12 Edward St, Wollongong

12 Edward St, Wollongong

‘Hillside’ 12 Edward St, Wollongong

Street Address:   12 Edward St, Wollongong

Deposited Plan:  7/DP15904

‘Hillside’ was built about 1880 for William John Wiseman on land purchased from the estate of Charles Throsby Smith who died on 25 September 1876.  Smith had subdivided part of his 300 acre grant in 1834 to form the nucleus of the town of Wollongong.  In November 1879, the northern part of the ‘Bustle’ estate from Smith St to Bourke St and bordered by Cliff Rd and Flinders St was subdivided and auctioned.

William John Wiseman acquired land bordered by Flinders, Edward, Keira and Bourke Streets.  Here he built a substantial single storey rendered masonry home in the Victorian Italianate style which was popular during the 1870s and 1880s.  The house is on the northern side of Edward St and faces south.  The street elevation comprises a projecting gabled section with a bay window.  Across the remaining front elevation is a verandah with a hipped roof.  When built, the house had verandahs to the rear on the eastern and western sides and at the back.

The house has a hipped corrugated iron roof with two tall brick chimneys which are decorated with corbels and terracotta pots.  The gable front has fretted barge boards and timber finials.  The projecting bay has ogee profile roofing and three-part arched sash windows. The front verandah is supported by turned timber posts.

‘Hillside’ was one of the finest examples of late Nineteenth Century domestic architecture in North Wollongong.  It is one of the few Victorian Italianate villas remaining in the Wollongong area.

Photographs of the house when it belonged to the Wiseman family show a quite complicated roofline at the rear. Adjoining the house to the north was a rectangular timber framed pavilion with corrugated steel hip roof of similar pitch to the rest of the house.  Further to the north was another pavilion which may have originally comprised two rooms and was topped by a tower.  There was a wide rear verandah that was enclosed at some time.  Early photographs also show an observation tower on the western side at the rear of the house.

At some stage after 1976, the house was divided into five flats, which had some adverse impact on its fabric. Owners after 1983 restored the house to single occupancy.  The interior of the house has been altered and extended but retains many period features and aspects of the original layout. 

William John Wiseman started in Wollongong as a wheelwright and coachbuilder in 1864 and later extended his business interests to a timber yard and landlord of numerous rental properties around Wollongong. He also had a quarry on the western edge of his property fronting Flinders St. He died aged 79 on 16 January 1922.

Following his death, the house was sold and some of the surrounding land subdivided.  The subdivision comprised 21 lots which were auctioned on 15 December 1928. The lots were on the northern side of Edward St, both sides of Wiseman Ave and a couple of lots facing Bourke St and Flinders St. (Hillside Subdivision 1928 map - Wollongong City Library - WPL 811.3141 ed. North Wg 1928)

Lot 7 in Edward St included ‘Hillside’, and was purchased by Edward Herbert Farmer for 760 pounds (South Coast Times. 21 Dec 1928 p23).  At that time, Farmer was the assistant Chief Engineer at the Steelworks. He also purchased the land behind ‘Hillside’ facing Wisemans Ave.  In 1929, Farmer engaged W E Gardner to build a weatherboard cottage on the Wisemans Ave property.  He lived at 1 Wisemans Ave until his death on 5 April 1969.  His wife sold the house soon after.

Electoral records for 1930 indicate that the occupants of ‘Hillside’ were Robert Claude Elliott (labourer); Lavinia (his wife); Maude Vera (his sister) and Catherine (his mother).  The house was probably owned by Catherine Elliott as she continued to live there with her daughter until her death in July 1954.  Maude lived there until her death in 1976.  Robert and his family had moved to 6 Wisemans Ave by 1968.  When the Wiseman estate was sold in 1928, Maude Elliott purchased a block of land in Bourke St.

Robert Claude Elliott was a leading hand at Australian Fertilizers at Port Kembla, and well-known as a horse breeder and trotting driver. His mother, Catherine (Cassie) was a noted equestrienne in her youth.  The family rented the Mt St Thomas estate and the father, Robert Elliott, was a significant horse breeder until his death in 1916.

The house was sold:

Dec 1983              $80,000

Mar 1998              $300,000

Jun 2017               $1,450,000


John Shipp - August 2017

Rear of 'Hillside' about 1900 Image from Illawarra Images - Wollongong City Library
Front of 'Hillside' about 1900 Image from Illawarra Images - Wollongong City Library