Veteran Hall - House Remains | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Veteran Hall - House Remains

Item details

Name of item: Veteran Hall - House Remains
Type of item: Archaeological-Terrestrial
Group/Collection: Farming and Grazing
Category: Homestead Complex
Location: Lat: -33.8108753997 Long: 150.9164745240
Primary address: Great Western Highway, Prospect, NSW 2148
Local govt. area: Blacktown
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Deerubbin
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT304 DP1122291
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Great Western HighwayProspectBlacktown  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Sydney WaterState Government27 Nov 98

Statement of significance:

The Veteran Hall archaeological remains are associated with the explorer and statesman, William Lawson, who built the first substantial house on the site. The remains can potentially provide insights into settlement in the area and 19th century pastoralism, due to their intactness. The site has the potential to yield information about the second occupants of the site, the Metropolitan Water Supply Board, who occupied the site during the early phases of the Upper Nepean Scheme until the early years of the 20th century, when the Military took it over. The remains make a positive contribution to the landscape and relate harmoniously to the visual catchment of the Prospect Reservoir curtilage.
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: William Lawson
Construction years: 1821-1821
Physical description: Site:
The homestead site is marked by wall footings and scattered sandstock bricks. An avenue of mature Araucaria cunninghamiana (hoop pines) and A.bidwillii (Bunya Pines) leads to the house site.

Other established plantings in the vicinity include wild or African olive (Olea europaea var.cuspidata), and a former Pyracantha (firethorn) hedge. A Macartney rose (Rosa bracteata) is in the homestead garden. The same species of rose is also found in the King family farm garden at St. Marys (Kaiser-Glass, pers.comm., 25/11/2015).

Ancillary elements associated with the house site include cellars (filled) and a well discovered near the Prospect Hill Reservoir access road.

A memorial cairn constructed of bricks from the house and erected in 1970, and several explanatory signs attached to an old style timber post and rail fence now also indicate the presence of the house site. The bronze plaque provided by the Macquarie Historical Society reads as follows, "This cairn marks the site of Veteran Hall, the home of explorer William Lawson and commemorates his life and achievements. Erected 1970". Recent works near the access road to Prospect Hill reservoir have uncovered a 25.5meter well approximately 182 metres from the site of Veteran Hall. It is 2 metres across, lined with sandstock bricks and contains 7.5 metre deep water.
Modifications and dates: Archaeological site.
c1810 Macquarie confirmed grant to William Lawson (500 acres), WL built Veteran Hall
c1821 main Veteran Hall homestead either replacing or enlarging original c.1810 house - a large, single-storey building in typical Colonial Georgian style, approximately 65 squares in size, which expanded to a size of approximately 110 squares including verandahs. It was owned and occupied by William between 1810 and 1850

pre 1837 Nelson Lawson built "Greystanes House" on the western side of Prospect Hill. It had a wide, semi-circular front verandah supported by 4 pillars. The foundations were of stone, the roof of slate, and the doors and architraves of heavy red cedar.

1880s property resumed for construction of Prospect Reservoir
1888-1912 Veteran Hall became the residence and local office of the Water Board's Engineer-In-Charge of Headworks
1912-15 Veteran Hall homestead leased with surrounding paddocks to the Commonwealth military authorities as a remount depot. The building then became vacant
1929 Veteran Hall homestead demolished. Several of the decorative fittings and architectural details, such as quoins, were donated to the Vaucluse House Trust and some of Lawson's descendants.

Greystanes house was approached by a long drive lined with an avenue of English trees - elms (Ulmus procera), hawthorns (Crataegus sp.), holly (Ilex aquifolium), and woodbine (Clematis sp.) mingling with jacarandas (J.mimosifolia).

1940s Greystanes house was demolished
Further information: Prospect Reservoir
Current use: undergoing change to public recreation land (part) and industrial uses (majority
Former use: farming land; quarry

History

Historical notes: Aboriginal & European settler history:
The area of Prospect Reservoir is an area of known Aboriginal occupation, with favourable camping locations along the Eastern Creek and Prospect Creek catchments, and in elevated landscapes to the south. There is also evidence to suggest that the occupation of these lands continued after European contact, through discovery of intermingled galss and stone flakes in archaeological surveys of the place. The area was settled by Europeans by 1789.

Prospect Hill, Sydney's largest body of igneous rock, lies centrally in the Cumberland Plain and dominates the landscape of the area (Ashton, 2000). Very early after first settlement, on 26 April 1788, an exploration party heading west led by Governor Phillip, climbed Prospect Hill. An account by Phillip states that the exploration party saw from Prospect Hill, 'for the first time since we landed Carmathen Hills (Blue Mountains) as likewise the hills to the southward'. Phillip's 'Bellevue' (Prospect Hill) acquired considerable significance for the new settlers. Prospect Hill provided a point from which distances could be meaningfully calculated, and became a major reference point for other early explorers (Karskens 1991). When Watkin Tench made another official journey to the west in 1789, he began his journey with reference to Prospect Hill, which commanded a view of the great chain of mountains to the west. A runaway convict, George Bruce, used Prospect Hill as a hideaway from soldiers in the mid-1790s.

During the initial struggling years of European settlement in NSW, Governor Phillip began to settle time-expired convicts on the land as farmers, after the success of James Ruse at Rose Hill (Higginbotham 2000). On 18 July 1791 Phillip placed a number of men on the eastern and southern slopes of Prospect Hill, as the soils weathered from the basalt cap were richer than the sandstone derived soils of the Cumberland Plain. The grants, mostly 30 acres, encircled Prospect Hill (Ashton 2000). The settlers included William Butler, James Castle, Samuel Griffiths, John Herbert, George Lisk, Joseph Morley, John Nicols, William Parish and Edward Pugh (Higginbotham 2000).

The arrival of the first settlers prompted the first organised Aboriginal resistance to the spread of settlement, with the commencement of a violent frontier conflict in which Pemulwuy and his Bidjigal clan played a central role (Flynn 1997). On 1 May 1801 Governor King took drastic action, issuing a public order requiring that Aboriginal people around Parramatta, Prospect Hill and Georges River should be 'driven back from the settlers' habitations by firing at them'. Kings edicts appear to have encouraged a shoot-on-sight attitude whenever any Aboriginal men, women or children appeared (Flynn 1997).

With the death of Pemulwuy, the main resistance leader, in 1802, Aboriginal resistance gradually diminished near Parramatta, although outer areas were still subject to armed hostilities. Prompted by suggestions to the Reverend Marsden by local Prospect Aboriginal groups that a conference should take place 'with a view of opening the way to reconciliation', Marsden promptly organised a meeting near Prospect Hill. (ibid 1997). At the meeting, held on 3 May 1805, local Aboriginal representatives discussed with Marsden ways of ending the restrictions and indiscriminate reprisals inflicted on them by soldiers and settlers in response to atrocities committed by other Aboriginal clans (ibid 1997). The meeting was significant because a group of Aboriginal women and a young free settler at Prospect named John Kennedy acted as intermediaries. The conference led to the end of the conflict for the Aboriginal clans around Parramatta and Prospect (Karskens 1991). This conference at Prospect on Friday 3 May 1805 is a landmark in Aboriginal/European relations. Macquarie's 'Native Feasts' held at Parramatta from 1814 followed the precedent set in 1805. The Sydney Gazette report of the meeting is notable for the absence of the sneering tone that characterised its earlier coverage of Aboriginal matters (ibid 1997).

From its commencement in 1791 with the early settlement of the area, agricultural use of the land continued at Prospect Hill. Much of the land appears to have been cleared by the 1820s and pastoral use of the land was well established by then. When Governor Macquarie paid a visit to the area in 1810, he was favourably impressed by the comfortable conditions that had been created (Pollon & Healy, 1988, 210).

Veteran Hall & Greystanes: The Lawson Family:
Nelson Lawson, third son of explorer William Lawson (1774-1850), married Honoria Mary Dickinson and before 1837 built "Greystanes House" as their future family home on the western side of Prospect Hill. Lawson had received the land from his father, who had been granted 500 acres here by the illegal government that followed the overthrow of Governor Bligh in 1808.
Governor Macquarie had confirmed the grant, where William Lawson had built a house, which he called "Veteran Hall", because he had a commission in the NSW Veterans Company. The main homestead was erected in about 1821 and either replaced or was an enlargement of Lawson's first house, which was built on the same site around 1810. It was a large, single-storey building in typical Colonial Georgian style, approximately 65 squares in size, which expanded to a size of approximately 110 squares including verandahs. It was owned and occupied by William between 1810 and 1850.

The property was resumed during the 1880s for construction of Prospect Reservoir and Veteran Hall became the residence and local office of the Water Board's Engineer-In-Charge of Headworks from 1888 until 1912, when the position was moved to Potts Hill. The homestead was then leased with the surrounding paddocks to the Commonwealth military authorities until 1915 as a remount depot. The building then became vacant and was demolished in 1929. Several of the decorative fittings and architectural details, such as the quoins, were donated to the Vaucluse House Trust and some of Lawson's descendants. William Lawson, a key figure in Australian history, died at Veteran Hall in 1850, and was buried at nearby St.Bartholomew's Church.

Greystanes house was approached by a long drive lined with an avenue of English trees - elms (Ulmus procera), hawthorns (Crataegus sp.), holly (Ilex aquifolium), and woodbine (Clematis sp.) mingling with jacarandas (J.mimosifolia). It had a wide, semi-circular front verandah supported by 4 pillars. The foundations were of stone ,the roof of slate, and the doors and architraves of heavy red cedar. It was richly furnished with articles of the best quality available and was the scene of many glittering soirees attended by the elite of the colony. Honoria Lawson died in 1845, Nelson remarried a year later, but died in 1849 and the property reverted to his father. Greystanes house was demolished in the 1940s (Pollon, 1988, 116, amended Read, S.,2006 - the house can't have been 'on the crest' of Prospect Hill as Pollon states, if its site was covered by the Reservoir).

By the 1870s, with the collapse of the production of cereal grains across the Cumberland Plain, the Prospect Hill area appears to have largely been devoted to livestock. The dwellings of the earliest settlers largely appear to have been removed by this stage. By the time that any mapping was undertaken in this vicinity, most of these structures had disappeared, making their locations difficult to pinpoint (Higginbotham, 2000).

The land was farmed from 1806-1888 when the Prospect Reservoir was built.

Prospect Reservoir:
In 1867, the Governor of NSW appointed a Commission to recommend a scheme for Sydney's water supply, and by 1869 it was recommended that construction commence on the Upper Nepean Scheme. This consisted of two diversion weirs, located at Pheasant's Nest and Broughton's Pass, in the Upper Nepean River catchment, with water feeding into a series of tunnels, canals and aqueducts known as the Upper Canal. It was intended that water be fed by gravity from the catchment into a reservoir at Prospect. This scheme was to be Sydney's fourth water supply system, following the Tank Stream, Busby's Bore and the Botany (Lachlan) Swamps.

Designed and constructed by the Public Works Department of NSW, Prospect Reservoir was built during the 1880s and completed in 1888. Credit for the Upper Nepean Scheme is largely given to Edward Orpen Moriarty, the Engineer in Chief of the Habours and Rivers Branch of the Public Works Department from 1858-88 (B Cubed Sustainability, 2005, 7).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Clearing land for farming-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Ancillary structures - wells, cisterns-
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 food production-
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 industrial production-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Exploration-Activities associated with making places previously unknown to a cultural group known to them. (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)-
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 Naming places (toponymy)-
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 Expressing lines of early grant allotments-
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 Selecting land for pastoral or agricultural purposes-
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 Granting Crown lands for private farming-
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 Sub-division of large estates-
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 Rural orchards-
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-
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-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working on pastoral stations-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in quarries-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Lt. William Lawson, explorer, Commandant of Govt.Stores, grazier-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Veteran Hall and its surrounds are associated with the explorer and statesman, William Lawson, who built the first substantial house on the site. The historical landscape around the house remains, including plantings, fences and access road provide important insight into the former landscape of the historical property.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The remains make a positive contribution to the landscape and relate harmoniously to the visual catchment of the Prospect Reservoir curtilage.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The remains of the house, outbuildings and well can provide archaeological evidence relating to the living and working conditions on the property, when it was a large pastoral establishment, through to its later occupation by the MWS&DB and final military use.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The archaeological remains of the house provide a rare opportunity to investigate the house and landholdings of a prominent and important historical figure.
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.

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 0135118 Nov 99   
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register 495151   
National Trust of Australia register      

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Sydney Water Heritage Study1996495151Graham Brooks and Associates Pty LtdGRAHAM BROOKS AND ASSOCIATES PTY LTD 1 JULY 1996 Yes
Colonial Landscapes of the Cumberland Plain and Camden, NSW2000 Morris, C., & Britton, G./NSW National Trust (for the Heritage Council of NSW)  Yes
Holroyd Heritage Study1993 Neustein & Associates  No
Holroyd Heritage Study Review1998 Graham Brooks and Associates  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBeasley, M.1988By the sweat of their brows - 100 years of the Sydney Water Board 1888-1988
WrittenPollen, F. & Healy, G.1988Prospect entry, in 'The Book of Sydney Suburbs'

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: 5051453
File number: 10/6092;


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