Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pambula's National Trust Listed Grange property.

Overlooking the Pambula Flats & river from the rise of the South Pambula hill, The Grange has been a local landmark for more than 150 years. Built for Captain John Lloyd RN, the building is now one of the oldest in the Pambula district.

Born in Ireland in 1791, John Lloyd entered the Royal Navy at just 12 years of age, & at 14, fought in the Battle of Trafalgar. By 1840, he was recorded as living in Adelaide, South Australia.

Securing the 302 acres in Lots 30 & 32 that became the basis for his Grange Farm in January 1844 as a grant in lieu for Naval paying owing to him, Lloyd added further land, including 158 acres in 1856, with his property eventually extending between the Pambula & Yowaka Rivers.

Employing two local men to construct his Grange homestead, Lloyd probably also had two convicts assigned to him who may also have worked on the building. Stone for the two storey residence was reputed to have been carried out from Devon (England) as ship’s ballast. Although commanding in appearance from the exterior, the building was of a very simple design inside, the two floors being divided into four rooms each, separated by an eight-foot wide hallway running down the centre.

Downstairs, the ceilings stood nine feet in height while those upstairs were fourteen feet & the walls were lined with lathe & plaster, with elaborate cornice work upstairs. Wide box gum floor boards were held in place with hand forged nails. Lower level windows were three foot by four foot, with divided panes that were once protected by bars, while those upstairs featured two sets of casement or French windows. A staircase with slender carved balustrade & upright mouldings connected the two levels.

Originally featuring a shingle roof with dormer windows in the attic, local oral tradition also tells that there were cellars below ground which were apparently fitted with iron rings in the walls to confine Lloyd’s assigned convicts. At a late date, these were said to have been filled in, probably when subsequent owner W. J. Tweedie undertake major renovation works between 1903 & 1906. It wasn’t until after Lloyd’s ownership that the verandah was added & in 1969, an older resident of the district described the Grange homestead in its original state as a square stone fort-like structure.

Midshipman John Lloyd C1806, from "John Lloyd RN of the Grange", by H. S. Bazley.

Just below the house was a large water hole popular with the indigenous residents, &, according to later recollections, was the site of many battles with neighbouring  Monaro Aboriginals who came down to coast during the winter months. According to oral history, this was also the spot of a massacre of indigenous residents, when the waterhole was poisoned, with the resultant death of many local Koori people. A later account of the event noted that “…we have read an account of the wholesale poisoning of the Eden (Twofold Bay) blacks, many of them being found dead, & others writhing in agony…But these are stories of long ago & it is difficult if not impossible to obtain any reliable information concerning their authenticity.”

Facing north, the homestead opened onto a raised lawn area, where, according to local oral history, “…an ancient brass cannon…” stood complete with a sentry, the whole being surrounded until the 1890’s by a wooden stockade. Lloyd also apparently used a French horn to summon employees from his wide spread holdings when they were required at the house.

Lloyd became concerned with many of the activities involved in establishing the new community. In 1848 he became a magistrate, taking his place on the Eden, & later Pambula, benches; the same year was deputed to assist with arrangements for immigrants arriving on board the Bermondsey; chaired an Eden meeting that saw the establishment of the Twofold Bay Benevolent Asylum in 1856 & was subsequently elected President of the executive committee governing the body; donated land for construction of Pambula’s first Church of England; & was a member of the committee that oversaw construction of Christ Church.

Following Lloyd’s death in 1868 from “…natural decay…” his second son William inherited his Pambula holdings, including the Grange, although it is evident from correspondence between family members & John Martin as their local representative that Lloyd’s eldest son Arthur was largely responsible for administering the estate. In 1873 he wrote that “Mr John Haywood telegraphed me 25th November [that he had] taken possession of Grange Farm on seven years lease…”

Although the property remained in the Lloyd family until the 1880’s, local farmers leased the land & private individuals the residence. Pambula post master J. H. Bennett rented the house in September 1871, advising the Post Master General that he wished to relocate the postal business to the site. He enclosed a sketch “…shewing Captain Lloyd’s house, the present post office & Bombala, Eden-Bega & Merrimbula roads…”, stating that “…it is on the same line of road & in every respect convenient to the public,” concluding that “I therefore hope you will have no objection to the removal of the Post Office to my new residence.” The same month, Bennett again wrote to inform the department that he had completed the removal of the office & that he had “…been at some trouble fitting up a suitable room…” Some residents were supportive of the move, C. H. Dale commenting that “…Mr Bennett has most beneficially added to the security of his office by removing from an old wooden building into a secure stone building whose windows are guarded with iron bars…” Others, however, complained of the relocation, referring to the secluded nature of the site. Thomas Bray wrote that “…the Post Office at Yowaka has been removed by Mr Bennett…to an isolated house situated in a paddock…at some distance from the road, which subjects the public very great inconvenience.” In a memorial signed by 62 residents protesting against the move, it was stated that “Mr J. H. Bennett intends to remove the Post Office to an unoccupied & unfinished house at Yowaka situate in a paddock. The slip rails of which will have to be taken down & put up each time anyone desires to go to the House, which is about 300 yards from the present site…at a great distance from any Neighbours or any protection, being an isolated house, situated in a Bushy Paddock by itself…”

Although Bennett did operate the post office from the Grange for a short period, the position was removed from his charge & it is not known whether he maintained his lease on the building, but no mention is made of him in a December 1871 article that noted “…on the opposite bank of the Pambula River is a small village called Yowaka…There is a good two-storey stone building…formerly the residence the late Captain Lloyd…”

After the eventual sale of the Grange property, the extensive estate was subdivided & built upon so it has become difficult to identify which portions information refers to.

By the 1880’s, Reverend J. Strang had purchased the Grange property, & in 1884 his “…snug little farm…” was advertised for auction. Three years later, a clearing sale was announced “…at Grange House, Pambula…” at which “…the whole of his household furniture & effects…” were to be sold.

In 1889  it was announced that “…one of the large farms here, known as Lloyd’s, has changed hands, one of your Bega men Mr W. Dowling being the purchaser.” It is likely that this refers to the farm on the opposite side of the highway now occupied by Gill’s Boondella & the Cole family.

During the 1880’s & 1890’s, the property was leased by Mr W. Haigh & family, who were residing in the homestead until about mid-1896. In October that year, Stennett, Pell & Allan announced that they would be auctioning the one year lease of the farm “…containing about 80 acres…” on behalf of T. Rawlinson Esq. By 1898, the home was occupied by the Gardner family until the death in September that year of Ernest who “…expired very suddenly at his residence “Grange Farm, aged 31 years.” A number of other individuals & families also leased the property after this, including Robert Scott, who it is said conducted a butchery in one of the rooms of The Grange.

In 1902, it was reported that local resident Mr W. J. Tweedie had purchased the Grange Farm “…part of about 65 acres at £18 per acre, from Mr T. Rawlinson” & further that he “…intends making this his home…” According to the report, the purchase price was about £1,200, whilst it was also stated that “Other parts of the estate are being subdivided by Mr Surveyor Harper.”

By 1903, Mr Tweedie was undertaking extensive work on the property, a report commenting the he had “…already spent a considerable amount of money on clearing, fencing, manuring etc. The farm stock is a picture in itself…” Later the same year, it was stated “Mr W. J. Tweedie is making quite a model farm of his property at South Pambula, known as The Grange”  & in 1909 that “Mr Tweedie of the Grange this week worked his irrigation plant lately installed. The plant consists of the five horse power Hornsby engine & a centrifugal pump capable of delivering 40,000 gallons of water per house…Mr Tweedie’s land is admirably adapted for irrigation. The water is taken from Pambula River. It is Mr Tweedie’s intention to run the water through furrows about half a chain in width.”

The Tweedie family in front of the Grange, C. 1910.
Of the house, a 1903 report commented “The house is a large substantial stone building, but for some reason the interior…has never been finished. Mr Tweedie is about to make excavations, & intends thoroughly draining & renovating the house.” Work was well underway by 1906 when it was reported that “Mr W. J. Tweedie’s homestead at South Pambula has been undergoing a transformation scene during the past few months, & the addition of a balcony to the two storey residence has added beauty & comfort. The interior has also been renovated, the taste displayed in each room being conspicuous, & we almost envy the worthy host his comfortable & well-appointed premises. It should be said that the balcony encircles the whole of the building, & has been embellished with cast iron railways & frieze & brackets of pretty patterns. The total length of the balcony is 205 feet, & is 7’ 6” wide.” The balcony’s ironwork was said to have been made by English firm J. J. Bromridge, whilst the building & construction work was undertaken by local contractor Mr Job Keorber. James Dowling completed the plastering & Mr G. Boardman of Bega the painting & wallpapering. It was apparently during this period that the building’s formerly undressed exterior stonework was cement rendered.

Mr Tweedie retained ownership of The Grange until 1911, when the 78 acre property was sold Harold Lodge for a price amounting to £40 per acre. In 1914, Mr Lodge called for tenders to paint the picket fence & balcony iron work at the Grange & the following year advertised “…about 100 mixed poultry…” for sale. An engineer, Mr Lodge is also reputed to have maintained a well-equipped workshop at the Grange. In 1915, after he enlisted for active war service, the remainder of the family decided to leave the district. The Grange property was again sold, “…Mr W. Cole of South Pambula [having] made satisfactory arrangements for the farm, as a going concern.”

It was during the Cole family’s lengthy ownership that the Grange became the second building in the district to be included on the National Trust’s Register of Historic Buildings. It was reported that “Imlay District Historical Society has received advice from Mr A. Cole of Pambula that their well-known home The Grange has been included in the Trust’s Register of Historic Buildings…The Grange now joins the old Merimbula School as the second local building to be classified by the Trust as being of considerable interest & worthy of preservation…”

After the Cole family, the Grange went through a number of hands, including a Mr Shannon & Danny Rae, gradually falling into disrepair. In 1984 it was purchased by Liz & Eddie Delves, who embarked on a major restoration project. Sympathetic additions were made to the historic building, a heritage style garden established & a reception centre erected on the site formerly occupied by the old stables. The Grange continues to stand today overlooking the flood plain & dairy flats, just as it has for more than 150 years.

© Angela George.

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