943 through to the Vietnam War (Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd, CMP Thornton Hall).
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Thornton Hall has local aesthetic significance for its prominent location on the rising ground to the east of the former Penrith Engineer Stores Depot. It enjoys views spanning almost 180 degrees, from the north to the south west,over the North Penrith Army Land, the City of Penrith, the flood plains of the Nepean River, and towards the Blue Mountains beyond.

Thornton Hall has local aesthetic significance as a surviving Victorian residence, albeit with some later alterations. Its aesthetic significance has been compromised with the destruction of the former rear bedrooms, alterations to the attic roof formation and the complete enclosure of the verandah and other external openings to deter vandalism.

Surviving landscaping elements have local aesthetic significance, as elements of the early entrance, approach and landscape setting of Thornton Hall.

The cricket oval has aesthetic significance at a local level for its open character, as defined by the high level of intactness of its curtilage, which is enhanced by the bordering of eucalyptus trees (Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd, CMP Thornton Hall).
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Thornton Hall has significance at a local level for the Penrith Community, as the residence of Penrith identity Thomas Smith, and as an early residence in the Penrith district (Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd, CMP Thornton Hall).
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Thornton Hall has significance for its unusual brick construction, utilising a garden wall bond. It has significance for its sandstone and river rock foundations, which reputably originate from the former Penrith Mansion "Regentville", which was destroyed by fire prior to the construction of Thornton Hall (Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd, CMP Thornton Hall).
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
N/A
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The building is representative of a 'rural' Victorian residence in the Penrith and Nepean area.
Integrity/Intactness: The 'rural setting' of the property has been lost, though the gradual encroachment of residential and industrial to the east and north, and the development to the west of the Penrith Engineers Stores Depot. A stand of eucalyptus trees to the west of the house are remnant Cumberland Plain Woodland. The original carriageway from The Crescent has been lost, although its entrance is marked by a large hoop pine. The property's location on a small rise retains significant views spanning almost 180 degrees from the north to the south west.

The buidling does not retain a high degree of integrity, having lost many of its distinguishing architectural elements, including the attic observatory, two storey bedroom wings and encircling open verandahs. The original kitchen wing at the rear has also been demolished. The building retains much original fabric, although modified to varying degrees, including brick walls( these were originally face brick), and timber joinery. Pressed metal ceilings are a later addition, timber floors have been replaced and the fireplaces rebuilt (Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd, CMP Thornton Hall).
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.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanThornton HallP-6(b)20 Dec 91 180 
Local Environmental PlanPenrith LEP 201016622 Sep 10   
Heritage studyThornton HallP-6b01 Apr 87   
Heritage study 226016601 Nov 07   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
 0P-6(b)   No
Register of the National Estate0 Contribution to Australian Heritage Commission  Yes
Penrith Heritage Study Review2005P-6bPaul Davies Pty. Ltd.  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGraham Brooks & Associates2000Conservation Management Plan for Thornton Hall
WrittenGraham Brooks & Associates1998North Penrith Urban Investigation Area, Heritage Analysis
WrittenGraham Edds & Associates1996Conservation Plan for Thornton Hall
WrittenTerry Kass2000History of Thornton Park

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: 2260166


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