Rockdale's historic Wilson’s Farmhouse to get $300,000 refurb

The historic pioneer cottage, the 160-year-old Wilson’s Farmhouse at West Botany Street, Rockdale is to undergo an urgently-needed $300,000 refurbishment.

The cottage is significant because it is the last surviving example of a modest pioneer home built along the banks of Muddy Creek with its estimated construction being in 1855 to 1856.

It is currently disused and is in a poor state of repair and requires urgent works to prevent further deterioration and to secure the property.

Last month, Bayside Council accepted a tender from company Murphy’s Remedial Builders to carry out conservation building works for the amount of $299,429.

Wilson’s Cottage is located at 310 West Botany Street, Rockdale and is listed on the NSW Heritage Register and the Rockdale Local Environmental Plan.

Owned by Bayside Council, the cottage is a small four-room sandstone building with a front verandah.

The area of Wilson's Cottage was sold in a government land sale of the early 1850s to Alexander William Riley, who purchased 60 acres in the area in 1853.

It was soon sold to John Murphy, a draughtsman, who named the estate Killarney. In 1855, he sold 18 acres to James Wilson a farmer of Cooks River.

James Wilson was a sawyer by trade and formerly overseer to Colonel Johnson of 'Annandale' who had arrived in Australia in 1850 with his wife Isabella and his seven children.

The exact date of construction of the cottage is not known but it would appear to have been between c1853 and c1860.

The property remained in the hands of the Wilson family for 103 years. The family cultivated the land but the type of crops is unknown.

By the mid-20th Century it was part of a Chinese market garden that was located around the floodplain of the nearby creek.

The house is now located in a shallow hollow that has been created by filling the former market garden area to create netball courts and car parking area.

A Conservation Management Plan was prepared for the council by Heritage Architect Paul Davies in 2016 and the council was successful in getting a Heritage Grant from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) to assist in funding the conservation project in 2017.

A condition of the grant was that the conservation work would be undertaken by a heritage architect and archaeologist.

The refurbishment will include reconstruction works and the upgrade of stormwater and electrical services.

The council received three tender submissions and Murphy’s Remedial Builders was successful. The company has undertaken numerous heritage conservation projects.

Work is expected to start this month and to be completed by June.