Massandra and Ballinderry | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Massandra and Ballinderry

Item details

Name of item: Massandra and Ballinderry
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 16 - 24 Fords Road, Thirroul, NSW 2515
Parish: Wollongong
County: Camden
Local govt. area: Wollongong City
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
16 - 24 Fords RoadThirroulWollongong CityWollongongCamdenPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The house “Massandra”, originally “Ballinderry” and its gardens are of significance for historic, associative, aesthetic, social/cultural, and scientific reasons, and for reasons of rarity and representativeness. The property grounds have natural heritage values and may comprise archaeological relics. The house has retained the grandeur and style of the 1900s and presents a representative example of high quality Federation Queen Anne architectural style. The house is aesthetically distinctive and exemplifies technology and taste of its period and style. It has strong associations to the locally significant Kirton family and to Dr James who was responsible for a revolutionary treatment for Asthma. The house demonstrates excellent craftsmanship in the detailed brickwork and is architecturally of interest due to elements of English 'country house' styles. It is of rare architectural quality in the Thirroul and Illawarra contexts and presents one of the earliest examples of twentieth century English revival style in Australia.
Date significance updated: 02 Dec 14
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.


Physical description: The grand house and gardens were built circa 1900 in a Federation style consisting of 2 separate main buildings originally joined by a conservatory. As well a single storey residence was built, which was a Romantic style brick residence with wide verandahs tiled roof and detailed brickwork. The original buildings included ballroom, conservatory, and coach house and servants quarters. The crushed stone driveway swept past the main residence where the Kirton family lived, up to the conservatory and double storey building which housed the family automobile. This double storey building also contained a guest bedroom and smoking room for the gentlemen downstairs. A timber staircase in the conservatory led to the upper level of the two storey building and was used as an office by Bernie Kirton. The conservatory was of timber construction and had openings from the driveway and also on the opposite side, onto the paved area with gardens beyond. Both openings had large roller doors for protection from the weather. The second level of the conservatory was enclosed by walls consisting of small paned windows rand internally a walkway around these windows walls constructed to take advantage of the views at that time (window walls also existed on the south, east and northern sides). Stairs also led to the flat roof which had a timber balustrade and was used for another vantage point for, viewing and perhaps sunroom. The main family residence was built of brick - tuck pointing was used, with large timber verandahs around all sides of the house. An enclosed room off this verandah was used for schooling of the Kirton family -access from the verandah and also the conservatory. The gardens were of English design and planted with exotic species from Bernie’s travels around the world. A swimming pool and tennis court at the front of the property saw many social gatherings with friends and family. Large areas of lawn complimented the gardens and the style of the house. Sandstone paved pathways linked areas of the garden, across creeks and natural springs to the orchards, windmill and well.
Current use: Residential
Former use: Residential


Historical notes: Land is part of the original land grants of David Ballatyne and Samuel McAuley. The house was built for Bernard (“Bernie”) Kirton, Managing Director of the Excelsior mines and son of John S Kirton, Bulli Shire President famous for founding Kings Theatre and local Library, and for resuming land on Thirroul Beach. Bernard Kirton conducted his business from his office in the upstairs building on his property. Bernie built and named the house in Fords Road "Ballinderry" after the town from which his first wife had come from in Ireland. The mines ran from what is now known as Green Pinch on Bulli Pass through to near Austinmer. Stables for the “pit ponies” were situated at the top of Fords Road. In 1947 Dr Alexander James acquired the property and renamed it Massandra after one of the Russian Tsar's holiday homes. He opened a Sanatorium/Guest House. He practised alternative methods of treating asthma sufferers and with this in mind set out to plant numerous species of pine trees throughout the gardens. These plantings were to “clean the air” –part of Dr James' method of healing. Although this would have seemed a great improvement in the air quality according to the doctor, it virtually destroyed the original garden. Many trees became overgrown, uprooting the paving and generally changing the layout of the whole garden. Some of these pines remain today. Russian refugees and patients of the doctor were billeted in the two storey building where the second floor had been divided into bedrooms. At the time the two storey residence was used as a hospital. Many original features of the property by this time were altered or destroyed through neglect. It was sold in 1965 to new owners and extensive renovations had to be made. A single storey addition was added to the western side of the 2 storey residence in 1970. Original fixtures were kept where ever possible during the process of renovation. In 1981 the conservatory was demolished due to termite infestation. Some of the wood and fixtures have been kept. The property was subdivided. (Conacher 2007).

(Based on Illawarra Escarpment Heritage Assessment, 2007, by Mayne-Wilson & Associates and Heritage Futures in association with Godden Mackay Logan): In the nineteenth and early twentieth century it was the common practice for mining companies to build a house for the mine manager. The mine manger’s house was usually within easy walking distance of the mine, sometimes in a group of houses built for other key employees. The mine mangers house is usually distinguished by a combination of attributes: its siting - with a view of the mine or the locality -, its size larger that other houses (often with verandahs on all sides), and with a large well-developed garden sometimes including a tennis court. A mine manager’s house and garden is often the equivalent of several suburban house lots. In the Illawarra not every mining company provided a house for the manager, and not every manager (or their wives) chose to live in a company house, especially by the mid 20th century. Although many mine mangers houses were built only 10 are known to remain; however, more detailed research of records and consultation with the community might reveal further information about past or present houses built or occupied by mine managers.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The item has historic value.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The item has landscape, architectural and aesthetic value.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The item has social value.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
SHR Criteria f)
SHR Criteria g)
The item has representative value.
Integrity/Intactness: The item has integrity.
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:

In case of major changes, a CMP is recommended. No alterations or additions should change views to any of the houses from publicly accessible areas. Any fabric repairs should follow original details in form, material and finish. The main part of the house under the gable roof is believed to have remained substantially intact and should be conserved. The internal staircase has been added along with modifications to internal walls. The single storey extension to the west is not significant fabric and may be modifed.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanWollongong LEP 2009635326 Feb 10 2010-76 
Local Environmental Plan  11 Aug 93   
Local Environmental Plan  07 Jan 00 1/200069

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
City of Wollongong Heritage Study1991B36-NMcDonald McPhee Rogers Conacher FullartonCatherine Macarthur No
Review of heritage items in Wollongong LGA20136353Zoran PopovicZoran Popovic Yes

References, internet links & images


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2700043

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