"Seacroft" House | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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"Seacroft" House

Item details

Name of item: "Seacroft" House
Other name/s: House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 457-459 Princes Highway, Fernhill, NSW 2519
Local govt. area: Wollongong City
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
457-459 Princes HighwayFernhillWollongong City  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The house at 457-459 Princes Highway is of significance for Wollongong for historical, associative and aesthetic reasons, and as a representative example of Federation timber cottages in the local area and is an excellent example of Federation Queen Anne style architecture, one of few remaining in the Illawarra. "Seacroft" house is one of the earliest buildings in Fernhill circa 1914, if not the oldest standing today. The house is also associated with Lawrence Crofton, a well-respected early landowner in Tarrawanna’s first subdivision. The building presents as having a high degree of integrity when viewed externally, and makes a strong contribution to the wider area character.
Date significance updated: 09 Sep 19
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.


Builder/Maker: Lawrence Crofton
Physical description: Large single storey weatherboard house with hipped corrugated iron roof with projecting bay and verandah returning to one side, built on brick foundations. The verandah across front to the bay has skillion corrugated iron roof with hip corner, timber floor and turned timber posts. The bay has a triple window under a flying awning and a shingled screen under the timber awning gable decorated with battens and a simple fascia. There are two tall, rendered brick chimneys with steps. Original tall windows are sashed, double-hung, 2/2. Front door has a transom light. The side window has a skillion shingled gable on battened brackets.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Externally appears in good condition (1990). Good condition (2013).
Date condition updated:28 Feb 00
Modifications and dates: 2019 DA approval for sympathetic rear extension and additions
Current use: Residence
Former use: Residence


Historical notes: (The following has been abridged from Borst & Co Architects HIS, 2019):
The land was first settled by the Wodi Wodi people of the Dharawal nation. By 1811, 60 acres of land at Tarrawanna (not known as Tarrawanna at the time) was granted to James Brooker5 (just north of present-day Fernhill). Soon after, the forest is heavily logged to make way for farms and homesteads. In the following years more land grants are made and before long everything east of the escarpment is listed under European ownership. In 1835 a 1920-acre grant is made to John Buckland by Governor Bourke which becomes Balgownie Estate. This huge piece of land is subdivided into 51 lots of varying sizes, of which, lots 7 – 18 are where Fernhill is now located.

The Fernhill Subdivision of the Tarrawanna Township finally occurred on Saturday December 3rd, 1904. At this point, the Princes Highway was known as the Main South Coast Road (or even just “Main Road”), and Douglas, Pringle and Charles Roads seemingly stop all of a sudden – typical of an early subdivision. On the 1904 subdivision poster, Fernhill is advertised as being near “Corrimal-Balgownie & Mt. Pleasant Coal Mines”, confirming that proximity to the mines was still an important factor.12 It is very likely that the creation of Fernhill, similar to that of Tarrawanna and Balgownie, came entirely out of housing demand from miners.
It should be noted that according to the subdivision plan and an article in the Illawarra Mercury dated Saturday December 10th, 1904 – Lots 18 and 19 were purchased by Mr. Elphinstone and 20, 21 and 22 (the location of Seacroft House) were purchased by a J. W. Russell.

Lawrence Crofton
After acquiring James Brooker’s farmhouse in 189114 and moving in with his wife and children, they lived without incident until 1895, when the kitchen caught fire and burned the house down.Now is the first of a number of presumptions (as documented evidence of events around this time and place is limited). It can be assumed that he began reconstruction of his home shortly after this event, and as a landowner in Tarrawanna, construction on other homes as well. The Illawarra Mercury issue Saturday June 20th, 1903 states that Lawrence Crofton is “erecting another new cottage at Tarrawanna”.It is unlikely this refers to Seacroft House as further evidence suggests otherwise; it does however confirm that Crofton has built a number of other cottages.

South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus issue Friday January 22nd,1915 – “To let, Cottage Villa, Main Road, Fernhill, adjoining Mr A. L. Elphinstone; every convenience. Mr L. Crofton, Tarrawanna”.17 This almost certainly refers to Seacroft although there is no solid evidence. As stated above, Elphinstone purchased Lots 18 and 19, which does indeed adjoin lots 20 and 21 on which Seacroft is built (interestingly, Alexander Leckie Elphinstone was a prominent architect, though there is no evidence he had anything to do with Seacroft). South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus issue Friday January 17th, 1919 – “To let, at Fernhill, a Villa “Seacroft” every convenience. Apply, L. Crofton, Tarrawanna”. This is the first instance of the word Seacroft being used. Whether this is an amalgamation of Sea and Crofton is unclear, but whatever happened between 1915 and 1919 is unknown.

Unfortunately, the first documentation of Seacroft being inhabited is in 1934, so the events between 1919 and 1934 are also unknown.

The Collier Family
Son of William Collier and Mary Anne Collier, Joseph James Collier snr was born in 1863 in Newsham, Northumberland, England. After migrating to the Fernhill Estate in 1907, he started work as a miner. Their house was on 17 Douglas Road and can still be seen today. In 1916 he joined the 16th reinforcement, 2nd battalion and fought in WW1. He was sent to Sunray trench in 1917 and was awarded a military medal for running messages “with absolute disregard for his own personal safety”.

Joseph returned home unscathed in 1919 and resumed work as a miner, now residing at 8 Broker Street, Tarrawanna (a miner’s cottage).21 In 1923 he married Mary Kathleen Crofton (the daughter of Lawrence Crofton) in Moss Vale and they moved into their Tarrawanna home. It is evident that the Crofton family (excluding William and Mary Anne) moved to “459 Main Road, Fernhill” after Joseph Collier put up an advertisement for a 1930 Whippett automobile. Interestingly, in 1935, Joseph brought in an elderly fellow miner, Harry Roebuck, to live with them in Seacroft until he passed away on May 10th 1946.

On Saturday July 6th, 1946, the Colliers’ daughter Winifred married Michael McGoldrick and celebrations were hosted at Seacroft, after which Michael moves in.25 Unfortunately, Joseph Collier was so ill he was unable to walk his daughter down the aisle, and on December 26th, 1946, he passed away at Wollongong Hospital. On September 26th, 1947, the South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus declares “For Sale, one block of land 50 x 150 (feet) Fern Hill. Apply M. T. McGoldrick”, referring to the block of land north of Seacroft. This was later (exact year uncertain) loaned by Harry Henson (of Henson’s Buses) and a nursery is established.

In 1952, a fifth birthday party was thrown for Josephine McGoldrick, daughter of Winifred and Michael29 and in 1954, Patricia Collier (the other daughter of Joseph and Mary Kathleen Collier) moves back for a number of years. A few years later the McGoldricks’ move to Bega, then King’s Cross and so too does Patricia depart, leaving just Mary Kathleen Collier and Joseph Collier junior living in Seacroft. In 1959, the garage is added and around 1979 Mary Kathleen Collier moves out. She passes away in Fairy Meadow in 1984. Now only Joseph James Collier junior lives at Seacroft, with no indication (in electoral rolls) that anybody else lived there with him.

The house has since changed ownership a number of times.

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. Housing in villages and suburbs-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Local: One of the earliest buildings in Fernhill circa 1914, if not the oldest standing today
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Local: Seacroft was presumably built by Lawrence Crofton, a well-respected early landowner in Tarrawanna’s first subdivision. Seacroft was occupied by Joseph Collier, a military medal recipient from WW1.
The tenant of the northern part of Seacroft’s block was Harry Henson, founder of Wollongong’s first taxi and bus service.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Local: Seacroft is an excellent example of Federation Queen Anne style architecture, commonly built between 1890 – 1915. It is one of the few examples in the Illawarra
SHR Criteria f)
SHR Criteria g)
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:

Retain and conserve. There is a limited possibility for additions, which should be limited to single storey and within existing setbacks to sides. No alterations should take place between the house and the Princes Highway. Any additions or further modifications should be located at the back. Any repairs should follow original detail in form, fabric and finish.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan  07 Jan 00 1/200069
Local Environmental PlanWollongong LEP 2009621226 Feb 10 2010-76 
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
City of Wollongong Heritage Study1991B65-NMcDonald McPhee Rogers Conacher FullartonCatherine Macarthur No
Review of heritage items in Wollongong LGA2013 Zoran 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: 2700523

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