Ray Hurst has been a long time resident of 120 Manning Street, Taree and was interested in the history of this old house. Here is what we found…
English immigrant Robert Ponsonby Staples arrived in Australia in 1855 and soon after married Jane Sheather of Wingham.1 They owned a dairy farm on Jones Island, Portion 61, where they raised their large family and farmed for nearly 50 years.2 In 1903 the Staples sold their dairy in favour of a less demanding life in town. They bought land on the corner of Manning Street and Cundle Road (now High Street) and wasted no time in having an eight-roomed house built. Completed in 1904 the house was called “Malvern”.3
Staples was now considered a gentleman especially when his dairy sold for £1300.4 His new house had several large sheds which housed his new carriage (a “Duchess” phaeton) built by Taree’s Atherton and Smith.5 In 1912 the Staples sold up to spend their last years in Sydney.
Elizabeth Viol was the new owner.6 Her husband Samuel was a carter and made a living delivering goods including collecting and returning laundry for the Maitland Steam Laundry.7 In 1919 Samuel died suddenly in Sydney. The couple had no children.8
Left with a large house and no income it is likely Elizabeth used her past skills as a hotel keeper to turn the house into a guesthouse.9 The large sheds accommodated horses while the close proximity of the train station was convenient for guests. It was later split into two units. Elizabeth kept ownership until 1959 when she sold to school teacher Joseph Milton Johnston.10 The house still retains many of its original features.
Author: Janine Roberts with thanks to Ray Hurst
1 Ancestry immigration records; NSW BDM, Marriage Index No. 3184/1859.
2 NSW Land Registry Services, Book-No: 759-506.
3 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast of NSW, 16 March 1904, 2 and 11 May 1907, 4.
4 NSW LRS, Book-No: 759-506.
5 MRT, 14 September 1904, 2.
6 NSW LRS, Vol-Fol: 1493-128.
7 MRT, 2 August 1913, 6.
8 Northern Champion, 30 August 1919, 4.
9 Ancestry.com.au, Electoral roll for Herberton, 1909.
10 NSW LRS, Vol-Fol: 7099-121.