What a shame this majestic villa, designed by E.C. Manfred, no longer stands for us to admire.
This quite grand house contains many of the standard Manfred characteristics: its double storey, angle-shaped bay window; the full height doorway windows; the enclosed verandah and upper balcony with wrought iron balustrade and curved roofing; and the sculptured gable fascia under a steeply pitched roof.
But it is the tall chimneys and decorative ridge capping that really catch the eye. What an impressive skyline this composition would have created.
This large villa was built for Henry Gaskell in 1883 by Elijah Hines of Goulburn for £841/1/8. There are no drawings or documents for this building in the Manfred Collection held in the Archives of the Goulburn & District Historical Society, but there is a front elevation and floor plan in Manfred’s sketch book.
Henry Gaskell was the son of Nicholas and Ann (nee Kennedy) Gaskell, who were married in 1847. Henry was born circa 1849.
This is another family with early links to Goulburn. Nicholas Gaskell arrived in NSW on January 20 in 1835 on a ship out of Liverpool, UK, via Hobart Town, as reported in The Australian. It appears he was born in 1806 at Wigan, Lancashire to Henry and Alice Gaskell.
An advertisement was placed in the Southern Australian in February 1841 searching for Nicholas Gaskell, requesting contact when he would learn something to his advantage. A similar advertisement was placed in the Sydney Morning Herald in August 1843.
Did Nicholas claim his inheritance? When he arrived in Goulburn has not yet been established, but his name was included in the list of Goulburn residents subscribing to the Irish Relief Fund in 1846.
Life and work
Henry (Harry) Gaskell married Annie Agnes Collins in Sydney in 1873. At least four children were born to the couple: Alice, 1874; Eleanor Mary, 1875; Emily May, 1878; Mary D, 1888.
Henry Gaskell appears to have had an on/off relationship with the boot -selling business as evidenced by an advertisement in the Goulburn Herald of October 2 in 1896, a large advertisement on page 1, which reads:
“Boot & Shoe Warehouse – Re-opening of business
H Gaskell will open premises in Auburn Street between Bond’s and Foxall’s on Saturday next, October 3rd with a splendid stock of fresh, choice goods. Prices as low as any houses in the trade.”
Other references to his involvement in boot businesses appear in his obituary. Perhaps his relationship by marriage to Charles Gillespie of Gillespie’s Boot Factory influenced his choice of occupation.
In 1901 an interesting reference to the villa on Church St appeared in a newspaper report of daughter Isabel’s wedding. The family home was given as Pomeroy, Hill Side, Goulburn.
In the Goulburn Evening Penny Post of May 7 in 1907:
“The death is announced of Mr Henry Gaskell at the residence of Mr Charles Gillespie, of Goulburn. The deceased, who was well known in the Goulburn district, was in Mr Foxall’s shop yesterday afternoon, when he complained of a numbness in his hand. Accompanied by Miss Gillespie he proceeded to her home, but the hand got worse. A doctor was sent for, as Mr Gaskell was afraid he might not regain the use of his hand for some time. He became unconscious, and was in that state when the doctor arrived. At 8 o’clock this morning he died, not having regained consciousness in the meantime. The deceased was born at Pomeroy and was a step-brother of Mrs Charles Gillespie. His boyhood was spent in Goulburn, and he first engaged in business on his own account in the premises Islington House, now occupied by Mr Foxall. In 1890, Gaskell had rooms in the London Chartered Bank, advertising as a boot importer. He will also be remembered as one who took an interest in the Liedertafel, being present at the inaugural meeting. As a cricketer too he was a recognised authority. Of late years he had been travelling for Joseph Vickery and Co., and later for the Adelaide Boot Company, and was at the time of his death engaged by the Bulletin Co. in the interests of the new magazine, The Lone Hand. The deceased was a brother-in-law of Mr W.M. McLeod, the well-known part proprietor of the Bulletin. Mr Gaskell was 58 years of age and leaves a widow and four daughters, one of whom is married to Dr Geoffrey Lees of Dubbo. It is understood that Mrs Lees is in a critical state of health. The cause of death was apoplexy.”
The Lone Hand was first published in 1907, so Henry Gaskell’s involvement would have been in the preparation of the new venture.
The publication was planned as a monthly Australian magazine of literature and poetry. Contributions from the public were to be solicited and paid for at the ‘going rate’.
A remarkable innovation was a prize offered to readers who found errors (including typos) in advertisements and contributions.
The first issue in May 1907 sold out its print run of 50,000 copies in three days. Did Henry Gaskell know of the success of the publication before his sudden death?
Annie Gaskell died in 1927 in Sydney.
The transcribed Goulburn Rate books show the owners of the property as:
- 1885: H Gaskell (address recorded as Montague St), 5 rms
- 1890: private house, H Gaskell owner/occupier; Boot Manufacturer 66 ft
- 1900: H Gaskell, traveller, occupier; A M Millard, Bungendore, owner; 66 ft
- 1906/7: Butcher, occupier; Daniel Leahy, owner; 66 ft
- 1931/2: no records available
- 1941: 22 Church St; Kate Thwaite, flats
The villa was demolished circa 1980 as it was deemed to be in poor condition and beyond repair.