Monday 17 July 2017

"Dennarque" - an early history of Raith

The home known as "Raith" still stands today, bounded by Fern Avenue and Appin Road, Bradbury. It was not always known as Raith, and has been through several incarnations.
In 1903 "Dennarque" was built for Herbert and Wilhelmina Merewether, on 55 acres on Appin Road.
Wilhelmina Rosina Arran Gore was born in 1883, the third daughter of Augustus James Gore, manager of the Commercial Bank in Campbelltown. Brought up in the manner of a young lady by her mother Katrina Gore, Wilhelmina, known as Nina, was a talented singer and pianist.
Nina's older sister Silvia married Frederick Merewether in 1901, and on November 18th 1903, Nina married his brother Herbert. The Merewether brothers were from an illustrious and wealthy family from Bondi.
"Dennarque" was named after Herbert's father's property Dennarque at Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains. The new home was a large sixteen room Indian bungalow-style house, designed by Wardell and Denning and built by D.McIntyre & Sons of Sydney, at a cost of 3,000 pounds.

Laying the foundation stone for "Dennarque" in 1903. Photo courtesy Campbelltown & Airds Historial Society Inc.
  An indication of the esteem in which Herbert Merewether was held is shown in the following snippet from the local paper "... the townspeople may congratulate themselves that a man of his stamp has been attracted to the place".
The following year, 1904, Nina and Herbert had a daughter Mabel, known as Maisie. Life at Dennarque was social and gracious. Nina advertised for maids and a general hand, and events such as balls were held there. Herbert was a keen sportsman, involved in the local cricket team. He was also involved in local shooting competitions, the formation of the cycling club, and was on the committee of the A.H. & I. Society.
A completed "Dennarque". Photo courtesy Campbelltown & Airds Historical Society Inc.

 Sadly he died on March 5th 1920 at the age of 54, and was interred at St Peter's Campbelltown. By July, Mrs (Nina) Merewether was advertising in the papers a sale of all her household belongings, "on account of the disposal of her residence". She would later remarry and move to the two storey house on the corner of Lithgow and Oxley Streets.
By 1930, "Dennarque" was owned by Hannah Elliot Plaskitt, and renamed "Raith", opening a new chapter in the history of the property.

Written by Claire Lynch
Sources -
Glimpses of the Gores in Campbelltown by Bev Harrison
Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society
Campbelltown Library pamphlet files


  1. I lived here for almost nine years, I hated this place. Lovely home, but the staff were the worst I had ever uncounted in all the children's institutions I lived in (I lived 12 other units). Some of the children were okay, but I was a very confused child, a child with little hope.

    1. Gday there, I love what you are doing now, I came across this article looking for someone I once knew, a boy called Barry hornsby who was at raith around 1980 and who also went to Bradbury school, anyways all the best Mark..

    2. Thanks for the comment Mark!

    3. D.J. Bayldon it would not have been an easy childhood to say the least, I hope things have improved for you.

  2. Did Raith used to also be known by another name when it was a children's home? My nan worked here in 60/70's, but I think it used to have another name?

    1. Great question - I lived at Raith Children's Home from 1981-1989. It never changed its name during those years. It officially closed 1996.

  3. Hi Linda. Nice to hear from you. Could you be thinking of Lark Hill? Raith Lark Hill Hostel at Campbelltown was established by the Child Welfare Department in 1964. The main house was called Raith, while Lark Hill was a baby and toddler complex that, according to the Child Welfare Department Annual Report of 1966, was within the same grounds. Raith Lark Hill accommodated children of a wide range of ages, from infancy to teens, including family groups, and is thought to have closed around 1990.

  4. Yes that is sounding familiar. Thanks for the info!

  5. I lived here.
    My favourite staff member was dawn.
    I would love to connect with other kids who where here at the same time I was. Wasn't the best years of ones life