The township of Braidwood bounded by the historic 1839 town plan, together with surrounding landscape areas essential to the retention and appreciation of its significance.
Kings Highway (section of):
A mixed avenue about 1km long lines the Kings Highway from the outskirts of Braidwood's approaches on both sides, running past the Showground on the northern entrance to town. It has a pronounced effect, contrasting strongly with other parts of the road where broad scale space and expansive views are characteristic. Within the avenue, views are confined and directed to the distant line of road. Plantings comprise golden poplars (Cottonwoods, Populus x canadensis 'Serotina Aurea'), Lombardy poplars (P.nigra 'Italica'), younger pin oaks (Quercus palustris) and more recently-planted Asian pears (Pyrus ussuriensis) . The oldest plantings (poplars, oaks) date to 1936 as a memorial celebrating 25 years of the reign of King George V. The north-western part of the avenue incorporates an old windbreak of large Monterey pines (Pinus radiata) which frame the entrance to Braidwood Showground. This windbreak dates to the 1880s or earlier (NTA, 1994).
119 Wallace Street: Albion Hotel, c.1870s building with several additions, brick barn, two large outbuildings, stables (carport)(Palerang Heritage Advisory Service, 2015).
EARLY SETTLEMENT 1822 - 1839
Europeans first entered the upper Shoalhaven River basin in 1822 under instruction from the new Governor, Thomas Brisbane, to investigate the possibility of a track between the Limestone Plains and Bateman's Bay. The reports of good country would have stimulated land selection in the area.
The system of land grants available in the 1820s were attractive to settlers. A free grant of 640 acres of land (one square mile) was given to a selector for every (Pounds)500 of money or stock held, with a limit of 2000 acres, shortly afterwards increased to 2560 (four square miles). Captain Duncan Mackellar, one of the earliest settlers in the area, was granted 2000 acres in 1822 with which he selected the property "Strathallan". However it appears he didn't move onto the land until about 1829.
County and parish settlement model
When Governor Darling succeeded Governor Brisbane in 1825 he brought from London a new set of Instructions providing for the colony to be settled according to the English pattern of counties (approx 40 miles by 40 miles). The county boundaries were to generally follow natural features such as streams and ranges and were to have a county town and be divided again into hundreds (11 square miles) and parishes (25 square miles). The parishes were to be, as they were in England, a support for the Church of England that would eventually have a church, burial ground and parsonage in each parish. When the number of people allowed, parish local government of the English kind could be adopted. The Church and Schools corporation was to have one seventh of the land in each county for support of the Church of England. However it soon became apparent that the sparse populations in outer-lying areas would not support such a system, unlike in the densely populated areas such as Sydney.
Early survey instructions to Hoddle
Survey of the County of St Vincent had commenced in 1824 in the most northerly area. By December 1827 Assistant Surveyor Robert Hoddle (who later surveyed Melbourne) reported that the Shoalhaven had been traced to its source. Earlier in October that year Surveyor General Oxley instructed Hoddle to mark out land grants for intending settlers in the County of St Vincent.
The Anglican Church received priority treatment being allocated one seventh of the whole county consisting of the best land on the east bank of the Shoalhaven River. The Church and School Estate comprised approx 42,000 acres on the east side of the Shoalhaven River with a straight north-south boundary as the estate's east edge. This boundary line had significant ramifications for the subsequent land settlement pattern with Strathallan, Braidwood Farm and Coghill's land all granted east of this line. Even though the Church and School Estate was resumed circa 1835 the legacy of its land allocation remains clearly visible in the landscape today. Other settlers authorised to take possession of land were:
Dr T.B. Wilson RN 2560 acres grant,
Mr D Mackellar 2000 acres grant,
Mr Coghill 2000 acres grant
Mr Coghill 4000 acres purchase
Mr Ryrie 2560 acres grant
Mr Francis Dixon 2000 acres grant
Mr Francis Dixon 2000 acres purchase
Mr George Bunn 2560 grant
Mr D Mackellar Junior 640 grant
Oxley's instructions stated "These are the only settlers who have any title to land in the vicinity of Mt Solus (Mt Gillamatong)".
According to the census of October 1828 there were approximately 90 Europeans living in the area however few property owners were resident on their grant. After 1831 free grants of land ceased but the remaining land suitable for pastoral development was soon sold.
Captain Duncan Mackellar
Three property holders feature significantly in Braidwood's establishment. Captain Duncan Mackellar and family joined his nephew at Strathallan in about 1829 and to their combined land grants of 3250, added another 4000 by purchase. Mackellar had one of the larger and more centrally located properties in the 19th County (St Vincent) and played a key role in the area until he sold the property in 1836. The bulk of the land was sold to John Coghill who owned the property on which Bedervale now stands. A small portion of land adjoining the "Jellamatong" (spellings vary) village reserve was sold to Dr Thomas Braidwood Wilson whose land adjoined Strathallan to the south.
Thomas Braidwood Wilson
Wilson had selected 2560 acres earlier, but it was not until 1836 that he settled on "Braidwood Farm" with his wife and two children. Wilson had been a Surgeon Superintendent of ships taking convicts to NSW and Van Diemen's Land. He was first granted land in Van Diemen's Land in 1824, which he exchanged for land near Lake George in 1825. In addition he was given 2560 acres which he selected in the 'new country' on 2 tributaries of the Shoalhaven, Monkittee and Flood creeks. Surveyor Hoddle was instructed in 1827 to survey it before all other grants promised in the area.
In 1833 the western end of Wilson's grant was resumed and reserved for a future village and a similar area added to the eastern end in compensation. Wilson was a humane and progressive thinker and it would seem that his settling in the area was encouraged by the administration. Wilson visited 'Braidwood Farm' when he was in the colony but it was not until late 1836 that he settled there with his wife and family. He became a community leader and amongst other things contracted to build the first courthouse in 1837-38. In 1840 Wilson petitioned the government to build a road from Braidwood to Huskisson to enable faster and cheaper shipping of the wool clip to Sydney and, with Col John Mackenzie, supplied the materials and labour for the Braidwood to Nerriga section.
In 1841 Braidwood Farm had 141 residents, twice the number on Coghill's combined properties of Bedervale and Strathallan. Although the drought had broken in 1840, the subsequent depression sent Wilson bankrupt and he died in November 1843. His land was sold to John Coghill for (Pounds)2,000 who now owned all the land on the south, east and north of the town. Before his death, Wilson had purchased the block immediately to the north of Braidwood. He was buried on this block, high on the hill overlooking the town. A memorial and large pine tree clearly mark the site, from which there are superb views of the town.
John Coghill was an astute businessman and manager. He had also managed a property for John Oxley, Surveyor General, near Camden, from which he ran a merchandising depot. Coghill had acquired the Bedervale property circa 1827-28 and visited frequently. He occasionally sat as a magistrate on the bench with Duncan Mackellar and made submissions to the colonial secretary on matters that affected the future of the area. In the mid to late 1830s Coghill engaged John Verge, well known colonial architect, to draw up house plans, and the house was completed by about 1842. It was also in the mid to late 1830s that Coghill purchased Strathallan.
While on a trip overseas John Coghill's daughter Elizabeth married Robert Maddrell, who came from the Isle of Man and was studying medicine at Heidelberg University. They returned to Australia and inherited Bedervale on Coghill's death in 1853. The property included Braidwood Farm which Maddrell renamed Mona, the original name for his birthplace, the Isle of Man. Under Robert Maddrell's management the estate expanded to 33,000 acres, much of it farmed by tenant farmers. By 1860, Robert Maddrell had 84 tenants on the three large Maddrell properties that surrounded Braidwood. Portions of these farms were eventually sold to the tenants, but in 1882 Robert Maddrell still had 52,000 acres.
Most significantly however, the ownership of the land on the north, east and south of the town by one family resulted in the town boundary on these sides remaining virtually intact and the landscape remaining large open paddocks, although there has been some recent subdivision and modification to this cultural landscape.
The Colonial Office in London attempted to impose a policy of closer settlement in the Instructions given to the incoming Governor Darling in 1825. The size of free grants was limited to 2,560 acres and purchases to 9,600 acres. Settled land was to be surveyed, and land was not to be granted before the area was surveyed. The arrival of these orders threw the administration into confusion. It had no such surveyed area ready, and no surveyors available. On the other hand, it had promised land to many recently arrived settlers who could not now be denied it or kept long in waiting. To meet its promises it had a line, the "Limits of Location", drawn around the outlying patches of settlement. Within this line settlers could select their land without prior survey. The area within the "Limits of Location" was subdivided into nineteen counties, however further division into "hundreds" was abandoned outside the County of Cumberland. Parish boundaries continued to be surveyed until 1830. Each county was to have a county town being the chief market, and administrative centre, with major courts for civil and criminal justice. However most counties did not have sufficient population to support such a town. The Nineteen Counties were not finally proclaimed until 1835.
The preferred method of land survey at the time was effectively to lay a rectangular grid over the land surface, preferably in advance of settlement so that selected blocks could be accurately located. This was the system adopted earlier in the United States and such a survey system commenced in NSW in 1821. However, Governor Darling's instructions from London of 1825 required that the natural boundaries of the counties (rivers and ranges) be surveyed for valuation purposes before any more land could be alienated. Consequently, the few available surveyors were set to mapping rivers and ranges directly, rather than by plotting them in the course of extending a series of grid lines as was done in much of the United States.
In NSW grid lines, often of one square mile, were drawn on the maps that had been made from surveying natural features, and transferred to the ground piecemeal and as required by persons selecting isolated areas for purchase. At the time, there was a shortage of skilled surveyors and equipment and irregularities appeared. Rather than determine true north, surveyors usedmagnetic bearings, which changed each year, and locally, according to compass deviation. This was further complicated by worn equipment and as a consequence of this piecemeal approach certain boundary lines failed to meet at right angles. This probably explains why Braidwood's town boundary does not run parallel to the street grid, particularly on the eastern side.
Village reserves set aside
In the settlement model of the time, there was to be a village to each parish (twenty-five square miles) and so surveyors allowed for village reserves approximately 5 miles apart. Hoddle set aside reserves for future townships including one near Kurraduckbidgee (Arn Prior), one centrally located (the present site of Braidwood) and another further south where Jembaicumbene Creek enters the Shoalhaven. The central village reserve, known as "Jillamatong" after the nearby mountain, was sited on Thomas Braidwood Wilson's land grant adjacent to the church reserve. Wilson's block was extended on the east boundary to compensate for the loss of the reserved land.
The Colonial Office in London had instructed Governor Darling to establish a settlement and administration pattern based on the English model with the church playing a major role. However, the system of effective local government that emerged in the penal colony in the 1830s was one of police districts with a professional paid police magistrate as the local administrator. Police district boundaries as drawn by Governor Gipps in 1840 varied from the county boundaries, and counties and parishes survived only in the land survey as a means of describing allotments in deeds and, for much of the century, also as statistical areas for collecting population and agricultural data. Braidwood became the centre of the "Braidwood Police District".
In the official 1828 census, of the 18 landholders listed in the County of St Vincent only five had their proprietor in residence. The official population of the area in that year was about 90, of whom fifty percent were convicts serving their sentence, eleven percent were ex convicts and seven percent had tickets of leave. A settler could apply for 8 convict servants for every 640 acres and an extra convict for each additional 160 acres. The convicts were an essential part of the labour force, particularly in the newly opened and remote areas. The rapid spread of settlement raised concerns, especially back in London, of the colonial administration's ability to control and service the broad and sparsely populated area.
NSW in the 1820s and 30s was still primarily a penal colony. The British Government was determined that it should be seen as a place of punishment and so act as a deterrent against crime, and frequent directives to the NSW Governor attempted to make the administration in the colony more severe and effective. Transportation itself was the primary punishment, but a series of secondary punishments were thought to be necessary to control the large convict population in a "jail without walls".
At the same time convicts also had rights under the law. No settler was supposed to punish his own assigned men. Minor offences were to be brought before a bench of one or two magistrates. In the 1820s magistrates were local settlers and figures of authority. Before 1832 a magistrate hearing cases by himself could order a maximum of 150 lashes. After 1832 this was reduced to a maximum of 50 lashes. More serious cases were taken before the quarter session of a Supreme Court at Bungonia or Berrima. The police district evolved as the form of local government in the 1830s, superseding the parish and country model.
Need for local court and lockup
Prior to the town of Braidwood being established, Captain Duncan Mackellar of Strathallan was appointed to the bench (1833) and allocated a policeman and a scourger (flogger) to assist in his administration, and he became the most important magistrate in the area. The other senior appointed magistrate, Major Elrington (reportedly known locally as "the flogging Major"), was further to the south and he too had a constable. The fact that there were only two unmounted constables in the vast Braidwood district, and no lockup, was the subject of constant complaint to the Colonial Secretary by the settlers.
Courthouse influences the town's location
The magistrate carried out most functions of government and required a courthouse and a lockup gaol. This was often the reason behind the planning of a town since the surveyor general would resist the idea of choosing sites for official buildings without reference to the town plan as a whole. The town created a promising commercial site, especially as the Surveyor General usually consulted residents as to which village reserve would most effectively serve their needs.
When the Government agreed to build a courthouse and lockup in the district they recognised that it would form the nucleus of a future town and considered representations from local land-holders. Coghill suggested the more southerly village reserve on the junction of Jembaicumbene Creek and Shoalhaven River primarily because of the more reliable water supply. However Mackellar, as the local senior magistrate, wanted it closer to Strathallan. Consequently the "Jillamatong" reserve was chosen, and the courthouse and lockup built by the enterprising Thomas Braidwood Wilson in 1837-38.
In addition to the lockup at the rear of the court, a barracks for 6 mounted police and horses was constructed on the north side of Monkittee Creek on the edge of the police paddock. The courthouse, lockup, barracks and pound keepers hut are the only structures shown on the map that Larmer drew prior to his survey of the village which was gazetted on April 24 1839. The plan was a standard grid with streets one and a half chains wide (99 feet). First land auction was 9 July 1840 with blocks half an acre in size.
Various factors led to the cessation of convict transportation in NSW in 1840. However the policy of assigning convicts to settlers as cheap labour ended by mid 1839 and by the late 1840s there were only a few convicts left in the region, as even those commuted to life sentence in 1839 were eligible for a ticket of leave by 1847. The judicial system necessary for managing the "jail without walls" was directly responsible for the district town being located in the "Jillamatong" village reserve, and for the first buildings erected in the town. Ironically however, at about the time the courthouse and lockup were completed, and the town gazetted, the convict era had virtually ended.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE TOWN
Early town planning in NSW
An official passion for rectangular order extended to the new country towns in NSW. Few were laid out before 1830, but Governor Darling promulgated planning regulations in his anxiety to bring all aspects of colonial administration into a rigid system. His new regulations, which were published in the Sydney Gazette in May 1829, emphasised uniformity and regularity as their guiding principles. Officials disagreed on the best width for town streets in hot climates such as NSW. Surveyor General TL Mitchell preferred the narrow shady streets of Spain where he had served in the Peninsular War. Some who had served in India argued that wide streets were preferable as they allowed the circulation of breezes.
Governor Darling was of the India faction and fixed the main streets at 120 feet, including 10-foot pedestrian paths on each side, with cross streets of 84 feet. The main and cross streets formed a rectangular grid enclosing blocks of half acre allotments. Builders were required to set houses back fourteen feet from their front boundaries. Although there was opportunity to vary the plan to accommodate form and natural features, often this did not occur. While Surveyor General Mitchell explored the opportunities of town planning within the grid system (eg Maitland), most surveyors applied the plan in a conventional manner.
Braidwood is a very good surviving example of a colonial Georgian town plan with its simple grid still largely intact. Several people influenced its shape. Hoddle defined the outer perimeter (and presumably selected the location) of the "Jillamatong" reserve by resuming the western half mile of T B Wilson's property. James Larmer prepared the draft plan in accordance with Governor Darling's model. In 1839 Wilson wrote to the colonial secretary asking that the original plan of Braidwood village be altered to include a park opposite the courthouse (which he had just built). He thought the reserve would enhance the building and be valued by the residents as a market place and for recreation. Surveyor General Mitchell was clearly progressive and far-sighted in his thinking, and among other things, appeared keen for a town plan to be adapted to the physical and social dimensions of a place. Mitchell instructed Larmer to amend the town plan in accordance with Wilson's suggestion.
Interestingly, The "Reserve for Public Recreation" initially set aside by Larmer was in the south east of the town, but larger than its present size. The reserve may have been reduced to its present size to compensate for the land set aside for the reserve at the intersection of Wilson and Wallace Streets. Eventually the "Jillamatong" Village Reserve became known as Braidwood, presumably after Wilson's adjacent homestead Braidwood Farm.
Early development in the town
Several buildings were erected circa 1840/41, including the first Doncaster Inn (1841-1907). The economic depression of the early 1840s slowed development for a few years but gradually a business centre developed along Mackellar Street adjacent to Monkittee Creek and on the north-facing slope of Wallace Street. Proximity to creek water was obviously an incentive to spread along Mackellar Street as was, apparently, the disincentive of ascending the "Jew's Hill" (Benjamin Moses is shown as the owner of the block on the south east corner of Mackellar and Wallace streets). Surveyor Larmer purchased land and built the Royal Hotel c1845 (the present Museum). In Mackellar Street the three-storeyed Albert Buildings, later converted to a steam-driven flourmill, were used as shops by Hendricks and Jacobs ( still standing). On the corner of Mackellar and Wallace Streets was the Post Office and store (still standing). A District Council had been established in 1843.
The first steam mill was erected in 1846 at the junction of Monkittee Creek and Mona Creek near the site of Dr Wilson's first house at Braidwood Farm (the footings are still evident).
The population grew from 1100 in the 1841 census to a total of 1429 in the Braidwood Police District in 1851, 212 of who lived in the town. With the discovery of gold in Araluen in mid 1851, and throughout the region soon after, Braidwood's role as the primary town in the district strengthened. Braidwood's business centre eventually crept over the hill and to the south end of Wallace Street following the survey of the road to Nelligen, and the continuing business from the goldfields to the south.
Braidwood's "National School" was opened in 1849 in Wilson Street opposite the present site. The government granted part of the present site in 1851 and a permanent building was finished in 1852. A brewery was opened in 1851 along with numerous other businesses and small industries. The Joint Stock Bank was built 1855 in response to the gold boom, with others following. By 1857 there were three tanning factories in the town. The 1856 census shows 3045 people in Braidwood police district and in 1861 there were 959 people in the town and 8199 in the surrounding goldfields. The town's population climbed to 1197 by 1871.
A small brick Anglican Church and rectory was erected in Wilson Street in 1856. A larger church in Elrington St was dedicated in 1892 and the tower finally added 1899, all from granite quarried on Wilson's Hill and Mt Gillamatong. One third of the local population was Catholic and by 1865 St Bedes was completed. The Wesleyan Church in Duncan Street was built 1856 and the Presbyterian Church erected in 1861 on the corner of Duncan and Monkittee.
The Commercial Hotel, which is currently being restored by John Mitchell, was built 1859. In 1866 there were eleven other hotels in Braidwood besides the Doncaster, the Royal and the Commercial. The Court House hotel still stands as a two storey brick building in Wallace Street as does the Gold Diggers Home, which became Nomchong's hardware and now a bottle shop diagonally opposite St Bedes. Nomchong, who came from China to the goldfields, moved from Mongarlowe to Braidwood in 1879 and his family became well known locally. In the late 1860s, 1870s and 80s, many of the less substantial buildings were demolished and brick and granite structures took their place.
In 1861 a substantial two-storey gaol and gaoler's residence was erected at northern end of Wallace Street where the barracks for the mounted police had been built 25 years earlier. By 1862 the old mounted police barracks were uninhabitable. The building was repaired to provide extra accommodation for the increased number of police who were sent to the district to control bushranging activity. Repairs and extensions were also made to the courthouse. In 1866 Colonial Architect James Barnett visited Braidwood to review the public buildings. A brick police barracks and stables was constructed next to the courthouse in 1865 and is still in use today. The telegraph station (the current postmaster residence) was constructed in 1864. In 1869 post and telegraph services were merged and the post office moved to its present location, which was preferred, as it was more central to the town.
A reservoir had been formed by the construction of a causeway on Monkittee Creek where the road entered the township to provide water.
By 1885 the transition of the main business district over the hill to the southern slope of Wallace Street was complete. Shortly after, the present Royal Hotel was erected, as were some adjacent two-storey shops (all still standing). The town had been optimistic in the 1870s and 80s that it would be connected to the rail and, rather hopefully, named a street on the northern edge of town Station Street, and constructed the Railway Hotel where Wallace Street crosses Monkittee Creek. However, the golden years were over, and drought and depression struck in the 1890s with a series of droughts from 1895 to 1911. Construction in Braidwood's business area virtually ceased.
The first car entered the town in 1903. In 1913 Ryrie Park, which was known as Market Square in 1866, was leased for grazing and, as a result, stock damaged the trees and fences. In 1925 the Municipal Council organised the Back to Braidwood Celebrations commemorating 100 years of European Settlement, which was made the occasion of cleaning up and beautifying Ryrie Park. School children collected rubbish, the Forestry Department and the Botanic Gardens donated trees and shrubs.
In 1925, the then Municipal Council undertook various 'improvement' works in the township, including planting out Ryrie Park using plants donated by the Forestry Department and Botanic Gardens, Sydney (NTA, 1994).
In 1928 the Linwood Lighting Company commenced building a generating plant on the Corner of Wallace and Solus streets. A solid concrete basement was constructed to house a freezing works and ice making factory that would carry the water tanks above to provide steam for the generator, however the company collapsed in the depths of the depression in 1931. Eventually electric lighting of the main street was connected in Feb 1936. Braidwood was connected to the state grid in 1957. Reticulated water was available in 1955, but a sewerage system not installed until 1966.
Braidwood population peaked in 1901. By the 1920s growth in the town had stagnated with a minor depression in 1920 - 21. This was followed by the great depression commencing in 1929, and a severe drought with a grasshopper plague in 1931. A rabbit freezing works was located in Duncan St. The trough of depression had passed by 1936 when the avenue of Lombardy and Golden poplars was planted at the northern entrance to town to celebrate the 25th year of King George V's reign. Braidwood Country Women's Association also dates from c1936 as does the amalgamation of the Municipality of Braidwood (9 sq. miles established in 1891) and the Tallaganda Shire (gazetted 1906).
In 1936 continuing the 1925 spirit of community celebration, the northern approach road (King's Highway), from about the Showground entrance, was planted with Lombardy and golden (cottonwood) poplars. This avenue was specifically to ce3lebrate the 25th year of the reign of King George V. The north-western part of the avenue incorporates an old (c.1888) windbreak of large Monterey pines which frame the Showground entrance (NTA, 1994). Gaps and extensions of this avenue along the Kings Highway on the coastal side of the town have included pin oaks and, more recently, Asian pears (Stuart Read, pers.comm., 6/5/2019).
The 1950s saw economic growth with the post WWII population increase and the mid 1950s wool boom, when wool was a "pound ((Pounds)) a pound (lb)". The north, east and south of the town was still "landlocked" by the pastoralists and so the town followed earlier growth to the western side. The extension of Duncan Street was patriotically named Coronation Street and the RSL Club built at its end in 1954. The swimming pool, one of the few civic structures dating from the 20th century, was opened in 1965.