Thursday, October 1, 2015

Caernleith, No 8 Springdale Road, and Braeside, No 9 Arnold Street, Killara

This article by Kathie Rieth was originally published in our Society newsletter in October 2010.

Caernleith, No 8 Springdale Road, and Braeside, No 9 Arnold Street, Killara

In a response to my last column that mentioned the two houses in Pymble for Eric and David Pratten, I was asked whether they were related to Pratten Brothers, Printers and Publishers. Yes they were!

Eric and David were sons of Frederick G Pratten who, with his half-brother Herbert, started the firm in the late 1890s. Readers may know of H E Pratten, Minister for Trade and Customs, who died suddenly on his 63rd birthday while addressing a meeting of his constituents at Turramurra. The Prattens also had extensive interests in alluvial tin mining in the Federated Malay States, and in Australian fruit pulp. Herbert’s obituary in The Times described him as “One of the pioneers of the New South Wales fruit-preserving industry”.

Eric and David grew up in Ku-ring-gai. In February 1907 their father bought two properties in Killara: the large two-storey house Cairnleith, No 8 Springdale Road, and No 9 Arnold Street (apparently vacant land), which shared a rear boundary. Both were purchased from Richard Pickering Sellors, described at the time as ‘Astronomical Observer’.

Curiously (to us in this digital age) electoral rolls gave his occupation as ‘computer’. A contemporary explanation of this term is found in a 1911 article noting he was “chief computer, trigonometrical survey, Department of Lands” and had been appointed as state representative at the 10th International Geographic Congress in Rome. Sellors was “a gold medallist in mathematics of Sydney University and was for many years astronomical observer at the Sydney Observatory… in charge of the trigonometrical computations at the Lands Department… recently deputed to compute the data for the projection of the large Commonwealth map of Australia…” Sellors moved into Cairnleith c.1900.

According to KHS member Jennifer Harvey, the house was designed by architects Clamp & Smith in late 1899. The Pratten family lived in Cairnleith from 1907 to 1910, moving to Braeside in 1911, and then in 1914 to No 98 Mona Vale Road, Pymble. It appears Braeside  was built between 1907 and 1909. Was it designed by Spain & Cosh, who in 1910 designed Pratten Brothers’ new five-storey building at 26- 30 Jamieson Street, Sydney?

In May 1908 the same architects were calling tenders for a residence in Arnold Street: no further information has yet come to light. FG Pratten sold Cairnleith in 1911 to Ella, wife of architect Henry Budden. By 1928 it was the home of bloodstock salesman Arthur Inglis. Pratten sold Braeside in 1917 to Amy, wife of jeweller Edward Nettleship. Only Braeside, No 9 Arnold Street, is listed on Ku-ring-gai’s LEP.

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