Windmill Hill Group | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Windmill Hill Group

Item details

Name of item: Windmill Hill Group
Other name/s: North Farm, Middle Farm, South Farm, Steven's Homestead
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Farming and Grazing
Category: Agriculture
Location: Lat: 34 13 03 S Long: 150 46 39 E
Primary address: Wilton Road, Appin, NSW 2560
Local govt. area: Wollondilly

Boundary:

North: Tree line to the north of North Farm and Steven’s Homestead. South: Line extending from the tree line to the water treatment plant, including the creek, dam and an area of bushland. East: Tree line to the east of Steven’s Homestead. West: Boundary with the water treatment plant, Wilton Road, and poultry farm, including an area of grassed paddock.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Wilton RoadAppinWollondilly  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Water NSWState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Windmill Hill Group has State heritage significance.

It demonstrates the pattern of middle level farming and settlement in the Cumberland Plain from the 1820s to the early twentieth century, through its cluster of ruined farm buildings, plantings and archaeological remains within a relatively intact rural setting. The place is associated with Governor Macquarie land grants in the period 1816 to 1820.

When viewed from below the western ridgeline, there are few visible modern elements in the landscape, which creates a strong sense of place and retains the historic setting of the group of farm buildings and their relationship to one another. The rural vernacular character of the various buildings and ruins contributes to the high aesthetic quality of the group, as does the setting with its combination of cultivated plantings, cleared paddocks and remnant native bushland. This significance is reinforced through the visual connections between each individual farm across the valley.

The collection of building ruins and landscape features has a high level of significance as they demonstrate varying construction techniques and vernacular styles from the early to late nineteenth century, which have the ability to provide information on the relative construction periods and also the fortunes of the early settlers that occupied them. The granary in particular would appear to be a rare example of a fortified structure, and if so demonstrates the importance of storing and securing grain in the early decades of the colony.
Date significance updated: 19 Aug 09
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

Physical description: The Windmill Hill Group comprises of early to mid nineteenth century farm buildings, mostly in ruins, with associated cultural plantings and archaeological remains, in a relatively intact rural setting. Three of the clusters of buildings (North, Middle and South farms) run north-south along a ridgeline running parallel to Winton Road on its eastern side. To the east the land slopes down to a small creek and has been cleared to create paddocks for cropping and grazing. At the southern end of the valley formed by the creek there is an area of remnant native bushland and a stone dam. Steven’s Homestead is on the up-slope of the small valley on its eastern side. There are a range of building types represented in the group including stone ashlar, stone rubble, timber slab and weatherboard.

North Farm (Brennan’s Farm)
North Farm is 94 acres granted to Moses and Michael Brennan in 1816. The farm buildings consist of two structures: a former sandstone farm building, which is in ruins and a dilapidated timber slab homestead. It sits in an immediate landscape that retains a nineteenth century character of cleared pasture with the view to the east remaining substantially cleared paddocks and bushland as it would have been in the earliest days of European settlement on the property. It also retains a relationship with the other three farms in the group.

The timber slab building remains in fair condition and recent works have been undertaken to ‘mothball’ the structure (including new roof gutters and downpipes). The structure comprises of a main cottage and the remains of a former rear kitchen and laundry. The cottage has a mix of weatherboard, timber slab and corrugated iron clad walls. The gabled roof remains and has been over-sheeted with corrugated iron over timber shingles. Only the brick chimneys of the rear kitchen and laundry remain.

The granary building to the north of the North Farm house is random-coursed, split faced ashlar sandstone construction with dressed quoins and sills. Walls comprise of an inner and outer skin, with rubble infill and some through stones to bind both skins. Only the northern and western walls remain partially standing above head height. The western wall has an unusual V shaped slit half way up the wall. While this may be a ventilation slit, its position and width has led to local suggestion that it was a fortified structure and the opening is a loophole. There is no evidence of the timber dairy addition, noted in the 2002 CMP (GML).

Middle Farm (Larkin’s Farm)
The Middle Farm sits in a immediate landscape that retains a nineteenth century character of cleared pasture with the view to the east over substantially cleared paddocks and bushland as it would have been in the earliest days of European settlement on the property. It also retains a visual relationship with the other three farms in the group.

In 1977 the Middle Farm was described as having rendered stone walls and french doors opening to a wooden verandah in the front. The wooden doorways were described as carefully detailed and the house still had its cedar joinery, with mantelpiece and built-in cupboards each side of the fireplace in the living room (Macarthur Development Board 1977: 63).

The extant structure comprises of the 3-rooms main rooms with lean-to annexe at the rear. Walls are sandstone laid in regular courses with either a picked or split finish, and there is evidence of previous limewash finishes to the interior and exterior walls. The differing finishes to the sandstone walls indicate that the building was constructed as various stages. The gable roof over the main structure remains, and has been over-sheeted with corrugated iron over original/early timber shingles. The skillion roof over the lean-to is similarly treated, however has partially collapsed. There is no evidence remaining of the interior joinery, including fenestration, mantles or floors. The timber battens and lathes (part) of an early lathe and plaster ceiling within the main rooms remain.

To the rear of the house there are remnant timber posts, stone, brick and corrugated iron from the now collapsed kitchen. In 1977 it was described as a weatherboard kitchen connected to the house by a covered way, with a stone-flagged courtyard between, fenced with wooden slabs (Macarthur Development Board 1977: 63).

South Farm
In 1977 a description of the Windmill Hill area describes a ruin of an early house with stone walled rooms at each end of a collapsed timber central part, to the south of Middle Farm (Macarthur Development Board 1977: 63). The area immediately to the north of the dairy at South Farm is heavily overgrown and there are a number of introduced shrubs and small trees adjacent to the large brick cistern. It is likely the stone ruin was located in this area.

The former dairy building is a timber framed and corrugated iron clad structure constructed on a concrete base. The majority of the roof and wall cladding remains intact and as such the structure is in a fair condition. Other early elements at the site include a well of masonry construction, remains of a timber post-and-rail fence and remnant orchard plantings to the south-east.

Stevens Homestead
The principal feature of the site is the remains of what appears to have been a sandstone residence now in a ruinous state. The ruin has a rectangular footprint, measuring approx. 15.5m long x 6.7m wide and is constructed of sandstone rubble. The walls are mostly collapsed however would indicate that the residence originally comprised of at least 6 rooms. There is evidence of a plaster finish to the exterior walls, scored to imitate a regular ashlar stone wall. There is evidence of two fireplaces within the stonework.

Sandstock brick remnants around the ruin, would indicate that there were other structures at the site.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Poor
Date condition updated:19 Aug 09
Further information: The Windmill Hill Group has high archaeological potential. Each of the homestead sites have potential archaeological remains associated with the domestic occupation of the sites from the 1820s throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The landscape group as a whole has the potential to contain evidence of agricultural practices throughout the same period, including cropping, milling, pastoral activity and water management.

The North Farm is likely to contain artefact deposits associated with the use of the house and outbuildings and there are known remnant brick and stone footings around the granary and in the area to the rear of the house.

The Middle Farm is likely to contain artefact deposits associated with the use of the house and outbuildings and there are known remnant brick and stone footings to the rear of the house associated with the former kitchen area and remnant of timber buildings to the north of the house. The earth platform to the south of the house is likely to contain evidence of the timber mill that was in operation there until the late nineteenth century.

The South Farm is likely to contain evidence of the original house in the area of vegetation to the south and east of the large cistern. This house is likely to have been early (1820s-40s) and as such it would be expected that a reasonable build up of artefact deposits would be on the site in association with remnant footings of the house and its outbuildings. A privy and dump could also be expected.
Steven’s Homestead is likely to contain artefact deposits associated with the use of the house and outbuildings. There are fragments of sandstock brick visible through the vegetation immediately to the east of the main house as well as mounding of the grass, most likely evidence of kitchens, laundry and possibly stables and storage sheds.
Current use: Catchment
Former use: Agriculture

History

Historical notes: North Farm was granted to Moses and Michael Brennan in 1816. The small size of the grant indicates that the land was suitable for grain production. A notice appears in the Sydney Gazette of January 1822 requesting Moses and Michael Brennan of Appin to supply wheat for the Government stores. Members of the Brennan family owned the property up until 1907, during which time the property was adapted for a variety of agricultural activities.

By the 1850's wheat was one of the main agricultural products of the district and a number of mills were constructed in the district. The mill that gave Windmill Hill its name was erected in 1846 by Edward Larkin, a Sussex miller who came to Australia with his wife Jane in 1837. Larkin's mill operated for almost 25 years. The mill's life was ended as a result of the rust virus that had begun to attack the colony's wheat crop east of the dividing range by the 1850's. By the 1870s, the rust virus had all but destroyed wheat production in areas east of the dividing range, where climatic conditions helped the disease to flourish.

South Farm is situated within the boundaries of a 500 acre grant made to Richard Tress in 1819. It is likely that the land was more suited to grazing than grain production, as it was much larger than that granted to the Brennans. He sold 190 acres to his neighbour on the eastern side, Daniel Miller in 1829. In 1831 Tress sold the rest of his land to WR Tress. Tress in turn sold the land to Matthew and Catherine Healey in 1838. In 1842, after the death of Matthew Healey the property was sold to John Bray.

The property remained in the Bray family until it was sold to Harry Winton in 1884. The Wintons retained the property with only minor changes for 85 years, adding Larkin's to it in 1903.

Harry Winton died in 1921 and the property was left to be run by his sons William and Charles. In 1969 the property was sold to the Windmill Hill Pastoral Company. It is unclear when the property was incorporated into the Metropolitan Catchment Area, although it appears farming ceased in the 1970's. The original land grant was subdivided in the 1990's when the western slope of the site was developed as a water treatment facility.

The Stevens Property is situated on 400 acres of land originally granted to Daniel Millar on 17 August 1819. It appears that the property was initially used mainly for dairying and has followed a similar land-use patter to that of South Farm. In 1829, Millar purchased a further 190 acres from his neighbour R Tress (South Farm/Windmill Hill). This purchase increased the size of Millar's property to the south and made the creek, previously running through Tress's property the new boundary between the two farms. Little else is known about the property as there is no significant documentary evidence pertaining to the site. It seems the site is locally known after the last occupiers of the site, the Stevens around the mid 20th century.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Windmill Hill Group has State heritage significance under this criterion.

It demonstrates the pattern of middle level farming and settlement in the Cumberland Plain from the 1820s to the early twentieth century. The place is associated with Governor Macquarie land grants in the period 1816 to 1820.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Based on current knowledge, the site has no known associations with people or events of note in the history of NSW or the local area.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Windmill Hill Group has State heritage significance under this criterion. When viewed from below the western ridgeline, there are few visible modern elements in the landscape, providing a strong sense of place and retaining the historic setting of the group of farm buildings and their relationship to one another. North and Middle farms in particular are distinctive visual elements along the ridgeline.

The rural vernacular character of the buildings contributes to the high aesthetic quality of the group, as does the setting with its combination of cleared paddocks and remnant native bushland. Each farm represents an important component of the overall cultural landscape of the area and each farm reinforces the contribution of the other, strengthened by the visual sightlines between them.

The collection of building ruins and landscape features also has a high level of technical significance as they demonstrate varying construction techniques and vernacular styles from the early to late nineteenth century.

The stone dam, which appears to date from the early to mid nineteenth century has technical significance, despite its partially collapsed state, as a relatively uncommon example of a substation domestic water supply from this period.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The social significance of the Windmill Hill Group has not been formally assessed through community consultation, but it has no known strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group. It may have significance for the descendants of the first settlers on this property, but this attachment does not meet the thresholds for significance under this particular criterion.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Windmill Hill Group has moderate to high archaeological research potential and may have State heritage significance under this criterion. Each homestead site has the potential to provide information about early settlement within the southern limits of the Cumberland Plain that is not available from other sources. This includes evidence of agricultural practices such as cropping, milling and water management as well as domestic life for the middle class settlers of the area. The construction of the granary (sandstone) at North Farm has particular significance under this criterion for its ability to inform of the importance of storing and securing grain in the early nineteenth century. The combination of construction techniques utilised for the various buildings and ruins has the potential to provide information on the different construction periods for the collection, as well as the relative fortune of the early settlers that occupied these properties.

The research potential of the group is increased by the number of possible sites available for investigation within a small geographic area.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The Windmill Hill Group has State heritage significance under this criterion.

It is an unusual surviving group of early to mid-nineteenth century farm building ruins, plantings and archaeological remains in a largely intact rural landscape. When viewed from below the ridgeline the group maintains its historic setting with few modern visual intrusions. This is extremely unusual in the Cumberland Plain. While there are a number of other surviving farms from this period in the Cumberland Plain region, many from grants made by Governor Macquarie, the number of farms within the group is also unusual as many early landscapes of this nature have been subdivided. The relatively intact relationship of the four farms within their landscape setting adds to the rarity of the group as does the fact they are from middle level farming activity. Many of the other surviving early colonial homesteads are larger properties by notable architects or with connections to the landed gentry and are single farm sites.

The Pinus radiata at Middle Farm, which appears to be up to 130 years is a rare surviving, early example of its kind in NSW. The stone dam, may be a particularly early and rare example of a domestic water supply from the early nineteenth century.

The ruin of the granary building at North Farm is unusual in that it appears to have a loophole or gun slit in the remaining section of the western wall. Although this can’t be proven, if it is evidence of a fortified agricultural building this would be rare in a State context.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The differing construction techniques utilised for the various buildings and ruins are good representative examples of other similar vernacular structures from the early nineteenth century and reflect the ‘make do’ nature of the early settlers.
Integrity/Intactness: The Windmill Hill Group, comprising of the three farms (North, Middle and South Farms) and Steven’s Homestead has a moderate to high level of integrity.

The individual farms comprising the Windmill Hill group have the following level of integrity/intactness:
North Farm (Brennan’s Farm) - Moderate to high (architectural quality and archaeological potential)
Middle Farm (Larkin’s Farm) - Moderate (architectural quality and archaeological potential)
South Farm - Little (architectural quality), Moderate to high (archaeological potential)
Steven’s Homestead - Moderate to high (archaeological potential only)
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:

Recommended Management: Manage the place and its components in accordance with the NSW Heritage Office Management Principles and Guidelines for NSW Agencies including the minimum standards of maintenance and repair. Recommended Management: Prepare a maintenance schedule for the item(s) in Maximo. Recommended Management: Undertake environmental impact assessment (EIA) when planning works on the site (refer to SCA's EIA Policy). Prepare a Statement of Heritage Impact and gain S60 or S140 Heritage Office approval prior to undertaking any non-exempt works on the site. Recommended Management: Carry out annual condition inspections and report condition in SCA annual report. Recommended Management: Consult experienced heritage practitioners and the SCA's Planning and Assessment Team during the preparation and execution of works to the place. Recommended Management: Manage in accordance with Conservation Management Plan.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerWindmill Hill Group458016819 Aug 09   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenDepartment of Commerce2009Windmill Hill Group - Statement of Significance
WrittenGodden McKay Logan2002SCA Historic Appin Properties - Conservation Management Plan
WrittenRod Howard Heritage Conservation P/L1994Windmill Farm Group - Review of Cultural Heritage Assessment Report and Prepartion of a Conservation Policy

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: State Government
Database number: 4580168


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