Cottage | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage



Item details

Name of item: Cottage
Other name/s: Gardener's Cottage
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Cottage
Primary address: The Drive, Concord, NSW 2137
Local govt. area: Canada Bay
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
The DriveConcordCanada BayCONCORDCUMBERLANDPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Ministry of HealthState Government20 Jul 05

Statement of significance:

The Thomas Walker Estate is a rare, surviving, later 19th century major institution of a private architect's design in Australia and is John Sulman's finest work in this country. It features a large number of Italianate motifs and decorative elements which reflect John Sulman's first-hand experience of Italian architecture as a result of his continental travels. Additionally, the buidings on teh site reflect Sulman's use of advanced building science concepts including one of thefirst known uses of "cavity walls" (or "hollow walls") to insulate interiors against harsh summer sun rays.
The TWCH embodies the late 19th century concept of competition deisgns for the cration of major institutions.
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: J Sulman
Physical description: Exterior: The Gardener's Cottage is an essentially L-shaped single storey structure which was intended as the gardener's residence. Befitting this function, it is the most intimate and domestic in scale of the outbuildings.
Relative to its size, this is the most extensively altered of the outbuildings. While most of the changes are internal, some of these are reflected on the exterior. The long facade facing north has been punctured by a full height bay window, replacing an original simple window. This elaboration altered the roof shape as well by interrupting the hoizontal eaves line with a clumsy projection of the roof over the bay window. While the detailing of the addition is sympathetic , it subverts Sulman's original intentions.
The western and southern facades have been altered in two stages. Teh first stage of alterations has seen the door to the rear toilet blocked in and turned into a window, another window cut in the same wall, the stairs leading to the toilet door removed and an additional room constructed by filling in part of the verandah on the south side. These alterations were generated by internal changes to the building. The time of this alteration has yet to be determined (Fig. 4.37).
Another round of alterations in 1991 reversed some of the earlier additions, such as the verandah infill. This renovation is not only responsible for the bay window discussed above, but also the filling in of the existing archway with a panelled reproduction door, set in a poorly detailed glazed surround. the front porch was tiled with tessellated tiles which are intrusive and contradict Sulman's original design principles.
The roof has been completely re-tiled in a Marseillaise pattern Modern French style tile which is appropriate, but unfortunately the Federation-style ram's horn finials are incorrect and intrusive as there was no such element used originally. The chimney's are topped by arched chimney pots which are recent introductions.
Interior: The original design of the Gardener's cottage consists of two main zones; a front section consisting of three main rooms at the front, accessed from a central hallway and a rear section consisting of service rooms which are accessed from the side verandah. In 1991, the interior of the Gardener's Cottage was refurbished and several alterations were made to the bidling's structure. The living spaces were extended into a kitchen/meals facility. The original fuel store and cooking fireplaces wer removed and the originals scullery and WC were converted into a bathroom, laundry and internal toilet which are linked internally to the rest of the building.
New finishes have been applied to most of the interior with original skirtings and lime render remaining only in the entrance hallway. New electrical work has been carried out in an unobtrusive fashion, however the new curtain hardware and 'country style' kitchen are considered obtrusive. Doors and windows are mostly original and the main fireplaces remain intact.
Most of the original doors and windows with their associated joinery are in place although the original WC opening has been infille dand new doors from kitchen to verandah and to bathroom areas have been added.
Modifications and dates: 1991


Historical notes: The establishment of the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospitla was inititaed by a 100000 pound bequest in the will of Thomas Walker, who died in 1886. He was a philanthropist, at various times a member of the Legislative Council of NSW, President and Director of the Bank of NSW, a magistrate and a prominent man of commerce. Walker resided at Yaralla Estate at Concord, later to become known as the Dame Eadith Walker Estate, home to the Dame Eadith Walker Convalescent Hospital. He requested in his will that a portion of the Estate, known as Rocky Point be set aside for the building of the Hospital. This would fulfil a desire he had ben harbouring for some time during his life but had been unable to fulfil due to other pressures. To fulfil Walker's wishes, the executors of the will Joanna Walker, thomas Walker's sister, A Consett Stephens and AJ Mackenzie announced a competition in April 1888 for the design of a convalescent hospital on Rocky Point. Judges were thomas Buckland, Thomas Rowe and a qualified physician. The winning design was John Kirkpatrick. The reasons for Sulman becoming Architect are not clear. However, Kirkpatrick's scheme was criticised as being to expensive and in mid 1889 it was announced that although Kirkpatrick's design was to be built, the architectural commission had been given to messr's Sulman and Power. This led to further criticism. sulman had also been engaged as a consultant during hte competition and had been acting as an advisor to one of the Trustees. A new plan was recommended combining features of several of the competition designs, but the Trustees were under no obligation to appoint the competition winner as architect. This may help to explain Sulman's appointment. Tenders were called for the building of the hospital in Aug 1889. In Dec Alexander M Allen was accepted with a quote of 65189 pounds. Works was then sub-contracted out. The final cost of the hospital was 150 000 pounds, the extra 50 000 pounds being contribued by Eadith Wlaker, Joanna Walker and Anne Sulman, Eadiths childhood companion. The hospital was opened on 21 Sept 1893 and was used for convalescence until World War 2.
In Feb 1943 the miliary took possession of the hospital under regulartion 54 of the National Security (General) Regulations act. The use of the hospital for convalesence was discontinued and ws run by the Australian Red Cross as the 3rd Australian Women's Hospital until March/April 1946. The Perpetual Trustees regained control of the estate in 1946 and the hospital was again used for public convalescence. In 1976 teh Trustees decided that the use of the site as a convalescent hospital was no longer a viaable propostion and entrusted it to the NSW health Commission on the condition that it be used as closely as possible to Thomas Walker's intentions. Administration of hte site was given to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital who used it for seven years as Rivendell Adolescent Unit, a rehabilitation centre for emotionally disturbed adolescents.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Health-Activities associated with preparing and providing medical assistance and/or promoting or maintaining the well being of humans (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital is a rare major institution which has survived along the foreshores the Parrramatta River from the 19th century. the Thomas walker convalescent Hospital is the only other convalescent hospital to have survived from the 19th century.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Sir John Sulman:
The Thomas walker Convalescent Hospital is John Sulman's finest building of his Australian career. he was an accomplished architect having designed almost one hundred buildings during his professional career. sulman is also noted for being 'the founder' of the Australian town planning movement and for his bequest for Sulman Art and Sulman Architecture prizes.
Decorative motifs:
The Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital major building embody a large number of Italian motifs and decroative elements which reflect John Sulman's first hand experiance of Italian architecture as a result of his continental travels. this was in contrast with most 19th century Australian architects, who relied on published sketch book details.
the TWCH major buildings also embody a large number of purpose-made decroative elements, such as vents and rainwater heads, which were especially made for the hospital bearing the 'TW' initials.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Thomas Walker died a multi-millionaire and was known in Australia and overseas, as one of the country's leading pastoralists and merchants.
He was once director of the Australian Steam Navigation Company. During the 1840s he was a political representative of the constituency of Port Phillip. In 1845 he signed a petition asking for Port Phillip to be made into separate colony. Later in his life his activities included local issues such as the Robertson's Land Act of 1861. Thomas Walker also served as the Director of the Bank of New South Walse in 1859 and was President from 1869 to 1886.
SHR Criteria f)
The thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital is a rare 19th century hospital complex which has been virtually unchanged since its inception in 1891-93.
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:

Refer to Thomas Walker Estate Conservation Management Plan (1997), Thomas Walker Estate Facilities Management Plan Vol 1, Vol 2 (1997)


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerDep. Of Health s.170 Register    

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenOtto Cserhalmi & Partners, Schwager Brooks and Par Study

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

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 3540031

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