Old Government Cottages Group | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Old Government Cottages Group

Item details

Name of item: Old Government Cottages Group
Other name/s: 'Old Government House', Macquarie House, Miss Falloon's cottage, John Ford's house
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Government and Administration
Category: Government House
Location: Lat: -33.4122206044 Long: 149.5844313850
Primary address: 16 Stanley Street, Bathurst, NSW 2795
Parish: Bathurst
County: Bathurst
Local govt. area: Bathurst Regional
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Bathurst
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP788005
LOT2 DP788005
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
16 Stanley StreetBathurstBathurst RegionalBathurstBathurstPrimary Address
George StreetBathurstBathurst Regional  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Bathurst Regional CouncilLocal Government 

Statement of significance:

One of the oldest brick building groups west of the Macquarie River, the group is situated on the original Government Grounds, adjacent to the Government Convict Gardens. This group is important for its associations with significant early Bathurst figures such as James William Bligh.

No 16 Stanley Street is physically the older building of the two, and could have been constructed in the government era, possibly as early as 1837 under Governor Bourke. No 1 George Street (or Macquarie House) is also important for its architectural qualities, with its ornate iron decoration to the verandah which reflects the key characteristics of Victorian filigree style.

The group, in addition to its historical and architectural qualities, is located on a corner site overlooking the Macquarie River and with the nineteenth century styling of its buildings, represents a landmark element in the streetscape of this old quarter of Bathurst (HO)
Date significance updated: 02 Nov 10
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.


Construction years: 1837-1860
Physical description: This group consists of no 1 George street, also known as Macquarie house , and 'Old Government House' (16 Stanley Street) .
Both buildings are situated within the Bathurst General Conservation Area and both are also separately listed on Bathurst LEP.
The old government cottage possibly pre-dates No 1 George street, although for most of their existence they have formed one house, with the cottage serving as kitchen, store and servants area to the main residence of No 1 George Street.

No 1 George street is a two storey full brick building with a hipped, corrugated iron lined roof.(originally shingle lined). A separate hipped roof extends across the full front (east) of the house, supported on caste iron columns, with lace balustrade, brackets and frieze lacework in a two storey verandah. The faade is symmetrical, except for the 2000 addition to the north containing a car garage. On the ground floor a central elaborate entry door is flanked on each side by a single double hung window.
Above the faade contains three sets of French doors providing access to the verandah.

The cottage behind consists of a single storey full brick building, with gable ended roof now clad in shingles (circa 1972). The cottage faces Stanley Street, which appears older that No 1 George street in style and materials, contains a number of well spaced double hung multi paned windows and panelled timber doors. The plan consists of 4 rooms, three of these interconnected. Originally, according to earlier survey plans and sewerage diagrams, the cottage was larger and extended across what is now the southern boundary.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
No 1 George Street: excellent condition
No 16 Stanley street: fair condition
Date condition updated:10 Jul 15
Modifications and dates: 1859-60: two story house built by John Ford. Older cottage at its rear used as kitchen and servants' quarters.

Southern portion of cottage demolished, date unknown.

1972 major restoration program of works

1989 last of several subdivisions of the block, separating 16 Stanley Street and 1 George Street.

2015 'period' garden installed.
Further information: Supported by Bathurst/Evans focus group 27/3/2002

The original fence, which was part ornate iron railings, and part picket fence, is entirely missing except for the front gate. The intention is to reinstate with similar or sympathetic materials.
Current use: Residence, Museum
Former use: Private school, Residence


Historical notes: Aboriginal people and colonisation.
Aboriginal occupation of the Blue Mountains area dates back at least 12,000 years and appears to have intensified some 3000-4000 years ago. In pre-colonial times the area now known as Bathurst was inhabited by Aboriginal people of the Wiradjuri linguistic group. The clan associated with Bathurst occupied on a seasonal basis most of the Macquarie River area. They moved regularly in small groups but prefered the open land and used the waterways for a variety of food. There are numerous river flats where debris from recurrent camps accumulated over a long period. European settlement in this region after the first documented white expedition west of the Blue Mountains in 1813 was tentative because of apprehensions about resistance from Aboriginal people. There was some contact, witnessed by sporadic hostility and by the quantity of surviving artefacts manufactured by the Aborigines from European glass. By 1840 there was widespread dislocation of Aboriginal culture, aggravated after 1850 by the goldrush to the region (HO and DUAP, 1996, 88).

Prior to European settlement in Australia, the Wiradjuri Aboriginal group lived in the upper Macquarie Valley. Bathurst was proclaimed a town by Lachlan Macquarie on 7 May 1815, named after Lord Bathurst, Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies (Barker 1992:25). Bathurst is Australia's oldest inland township. It was proclaimed a town in 1815 with the discovery of gold.

Governor Macquarie chose the site of the future town of Bathurst on 7 May 1815 during his tour over the Blue Mountains, on the road already completed by convict labour supervised by William Cox. Macquarie marked out the boundaries near the depot established by surveyor George Evans and reserved a site for a government house and domain. Reluctant to open the rich Bathurst Plains to a large settlement, Macquarie authorised few grants there initially, one of the first being 1000 acres to William Lawson, one of the three European explorers who crossed the mountains in 1813. The road-maker William Cox was another early grantee but later had to move his establishment to Kelso on the non-government side of the Macquarie River (GAO, 2005, 8).

A modest release of land in February 1818 occurred when ten men were chosen to take up 50 acre farms and 2 acre town allotments across the river from the government buildings. When corruption by government supervisor Richard Lewis and acting Commandant William Cox caused their dismissal, they were replaced by Lieutenant William Lawson who became Commandant of the settlement in 1818 (ibid, 8).

Macquarie continued to restrict Bathurst settlement and reserved all land on the south side of the Macquarie River for government buildings and stock, a situation that prevailed until 1826. In December 1819 Bathurst had a population of only 120 people in 30 houses, two thirds being in the township of Kelso on the eastern side of the river and the remainder scattered on rural landholdings nearby. The official report in 1820 numbered Bathurst settlers at 114, including only 14 women and 15 children. The government buildings comprised a brick house for the commandant, brick barracks for the military detachment and houses for the stock keeper, and log houses for the 50 convicts who worked the government farm. Never successful, the government farm was closed by Governor Darling in 1828 (ibid, 8).

Governor Darling, arriving in Sydney in 1825, promptly commenced a review of colonial administration and subsequently introduced vigorous reforms. On advice from Viscount Goderich, Darling divided colonial expenditure into two parts: one to cover civil administration, funded by New South Wales; the other for the convict system, funded by Britain (ibid, 10).

By this time, J.McBrien and Robert Hoddle had surveyed the existing grants in the vicinity. Surveyor James Bym Richards began work on the south side of the river in 1826. But the town was apparently designed by Thomas Mitchell in 1830 and did not open until late 1833 after Richards had completed the layout of the streets with their two-road allotments. The first sales were held in 1831 before the survey was complete (ibid, 10).

In 1832 the new Governor, Major General Sir Richard Bourke, visited Bathurst in October. He instructed the Surveyor General Major Thomas L. Mitchell to make arrangements for 'opening the town of Bathurst without delay' and he in turn instructed the Assistant Surveyor at Bathurst J.B. Richards to lay out the blocks and streets. This was done in September 1833. It is believed that Major Mitchell named the streets, with George Street being named after King George III.

Old Government Cottages Group

The land on which this building group stands, on the corner of George and Stanley streets, originally surveyed as Lot 6, was set aside as a government reserve until it was sold to James William Bligh, a solicitor in 1847. The purchase price for Lot 6 was (Pounds)10, while its neighbour Lot 7 was (Pounds)7.

Bligh, who lived in Bathurst from 1841 to 1851 and was presumably a speculator in land. It is supposed that an existing dwelling may have existed then on this site, and part of that building has come to be popularly known as 'Government cottage', having been built on Government land while it was still in their control. (i.e. pre 1847). However there is no direct evidence to support this proposition. No building is shown on this site on a Government Survey of 1833, which did show all other 'government buildings' of the time. And the purchase price of (Pounds)7 does not indicate an 'improvement' of any consequence on the land. However one old brick at No1 George Street embedded into the wall is dated 'AD 1827', and this may relate to some earlier structure, or the construction of the cottage, or both.

James William Bligh however probably did not build on the land but sold it on to Miss Falloon, who had been living in the Government House at this time. She ran a small home school at the time. She may have built or improved the cottage known as No 16 Stanley St. She then sold the property to Mr John Ford in 1857. Mr. John Ford of Kelso, 'a banker and coach proprietor', who had a run of coaches , was possibly also the same John Ford who owned a steam flour mill in Kelso in 1851.

John Ford built the the two storied house in 1859/60, probably with the cottage at the rear serving as kitchen and servants quarters. By 1862 he is registered as a resident in that area of Bathurst.

In 1875 the 2 storied house was owned by John Gardiner, and then sold to John Ford junior in 1883-84. From 1884 to 1887 Macquarie House (as it was then known), served as one of the ladies colleges of Bathurst.

Bathurst High School started operating in 1884 first only as a boys school, and then as a boys and girls section from 1885, but by 1887 it was forced to close due to lack of students. This may have been because of rival schools including the 'Pixie Ladies College', in Upper William Street under the direction of Miss Keyes, and this establishment of Macquarie House for Young Ladies under the direction of Mrs. Mackenzie.

John Ford Junior died in 1890 and is buried at Kelso cemetery. The house then passed to Alfred Gordon Thomson , who died 6th July 1908, who left it to his heir Minna Augusta Thompson who sold to Charles William Griffin of Granville for (Pounds)720.

At this stage the description of the house containing thirteen rooms clearly indicates that the 'old government cottage' formed part of the premises.

On 20th April 1918 the local Bathurst paper has an advertisement for a property. This advert appears to refer to No 1 George Street and 16 Stanley street, which described it as a 'fine two storied brick residence, with verandahs and balcony, built at the rear of 'old Government House' and with 'a 99 foot frontage to George Street, and opposite the Ordinance Ground' advertised 'on account J.B.Richards'.

(What was meant by 'at the rear of Govt house' is not entirely clear, but the actual Govt house is shown on the 1833 surveys as east of this site and would probably have addressed itself to the East, leaving this house 'at the rear').

In 1964 No 1 George Street was bought by the Bathurst City Council and given to the Bathurst Historical Society. It was stated in an article by Mrs J Rutherford in the Bathurst Historical Society's 1968 Annual Magazine that No 1 George St then 'consisted of two parts: the two storey section still known today as No.1 George St, and the single storeyed wing behind being described as 'the only remaining building authorised by Governor Macquarie'.

In 1972 with Dr. Brookmore at the head of the Historical Society, major restoration was undertaken at the cottage by builders from Penrith and furnishing of the cottage in 'period' style.

A number of subdivisions of the original Lot have occurred, breaking the original Lot 6 now into six separate portions. A further subdivision in 1989 separated the single storied cottage and the 2 storied house onto separate lots as 16 Stanley Street and 1 George Street respectively.

In 2015 a 'period' garden was reinstated using plants known from the colonial era to better present the cottage to visitors. This project was undertaken as part of Bathurst's bicentennial celebrations.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Convict-Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities Administering the convict system-
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 public servants and officials-
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 townsfolk - terraces and cottages-
6. Educating-Educating Education-Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally. Private (independent) 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. Direct vice-regal governance (pre 1856)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with James William Bligh, solicitor-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Miss Falloon, Bathurst private school proprietor-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with John Ford, banker, coach proprietor, mill owner-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Old Government Cottages group is of state historical significance because of its close associations with the foundation of Bathurst (Australia's first inland town) as a centre for governing the western districts of the colony of New South Wales, and as one of the oldest surviving buildings west of the Macquarie River located on the original government reserve in Bathurst.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Old Government Cottages Group has significant local associations with John Ford, James William Bligh and Miss Keyes.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Old Government Cottages Group is of local aesthetic significance for its prominent siting overlooking the Macquarie River and its contribution to the colonial character of this old quarter of Bathurst.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Old Government Cottages Group is of local significance for the esteem in which it is held by the local community as a museum of local history and as a place that visually connects the community to the foundation of the town.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Old Government Cottages Group is of state significance as a surviving example of old colonial brick construction in the west of New South Wales, and for the archaological potential of demolished portions of the oldest cottage and its grounds.
SHR Criteria f)
Old Government Cottages Group, especially 16 Stanley Street, is rare at the state level as an example of old colonial brick construction west of the Macquarie River
SHR Criteria g)
Old Government Cottages Group, especially 1 George Street, is representative of Victorian domestic housing that reflects growth and change over time in response to changing residential needs.
Integrity/Intactness: Old Government Cottages Group retains its ability to demonstrate the reasons for its significance, and therefore its integrity
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:

General: Continue to maintain the significant fabric of the buildings, and in particular the 19th century fabric associated with its early construction and period as a Girls school at 1 George Street and original construction at Stanley Street. Archaeological potential of demolished section of cottage and associated areas needs to be assessed. The house should be monitored in a regular way to note any matters of 'wear and tear', vandalism, entry of pests or structural defects. Develop a maintenance plan for the cottage, and a method of reporting any damage or repair work needed on a regular basis (Hickson, 2004, 63).

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementOld Government House Conservation Management Plan (Barbara Hickson, May 2002) Jun 27 2003
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

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

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

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

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

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

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0165921 Feb 03 493114
Local Environmental Plan  12 Dec 97   
National Trust of Australia register Old Government Cottages group750, 760, 762, 763, 81605 Apr 76   
Register of the National EstateNom. 15/03/1985.01437021 Oct 80 AHC 

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Central West Pilot Program SHRP2001 Heritage Office SHRP  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Old Government Cottages Group View detail
WrittenBarbara Hickson2002Old Government Cottage Conservation Management Plan
WrittenBarbara Hickson, Heritage Adviser2016Old Government Cottage Conservation Management Plan
WrittenBATHEX 2015 Exhibition and Bathurst Bicentennary2015'From the Newsletter Editor / What has occurred to date' in BATHEX information newsletter, Issue 10, May 2015
WrittenGovernment Architect's Office2005Bathurst Hospital Conservation Management Plan
WrittenGreaves Bernard ed.1976The Bathurst Story The Sydney
WrittenHeritage Office2001Central West Pilot Program SHRP Central West Pilot Program SHRP
TourismTourism NSW2007Bathurst District Historical Museum View detail

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5052604
File number: H00/00475

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