Ardill House

Ardill House
Ardill House

Originally called “Clermont House”, it was constructed in 1861 on a 9 hectare grant to Henry Bray (third Mayor of Concord [1890-1891] and younger brother of Alfred Bray, first Mayor of Concord).   When Henry died at “Clermont” in 1896, according to an obituary, “the business places of Burwood were draped in black”.

John Bibb, architect, designed the house in a mid-Victorian style with Georgian influences.   Clermont was constructed of stucco brick.   A curved bay window was a feature of one side.   Its iron roof was bellcast and supported on iron columns.   (“Bellcast” refers to a roof that tends to flatten out in changing to a lower pitch near the eaves.)

A transom covered the main front door.   A second storey was added to the original structure in 1880 but the ground floor veranda along the front and sides of the original building was retained.   The hipped roof was of slate and moulded tops covered the large chimneys.   Internally the house was designed to permit extensive entertaining as befitted Henry Bray’s status as a merchant and well-known community figure.

Subdivision of the estate began in 1917 and in 1918 the house and existing grounds were donated by the then owner, F.K. Olliver, to the Society for Providing Houses for Neglected Children.   At this time the name was changed from Clermont to Ardill House to honour the founder of the society, George Edward Ardill, who established the charity in 1887 to provide refuge for neglected, homeless and threatened children.

In 1976 the Australian Heritage Commission added Ardill House to the Register of the National Estate.   It has also been classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).

The stables were demolished in 1949 to make way for the new toilet block built in 1952 and three new rooms – a pantry, playroom and dining room – were added to the original home in 1965, the basic structure of the mid-Victorian building remains intact and much of the internal detail still exists.

For many years it was also known as “Our Children’s Home”, but with government changes in child care it closed in approximately 1981. It re-opened in 1983 for day child care in various forms.

Ardill House - Matron and chidren
Ardill House – Matron and chidren

This Post Has 68 Comments

  1. The photo above is me on the right hand side sitting on the pylon. I’m not sure when this photo was taken but I was there between 1961 to 1968.

    Can you give me any information about the others or get in contact with me.

    1. I went to this awful place too I’m not in the photo I was there from 1971 to I’m not sure that part of my life was a living nightmare. My stepmother put me there and then just left me. I was 10

    2. The girl on the veranda her name was Marcia or Marcy.

      1. Yes, the girl on the verandah was Marcia Nasman. The children from the home went to North Strathfield public school. Marcia had epilepsy and would often have fits at school. I remember the children would walk with matron to Holy Trinity church to attend Sunday school. I went to the home a few times to play with the children. The boy standing between the two wrought iron posts was Ray Pallister, he was always getting into trouble at school.
        Sandra Coleman

        1. I remember Ray and Marcia very clearly. I was at North Strathfield from 1960 till Year 6 in 1966 then off to Homebush High. Never understood what the big house behind Kelly’s milk bar was about. All 6 siblings in the Macallister family attended the school and had several friends in the big house! Colin Macallister.

          1. I posted a comment yesterday but don’t see it on the site. I’m sure that is me second from the left leaning up against the pylon. I was in the kids’ home from 1955-1963. I look about 13 years old in this photo, so that would be about 1961. A question I asked yesterday: Is that Mr. Ardill standing next to Matron, or is it Mr. Rowland who was the Baptist minister? Mr. Rowland took over administration of the home after Ardill died, I think in 1964. I also noted yesterday that the girls’ bedrooms were upstairs. The larger of the two was in the front and the smaller behind. If you look at a photo of the building from the front, the middle window and the one on the left of the photo were the larger bedroom. The window on the right was Matron’s bedroom; and her bathroom was behind. From an architectural point of view, the rooms were quite nice. Anyway, sorry if I’m repeating myself. I also have some photos of the kids which I took after I left and came back for a visit.

          2. I was there from 1960 to 63 my name was lesley lung I had a sister cheryle

        2. Do you remember Ron and Geoff Webster

          1. Hi Ron! If you finished 68 you were probably born 1956 and therefore 2 years behind me! You would have been in my brothers year. Webster does ring a bell but the memory is foggy! Geoff older or younger?

      2. Marcia is right i was there too hi Christian

      3. Hi Christine. Her name was Marcia “Streach”
        I was there 1969 to 1977

    3. hi Ron how are you i remember you i am Josephine (Josie ) i was there with my 2 sisters Sharon and Kerry we were 64 till 19 70

    4. I’ve kept in touch with a couple of friends who were in the home at the same time as I was. Maybe they will be able to remember more of the kids’ names.

  2. Hi there,
    I am not in the photo that you posted but I went to Ardill house from 2000 to 2004. I remember sitting on those same steps with the other kids. It still looked the same as in your picture. Me and my friends use to always wonder what was upstairs as it was blocked off and we weren’t allowed to go up there. We use to tell ghost stories and find things in the house to help us figure out clues of what could have been in the house. Me and my friend in particular were so intrigued by the house we use to collect clues and find things we thought would help us to figure out more about the house, we had a strong connection to it at such a young age. At the time it was an after school care and I hated going there but now I look back and I have a lot of memories there. Me and my friend use to climb up the tree that had a vine hanging. It was in the front yard in the front right corner. I’ve always been into history and old houses and mansions and the stories they have left behind, and I have always had a connection to this house. If you have any stories you would like to share about the house when you were there I’d love to hear them.

    Larissa

    1. Your time there must have been nicer than mine. It was an awful time in my young life.
      Christine Stack

  3. I was one of the last lot of kids to have lived in that hell hole … and was the first kid too be kicked out … Keith Elliott was my favourite and I still remember Butch the dog

  4. I was in the kids’ home from May 1955 until 1963. I’m 99.9% sure that is me second from the left. I always wore my hair in a pony tail, as did most girls of that era, I suppose. Is that Mr. Ardill standing next to Matron, or is it Mr. Rowland who was the Baptist minister, at Concord Baptist Church? Mr. Rowland took over part-time administration of the home after Mr. Ardill died (in 1964 I think). I’ll contact a couple of other girls with whom I occasionally stay in touch – they may be able to identify other kids in the photo. By the way, the girls’ bedrooms were upstairs, and if you ignore the fact that these were dormitories, they were actually quite nice, from an architectural point of view. The smaller of the two was especially nice. Also upstairs was a bedroom and bathroom for Matron. I enjoyed reading all of your comments.

    1. Hi Eileen my name is Cheryle Young I was in that he’ll hole from 1960 until 1964. I remember you and Jean Prince. You had asthma. Carol Tucker who I be leave has past now with cancer.My sister’s name is Lesley. We use to sit on the roof outside the bedroom window. I remember that dirty bucket full of wee that we carried down stairs every morning. Lots of others I remember would love to hear from you
      Cheryle

    2. Hi Eileen my name is Cheryle Young I remember you and Jean Prince. You suffered with asthma. Do you remember me love to hear from you. Thanks Cheryle.

    3. Hello, do you remember a Colleen and Marlene Needham in 1958 to 1961 they are sisters but Colleen was there longer. They both came and went and come back.

    4. Hello Eileen, do you remember a Colleen and Marlene Needham in 1958 to 1961 they are sisters but Colleen was there longer. They both came and went and come back.

  5. Hi Eileen my name is Cheryle Young I remember you and Jean Prince.You had asthma. We use to sit on the roof at night after we finished our chorse. My sisters name was Lesley .We had to carry that horrible wee bucket down stairs in the morning hope in we didn’t spill it. It was a he’ll of a place would love to hear from you
    Thanks Cheryle

    1. Hi Cheryle! I hope you are well. I remember you and Lesley. I posted a comment a few days ago but don’t see it here. Maybe I forgot to click “Post”. Anyway, I’m sorry for not responding sooner. Jean Prince was a dear friend. She tragically died in a car accident not too long afterwards. I’ve stayed in touch with Beverley Ryan and Carol Tucker. I just spoke to Bev on the phone; she is doing well. I was surprised by your comment about Carol. She and I haven’t spoken for a year or so. I still have asthma, but it’s treatable. Would love to say in touch with you.
      Eileen

  6. Hi Eileen my name is Cheryle Young do you remember me ? You had asthma. I remember Jean Prince the Mantover brothers and lots of others Would love to hear from you
    Cheryle

    1. Hi Cheryle! I apologize for not responding sooner. Yes, I remember you. How are you? In good health and enjoying life, I hope. I also remember the Mantover brothers, Watson brothers, Carol Tucker, and Bev Ryan. Are you sure about Carol? I think I called her last Christmas. I’ll try again soon and let you know. Jean Prince was my dearest friend. It was so tragic that she died not too long after we left the home. I didn’t find out about it for decades. I was recently looking at some old class photos on the Strathfield Girls High School web site, and picked Jean out from our 1961 2D photo. I’ve downloaded it and will have it printed and framed. I thought I had grown out of my asthma, but it has returned in my senior years. I deal with it. I remember that terrible bucket. Sometimes I would sneak downstairs, being very careful not to step on the creaky steps, and run over the girls’ bathroom. I remember sitting on the roof and chatting. Would love to stay in touch. I will check this web page much more often from now on.

  7. Good to see people who were in Our Children’s Home Davidson St Concord I know some others who were in that Home and soneone who lived 2 doors down from the Home

    My name is Leonie Sheedy from CLAN A national support and advocacy network for people who spent time in orphanages or childrens Homes or foster care
    http://www.clan.org.au
    1800008774 twitter CLAN_AU

    1. I’ve posted a couple of replies to Cheryle this week, but don’t see them. How come?
      Eileen Robinson

  8. Hi Guys
    This pic was around 1970.
    Philip not his brother Ray is holding the rails. Tanya “Queen B” standing on the side of the steps with Shirley sitting behind her. If you look closely, youll see me (Morena Marchi) standing hiding behind Tanya. My brother Robert (RIP 5.5.81 ) Sitting front centre. Christine behind him, I think Trent, Tanya’s brother R.I.P. is sitting on the end Right to us on pic. Matron Gladys Holt with Mr Roland.

  9. Peter Alexander (Zac)

    I have just seen the photo. I am not in the photo but I remember some of the people who were. I was there from 1960-1970 with my two brothers Phillip and Bill Alexander.

    1. Peter my name is lesley and I had a sister cheryle

  10. Hello to you all! My goodness! How wonderful it is to see some familiar names. I was in the home from aged 10 to 18 (1962 to 1969). I’m not sure how any of us survived, so many heart-breaking memories, but that’s for another time. I’m pleased to say I am still alive and kicking, and enjoying life in Adelaide (my birth city). I’m the proud mum of a 28 year old son, who married his long-term sweetheart in November last year. It’s been great to reconnect this Christmas with Eileen again after a year or so. Cheryle, I remember you well. How are you keeping? Your sister, Lesley, and I were in the same grade 5 Class at North Strathfield Primary. Peter Alexander, I recall you and your older brothers very well too. Phillip was the eldest, and then Bill. I hope you are all doing ok. I recall the Mantova brothers: Bill, Peter and Cyril, and the Watson brothers: Ray and Bob. I also shared my time in the home with Marcia, Denise and Diane Wilson, Josie, Sharon and Kerry Gayford (I’m in contact with Sharon via Facebook), and Glenda and Susan Smith. Ron and Geoff Webster: now they are familiar names. Morena, you joined the ranks just as I was leaving. There was also a John Edwards/Edmonds?? and his sister during my era. If you would like to contact me directly I’m on FB Carol Tucker (Dubos). I reckon we should have a reunion if you are up for it……What do you say? Take care everyone.

    1. Hi! My name is Phillip Alexander I was in Ardill House with my brothers Bill and Peter from 1957 to 1965. I also agree it would be great to have a catch up. I’m not in the photo but I do remember the Thomases, the Wilsons, The Robinsons, The Mantovers, The Watsons. I was one of the people who worked down the front with the chooks, dogs and pigeons.

    2. Hi Carol and Everyone: It is so good to hear from so many, I thought the web site had gone away. Carol, I would love to attend the Easter reunion, but don’t see how I can manage it at this time. It is kind of short notice. I’ve forwarded your email to Beverley Ryan, but haven’t heard back. Bev is planning to come visit me in the USA at the end of this year, and I am planning a trip to Australia and New Zealand in 2020. So, perhaps I’ll be able to catch up with some of you, if not all of you, at that time. In the meantime, I hope we can stay in touch.

  11. Hello Eileen and others, my mother Colleen and Marlean Needham was there between 1950 to 1957 came and gone in that time. They are two sisters that looked like twins lol but not.

    1. Hi Linda: I remember Colleen and Marlene. Are they doing well? I also remember the Mantova brothers, Watson brothers, Alexander brothers. My brother, John, died a few years ago, 2011, in NSW. I live in Virginia, USA. It’s nice to hear from you.

      1. Hi Eileen: Marlene and I are doing well thank you, do you remember when we left the home ? We know we where put back in together in 1961 but where is no record of us leaving.

        1. Hi Colleen: I remember kids leaving and then coming back, but couldn’t remember that was you and Marlene. You say “there is no record of us leaving.” Were you able to access records, or were you told that? Just curious. Are you going to the reunion on 20 April? Wish I could be there, but like I mentioned in one of my other posts, I’m planning a trip for next year. I usually visit in mid to late-August, when the wild flowers start to bloom, but think next year I’ll come in April. Say “hi” to Marlene for me. I must say, it is exciting to be in touch with so many “home kids”. I hated that term, so I won’t use it again. Talk again soon.

          1. Hi Eileen
            We were able to ring then email the people who hold the records it shows Marlene and I going back into the home in 1961 but not when we left. I’m not sure how to give or get your email address so we can talk more. I’m not sure if sis and I can go to the reunion as yet as sis is out camping right now as soon as she gets home I’ll give her a call and work it out with her I hope to hear from you soon.

  12. I was there but no one knows knows me or can remember 1964to 1967

  13. Hi My name Bill Alexander l was in the home with my two brothers Phillip & Peter (zac) I knew the Webster, the Robinsons smiths Edmond And many more It would be great to have a reunion to catch up

  14. I was in the home with my two brothers Phillip &Peter Alexander
    I knew most of the people in that period Of time
    A reunion would be a great thing
    Bill Alexander

  15. Hi everyone…..I don’t think my last message sent…..I forgot to add my email details!!!
    Firstly, thank you Leonie for providing CLAN details. Very kind.
    Michael, we were in the Home at the same time. I do recall a Michael, I think with dark hair, and you may have come back to visit a few times after you left? Are you on Facebook? I would love to hear from you. My Facebook details are Carol Tucker (Dubos). To make it easier to find me, my profile pic is of me (now with blonde hair) and my son (dark hair with a navy shirt). You can leave a private message if you wish.
    Some of us a planning a reunion in Sydney over Easter. Details are yet to be confirmed. But if you are free, we would love to see as many Home Kids and their partners as possible. The more the merrier! So please, spread the word. I will add details in a week or two.
    Take care.

    1. Hi Carol
      I did contact you on Facebook but you have not seen it as yet, I have contacted Phillp and told him that the Needham sister will be going to the reunion on the 20th of this month we will see you there.

  16. I’m still waiting for my previous post to appear. In the meantime please keep Saturday 20 April 2019 free for a reunion lunch. Everyone is welcome. The time and venue to be confirmed, but likely to be somewhere central, such as The Opera Bar at Sydney’s Opera House.
    I’m sorry you won’t be able to make it Eileen…..perhaps in 2020 we can all do it again. Fingers crossed Bev can make it.
    Take care everyone! Can’t wait to see you guys next month.

  17. Calling all former residents and friends of Our Children’s Home, 132 Davidson Avenue, North Strathfield. We are looking to organize a reunion lunch on Saturday, 20th April at 12 noon at Barangaroo House, 35 Barangaroo Avenue. Barangaroo can be accessed from Wynyard Station and the F3 and F4 ferry from Circular Quay. Contact Phillip Alexander, 0419-970-520,

    A big HI to Eileen Robinson from the Alexander Brothers! Been a long time!!!!

    1. A big “Hi” coming back to you and your brothers, Phillip! I’ve relayed your information about the reunion to Beverley Ryan and provided her with the Canada Bay web site URL. She may be able to attend. Hope so. Since you provided your phone number, I could possibly call you while you are all assembled. It would be fun to talk to you all, and I won’t mind getting up before dawn to have a chat. We’re on Daylight Savings Time now, It is 8:15 PM Tuesday evening, which I think is 12:15 PM Wednesday your time. Talk again soon.

    2. Hi phillip
      My mum & her sister were in home 1945-1953- she would love to attend the reunion.
      Her name was Pam (Ann) Jarvis.
      She is not on internet . My email address is jacoutback@gmail.com
      Can you forward me any info please.
      Cheers Susan

  18. My mum & aunty were there 1945- 1952!!
    Pam (Ann) Jarvis – she is now 80yrs old – would love to be at reunion if other oldies are going – how can I find out more info for her – my email address is jacoutback@gmail.com
    If anyone could help – my name is
    Susan would love info for her please .
    Thankyou

  19. Does anyone remember Ann (Pam) Jarvis – in home 1945-1953 !!
    She is my mum & would love to reunite with fellow kids from home. ( reunion)
    She took us there as kids to see Matron in school holidays .
    Cheers Susan

  20. Hi phillip
    My mum & her sister were in home 1945-1953- she would love to attend the reunion.
    Her name was Pam (Ann) Jarvis.
    She is not on internet . My email address is jacoutback@gmail.com
    Can you forward me any info please.
    Cheers Susan

  21. Hi All.
    My sister and myself were there as above messages state the Needham sisters. I’m looking for a girl that had her 10th birthday in the home on 14th June 1963. I recall this as we have the same birthdate. I do not remember her name though.
    I may attend the reunion with Colleen my sister if we can as I live in Wagga Wagga.

    Marlene

  22. Hi Susan Smith
    My Brother Roy And I were there about 1951 – 1954
    We remember your mother and her sister Robyn.
    We don’t know if we can get to the get together as Roy now lives in Perth and I am down the south coast.
    Does your mother have any contact with others from 1951-54
    My email is clarkfamily@cmsau.com
    Regards Alan Clark

  23. Peter (Zac) Alexander

    I will be attending the luncheon on 20th April at Barangaroo House. Looking forward to sharing childhood memories from Our Children’s Home.

  24. Hi Colleen and Marlene, Thank you, Colleen. I’ve just seen your post on Facebook and responded. I’m looking forward to seeing you both on the 20th if you can make it.

    Hi Susan, I remember your Mum coming to visit with her children…she was always so lovely to speak with, and shared many memories with Keith….I would love to see your Mum again, and to hear her story.

    It’s great to hear Bev Ryan can make it too.

    Well done Phillip with rounding up so man via the Telegraph. Looking forward to catching up with the 3 Alexander boys and your families.

    Feeling a strong connection to the amazing “kids” with whom I shared so many childhood memories and experiences. Looking forward to seeing you all Saturday, 20th April 2019 at 12 noon at Barangaroo House, 35 Barangaroo Avenue. Hopefully we will get to chat on the phone with Eileen too.
    Bring photos, if you have any.
    Can’t wait to see you all!

    1. Hi Carol and everyone else. So glad the reunion is taking off so well. Hope you all have a wonderful day and keep in touch. If any of you have an photographs you would like to share with the City of Canada Bay Museuam, or any stories you’d like to tell we’d love to hear from you. Have a great day.

      1. I think I have a few photos that I can share. I’ll go through my photo albums and have them scanned and/or printed. How do I get them to the Museum? Can I upload them to this website? I’m not on Facebook any longer.

          1. Thanks! I’ll be in touch soon.

          2. I’ve sent some old photos of a few of the girls to the email address above.

  25. Phillip Alexander
    First I would like to thank the CCBHS for helping us to make our reunion happen. I would prefer to call where many of us spent our youth as Our Children’s Home, not Ardill House. I mean no disrespect to the The Ardill Family, but it was always, and always will be Our Children’s Home. Through the help of “Insearch”, in the Daily Telegraph, and this website we are able to make our reunion happen. Just to bring you up to date, through the phone calls I have received and conversations I have had, I have a best seller on my hands. I have spoken to people that were friends for 60 years and over the last few years have lost touch. We have now been able to put them back in touch. People attending our reunion are coming from interstate and from NSW. We have apologies from USA. I have been in contact with people who were in Our Children’s Home from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. If you are reading this website for the first time, or have been reading the comments from others, and you haven’t been in touch, please contact me on 0419 970 520. The one thing all of us have in common, is that at one stage in our lives this was our Home. To my adopted brothers and sisters I look forward to catching up at Barangaroo House on Saturday 20th April at Noon. If you would prefer to think about this and don’t want to give your name as a definite, please feel free to join us on the day.

  26. Bill Alexander will be attending Our Children’s Home reunion
    On the 20 April at Barangaroo
    Looking forward to catching up

  27. It was great catching up with some old faces
    Was a great day with lots of laughs (And sad stories)
    More happier times than sad
    Hope next time we see more familiar names
    For this to work we need more people to turn up
    Our special thanks must go to
    Carol Tucker
    Ron Webster Phillip Alexander and John Hughson
    Well done!!

    1. Hi Bill. It was terrific talking to you all. I’m planning on being there in person next year, God willing the creek don’t rise! I said that I would probably be in Sydney in late April, but if Easter works best for everyone then I’ll change my schedule. Easter next year will be a bit earlier than this year. I’ll probably be booking my flight well in advance. I’ll stay in touch.

    2. What made this a great day
      Was the effort made by all
      Of you participating on this
      Special day to meet up
      I would like to thank you all
      Bill Alexander xx

  28. Can anyone remember a family call Sandford,Deb,Josie,Craig.Tammy.Darren.Jason between 1907 to 1980

  29. Phillip Alexander
    Just a follow up on our reunion lunch. We had a beautiful sunny day and venue for our get-together which was attended by approx 20 people, comprising of residents, wives, husbands, friends and other family members of Our Children’s Home. Many friendships were reaffirmed as was witnessed by the laughter, tears, tales and stories of past and present escapades!!!! We also received 2 phone calls from Eileen Robinson, who now lives in Richmond, Virginia and Bobby Watson from Tamworth.
    This day was made possible because we all made the effort to get in contact , so let’s make sure we keep it that way.
    Thanks to Lois in the CCBHS for her help and guidance in making this happen.
    I am sending some photos of the day through to Lois to be published in another section of the CCBHS news letter.
    Upcoming events-I have my I.T.department (Carol and Pamela!) working on a seperate FB page for Our Children’s Home only. Also coming up, we have been invited by John Hughson from Ardill House Management Committee to the opening of the restoration and renovation to Ardill House sometime in September. Date TBA. Again a big thank you for your attendance at our special day. See you all soon.

  30. Phillip Alexander
    Please be advised that a FB page for “Our Children’s Home-Ardill House,” has been set up by our I.T. department. At the moment we have 8 members. We shall be communicating also through this page for all our upcoming events as some people are not on FB. Again a great big thanks to Lois at CCBHS for her guidance and help in this matter.

  31. Phillip Alexander
    The arrangements for our lunch and inspection of the renovations to the house and grounds has now been finalised. Lunch will be at Pron Prohm Thai Restaurant on 209 Concord Road , North Strathfield at 12.00 for a 12.30pm sit down. After lunch we will proceed to Our Children’s Home-Ardill House 132 Davidson Avenue for our 2.00pm appointment. This will take approximately 45 minutes. At this stage we have 18 attending lunch and 21 expected at the inspection. For further details contact Phillip Alexander on 0429970520 or follow us on our FB page. Looking forward to catching up.

Leave a Reply to Peter Alexander Cancel reply

Close Menu
×
×

Cart

City of Canada Bay Heritage Society

PO Box 152,
Concord NSW 2137
02 9744-8528

City of Canada Bay Museum

1 Bent Street,
Concord NSW 2137
02 9743-3034 (during museum hours)

Museum Hours
Wednesday and Saturday
10:00am – 4:00pm
Other times by arrangement

To enquire about the use of the Yaralla grounds for photography or any other use, use this link to the Sydney Local Health District Yaralla Estate website.