Bensonville - Victorian Georgian style former farmhouse | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Bensonville - Victorian Georgian style former farmhouse

Item details

Name of item: Bensonville - Victorian Georgian style former farmhouse
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 126 Twin Road, North Ryde, NSW 2113
Parish: Hunters Hill
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Ryde
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
126 Twin RoadNorth RydeRydeHunters HillCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

Bensonville, circa 1887, is of historical significance as the home of 19th century Ryde orchardists. The house has historical association with Paul Benson (c. 1814-1898) and his wife Charlotte Wicks and subsequently his son Edward E. Benson (1861-1944), orchardist, and his wife Elizabeth Jackson and their family. Paul Benson resided in the Ryde district from about 1842 (following his marriage to Charlotte Wicks at the Church of England Hunters Hill in 1841), and many of his children, including Edward, were born at Ryde. Bensonville is of aesthetic significance as a vernacular late Victorian Georgian style farm house, representative of the housing of late19th century orchardists in the Ryde district.
Date significance updated: 30 Oct 12
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: 1884-1897
Physical description: A single storey late Victorian farm house circa 1887, located on an allotment which has been subdivided and is now located on a battleaxe block. A two storey house has been constructed immediately in front of the site of the house obscuring views to the house from the Twin Road. The house has a simple form, constructed of red brickwork, with a hipped roof, wrap around verandah and an offset rear wing. The roof is clad in corrugated steel and features tall corbelled brick chimneys. The verandah has a convex profile and is supported by stop chamfered timber verandah posts. There is evidence of former decorative cast iron frieze and brackets now removed. The verandah has been partially enclosed at the rear. The front facade features a central door and steps flanked by a pair of double hung timber sash windows with shutters. Further lean-to additions have occurred at the rear.

Sale description in February 2011 was: "Large 3/4 return verandah; 4 double bedrooms; formal loungeroom; separate formal dining room; original ceilings and fireplaces; 100 year old hardwood timber floors; intimate kitchen and large walk-in pantry; large utility room; land 900 square metres/usuable 600 square metres (driveway 300 square metres); ample car parking." Photos from the same date show high timber tongue & groove board ceilings internally and an original fireplace, as well as timber framed double hung windows, a central front door with fanlight above, flanked by timber framed double hung windows with timber shutters, and a brick chimney to the corrugated steel clad roof. The verandah has a raised timber floor with brick piers visible beneath.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
When offered for sale in February 2011 the house was described as having original hardwood floors, ornate fireplaces, high ceilings, a separate dining room and formal lounge (Northern District Times article 4 February 2011).
Date condition updated:30 Oct 12
Modifications and dates: Site subdivided (now a battleaxe alotment). The 1943 NSW Lands Dept aerial photo shows the house on a larger site with outbuildings to the rear (south).
Further information: Further research including expert fabric analysis is required to determine exact date of construction of the house.
Current use: Dwelling
Former use: Dwelling


Historical notes: AREA HISTORY
Aboriginal people inhabited the Sydney basin for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. The northern coastal area of Sydney was home to the Guringai people, western Sydney was home to the Dharug clans, and southern Sydney was inhabited by the Dharawal clans. The AHO and the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, the recognised custodians for this area, as well as members of the local Aboriginal community generally agree that the term Guringai may not be the original name for the area, tribe or language, however, given the lack of any credible alternative, it is considered to be an appropriate and convenient term to represent the area as distinct from other parts of Sydney. The clan names are in some regards less contentious for some areas. The City of Ryde Council area is commonly accepted to be Wallumedegal country (various spellings).

The Guringai lived primarily along the foreshores of the harbour, and fished and hunted in the waters and hinterlands of the area. All clans harvested food from their surrounding bush. Self-sufficient and harmonious, they had no need to travel far from their lands, since the resources around them were so abundant, and trade with other tribal groups was well established. The British arrival in 1788 had a dramatic impact on all of the Sydney clans. Food resources were quickly diminished by the invaders, who had little understanding of the local environment. As a result, the Aboriginal people throughout the Sydney Basin were soon close to starvation. The Sydney clans fought back against the invaders, but the introduction of diseases from Europe and Asia, most notably smallpox, destroyed over half the population. The clearing of land for settlements and farms displaced local tribes and reduced the availability of natural food resources, leaving Aboriginal people reliant on white food and clothing. The French surgeon and pharmacist Rene Primavere Lesson, who visited Sydney in 1824, wrote: "the tribes today are reduced to fragments scattered all around Port Jackson, on the land where their ancestors lived and which they do not wish to leave."

The suburbs known today as North Ryde and Macquarie Park were formed from the Field of Mars Common, an area of 5050 acres (2044 hectares) declared in 1804 by Governor King as one of six ‘commons’ in the Colony, to be used for the grazing of livestock by local residents. The Common followed the path of the Lane Cove River and consisted mainly of heavily timbered bush. By the 1840s the area was notorious as the haunt of unsavory society, home to a range of activities such as gambling, sly grog selling and a range of antisocial activities. Following many years of community agitation and debate including a Parliamentary Select Committee, by 1874 the Common was formally resumed to allow sale and settlement by small farmers. The money raised was to be used to fund the crossings of the Parramatta River at Gladesville and Iron Cove, both of which were being demanded by the residents of the Ryde area.

A regular grid pattern of streets was laid out and the land away from the river was subdivided into small farms of between 0.4 and 1.6ha, with areas reserved for open space and special purposes such as the Northern Suburbs Cemetery, which was created in 1922. The street names chosen throughout the area continued the martial tradition of the “Field of Mars” and referenced famous battles and British victories. Development in the area was slow, but a range of small farms such as poultry and market gardens, each with a modest dwelling, were established throughout the district. Many of these poultry farms were established in the years following the First World War as part of the Soldier Settlement Scheme. Unlike in many other areas where the Scheme was established, it appears to have thrived in the area, with claims being made in 1946 that poultry stock averaged 150,000 p.a., with over 1,000,000 day old chicks being produced annually (quoted in Levy, p77). Other agricultural activities included market gardening and the production of a wide range of produce for the Sydney Markets, including fruit, vegetables, flowers, small livestock, milk and eggs. One of the most significant early ventures was the House of David’s poultry farm and sawmill, and their later diversification into the Eden Park picnic ground, zoo, tennis courts and music bowl. The banks of the Lane Cove River were reserved for recreation and a series of "Pleasure Resorts" were created along its foreshores, including the "Fairyland Pleasure Grounds" to the east of the Cemetery which was a popular destination for the first half of the 20th Century.

Most of the area remained in small rural holdings which was formalised by the creation of the County of Cumberland’s Planning Scheme in 1949 which identified the area as part of Sydney’s Green Belt. By the mid-1960s there was increasing demand for the release of land for development and much of Macquarie Park was zoned to provide a light industrial ‘business park’ for scientific and technological industries that would support the newly established Macquarie University. The University opened to students in 1967, with the main site being developed from 1968. The campus was designed to capitalise on its bushland setting, with the buildings nestled under the tree canopy. The newly settled area was supported by the opening of the Macquarie Shopping Centre in 1981 and the formalisation of "Macquarie Park" as a separate suburb from North Ryde.

Major infrastructure was late to arrive in the area, although two major roads, Lane Cove Road and Epping Road, pass through the suburb. Lane Cove Road was an important early road (known originally as Soudan Road) that crosses from north to south, crossing the highest navigable point in the Lane Cove river. A timber truss bridge was completed across the river in 1901, allowing access by vehicles to Pymble and the North Shore. This bridge was replaced by the current De Burghs Bridge in 1967. Epping Road is a major access road between Lane Cove and Sydney’s north-west which opened in 1940. The major road known as the M2 tollway opened in 1997 and cuts through Macquarie Park above the Lane Cove River Reserve. Following over 100 years of agitation for a railway, the Epping to Chatswood rail link finally opened in 2006, with stations at North Ryde, Macquarie Park and Macquarie University.

Local residents of North Ryde have a history of public activism in support of the dedication of public parkland. In 1923 the Mayor of Ryde met with councillors from the neighboring Willoughby and Ku-ring-gai areas to discuss the preservation of parkland along the Lane Cove River. The move was strongly supported by local residents and the local councils began reserving land along the river. Lane Cove National Park was officially opened in 1938. In 1986 local residents in the Twin Road area fought to have a small patch of natural bush land protected.

Twin Road (formerly Bridge Road) is believed to have been named after the Heard family twins, Laura and Mabel (Origins of the Street names of the City of Ryde, Ryde District Historical Society).

Antony Hordern III purchased the land on May 6, 1881 and subdivided the land. The land on which this house was built was purchased on June 5, 1884 from Mr. Anthony Hordern "Draper of Sydney" by Paul Benson, and the house was later owned by his son Edward Ernest Benson. The house "Bensonville" is believed to have been constructed after 1884, but certainly prior to 1898, as "Bensonville" was the recorded site of Paul Benson's death in 1898. Some sources give the construction date as 1887-1888.

Paul Benson married Charlotte Wicks at the Church of England, Hunters Hill in 1841. The mother of Charlotte Wicks, Sarah Mary Weavers, was the daughter of James Weavers and Mary Hutcheson, one of the first settlers to receive a grant in the Ryde district in 1792. Paul and Charlotte Benson had five children recorded as born at Ryde between 1858 and 1867 (Mary A. 1858; Martha J 1858; Edward E 1861, Sydney A 1863 and Frederick J 1867). The couple also had the births of a further seven children recorded between 1842 and 1855, but without the birth district recorded. Paul Benson, who had been transported as a convict from London (a point not mentioned in his obituary) around 1829, when he was around 14 or 15 years old, was born c. 1814 and died at Ryde on October 8th 1898 at the age of 84 years 7 months "at his residence Bensonville, North Ryde" (the death certificate records his father's name as John, his mother's name as unknown). The newspaper death notice notes he was the third son of the late John Benson of London (Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 22 October 1898 page 4 Death notice for Benson, Paul). . An obituary published in 1898 records details of Paul Benson's life, including the gift of a block of 20 acres of orchard land at North Ryde by the late Mrs. Watts (a relative of his wife Charlotte) in 1842, following his marriage. On this land "Mr. Benson commenced almost immediately the cultivation of an orchard, in conjunction with which he started business on his own account in the wheelwrighting and carriage-building line. After a while he relinquished the trade and devoted his skill and energies almost entirely to fruit-growing. As a speculator in land he was exceptionally fortunate, and at one time owned the greater part of North Ryde, which he sold to advantage." Paul Benson served a term as an Alderman on Ryde Council and was a warden and trustee of St Anne's Church of England, Ryde. ("The Late Paul Benson", The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrower's Advocate, October 19, 1898, page 6). An account of Paul Benson's death in 1898 notes that his "familiar figure and benevolent countenance have been known to Ryde for nearly half a century. His name was honored and revered", records that his sons Edward and Frederick and his grand-daughter Miss Pope were present at his death, and that his "remains were interred in St Anne's churchyard, the funeral cortage being one of the largest yet seen in Ryde. There were upwards of 100 vehicles, in addition to a number of horsemen" ("Sudden Death of Paul Benson", The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 15 October 1898, page 12).

Edward Ernest Benson (1861- 1944 ) was born at Ryde in 1861, the son of Paul Benson and Charlotte nee Wicks (NSW Birth Certificate 12651/1861). Edward E. Benson married Elizabeth Jackson at Ryde in 1887 (NSW marriage certificate 4604/1887). The couple were recorded as having six children born at Ryde between 1888 and 1909 (Ivy P, 1888; Claude E. 1890; William E. 1897, Margery I 1901; Edna E 1907; and John 1909). In Paul Benson's 1898 obituary Edward Benson (erroneously mentioned as "Edmund") is recorded as an orchardist of North Ryde, as well as his brothers Sidney A Benson (sometimes spelt Sydney) and Frederick Benson. Edward Benson died at Ryde in 1944 (NSW Death Certificate 12774/1944). Edward's younger brother Sidney A. Benson (1863-1949) was an Alderman and Mayor of Ryde in 1907. A funeral notice published in 1910 for Mrs. Martha Jackson, Edward Benson's mother-in-law, establishes that Edward Benson and his wife were living at "Bensonville" at that time. Descendants of the Benson family of Ryde orchardists are still members of the Ryde community today.

"In 1977 Alwyn William and Shirley Aiken purchased the property and the land was subdivided following Mrs Aiken’s death. On September 9, 1985, Mr McCafferty bought Lot 3, which contained Bensonville." (Bensonville draped in history, article Northern District Times, 4 February 2011). Mr. McCaffery auctioned the property in Feburary 2011, and it sold to a new private buyer.

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 Orcharding-
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 farming families-
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 Nineteenth Century Development-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Bensonville, circa 1887, is of historical significance as the home of orchardist Paul Benson (c. 1814-1898) and his family and subsequently his son Edward E. Benson (1861-1944), orchardist, and his family. Paul Benson resided in the Ryde district from about 1842 (following his marriage to Charlotte Wicks at the Church of England Hunters Hill in 1841), and many of his children, including Edward, were born at Ryde.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Bensonville has historical association with the Benson family of local orchardists from the time of its construction c. 1887 till at least 1910, in particular Paul Benson and his wife Charlotte Wicks, and his son Edward E. Benson (1861-1944) and his wife Elizabeth Jackson and their children.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Bensonville is of aesthetic significance as a vernacular late Victorian Georgian style farm house.
SHR Criteria g)
The house is representative of the late19th century housing of orchardists in the Ryde district.
Integrity/Intactness: Local newspaper articles published in Feburary 2011 state the house is intact.
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:

DOCUMENTATION: A Heritage Impact Statement is required by Council to accompany any Development Application for non-minor work. Please consult Council staff about your proposal and the level of documentation that will be required as early as possible in the process. Note that Council has adopted planning provisions to assist in the making of minor changes that will not have any impact on the significance of properties without the need to prepare a formal application or Heritage Impact Statement. In this case Council must be consulted in writing to confirm the nature of the works. APPROACHES TO MANAGING THE HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROPERTY: (Note: the detailed requirements for each property will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The following advice provides general principles that should be respected by all development.) Further subdivision of the land is discouraged. The overall form of the building should be retained and conserved and new uses should be restricted to those that are historically consistent and/or able to be accommodated within the existing fabric with minimal physical impact. All significant exterior fabric should be retained and conserved. The setting of the property should be protected from the impacts of development and significant plantings, walls, paths and other landscape elements should be retained in a manner that will not threaten the viability of significant gardens, landscapes or views. The external surfaces and materials of significant facades (generally, but not limited to, those visible from the street or a public place including the water) should be retained, and painted surfaces painted in appropriate colours. Sandstone and face brickwork should not be painted or coated. Significant door and window openings should not be enlarged or enclosed. OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGE: All development should respect the principle of ‘do as much as necessary but as little as possible’. In most instances, new work should not attempt to replicate historic forms. A ‘contemporary neutral’ design that sits quietly on the site, and enhances the quality of the item, will be a more sympathetic outcome than a ‘fake’ historic building. Respecting the scale and overall forms, proportions and rhythms of the historic fabric is critical. As a general principle, all major alterations and additions should NOT: - result in demolition of significant fabric - result in excessive site cover; - be visually prominent or overwhelm the existing buildings. - intrude into any views of the property from the public domain, including the water; and should be: - located behind the historic building/s on the site; - visually subservient and have minimal impact on heritage significance including that of views over the property. Single storey extensions will generally be preferred over two-storey forms unless there is a sound heritage reason to do otherwise. Attic rooms must be accommodated in the original roof form. Solid fences or high walls on street boundaries and structures - including car parking structures - forward of the front building line are strongly discouraged.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanRyde Local Environmental Plan 2010134   
Local Environmental PlanRyde Draft Local Environmental Plan 2011I134   
Local Environmental PlanRyde Local Environmental Plan 2014I13402 Sep 14   
Local Environmental Plan - LapsedLocal Environmental Plan No. 10532217 Jan 03 14356
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Ryde Heritage Study1988322Jonathan Falk Planning Consutants P/L Assoc with Rodney Jensen and Assoc P/L  No
Ryde SHI Review Stage 12012 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 2011"Bensonville draped in history" article Northern District Times, 4 February 2011
Written 1898"The Late Paul Benson: Sketch of his Life", The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrower's Advocate, October 19, 1898, page 6
Written 1898"Sudden Death of Paul Benson", The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 15 October 1898, page 12
WrittenGeorge Redding1986A History of North Ryde 1850-1950
WrittenMargaret Farlow2008North Ryde suburb history, Dictionary of Sydney online

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: Local Government
Database number: 2340107

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