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Published December 10th 2015
How quickly it all disappeared
Like many villages around the same time, Abbotshall was founded on a dream of becoming a suburb and a gateway to the southern suburbs of Adelaide. Located adjacent to the Hills Railway Line, Brownhill Creek and the former Bulls Creek Road, Abbotshall seemed to be a perfect address for a suburb. However along came the people from Hawthorn who named the whole district, and Abbotshall was then condemned to become one of the lost precincts of Adelaide.
Although not originally known as Abbotshall, the 21 acre property bounded by Bernard Street, Angas Road, Belair Road and Grange Road in Hawthorn was surveyed in 1850 and a substantial eight roomed house was built. One of the earliest occupants of the property was Captain Freeling, the Surveyor General of South Australia from 1849 to 1861 who was one of the first (of many) to recommend a scheme to erect two dams across Brownhill Creek in order to create a reservoir to supply water to Adelaide.
Robert Wemyss Esquire was the last occupant of the large property, and it was he who subdivided the land in to 44 separate parcels in 1913 for sale by Theodore Bruce & Co. Key attractions of the subdivision were its adjacency to the electric tram route with its 8 minute service frequency, adjacent to the Mitcham Railway Station and its 56 trains per day, and the incursion through the property of the beautiful and all natural Brownhill Creek. The stately home, then known as Abbotshall, was sold to the Kidman family who held on to it for many years before it was eventually and sadly demolished in the 1960's.
It is now a few more years on, and memories of Abbotshall are fading fast, so to make sure we don't forget this piece of South Australian history forever, the Mitcham Heritage Research Centre has put together a walk through the former Abbotshall Precinct.
The walk starts just outside the Precinct at the Mitcham Railway Station, a station which served local breweries, the Mitcham quarry (who supplied stone to the Outer Harbour breakwater) and many World War One troops who were stationed at the Mitcham Military Camp with the giant mural on the former Signal Box paying homage to all including Nellie. Nellie was the wife of the former Station Master who was a keen gardener and proudly decorated part of the Station Grounds with a garden that remains today.
Bosleys was a local pottery house located alongside the rail line on Abbotshall Road. Famous for their garden gnomes, the Bosley business unfortunately fell upon hard times, with the building now being used by the St Vincent De Paul Society. Pottery remnants remain on some of the buildings including unique glazing on the former Bosley home.
The huge house known as Frimley sits proud on Angas Road complete with a magnificent old Bunya Pine which is estimated to be 130 years old. Behind the house is the former Frimley Stables while nearby the St Georges Stables and the home of St Georges are still actively use today, predominantly by the City of Mitcham.
Brownhill Creek runs through the Soldiers Memorial Gardens, an area which was once used a horse paddocks. Council acquired the land in 1943 and developed the Mitcham Garden of Remembrance with arches, memorials and gardens. The nearby Scented Garden provides easy access for visitors to enjoy the aroma, and features an iconic statue of noses by Neil Cranney.
The Abbotshall Precinct Walk is available all year round, albeit is looks at its best during Spring and Autumn with the creek running, and flowers and trees undergoing their annual colour change. Brochures for the walk are available from the City of Mitcham offices or alternatively through their website.
Fantastic Steve..Frimley..one of the best mansions I have yet to see!!Must take the walk.
By the way,are there any towns in South Aust,that have streets with several thatched rooved houses,still occupied?
And of course Merry Christmas...I look forward to learning more about my state from you and others, who contribute to this site next year.Thanks Noel.
Thank you Steve, I enjoy your history 'lessons', These beautiful old homes, how sad that they have been demolished.
I have read the story of Allan Park at Edwardstown, regarded as one of the finest houses built at the time - also, sadly demolished, and the history of the various owners - I can picture the scenes in my head - great history of the early racing industry.
I can't really imagine many of the glass and concrete boxes of today will have the same interest to those who love solid, wonderful architecture.