12 Alban Street, Taree sits on traditional Birrbay land which later became part of the 2560 acres granted to William Wynter in 1839. Charles Douglas Cook, a Taree accountant and later the Manning Shire Clerk, bought one acre of this land in 1916.1
In 1923 Cook had a magnificent residence built which was described as one of the best in the district overlooking the Taree Estate farms and a beautiful stretch of the Manning River. It was constructed of cement concrete, had an imported fibro slate roof, large rooms with pressed metal ceilings and all the modern conveniences.2
When Cook left the district in 1925 he sold the property to Taree jeweller and watch maker Edward James Storm. Edward, his wife Jane (nee Walker) and their daughter Valerie did not live in the house, preferring to live at their shop and residence in Victoria Street.3
In 1928 Edward subdivided the land retaining the house in his name while transferring Lots 46 and 47 to his only child Valerie.4 Valerie built two brick cottages on those lots which are now known as 297 and 295 Victoria Street.5
Following her mother’s sudden death in 1941,6 Valerie married T H Hughes who was Deputy Headmaster at Taree High School. Hughes left teaching in 1946 to go into business partnership with his father-in-law. The house was transferred into Valerie’s name in 1951 and was auctioned the following year but it didn’t sell.7 Edward died in 1954 aged 78 years.8
Valerie retained the property until 1984 before formally transferring it to the Anglican Church. When the Walkom family purchased the house two years later it had not been inhabited by the owners for over 60 years and was greatly neglected. Thankfully this house has been faithfully restored it to its former grandeur preserving part of Taree’s rich built heritage.9
Author: Janine Roberts
1 NSW Land Registry Services, Vol-Fol: 2644-86.
2 Northern Champion, 10 January 1925, 5. There was some confusion in the Taree Municipal Rate books indicating that the house was built in 1923 on the lots fronting Victoria Street rather than Alban Street, but the mistake appears to have been corrected in 1926.
3 Taree Municipal Rates books, MidCoast Stories, https://midcoaststories.com/taree-rates-books-3/ and electoral rolls from Ancestry.com.au
4 NSW Land Registry Services, Vol-Fol: 4170-57 and 4160-147.
5 Northern Champion, 16 June 1928, 6.
6 Manning River Times, 16 July 1941, 3.
7 Manning River Times, 23 February 1944, 2; 7 December 1946, 2; 25 July 1951, 2; 15 August 1952, 6.
8 Northern Champion, 13 July 1954, 4.
9 NSW Land Registry Services, Vol-Fol: 4170-57.