Demolition of historic homestead shocks Menangle locals

The Menangle Workers Cottage has been a familiar sight along Menangle Road for nearly 100 years but now all that is left of the historic home is two chimneys.

The majority of the home at 15 Menangle Road was demolished by developers last week - much to the shock of local residents.

Mirvac, the development company who owns the site, intended to turn the building into a temporary sales office.

However Mirvac's development director Nino Baban said the original structure was demolished due to safety and health concerns.

"It is of historical importance and hence we considered it important to retain as an example of an early 20th century farm workers cottage," he said.

"The building was in a heavily dilapidated state to the point that it presented a health and safety risk.

"However, we are committed to bringing the cottage back to life, and to ensure a faithful reconstruction we made a full photographic record with detailed measurements so that we are able to rebuild it to match the original cottage."

The cottage, which was built in the 1920s, is not listed as a heritage item on the State Heritage Register but it is located within the Menangle heritage conservation area.

Wollondilly councillor Matthew Deeth said he was disappointed that all that remained of the original cottage was the two brick chimneys.

"I appreciate and understand that costs must always be considered when it comes to heritage assets but the workers cottage was a really important example of village life at Camden Park Central Creamery," he said.

These two brick chimneys are all that remains of the historic Menangle Workers Cottage on Menangle Road. Picture: Chris Lane

These two brick chimneys are all that remains of the historic Menangle Workers Cottage on Menangle Road. Picture: Chris Lane

"Knocking these kinds of buildings down is the cheapest way to do heritage restoration.

"Replicas are great - but they do not have the same preservation value as it would have if the original building was restored.

"The value and community connection that has been lost is irreplaceable.

"I am disappointed that the ball was dropped and that this building was not added to the heritage list so that it could have been further protected."

Cr Deeth also raised concerns about the site's other historic buildings - including the iconic rotolactor.

"This is the same developer who is responsible for the refurbishment of the rotolactor - are we looking at a situation where that may be demolished as well?" he said.

"I am concerned about the future of this site.

"I think more community consultation is needed with the developer to see these historic buildings in Menangle preserved for years to come - because once it's gone, it's gone."

Mr Baban said the dwelling would be reconstructed to match its original form, with a few modifications to operate as a temporary sales office.

"The chimneys are a prominent feature of the cottage and a part that we wanted to ensure was retained as they are in relatively good condition and have structural integrity," he said.

"To ensure the chimneys were not lost, they were stabilised with bracing and underpinned.

"The cottage is being reconstructed around the original chimneys.

"We understand the significance of the cottage in the site's history and look forward to seeing it refurbished, accessible and celebrated.

"Without these refurbishment works, the cottage would only deteriorate further over time and potentially be lost.

"The adaptive reuse of the cottage as a sales office has been supported by our heritage consultants with the endorsement of the council."

The iconic Menangle Workers cottage before it was demolished. It is set to be rebuilt and used as a temporary sales office. Picture: Mirvac

The iconic Menangle Workers cottage before it was demolished. It is set to be rebuilt and used as a temporary sales office. Picture: Mirvac

Mr Baban said the project was expected to be complete before Christmas.

"The refurbishment and adaptive reuse as a temporary sales office means the cottage will be given a new life and made accessible to the public," the spokesman said.

"The footings, brick piers and flooring have been reconstructed, and we should see the walls starting to go up this week, followed by the roof.

"The other dwellings within the site that have heritage significance are also proposed to be retained or refurbished."

Menangle Community Association chair Hans-Lothar Huhn and vice chair Jason Doust live adjacent to the historic home.

Mr Doust said he was "shocked and surprised" to discover the majority of the cottage had been torn down.

"We have fought to maintain as much of the region's history as possible," he said.

"This just leaves a bitter taste in our mouths because nobody even knew it was happening - it wasn't a part of the deal that they sold to us.

"We were told the historic buildings would be refurbished but no one told us that the cottage would be knocked down."

Mr Doust said the community should have been notified before the home was demolished.

"We'll be keeping a close eye on the other buildings," he said.

"This cottage is just another casualty of development."