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Pomfrett's Cottage, Woodville NSW

location of Pomfrett's cottage

The location of Pomfrett's Cottage at Woodville.

early land allocation

The land on which Pomfrett's Cottage was later built became part of Albion Farm in 1824.

At 862A Paterson Road in Woodville, nestled between the School of Arts and Iona Public School, stands a simple wooden cottage that has stood sentinel to earlier days when steam boats plied the nearby Paterson River, taking rural produce to market and returning with supplies; to a time when locals brought their boots and shoes to the cottage to be repaired by its occupant, Peter Pomfrett. Given the uncertain future of the cottage (September 2019) it is timely to record something of its history.

The land

The land on which the cottage stands was Crown land from European invasion until 1824. In 1824 the land became part of "Albion Farm" when the nearby small holdings (held without legal title) of John Tucker senior and junior were combined and converted to a land grant with an increased size of 630 acres[1] (further details).

In July 1865 the Maitland Mercury announced that Albion Farm was to be subdivided into 14 to 18 farms and sold.[2] Pomfrett Cottage would later be built on a portion of one of these blocks.

The cottage and Peter Pomfrett

Peter Pomfrett arrived in New South Wales on the Regina in 1857 as a fourteen year old assisted immigrant travelling with his uncle George Pomfrett, aunt Elizabeth Pomfrett and their three children. Peter was described as a farm labourer from Berden in Essex, England, and his parents were recorded as Peter and Elizabeth living at Kent.[3]

The first available evidence of Pomfrett's cottage dates from the 1870s – his cottage was already on land adjoining the School of Arts in the 1870s when a new site for Iona Public School was being chosen. A detailed site plan associated with expanding the school grounds in the 1890s shows a "1/4 acre occupied by Mr Pomfrett".[4]

Pomfrett's Cottage at Woodville

Pomfrett's c1872 Cottage at Woodville in September 2019 (photo: Brian Walsh).

death of Peter Pomfrett in 1922

Report of the death of Peter Pomfrett in the Maitland Daily Mercury 17 March 1922 page 4.

Peter Pomfrett became a bootmaker after arriving in New South Wales. In 1872 he married Harriet Baker at Morpeth.[5] Harriet was a candle maker and they operated their businesses from the cottage.[6] Sands Directories list "Pomfrett, Peter, boots & shoes, Woodville" from 1905 to 1922.

Although the exact year the cottage was constructed is not known, the available evidence points to around the time of his first marriage in 1872.

In 1881 the Maitland Mercury reported in Woodville news that "Mr Pomfrett has added another building in close proximity to his own pretty cottage".[7] This suggests the cottage may have been built in two stages, although it is not clear.

Peter Pomfrett was later joined in business by a Mr Harden, whose descendant Tom "Poppa" Harden was the last resident of the cottage.

Heritage significance

Pomfrett's Cottage has strong representational significance as a rare, surviving example of a working couple's wooden residence from the 1870s. It has considerable social significance for long-term residents of the area, forming an important part of their early memories and sense of place, and evoking strongly felt links to Woodville's past, particularly from the later decades of the 1800s.

Pomfrett's Cottage at Woodville

Above: rear section of Pomfrett's Cottage in September 2019 (photo: Brian Walsh)

Pomfrett's Cottage at Woodville

Pomfrett's c1872 Cottage at Woodville in September 2019 (photo: Brian Walsh).

Notes

1. Walsh, Brian. European Settlement at Paterson River 1812 to 1822. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 2012.

2. Maitland Mercury 20 July 1865 page 4.

3. NSW Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists 1828-1896 per ancestry.com.au.

4. Desilee Richards, Cynthia Hunter and Sandra King. Iona Public School, Celebrating 150 Years of Education 1850-2000. Iona Sesqui-Centenary Committee, c2000.

5. NSW marriage registration 2651/1872, registered at Morpeth. In 1896 he married Mary Burg, NSW marriage registration 5521/1896, registered at Morpeth.

6. Information supplied by a member of Paterson Historical Society.

7. Maitland Mercury 26 March 1881 page 4.

Acknowledgements and disclaimer

Information provided by members of Paterson Historical Society is gratefully acknowledged. Any opinions or errors on this web page remain the responsibility of the webmaster, Brian Walsh, and do not necessarily represent the views of any other individual or organisation.