The Prospect Heritage Trust Inc.

Veteran Hall

© Prospect Heritage Trust Inc.

In a letter to his business agent in London, dated 28 February 1822, William Lawson wrote: ‘My family are now living in my new house, which is a very good one, built of brick and stone which cost me about fifteen hundred pounds. I have named it Veteran Hall, Prospect.’.  The name came from the fact that, on his return from England on the Guildford on 19 January 1812, Lawson had joined Macquarie’s ‘Corps of Veterans’. After William’s death his second son, William Jnr and his wife Caroline (nee Icely), and their family occupied the home and during the 1850s added a ‘New Front’ to the home. William Jnr died on 2nd February 1861 and Caroline died on 2 July 1875. In 1881 most of the property was resumed to build Prospect Reservoir. At this time it was occupied by two of William Jnr’s unmarried daughters, Sarah Ann and Sophia Rebecca.

The Water Board used the home as a residence and office for its Engineer-in-Charge, Head Works until 1912, when it was taken over as an Army Remount Depot. At this stage the large rooms were divided, giving rise to incorrect statements that it was a 40-roomed mansion.  Actually it had 18 rooms, but covered an area of 11,400 square feet (1060 sq metres). The Army moved out in 1915 and the Water Board, having settled it’s Engineer in new premises and not wishing the expense of altering the home back to its original condition, did not re-occupy it. The home was offered to the Commonwealth as a convalescent home for returned servicemen, but the offer was rejected. By 1925, it had deteriorated and the Board announced its demolition in the Sydney Morning Herald of 26 December 1925. The demolition occurred in 1929 and the stone was used in a wall at Vaucluse House and the bricks were used to build cottages at Granville. These cottages were demolished to make way for the F4 and the bricks used for filling under the ramp to the bridge over Church Street – a fact discovered by caring Water Board Engineers, Alan Andrews and Bill Hazell, just one month too late.

In its 1925 Herald announcement, the Water Board had said that its President would approach the Royal Australian Historical Society to have a suitable monument erected to mark the site. This did not occur. In 1969 –1970, Alan Andrews and Bill Hazell proposed that the Board erect a monument, but the idea was rejected. With the help of other Board Officers, they erected the present monument. It bears a plaque stating that it was erected by The Macquarie Regional Council of Historical Societies, which only supplied the plaque. The idea and work came from Alan and Bill, who also cleaned up the site and opened it to the public, but some of the public abused the privilege and the Board reluctantly closed the site.

Augustus Earle - The Farm House of W Lawson Esqre., N.S.Wales’