Cairnsfoot Special School | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Cairnsfoot Special School

Item details

Name of item: Cairnsfoot Special School
Other name/s: Loftus Street Special School; Loftus Street Public School
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Education
Category: School - State (public)
Location: Lat: -33.931986314 Long: 151.144105459
Primary address: 18 Loftus Street, Turrella, NSW 2205
Parish: St George
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Rockdale
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP120192
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
18 Loftus StreetTurrellaRockdaleSt GeorgeCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

This villa is significant as a rare example of a substantial Victorian Italianate villa, which retains its original outbuildings and garden setting of mature trees and which shows the development of large villas on the urban fringe of Rockdale (LEP, 2000). Substantial grounds with many large trees (NSW Planning & Environment Commission, 1980).
Date significance updated: 27 Jul 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

Builder/Maker: Edward M. Farleigh
Construction years: 1880-1884
Physical description: Grounds:
This villa is significant as a rare example of a substantial Victorian Italianate villa, which retains its original outbuildings and garden setting of mature trees and which shows the development of large villas on the urban fringe of Rockdale (LEP, 2000). Substantial grounds with many large trees (NSW Planning & Environment Commission, 1980).

Cairnsfoot's grounds are shown in a series of photographs taken between 1943 and 1947 by neighbour Alan Evans (and kept in the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Centre, Historic Houses Trust of NSW). A c.1905 photograph shows that the architectural layout of the garden did not change during the 70 years the Farleigh family lived at Cairnsfoot. It shows garden beds planted with annuals. Mass planting of bedding plants delighted the Victorians.

The 1940s Evans photographs show a large and sophistocated garden with pollarded camphor laurels (Cinnamomum camphora) running along the entire length of its Loftus Street boundary, high timber picket fence and paling fences on Loftus Street, double gates for carriages and cars and a single gate for pedestrians. A large white camellia (C.japonica cv.) was beside the pedestrian gate. Also growing along that boundary were bamboos and oleanders (Nerium oleander cv.s).

Inside the main gates these photographs show the house dominating the view, facing east and south. The northern wall was windowless. All windows had wooden Venetian blinds. The carriage drive continued westward to the stables / coach house. The drive and carriage circle were separated by a teardrop shaped bed bordered by stones and planted with candlestick aloes (A.arborescens), yellow lantana (L.camara cv.) and the dramatic succulent, Agave attenuata. Along the southern verandah of the house were hydrangeas (H.macrophylla), an autumn camellia (C.sasanqua) pruned into an umbrella form, a Lord Howe Island palm (Kentia fosteriana) and a variegated Japanese laurel (Euonymus japonicus 'Aureo-Variegatus' pruned into a globe.

To the south of the drive was an orchard and vegetable garden. A wooden railing marked the boundary of the ornamental garden. Fruit trees included China pears and peaches. A house cow, Biddy, grazed in the orchard. Also along the southern edge of the drive are two fine specimen trees - two large Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterophylla) and two evergreen magnolias/Bull Bay trees (M.grandiflora). These trees date from 1884.

To the north of the carriage loop was a border of wormwood, oleanders and roses edging a lawn area. Garden beds around it contained roses, conifers and occasional plantings of gladioli, zinnias, wallflowers, lupins, pansies etc. A freestanding arbor/ pergola to the north-east of the house was covered in climbing roses. Along the northern house wall was a large frangipani (Plumeria rubra cv.).

A border on the north side of the lawn was planted with clipped azaleas (Rhododendron indicum cv.s), a yucca (Yucca sp.) and succulents including Echeveria sp. / cv.s such as E.x 'Imbricata'. A high wire mesh fence (3-4m tall from the photographs) ran along the back (northern side) of this shrubbery A Port Jackson fig (Ficus rubiginosa) and other trees shaded this border.

Further north again was the most spectacular planting in the garden - a large grove of century plant (Agave americana) in the north-eastern corner. Perched on a rocky plinth its sculptural form and fleshy striped yellow leaves made it a feature.

In the rocky northern end of the garden was a pergola covered in bower-of-beauty vine (Bignonia sp., now Pandorea jasminoides) leading to a wilder area. Also here was a fernery, a ubiquitous feature of Victorian gardens with a collection of ferns, palms, orchids and begonias inside. Behind that were the stables with a hay loft above. A small cockscomb coral tree (Erythrina christa-galli), more succulents, a wooden railing marking the boundary to the north of the ornamental garden were other features of this part of the site (John Pearman, pers.comm., 4/5/09; Pearman, 2009, modified by Stuart Read).

House:
Two storey rendered brick Victorian Italianate villa with gabled roof covered in slate tiles with verandah and balcony at front, with cast iron balustrades, posts, brackets and valences. A shallow bay window dominates the front with two rendered brick chimneys. An original timber back verandah with a shillion roof sits at the rear. An original gabled roof rendered brick outbuildings also sits on the site (LEP, 2000). Until the late 20th century the house had always been painted shades of pale grey, with darker grey marking out window details etc, and some cream details (Pearman, J., pers.comm., 28/7/09).

Two storey rendered brick house, now painted white, is set in spacious grounds and was built in 1880. The slate roof is hipped and a front gable contains a two storey bay with segmental arched windows. The two storey verandah has been enclosed on the upper level. (RNE,1978).

French windows onto ground floor verandah which also has thin columns. Four chimney pots on chimney (NSW Planning & Environment Commission, 1980).

School:
The Loftus Street Public School, when it incorporated with South Haven School reverted to using the original property name of Cairnsfoot (for the School). When the new section of Cairnsfoot School was designed by Sydney architect Olga Kosterin, it had as its focal point the assembly hall, which serves also as a classroom for art, music and physical education. The Library received a $1000 grant from Rockdale Council last year. The home economics block where children are taught skills aimed at making them as independent as possible. In the laundry children wash and iron - processing their own clothes on particular days. There is also a bathroom and a fully furnished bedroom. In the solar heated pool, swimming lessons and water therapy are year-round activities and children benefit from special exercise programs. The school was opened this month by NSW Education Minister Mr Mulock and Mr Edward Farleigh's descendents were among the guests (undated, unsourced newspaper article on File S91/02116/1. This would have been post 1959 Loftus Street Public School opening, c1963).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Excellent, with original outbuildings, slate roof, chimneys, cast iron balustrades, posts, brackets, valences, timber back verandah, doors and windows. It also retains its original garden setting. The interior has been substantially altered to accommodate a school (LEP, 2000: last updated 3/12/2004).

The four trees dating from 1884: two Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterophylla) and two evergreen magnolias/ bull bays (Magnolia grandiflora) are suffering due to too much paving close to their roots, reducing air and water supply. The pines have started to drop limbs (John Pearman, pers.comm., 4/5/09).
Date condition updated:04 May 09
Modifications and dates: 1909 the western half of the estate was sold and a new street, appropriately called Edward Street, came into being

1942 construction of a very sturdy domestic air raid shelter (on a then-private, adjacent garden 'Alwyn' (16 Loftus Street. This garden was well-documented in photographs taken by local amateur photographer, Alan Evans). It is likely that this shelter has been buried and covered over and is now part of Cairnsfoot Special School. The school secretary remembers it being used as a wine cellar in the 1970s prior to the demolition of the accompanying bungalow (Matthew Stephens, HHT, pers.comm, 26/6/09 - copies of the photographs are held in HHT's Caroline Simpson Library & Research Centre).

1955-9 Prior to the building being opened as the Loftus Street Special School the original cast iron was removed and the upstairs verandahs were enclosed. In more recent times the whole complex has been upgraded and sympathetically refurbished by the Public Works Department. This has included the replacement of the cast iron work and restoration of its original name, Cairnsfoot. The house is now the administrative block of the school with new buildings which have been added to cater for 99 handicapped children, aged from four to 18 years (Branch Manager's Report 321/87 of 27/7/1987).

c1963 the new section of Cairnsfoot School was designed by Sydney architect Olga Kosterin, with as its focal point:
- an assembly hall, which serves also as a classroom for art, music and physical education;
- a Library;
- a home economics block;
- a laundry;
- a bathroom;
- a fully furnished bedroom;
- a solar heated pool (undated, unsourced newspaper article on File S91/02116/1. This would have been post 1959 Loftus Street Public School opening, and post 1962 allowing three years).

The interior has been substantially altered to accommodate a school (LEP, 2000: last updated 3/12/2004).

Until the late 20th century the house had always been painted shades of pale grey, with darker grey marking out window details etc, and some cream details. Under 'expert' advice it has been painted shades of yellow - a colour it never had in the Farleigh family ownership era. (Pearman, J., pers.comm., 28/7/09).
Further information: The site is zoned 'Special Uses - School'.
Current use: special school
Former use: villa residence in spacious grounds

History

Historical notes: Turrella:
The name "Turrella" is an Aboriginal word meaning 'a reedy place' or 'water weeds'. Wolli Creek, which runs through the original site of settlement, was first known as Woolly Creek, and it is quite likely that the weeds in the water gave it a thick appearance.

In c1842 William Favell and his wife Eleanor farmed a property known as Hillside on the site of the present suburb. Their neighbours were the families of Thomas Curtis and Henry Blackwell, who were orchardists and gardeners.

Turrella is near Undercliffe and Arncliffe and like all the suburbs with railway stations, it developed when the railway line came through the area and farm and orchard land was subdivided for home development. The railway station opened as Turrella on 21/9/1931.

The first post office was called West Arncliffe when it opened in 1933, but by 1948 became Arncliffe West. In 1952 the name was changed to Turrella. The post office closed on 21/12/1970.

Turrella today is a mixture of industry and residential development. One of the biggest factories in the suburb is Streets Ice Cream, near the railway station. Other light industries are located nearer the creek, while most of the residential development is on the south side of the railway line (Pollen, 1988, 257).

Arncliffe:
Reuben Hannam a brickmaker in Governor Macquarie's time and an overseer of the government brickmakers, was an early grantee in this area. He was rewarded in 1825 by a grant of 100 acres along the banks of Wolli Creek in the St.George area. Macquarie had earlier recommended that Hannam's wife and children be allowed to join him and this is how his son David came to the colony. In 1833 David Hannam obtained a 60 acre grant just south of Cooks River and directly behind the Tempe estate of Alexander Brodie Spark (Tempe House today). Tempe became a showpiece of the colony and later the estate gave its name to the suburb on the opposite (northern) bank of the river.

At that time, Arncliffe Hill was known as Cobbler's Hill, and the area became the vegetable garden of Sydney. When the Hannam land was subdivided and the railway came through in 1884, many new small holdings became farms, spreading towards Black Creek or Muddy Creek, which assured them of year-round water.

Hannam's grant had no specific name, and it was William Meadows Brownrigg who handled subdivision of the area, suggesting the name Arncliffe. It has ancient origins, appearing in 1086 Domesday Book in England, where it was written Arneclif, meaning Eagle Cliff (Pollen, 1988, 5-6).

Cairnsfoot Villa estate:
The land on which Cairnsfoot was later built was first granted to Ruben Hannam on 31th August 1833.

Edward Manicome Farleigh was born in Country Mayo, Ireland , in 1838, the son of a coast guard officer. In 1865, with his wife and two small sons, he migrated to the colony of Victoria. In 1873, they moved to Sydney where Farleigh established the leather merchants' firm of E.M. Farleigh Pty. Ltd. at Mascot, which was later called Farleigh, Nettheim and Company. E.M.Farleigh had started work as a tannery worker and from there set up his own business.

Early in 1884, Farleigh purchased five acres of uneven ground in Loftus Street at the corner of Willington Street and erected a fine two storey Italianate mansion with extensive outbuildings which was called "Cairnsfoot". Mrs. Farleigh is said to have been delighted with every feature of the house except the main staircase, which she considered mean and unnecessarily steep for a house of its size.

By 1885, the family had increased to ten children the eldest of whom, John Gibson Farleigh, was to become a leading industrialist and a Member of the N.S.W. Legislative Council (LEP, 2000).

Cairnsfoot was set with outbuildings in a garden setting of mature trees (RNE, 1978). The grounds included four trees (which survive today and are thought to) date from 1884: two Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterophylla) and two evergreen magnolias/ bull bays (Magnolia grandiflora) from America (John Pearman, pers.comm., 4/5/09).

Cairnsfoot shows the development of large villas on the urban fringe of Rockdale (LEP, 2000).

A c.1905 photograph shows that the architectural layout of the garden did not change during the 70 years the Farleigh family lived at Cairnsfoot. It shows garden beds planted with annuals. Mass planting of bedding plants delighted the Victorians.

After Edward Manicom Farleigh died in 1909 the western half of the estate was sold and a new street, appropriately called Edward Street, came into being. There is no record of this part of the original estate. It may have included paddocks for horses and a house cow, a poultry run, a garden supplying vegetables and flowers to the house and perhaps a glasshouse. There were (other) dairies, poultry farms and Chinese market gardens in the Arncliffe district at this time.

Two unmarried sisters, Elizabeth and May, were the last of Edward Manicom Farliegh's family to live at Cairnsfoot.

Cairnsfoot's grounds are shown in a series of photographs taken between 1943 and 1947 by neighbour Alan Evans. These photographs show a large and sophistocated garden with pollarded camphor laurels (Cinnamomum camphora) running along the entire length of its Loftus Street boundary, high timber picket fence and paling fences on Loftus Street, double gates for carriages and cars and a single gate for pedestrians. A large white camellia (C.japonica cv.) was beside the pedestrian gate. Also growing along that boundary were giant Danubian (or Spanish) reed clumps (Arundo donax) and oleanders (Nerium oleander cv.s).

Inside the main gates these photographs show the house dominating the view, facing east and south. The northern wall was windowless. All windows had wooden Venetian blinds. The carriage drive contined westward to the stables / coach house. The drive and carriage circle were separated by a teardrop shaped bed bordered by stones and planted with candlestick aloes (A.arborescens), yellow lantana (L.camara cv.) and the dramatic succulent, Agave attenuata. Along the southern verandah of the house were hydrangeas (H.macrophylla), an autumn camellia (C.sasanqua) pruned into an umbrella form, a Lord Howe Island palm (Kentia fosteriana) and a variegated Japanese laurel (Euonymus japonicus 'Aureo-Variegatus' pruned into a globe.

To the south of the drive was an orchard and vegetable garden. A wooden railing marked the boundary of the ornamental garden. Fruit trees included China pears and peaches. A house cow, Biddy, grazed in the orchard. Also along the southern edge of the drive are two fine specimen trees - two large Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterophylla) and two evergreen magnolias/Bull Bay trees (M.grandiflora).

To the north of the carriage loop was a border of wormwood, oleanders and roses edging a lawn area. Garden beds around it contained roses, conifers and occasional plantings of gladioli, zinnias, wallflowers, lupins, pansies etc. A freestanding arbor/ pergola to the north-east of the house was covered in climbing roses. Along the northern house wall was a large frangipani (Plumeria rubra cv.).

A border on the north side of the lawn was planted with clipped azaleas (Rhododendron indicum cv.s), a yucca (Yucca sp.) and succulents including Echeveria sp. / cv.s such as E.x 'Imbricata'. A high wire mesh fence (3-4m tall from the photographs) ran along the back (northern side) of this shrubbery A Port Jackson fig (Ficus rubiginosa) and other trees shaded this border.

Further north again was the most spectacular planting in the garden - a large grove of century plant (Agave americana) in the north-eastern corner. Perched on a rocky plinth its sculptural form and fleshy striped yellow leaves made it a feature.

In the rocky northern end of the garden was a pergola covered in bower-of-beauty vine (Bignonia sp., now called Pandorea jasminoides) leading to a wilder area of the garden. Also here was a fernery, a ubiquitous feature of Victorian gardens with a collection of ferns, palms, orchids and begonias inside. Behind that were the stables with a hayloft above. A small cockscomb coral tree (Erythrina christa-galli), more succulents, a wooden railing marking the boundary to the north of the ornamental garden were other features of this part of the site. (Pearman, 2009, modified by Stuart Read)).

The property remained the family home of the Farleighs until it was bought by the NSW Department of Education in 1959 (Pearman, 2009 modified by Stuart Read).

Prior to the building being opened as the Loftus Street Special School the original cast iron was removed and the upstairs verandahs were enclosed. In more recent times the whole complex has been upgraded and sympathetically refurbished by the Public Works Department. This has included the replacement of the cast iron work and restoration of its original name, Cairnsfoot. The house is now the administrative block of the school with new buildings which have been added to cater for 99 handicapped children, aged from four to 18 years (Branch Manager's Report 321/87 of 27/7/1987).

The Loftus Street Public School, when it incorporated with South Haven School reverted to using the original property name of Cairnsfoot (for the School). When the new section of Cairnsfoot School was designed by Sydney architect Olga Kosterin, it had as its focal point the assembly hall, which serves also as a classroom for art, music and physical education. The Library which received a $1000 grant from Rockdale Council last year, has books selected for the needs of the children. The home economics block where children are taught skills aimed at making them as independent as possible, is also important. In the laundry children wash and iron - processing their own clothes on particular days. There is also a bathroom and a fully furnished bedroom. In the solar heated pool, swimming lessons and water therapy are year-round activities and children benefit from special exercise programs. The school was opened this month by NSW Education Minister Mr Mulock and Mr Edward Farleigh's descendents were among the guests. (undated, unsourced newspaper article on File S91/02116/1. This would have been post 1959 Loftus Street Public School opening, c1963).

Rockdale Municipal Council listed the building in 1985 and it is recorded by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).

The house is now the administrative block for Cairnsfoot Special School for intellectually and physically disabled children (PCO listing news release, 31/8/1987).

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 gardens of domestic accommodation-
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 Significant tree(s) providing urban amenity-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Housing professional people-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Housing for industrial managers and owners-
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. Gentlemens Mansions-
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 Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
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 Resuming private lands for public purposes-
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 Developing suburbia-
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 Country Estate-
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 Role of transport in settlement-
6. Educating-Educating Education-Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally. Public (primary) schooling-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - providing education-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - building and operating public infrastructure-
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 - Victorian 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. Architectural styles and periods - Victorian Italianate-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living in suburbia-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living on the urban fringe-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Edward Manicombe Farleigh, leather merchant-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act See File For Schedule


Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) The maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material.
(2) All horticultural management, including the repair and maintenance of existing fences, gates and garden walls.
(3) Change of use
Mar 11 1988
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 0055102 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0055111 Mar 88 521590
Local Environmental Plan 25/8/2000   
National Trust of Australia register  878117 Jun 75   
Register of the National Estate 333121 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenNSW Planning & Environment Commission1980Rockdale Municipality Historic Buildings Survey - 'Cairnsfoot'
WrittenPearman, John (text/commentary); Allen Evans (photographs)2008A pictorial stroll through a lost Victorian Garden - Cairnsfoot, Arncliffe - 1884-1955 - with photos by Allen Evans and commentary by John Pearman
WrittenPollen, Francis (ed.)1988'Arncliffe' and 'Turrella', in "The Book of Sydney Suburbs"

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: 5045447
File number: S91/02116 & HC 860658


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