David Berry Hospital Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


David Berry Hospital Precinct

Item details

Name of item: David Berry Hospital Precinct
Other name/s: Original Buildings & Gate House - David Berry Hospital
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Health Services
Category: Hospital
Location: Lat: -34.7755855469 Long: 150.7148168900
Primary address: Beach Road, Berry, NSW 2535
Parish: Coolangatta
County: Camden
Local govt. area: Shoalhaven
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Jerrinja
Hectares (approx): 11.61
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP913853
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Beach RoadBerryShoalhavenCoolangattaCamdenPrimary Address
85 Tannery RoadBerryShoalhavenCoolangattaCamdenAlternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
NSW Department of HealthState Government 

Statement of significance:

David Berry Hospital Precinct of State heritage significance for its historical association with David Berry. It is also of architectural and aesthetic significance for is association with designer Colonial Architect WL Vernon and Howard Joseland.
Date significance updated: 12 Oct 11
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: H Joseland and Walter Liberty Vernon
Construction years: 1909-1909
Physical description: The central main building is of two storey constructionand flanked either side by singel storey wings. The gate house is also of note. Constructed in red brick with a slate roof. Upper section stucco on a sandstone base with stucco decorative detailing.
Modifications and dates: 1975
Current use: Hospital
Former use: Hospital


Historical notes: A bequest left to the people of Berry by David Berry who died in 1889. Hospital opened 18 September 1909 by Premier of NSW, the Hon Charles Gregory Wade. Cost of building was 7,900 pounds. Renovated in part in 1975.

David Hay:
David Berry (1795-1889), agriculturist and landowner, was baptized on 29 December 1795 at Cupar, Fife, Scotland, although tradition in his later years had him born in 1788 and therefore 'as old as the colony'. He was eighth of nine children born to James Berrie (d.1827) and his wife Isabel Tod (d.1830). His education began at Cupar Grammar School. After his father's death he managed the family farm until in 1835 a dispute arose with the landowner over the family's rights as outgoing tenants. An appeal to the House of Lords appears to have been decided in Berry's favour. With his brothers John and William and his sisters Janet (d.1860) and Agnes (d.1872), he put into effect a long-held idea to join their eldest brother Alexander in New South Wales. They arrived at Sydney in July 1836 in the Midlothian and went at once to Coolangatta, the Shoalhaven property which at Edward Wollstonecraft's death in 1832 had passed entirely to Alexander.
Until John Berry died in 1848 he and David managed the property jointly. The greater part of the land was undeveloped and most of the work force was convict. The number of their assigned servants appears to have increased from an original hundred to some three hundred in the 1840s. The main source of income was the breeding of cattle and horses, which were scientifically improved by imported blood. After John's death David began leasing some of the land. By 1850 he had thirty-six tenants, who paid 20s. an acre for cleared ground and were allowed five years without rent in order to clear timbered land. When convict labour ceased, trial was made of Chinese labourers and of German families hired in Hamburg. The Chinese did well as dairymen and house servants but in general their usefulness was limited. Leasing was continued and by 1863 he had almost three hundred tenants, who occupied some 8650 acres (3500 ha) or about a sixth of Coolangatta and paid an aggregate rent of about (Pounds)6000. The responsibility for this reorganization was borne by David; Alexander commented: 'I am told that the management is killing you'.
The Shoalhaven property had been mortgaged in the depressed 1840s but the mortgage appears to have been discharged by 1860, probably because of David's policies. When Alexander Berry died in September 1873 David inherited his estate, valued at (Pounds)400,000 and consisting broadly of 60,000 acres (24,281 ha) at Shoalhaven and 500 acres (202 ha) at North Sydney. William Berry died in October 1875, also leaving a will in David's favour. He continued to lease the Shoalhaven land on terms considered more than lenient; in some cases the sale of the unexpired portions of leases reputedly brought sufficient profit from the 'goodwill' to finance the purchase of properties on the Richmond and Clarence Rivers. Berry also introduced the practice of sharefarming with land, implements and materials provided by the estate and labour by the farmer, the profits to be shared on an agreed basis.
After 1883 the management of the Shoalhaven estate passed increasingly to Berry's cousin, (Sir) John Hay. When David Berry died unmarried at Coolangatta on 23 September 1889 he left an estate valued at (Pounds)1,250,000. Hay was the principal beneficiary of his will and, with James Norton, an executor of it.
The most interesting feature of this will was its fulfilment of Alexander Berry's desire to assist the University of St Andrews. Alexander's intimate friend, Sir Charles Nicholson, had told Lyon Playfair, member of parliament for the Universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews, of Alexander's intention and had discussed with him Alexander's idea that the money should be used to endow a chair of dietetics. When Alexander died Playfair had informed David of his personal interest as a chemist in the dietetics proposal and had emphasized the university's need of money. David Berry's will provided (Pounds)100,000 for the University of St Andrews, (Pounds)100,000 for a hospital in the Shoalhaven area and (Pounds)30,000 for the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales. Before the bequests could be finalized, much of the land upon the sale of which they depended had to be drained and improved to make it marketable. Some alteration was later made by Act of parliament in the form of the Shoalhaven hospital bequest.
Berry's funeral service was remarkable in that the local Church of England, Presbyterian and Methodist clergymen shared in it. Archbishops John Bede Polding and Roger Vaughan had regarded him as a kind and friendly figure. He had none of the irritability which Alexander acknowledged in himself. This irritability creates a misleading impression in Alexander's letters to David: David was no more dilatory as a manager than Alexander had been before 1832 when Wollstonecraft pestered him with vituperative letters about Shoalhaven affairs. Like Alexander, David was immensely hospitable within a framework of great social dignity, a generous quality which Henry Parkes freely acknowledged. He was deeply interested in the education of the children on the estate. In Alexander's words, 'David's delight was to provide them with schools'. In the early years he undertook much of the teaching himself. Like Alexander he read widely; he took particular interest in the Scientific American, first published in 1859. He had many scientific interests: he and William Berry experimented with paddle wheel and screw propeller design; much of the farm machinery was made on the estate; and he supervised the building of two steamers, Meeinderry and Coomonderry. Roads, wharves and a wide variety of buildings were constructed under his management and when he died he had plans for three churches. He was concerned for the welfare of local Aboriginals and sought to absorb them gradually into the life of the estate. He helped to develop an agricultural society amongst the increasing Shoalhaven tenantry and one of his last acts was to provide uniforms and instruments for a local brass band. Under his patient direction, an estate which before 1850 had occasioned more envy than profit to its owners was brought into efficient development. There seems no reason to disagree with the opinion expressed at his death that he had been 'a large-hearted and generous colonist' (Stephen, 1969).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and parklands of distinctive styles-
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 Caring for the sick in hospitals-
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 Operating public hospitals-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 20th Century infrastructure-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Creating landmark structures and places in regional settings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Federation Arts and Crafts-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with David Berry, agriculturist and landowner-

Recommended management:

Exercise great care to protect and recover very high cultural significance. Requires detailed conservation planning to assess and manage ongoing use and upgrading proposals.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0082202 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register 05/5/3/100101 Feb 92   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Department of Health - s170 Register199205/5/3/100Schwager, Brooks & Partners Pty Ltd  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenStephen, M.D.1969'Berry, David (1795-1889)', entry in Australian Dictionary of Biography View detail

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5012304
File number: S91/06505

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