Timber Slab Cottage | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Timber Slab Cottage

Item details

Name of item: Timber Slab Cottage
Other name/s: Dwelling, Dover
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Cottage
Location: Lat: -33.9246639440 Long: 151.1624962020
Primary address: 44 Barden Street, Tempe, NSW 2044
Parish: Petersham
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Marrickville
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP195769
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
44 Barden StreetTempeMarrickvillePetershamCumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated

Statement of significance:

The timber slab cottage at 44 Barden Street Tempe dates from the mid-19th century. It is a rare surviving example of the type of vernacular rudimentary timber building built in early Sydney. The house is one of the oldest houses in Tempe and is on land which was part of an original land grant dating back to 1799. It was constructed c.1840, and would have been a worker's cottage on land owned by A.B. Sparke, the man who built Tempe House in the mid-1830s.

The walls are made up of vertical timber slabs which have been split. The hardwood slabs have been crudely thinned at each end and are fixed with original 'Ewbank' nails (produced from 1838-70). The walls have been painted with multiple layers of limewash. The gaps between the timber slabs have been caulked with a lime putty made from slaked rock lime. The interior walls are timber lath and plaster. The floors are hardwood pit-sawn timber, with saw markings and square edge detailing fixed on round joists with the remants of the original bark still preserved. The foundations are sandstone piers set into a sand clay footing.
Date significance updated: 10 Oct 00
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: Vernacular
Builder/Maker: Unknown
Construction years: 1840-1850
Physical description: Split timber slab cottage. Originally roofed with she-oak shingles, now roofed with corrugated steel roof sheeting. Now clad with aluminum sheeting on walls. One rear wall in brick.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Underneath of cottage retains some archaeological surface deposits relatively undisturbed.
Date condition updated:15 Jun 00
Modifications and dates: 1. Original Cottage constructed between 1840 to 1850
2. Brick wall (230mm by 2650mm) extension part of workshop then kitchen post 1850
3. Main rear lean-to c.1950's
4. Smaller kitchen and bathroom add c.1960's
5. Bear Shed c.1960's
6. Original cottage lined internally (gyprock) 1970's
Further information: The most significant area of the house is the front two rooms, which are the original slab cottage. The rear of the site is less significant.
Current use: Residence
Former use: Residence


Historical notes: Based on an analysis of the building fabric and the existing land title information it is considered it was constructed c.1840 and would have been a worker's cottage on land owned by A.B. Sparke the man who built Tempe House in the 1830s.

The first registered land grant for the site was 470 acres. It was made in October 1799 to Thomas Smythe, Provost Marshall by Gov. Hunter Oct 1799. It was noted in Musters and Consus. [1800/02/04] that there was Convict and agricultural use of this land. Smythe died 1804 and land passed to his senior, John Palmer eventually. John Palmer (Commissionary) sold to his brother-in-law Robert Campbell in 1808.

Campbell held it for 27 years and sold 63 acres bordering Cooks River and O'Shea's Creek , (the site of old Tempe Village) to Alexander Brodie Sparke in 1835. In 1842 Sparke surveyed both St Peter's and Tempe village areas for their future sale. 63 acres at Tempe were mortgaged to the bank of Australia, (Chairman H.H.Mc Arthur).

The bank of Australia in 1850 sold, 156 allotments, part of the Village of Tempe (700 allotments) (Lot 43 block 2 is 44 Barden St) to Edward Flood. In 1854 Edward Flood sold a lot including lot 43 block 2 to Joseph Nobbs. In 1861 Joseph Nobbs sold 3 lots including lot 43 to Frederick Barden. ( Name of street changed from Campbell to Barden later).

It should be noted that Premises, (see Blacks legal definition), is mentioned in all deeds gazette notices (1803, 1804 and 1806) available.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences (none)-
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. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Land Grants for the site go back to October 1799. The original grant of 470 acres was used for agricultural purposes farmed with assigned convicts. The land was also owned by Robert Campbell who built Tempe House across the river. He sold the land at about this time possibly to help pay for Tempe House. It is probably the oldest extant vernacular house in Tempe.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Small cottage form evident from street. The original southern exterior wall is now part of the living room which is now internal. This wall is 6m slab wall and 2.7m. The adjacent 19th century brickwall is also visible.
The cottage is a rare example of a rudimentary timber slab cottage. Although the exterior is now encapsulated within modern aluminum weatherboard cladding it is visible on the inside wall of the living room.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
It is significant because it shows an example of a small domestic house from early Sydney. It was constructed c.1840 and would have been a worker's cottage on land owned by A.B. Sparke, the man who built Tempe House in the 1830s.

The house shows how older buildings are set on sites at a skew angle and do not always align with new sub-divisions. This provides evidence of an earlier occupation before sub division. It is one of the oldest house in the area and provides evidence of early land use.

Grooves in the rear wall show evidence of early steam driven machines. This may have been associated with the agricultural development or be part of some small industry manufacturing process.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Provides evidence of the technology of slab cottages in the middle of the 19th century. The house is raised of the ground and uses nails to fix the slabs which have been roughly thinned out to receive the 'Ewbank' nails. The construction shows a reasonable understanding of carpentry techniques and uses mortise and tenon joints. Accommodation seems above normal for convict/ lessee/ or shepherd. More likely built for a supervisor or farm caretaker for owners.
SHR Criteria f)
This type of vertical timber slab construction is rare, particularly in the Sydney region. It is similar to Dundullimal Homestead, Dubbo. Normally slab buildings are built on the ground, this cottage is unusual in that it has a well ventilated floor space underneath it.
SHR Criteria g)
No other building of this type in the area.
Integrity/Intactness: At least two-thirds of original fabric of the original two room cottage remains. It shows aspects of original construction and is in relatively good condition.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Retain as residential property.

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 RegisterSHR Listing0141229 Sep 00 12710889
Local Environmental PlanTimber slab cottage, including interiorsI294   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Historic Villages of Tempe and St Peters
WrittenA.B. Sparke ( Early 19th century) Diary in Mitchell Library
OtherR Mackay, R Irving, B Edgar2000Site Inspection
WrittenUnknown Land Title Office Records

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

rez rez rez rez rez rez
rez rez
(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: 5049609
File number: H00/00179

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.