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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: Landscape
Group/Collection: Landscape - Cultural
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

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Ministry 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.

Description

Designer/Maker: Howard Joseland and Walter Liberty Vernon
Construction years: 1909-1909
Physical description: The central main building is of two storey construction and flanked either side by single 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: Aboriginal land, farm estate, hospital

History

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).

Walter Liberty Vernon (1846-1914) was both architect and soldier. Born in England, he ran successful practices in Hastings and London and had estimable connections in artistic and architectural circles. In 1883 he had a recurrence of bronchitic asthma and was advised to leave the damp of England. He and his wife sailed to New South Wales. Before leaving, he gained a commission to build new premesis for Merrrs David Jones and Co., in Sydney's George Street. In 1890 he was appointed Government Architect - the first to hold that title - in the newly reorganised branch of the Public Works Department. He saw his role as building 'monuments to art'. His major buildings, such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales (1904-6) are large in scale, finely wrought in sandstone, and maintaining the classical tradition. Among others are the Mitchell Wing of the State Library, Fisher Library at the University of Sydney and Central Railway Station. He also added to a number of buildings designed by his predecessors, including Customs House, the GPO and Chief Secretary's Building - with changes which did not meet with the approval of his immediate precedessor, James Barnet who, nine years after his resignation, denounced Vernon's additions in an essay and documentation of his own works. In England, Vernon had delighted his clients with buildings in the fashionable Queen Anne style. In NSW, a number of British trained architects whow were proponents of hte Arts and Crafts style joined his office and under their influence, Vernon changed his approach to suburban projects. Buildings such as the Darlinghurst First Station (Federation Free style, 1910) took on the sacale and character of their surroundings. Under Vernon's leadership, an impressive array of buildings was produced which were distinguished by interesting brickwork and careful climatic considerations, by shady verandahs, sheltered courtyards and provision for cross-flow ventilation. Examples are courthouses in Parkes (1904), Wellington (1912) and Bourke, Lands Offices in Dubbo (1897) and Orange (1904) and the Post Office in Wellington (1904)(Le Sueur, 2016, 7).

Broader history of Alexander Berry, the Berry Estate, Edward & Elizabeth Wollstonecraft, the Berry Family:
Alexander Berry was born on 30 November 1781, eldest son of a large family of Isabel (nee Tod) and James Berry. His father James was then a tenant farmer of Hilltarvit on Wemysshall Estate, Fifeshire, Scotland. Alexander was educated at Cupar Grammar School and St. Andrew's University. After graduating, he gained a degree in medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He obtained a position as ship's surgeon with the East India Company, serving in India, the (East) Indies and China. He found he could not endure the life of a doctor. In his spare time, he studied navigation, feeling a marine-mercantile life offered more scope for adventure and advancement. He gained a ship-master's certificate (Swords, 1978, 7).

By 1807 he had joined forces in a business venture at Cape Town with a young man called Francis Shortt. They had studied medicine together. Learning of a serious food shortage in New South Wales, they decided to carry supplies there. They chartered a ship (the 'Rappadora' (Bradshaw, 2000, 1) captured from the French, renaming it 'City of Edinburgh', loading a cargo insured for 18,000 pounds. Berry went with her as super-cargo on a speculative voyage to Sydney, while Shortt remained in Cape Town to attempt to cope with a practically bankrupt business. Berry called first at Port Dalrymple (now Launceston), where settlers were almost starving. He sold some of his provisions to Lt.-Governor Paterson there, then proceeded to Hobart. Governor Collins bought most of the remainder of his supplies there. When Berry reached Sydney in 1808, he was received with extreme displeasure by Governor Bligh. As his remaining cargo was almost all spirits and as he had been conversing with John Macarthur, his offence was gravely aggravated. Bligh threatened to hang the ship's captain. Berry thought Bligh insane (ibid, 1978, 7-11). Bligh considered he had sole rights in the purchase of provisions in the colony (Bradshaw, 2000, 2). When Bligh was arrested on 26/1/1808, Acting Governor (formerly Major) Johnston agreed to prepare for Berry a cargo of hardwood for his return Cape Town voyage. In the meantime, the 'City of Edinburgh' was commissioned to evacuate the settlers from Norfolk Island. All but 250 persons agreed to be transferred to Van Diemen's Land's Derwent area, Berry's ship taking them (ibid, 1978, 7-11).

Berry returned to Sydney in November 1808 to find Johnston replaced by Lt.-Govr. Foveaux, and that the latter had used Berry's timber cargo in building a 'whole range of barracks'. Berry set sail for Fiji to get a load of sandalwood. From Fiji he sailed to New Zealand searching for more cargo. While moored in the Bay of Islands in 1809, he heard from friendly Maoris that a British ship had been captured by hostile people at Whangaroa to the north-west. Berry went there, finding the ship, the 'Boyd', had been dragged into shallow water, all on board had been killed except a boy named (Thomas) Davidson (sometimes called Davis), a woman (Mrs Morley), her baby daughter (Georgina) and another baby girl (Betsy Broughton, daughter of Commissary Broughton: Bradshaw, 2000, 2). After haggling, Berry purchased their release 'for a heap of axes'. When he reached Cape Town with his timber cargo in 1810, he had these survivors still on board. From there he sailed for Lima in Peru through wild seas. There Mrs Morley died and Berry put the two baby girls in charge of a ship's captain bound for Sydney. This captain knew the father of one of the girls, Mr Broughton, who lived in New South Wales. The boy, Davidson, left secretly, to his rescuer's annoyance, sailing for London on another ship (ibid, 1978, 11).

In 1812 the 'City of Edinburgh' left Lima with a valuable cargo (copper, tin and 'Peruvian bark' (cinchona)(Bradshaw, 2000, 4) for Cadiz. In mid-Atlantic it foundered, the crew taking to two long boats. Only one survived, reaching the Azores (Bradshaw, 2000, 4 says Capo Verde Islands). Berry, on it, finally set out for Lisbon and from there to Cadiz. On board he met Edward Wollstonecraft, and the two became firm friends. They lodged together in Cadiz, and on return to England, Berry lived with Wollstonecraft and his sister Elizabeth, in Greenwich from 1815-19. In 1819 the two men, now business partners, chartered a vessel (the 'Admiral Cockburn': Bradshaw, 2000, 4) to take merchandise to Sydney. Wollstonecraft followed on the 'Canada', arriving a few weeks after Berry. The venture was proving successful, and they took a house and store in lower George Street (near Cadman's Cottage)( ibid, 1987, 11-12) trading in timber, wool, sealskins, whale oil, coal and other products. Berry explored the coast as far as the Hunter and inspected the Bong Bong (Moss Vale) district (Bradshaw, 2000, 4-5).

Hearing of land grants being made in the colony, they made enquiries and decided to become residents to be eligible for land grants. Berry returned to London to enlarge their connections. He chartered the 'Royal George', filling it with an immense cargo of merchandise for Sydney. He also had passengers booked, including the newly-appointed Governor of NSW, Sir Thomas Brisbane, his family and staff. Davidson, the boy Berry had rescued from the 'Boyd', contacted him and came out on the 'Royal George' as an able-bodied seaman and continued in Berry's employ (ibid, 1987, 11-12).

Reaching Sydney in 1821 Berry found that Wollstonecraft had taken 524 acres of land on the north shore as part of the 2000 acres promised him by Governor Macquarie. Having decided the atmosphere around their George Street house did not suit his health, Wollstonecraft had built himself a cottage on this land, which because of its elevated and commanding position, he named the 'Crow's Nest'. It occupied the site of today's Presbyterian Church in Shirley Road. Berry acquired about 70 acres adjoining their first grant (ibid, 1978, 13).

The partners decided to take up the rest of their land grant. They did not join the scramble for land by free settlers in the Newcastle and Bathurst areas, were disappointed in their application for a grant near Berrima but became interested in the Shoalhaven district (ibid, 1978, 13-14).

Early in 1822, at the request of Governor Brisbane, Berry explored the South Coast in the 'Snapper' and entered every inlet between Wollongong and Bateman's Bay. HE confirmed Lt. Johnson's discovery of the Clyde River and with Hamilton Hume and Thomas Davidson went ashore many miles upstream to climb to the top of Pigeon House Mountain, named by Captain Cook on his 1770 voyage. This was the first ascent by white men of this well-known landmark. His reports of the surrounding country are accurate and interesting, but it was the area in the vicinity of Shoalhaven that impressed him so in this vicinity he decided to settle (Bradshaw, 2000, 5-6).

This (district) had been discovered by George Bass in 1797 and surveyed in 1820 by John Oxley, who had not reported favourably on it. Berry later stated that he located the first 4000-acre grant south of the Shoalhaven River, but John Hay in his hand-written roughed-out biography of his cousin (Berry), said this grant was only 3500 acres. The partners immediately applied for and obtained an additional 10,000 acres in return for undertaking to maintain one hundred convicts for ten years and this grant was located between Broughton Creek and the sea. As it was estimated that it cost 16 pounds per annum to maintain a convict this would have put the price of the land, as Berry later claimed, at 16,000 pounds. However, because of the number of new settlers applying for 'government men' to work for them, Berry and Wollstonecraft never obtained convict labourers to the agreed (100) number. The grant had been made. In an 1826 despatch to Earl Bathurst, Governor Darling advised that, since it was not the fault of the grantees that they had been unable to get the required number of convicts, they should not be denied possession of the deeds. They got the deeds (ibid, 1978, 13-14).

In 1822 Berry set out in a small cutter with the first batch of convicts for the Shoalhaven. While attempting to negotiate the entrance to this river, a small boat (the ex-naval cutter 'Blanche', purchased from the government: Bradshaw, 2000, 8) was capsized drowning two men, one of whom was Davidson. Berry was extremely distressed. The cutter later entered the river and the convicts were set to work to cut a canal between Crookhaven and the Shoalhaven. This was done mainly to form a safe entrance to the river, but also to keep employed the convicts uneasy in their unfamiliar surroundings. The canal begun in June 1822, remained in operation for many years (ibid, 1978, 14).

Berry and Hamilton Hume, who was in the party, explored the district which they found somewhat disappointing as to the quality of the soul and large area of swamp and spongy ground. There were, however, fine stands of timber including (red) cedar, much in demand for buildings and furniture. At the foot of the 930' hill called Cullangatty by the Aborigines and later known as Coolangatta, the first huts were built. Land was cleared and the settlement began. Still later the first cattle, seventy head of them, were overlanded by Hume, who at the time was working quite often with Berry (ibid, 1978, 14). Berry had a store erected of timber. He and Hume lost no time exploring the surrounding country. On 1 July 1822 Coolangatta (mountain) was climbed and from the summit Berry was able to view his future estate, which within 50 years would total nearly 100 square miles. On 7 July, the hut was nearly finished and 'then men had cut the canal 209 yards long' in the river mouth. This, the first canal dug in Australia was made in 12 days, only 55 years after the Liverpool-Manchester canal built by Brindley - the first in England (Bradshaw, 2000, 9-10).

'Coolangatta' means 'fine view' or 'good lookout'. The present spelling dates from Surveyor McBriend's report in 1824 'Mount Coolangatta 930 ft.' (ibid, 2000, 17).

By November 1823 the parlour and kitchen of the homestead were completed. The bricklayer was an Aborigine named Broughton, who had been Berry's guide when exploring the area in the 'Snapper' expedition and after whom Broughton Creek is named. The bricks were 'made by Mays' from clay dug at a site two miles away and still called 'Brickies' Hill' (ibid, 2000, 10).

Wollstonecraft did not see the Shoalhaven estate until 1823 but from then on until his death in 1832 each partner seems to have taken turns in living there, while the other remained in Sydney. Woolstonecraft focused on Sydney, dealing with a legal case brought against Berry by his first partner, Shortt. This was not resolved until 1827, when the case was dropped. Until then, Berry was mostly at Coolangatta. After that, they each spent about half their time at Coolangatta. From their George Street store, the partners pursued their business activities, as merchants and shipping agents, importing and retailing a great variety of merchandise to fellow colonists, and exporting some of the colony's produce (ibid, 1978, 15).

Meanwhile the Shoalhaven agricultural empire was growing and over the years becoming famous. According to John Hay's planned biography of Berry, it had reached 65,000 acres by 1844, much more land having been bought. Extensive draining and ditching of swampy land was commenced in 1823 and land was continually being cleared and put under cultivation. Early crops were potatoes and other vegetables, maize and tobacco, and soon barley and wheat were growing. Flax, hemp and sea island cotton were tried. From the beginning cedar and other timber had been cut, sawn and shipped, and quite early cheeses and salt beef were being sent to Sydney. Hogs, horses and sheep were introduced. Much later, hides and tallow were exported, although Berry, like others was troubled by his inability to get food to Britain from the over-abundance in the colony. For a time, he experimented unsuccessfully with preserving milk for export (ibid, 1978, 15).
To carry their produce to Sydney, Berry and Wollstonecraft quite early had their own ships built at Shoalhaven. (One, the 'Coolangatta', wrecked in 1846 on the Queensland coast, gave its name to the border town) (ibid, 1978, 15). The first, the 'Water Mole' was launched in January 1824, first of a number of splendid vessels to ply between Sydney and the Shoalhaven over the next half century. By 1873, the year of Berry's death, Shoalhaven was exceeded in volume of trade only by the ports of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong (ibid, 2000, 10-11).

In 1830 a large store for their Shoalhaven produce was built on the western side of Berry's Bay in Sydney Harbour, close to Wollstonecraft's wharf, which he had already built (ibid, 1978, 16).

According to Berry's narratives the Coolangatta estate by the mid-1840s was employing 200 men, some of them convicts, as agricultural workers and such tradesmen as sawyers, carpenters, boat-builders, smiths, wheelwrights, coopers, shoe-makers, butchers, salters and one tailor. Some of the land was being leased to tenants in 20 acre lots, which were rent-free for from 2-5 years, if cleared and fenced by the agreed period. By 1856 he stated that the number of men had grown to 1478, composed of tenants and an even greater variety of tradesmen, labourers and the families of all these groups (ibid, 1978, 16).

Berry and Wollstonecraft took an active part in the affairs of the colony. Each joined the new Philosophical Society formed in 1821 (Wollstonecraft as a founding member, Berry 5 months later), which met seven times in Wollstonecraft's house and five times in Berry's, in its first year (ibid, 1978, 13). Each was made a Justice of the Peace in 1822, thereafter serving as magistrates. They were foundation members of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society (formed in 1822), which encouraged settlers to improve their stock and crops. For years both held office (they were the first joint-secretaries: Bradshaw, 2000, 7) in this society and in many others including the Benevolent Society, the Australian Subscription Library, Dispensary of Free Medicine, Stock Club, Sydney Institution and the Chamber of Commerce. They were among the original shareholders of the Bank of Australia and the meeting that led to its creation was in their George Street house. They were directors of the older Bank of NSW (ibid, 1978, 17). Berry's papers on the geological features of the NSW coast were received at the Royal Society (Bradshaw, 2000, 7).

Both names appeared on all charity lists and sometimes were recorded as the people receiving donations. Their signatures were constantly appearing under letters to the press on a diversity of subjects (ibid, 1978, 18). Berry was one of 8 magistrates chosen by Brisbane to enquire into how well Trial by Jury on a limited scale was working in the colony. Their favourable report led to extension of the system. Berry was appointed in April 1828 to the Legislative Council, a small body of citizens selected to advise the Governor (ibid, 1978, 18). Berry served on the Legislative Council for 30 years - the longest term on record (Bradshaw, 2000, 6-7). He became Vice-President of the Australian Racing Club at its inaugural meeting in 1828. In time he became Councillor of the Australian College (1831), a member of the Circular Wharf Committee (1836), and the Caledonian Society (1841), a director of the Sydney Ferry Service; and subscriber to Gould's 'Birds of Australia'. He was interested in natural science and wrote learned articles on such subjects as geology (ibid, 1978, 18-19).

Wollstonecraft's sister Elizabeth, of whom he was very fond, followed him to the colony in 1824 and on 22nd September 1827, was married to Alexander Berry (aged 46: Bradshaw, 2000, 6) by the Rev. Samuel Marsden at St. James' Church. They were both in their mid-forties and had no children, but the marriage was a happy one. They were well-educated, well-read and much travelled people sharing many interests. Alexander was as proud of his wife's excellent French accent as he was of her exceptional housekeeping ability (ibid, 1978, 19).

Edward Wollstonecraft died in 1832, aged 49, leaving his half of the estate to his sister Elizabeth, Mrs Berry. Alexander then spent several months in Sydney, but then closing his mercantile business and letting 'the Crow's Nest', he and his wife moved south to the Shoalhaven. He simply could not manage both enterprises alone (ibid, 1978, 20).

Elizabeth Berry was very contented during the next four years, which they spent most of at Coolangatta. She stayed for as much as 18 months at a time. That her friends thought her brave to live so long in the wilderness amused her. She wrote of a pet horse, which came at her call and would follow her with his head over her shoulder and which she drove in a chaise without ever using a whip. She had no fear of driving alone along the bush roads, as she said there was no real danger from the assigned workmen, or of snakes or even bushrangers. She spoke affectionately of the Aborigines, who were not ferocious or bloodthirsty but helpful and gentle. When she employed any of them to carry out certain fixed tasks, they proved extremely trustworthy. Whenever she indulged in boating expeditions, she preferred an Aboriginal crew. However, being a good housekeeper, she complained of household servants, calling them lazy, dirty and ignorant (ibid, 1978, 41).

Since 1821 Alexander had been strongly advising his family in Scotland to follow him to NSW. Despite their assurances of coming, they did not arrive until 1836, after their father's death in 1827 and their mother's in 1830, delaying the departure to his frustration. After 1832, Alexander's requests became demands that they join him, for now he really needed help. In 1835 he announced, 'If you do not come out, I will adopt a worthy young man and be done with you forever'. They came.
Alexander's brothers John, David and William and his eldest and youngest sisters were installed at Coolangatta and Alexander and wife returned to 'Crow's Nest'. He continued to rule his family and the Shoalhaven property with a firm hand. He had respect for John's special ability in raising stock and took his advice in transferring a large part of the place from agriculture to grazing, but John was manager in name only. More land was bought in the names of the brothers, but this changed nothing. Their 'big' brother was still the boss. He was constantly exhorting them to get themselves wives as an heir was needed, but neither they nor their sisters married, and the married sister in Scotland was childless (ibid, 1978, 21). John Berry literally lived in the saddle for the next 12 years, buying and breeding cattle and horses and building up a reputation for fine stock (ibid, 2000, 11). It was to grow a village, self-contained and self-supporting with its own mills, workshops, tradesmen and artisans; where ships would be built and buildings prefabricated for erection elsewhere, casks made for the shipment of beef, experiments carried out in treating leather, making gelatin and condensing milk and to which farmers would send wheat for the flourmill. From where horses would go to India, cedar to Europe and cattle, hides, tobacco, cheese, butter and wheat to Sydney and beyond (ibid, 2000, 9).

Alexander had been planning for some years to build a larger, more comfortable home, mainly because of Elizabeth's declining health. In 1841 they moved into a more commodious (Crows Nest) dwelling, 'Brisbane House' and then into the (nearby) 'Priory', which they rented from Colonel Barney during his absence overseas. There Elizabeth died on 11/4/1845, aged 63. Alexander gave two acres of his 'Crow's Nest' property to St. Thomas's (now North Sydney) church for the Parish of St. Leonards' burial ground. Elizabeth was the first interred there, and her burial was delayed a whole week while the 'Crow's Nest' manager, W. G. ('Quilp') Matthews had the land cleared and stumped. Under Berry's instructions he superintended erection of the vault to mark her final resting place. In 1846 Edward Wollstonecraft's remains were brought from Sydney Burial Ground to the same (pyramidal) vault, which can still be seen in St. Thomas's Rest Park, West Street (ibid, 1978, 23). Permission had to be obtained from the Anglican bishop for one of his priests to perform the burial service in as yet unconsecrated ground. Alexander vowed that this cemetery of St. Thomas's would be planted as a garden and become a model for the colony (ibid, 1978, 44).

A second severe blow was delivered Alexander in 1848, when John (his favourite brother), having been twice thrown from his horse, died (ibid, 1978, 23). Two visitors to Coolangatta in the early 1850s failed to realise that Alexander did not live there, expressing disappointment at finding him away from home, but they were hospitably received by his two brothers and a sister. They were Samuel Mossman and Thomas Bannister, whose book 'Australia visited and revisited' was published in 1853. They were shown all over the estate and enthusiastically praised everything they saw, describing its efficiency, prosperity and locality at some length. They named 'Coolangatta' as a princely possession, probably the most valuable property in NSW and hoped that Mr Alexander Berry would live for many years to enjoy it (ibid, 1978, 24, 25). To David Berry, 5 years junior to Alexander, fell the major task of managing Coolangatta. David was to become a pioneer in his own right, through his work in letting small farms to tenants. When he inherited the estate in 1873, he was landlord to 270 tenant farmers occupying some 15,000 acres (ibid, 2000, 11).

There was a relationship of mutual respect and regard between Berry and his 'Crow's Nest' manager, Matthews. 'Quilp' had originally migrated as a young man to Australia in order to be near his convict brother, John. Berry had then taken Quilp to Coolangatta as his guest, so he could spend some time with John, who was one of the assigned convicts there. Writing in his old age of the convicts, Berry opined that many of them were transported for 'crimes which nowadays would not deserve one week in prison'. He declared that without the labour of convicts Australia could never have been won for the British Empire (ibid, 1978, 33).

Berry's correspondence with (John) Busby extended over the years from 1835 to 1870. This friendship began when he stood by Busby, whose completed project (1827-35) of bringing water to Sydney (town) from the high swampy land near Botany Bay had been so cruelly criticized. HE had also aided (John's son, James) Busby in his early work on Vine Culture, editing his book on the subject (ibid, 1978, 33).

Alexander Berry died at 'Crow's Nest House' on 17/9/1873, a few weeks before his 92nd birthday, and was buried beside his wife and her brother in St. Thomas's cemetery (ibid, 1978, 34).

His brother William Berry died in 1875 and David, who outlived all his family, owned and managed the whole property, although towards the end he was assisted by John Hay, his first-cousin once-removed. John (later the Hon. Sir John, MLA) Hay, had been born at Coolangatta, when his Scottish parents were visiting the Berrys. His mother died and Mrs W. G. Matthews cared for the baby until his father, having settled in New Zealand and re-married, took him to that country where he was raised and grew up (ibid, 1978, 34). Hay had revisited Coolangatta in 1883 and was persuaded to remain as manager of a huge concern. He was a man of progressive ideas and tactfully applied his experience to further developing Coolangatta by expanding the work of conservation begun by Alexander Berry when he drained the first swamp in 1823. Hay spent some 135,000 pounds in reclaiming 15,000 acres of marshland by cutting 125 miles of drains, clearing 10,000 acres of scrub and according to surveyor's notes of the time, roads were built totally 635 acres in area (ibid, 2000, 12).

David Berry died in 1889 at the age of 94. His funeral at the family cemetery at Coolangatta was attended by over 2000 people, the largest gathering on the estate until the opening of the historic Village Motel in 1972 (ibid, 2000, 12). The property went to John Hay except for certain legacies, which David, after much soul searching, considered Alexander would have approved. The principal ones were 100,000 (Bradshaw, 2000, 12 says 250,000) pounds to St. Andrew's University, 100,000 pounds for the building of a hospital at, what is now, the township of Berry, and 30,000 pounds to the Presbyterian Church (ibid, 1978, 34).

There were numerous other legacies including 150 pounds a year to Matthews, who served the family for more than 50 years. Known as the patriarch of Berry's Bay, Matthews lived into the 20th century (ibid, 1978, 35).

In order to pay the legacies, Hay had to sell a great deal of the land (ibid, 1978, 35). The break up began with sale of two properties at Gerringong and continued until only the homestead and a few hundred acres surrounding it remained (ibid, 2000, 12).

In 1894 the 'Berry Hospital Enabling Act' by which the government was to receive all the water frontages belonging to the Berry Estate at North Sydney in return for maintaining the David Berry Hospital and the Berry Experimental Farm, was passed. The government got the better part of this deal, thanks to which there is today, a public park at Balls Head Point and Berry's Island (ibid, 2000, 13).

The Governor of NSW, Sir Harry Rawson and his wife Lady Rawson and party visited Sir John Hay, his wife Lady Hay and family at Coolangatta estate in 1903 (photographs, in ibid, 2000, 2, 6, 7).

Sir John Hay died in 1909 and was succeeded by his half-brother Alexander who represented New England in the Federal Parliament and mad3 several trips abroad seeking ideas to improve the dairy industry, for which the South Coast is now famous (ibid, 2000, 13).

Much of the 'Crow's Nest' estate was cut up to form the suburbs now called Waverton and Wollstonecraft. Lady Hay continued to live in 'Crow's Nest House' until her death, after which further subdivision took place and the fine old house was demolished to make way for a school, now named North Sydney Demonstration School (ibid, 1978, 35).

Coolangatta House was burnt down in 1946. The billiard room and library building which were separate were saved and the latter was transported to Shoalhaven Heads to become St. Peter's Church of England (ibid, 2000, 13). What was left of the homestead buildings fell into disrepair, when Mr and Mrs Bishop bought the land in 1947 (ibid, 2000, 14). Colin Bishop grew up on the farm adjoining Coolangatta. He bought a couple of hundred acres at Coolangatta for farming purposes and began dairying there in 1950. He had often wandered among the historic buildings and an idea began to grow that one day it might be possible to restore this (ibid, 2000, 14).

In 1950 he secured the old building that had been the maid's quarters and laundry (Store room) and with his wife's help, this was restored to become a comfortable family residence. The old convicts' cell became a bathroom and the laundry and lounge room, coachmen's quarters and stable adjoining were renovated to house an employee and his family (ibid, 2000, 14, 18). The stables were occupied as a residence in the 1950s. Later they were gutted internally and wire cages were installed to breed white rabbits (ibid, 2000, 22).

In the 'Nowra Leader' of 6/4/1964 a writer described the re-opening of the century old Berry strong room at Coolangatta. It had survived hammer and chisel attacks by vandals over the years and still bears scars on its outside wall. Local legend had it there was treasure within, for in the 1870s a hoard of sovereigns was uncovered during rebuilding of a wall of the homestead. Only an old map and a few articles from a silver dinner service were found. The reporter added that the adjoining community hall was a show place and should be restored as an historical exhibit or museum and that the owner was prepared to negotiate with the Council (ibid, 2000, 15).

In the 'South Coast Register' of 25/3/1965 it was stated that the National Trust (of Australia (NSW)) had recommended acquisition of the buildings for historical purposes, but shelved the idea owning to lack of funds. While committees met and Council procrastinated, Col and Norma Bishop went on quietly reclaiming buildings. Pictures taken in this time record their then ruination and neglect. The remains of the fire of 2/1946 still littered the area, vines and grasses were taking over buildings and the task was daunting. Some buildings, including the magnificent old coach house, had to be demolished for safety reasons (ibid, 2000, 15).

As a result of several further purchases over the years, the Bishops now owned all the area occupied by the old homestead and began to consider schemes to restore the site as an historical village. In 1968 Col decided to visit the auction sale of equipment of the 'Hotel Metropole', due for demolition and buy some carpet as souvenir. Outbid, he looked at the list for further disposal and the idea was born of obtaining materials to finish a few buildings at Coolangatta and let them as flats (ibid, 2000, 15-16).

In 1966 Council and the National Trust (NSW) together with the National Parks & Wildlife Service had begun a feasibility study of the possibilities of Coolangatta as an historic settlement following the vetoing of a similar scheme near Nowra. Urgent negotiations with Council revealed no official plans to act, so the Bishops decided to 'go it alone', spend $3000 on furnishing and equipment and embark on a more ambitious scheme embracing an historic Village Motel of some 20 units combined with a restaurant in the old Community Hall. Several other large sales were attended including that of the 'Hotel Australia'. The 'Convict cottage' built of cedar in c1840 (which housed a maid who looked after the Hay sisters in the cottage next door - it was restored in 1972 and is the only such cottage surviving. Originally such cottages were scattered around the estate (ibid, 2000, 24), the Coachman's house, Stables, Tinsmith's (or Plumber's Shop, occupied as a residence prior to the 1972 restoration: ibid, 2000, 26) and Blacksmith's shops are now all authentic 19th century outside and 20th century within. Much of the credit for the restoration is due to the skill and attention to detail of Stewart Priddle of the firm J.E. Priddle & Sons (ibid, 2000, 16). The entire financial responsibility - totaling some hundreds of thousands of dollars has born by Colin Bishop with no outside help whatever, despite stories of a considerable grant from the National Trust (ibid, 2000, 16). Bank loans were stretched to the limit and income generated ploughed back into further development. This policy is likely to continue well into the future (ibid, 2000, 19).

The Historic Village Motel complex was officially (re-)opened by the Hon. T. (Tom) L. Lewis, Minister for Lands, on June 23rd 1972, this being the largest gathering on the estate since David Berry's death in 1889 (ibid, 2000, 12).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Gardens-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
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 of institutions - productive and ornamental-
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 Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing local landmarks-
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-
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-
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. Building settlements, towns and cities-National Theme 4
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Early land grants-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal 1820s-1850s land grants-
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-
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 A quiet Rural District-
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-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in health care-
7. Governing-Governing Welfare-Activities and process associated with the provision of social services by the state or philanthropic organisations Hospital-
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. Applying architectural design to utlilitarian structures-
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. Building in response to natural landscape features.-
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-
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-
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. Landscaping - Federation period-
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. Landscaping - 20th century interwar-
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. Interior design styles and periods - Edwardian-
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. Designing landscapes in an exemplary style-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ornamental Garden-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Outdoor relief-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting heritage places-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Community volunteering-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Community enterprise-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Red Cross activities-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of informal community gatherings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Belonging to an historical society or heritage organisation-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Giving birth in maternity hospitals and homes-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Walter Liberty Vernon, Government Architect 1890-1911, private architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Howard Joseland, architect, Joseland and Gilling-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Edward Wollstonecraft, pioneer of shipping and whaling-
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-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Alexander Berry, merchant, entrepreneur, philanthropist-

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.

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementProduce a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
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.

FRANK SARTOR
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

Listings

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 Community Services - Preliminary s170 Register199305/5/3/100State Projects Heritage Group  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written Swords, Meg1978Alexander Berry and Elizabeth Woolstonecraft
WrittenBradshaw, Norman2000Coolangatta
WrittenLe Sueur, Angela2016Government Architects - part 2
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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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

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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