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Grantham Poultry Research Station (former), Seven Hills Rd Sth, Seven Hills, NSW, Australia

Photographs None
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Registered (26/10/1999)
Place ID 101037
Place File No 1/14/005/0006
Nominator's Statement of Significance
Between the house Melrose and Seven Hills Road South is a strand of Cumberland Plain Woodland including understorey. This strand was preserved in the early history of the estate when most other areas were cleared for farm production. There is also a stretch of swamp oak forest, with understorey, along the creek line towards the lower section of the old estate. Other parts of the estate are largely cleared land with retained native tress or introduced native or exotic trees. Little or no understorey has been retained in these other areas. The Cumberland Plain developed a species of flora that sets it apart from other areas of Australia's natural landscape. Unfortunately western Sydney, being the starting point for the colony, suffered thorough over clearing of land for farming purposes and later it suffered as the largest city in the nation expanded and land was again cleared for urban development. In an overly developed area such as Seven Hills and indeed, further afield, the Grantham Poultry Research Estate provides our most important link to the natural past of the area. It is most significant to note that early settlers saw the merit of retaining the present fragments of bushland and woodland on the estate. With the Cumberland Plain woodland and swamp oak forest being identified as so seriously under threat today it is imperative for a preservation order to be instituted to maintain that which our forbears saw fit to preserve. Western Sydney has buildings preserved for their historic significance but so few have, as curtilage, Cumberland Plain woodland and swamp oak forest that was the natural surroundings of pre and early European settlement. Grantham Poultry Research Estate has such an asset and it is the most significant fragment of remnant vegetation in Seven Hills. Adding to the natural features of the top section of the estate is it's alignment with Seven Hills Road South. The road was originally constructed on ridge line and, so far, no kerbing or guttering has been put along the boundary line. It thus retains a rural road aspect which is enhanced by the woodland so close to the road and further preserves a link to the Nation's colonial past. In addition, the estate, somewhat uniquely, retains boundary lines along Seven Hills Road and along the south-west and a good portion of the north-east boundary which were the boundary lines of the original colonial land grants; a rare finding today. These land grants were among the earliest in the nation c 1819. The area was inhabited of the Darug Aboriginal Tribe and a limited survey has found scatters on one location of the estate that was accessible in past years. The estate also served as Common Land to assist Australia's early European settlers in grazing livestock when their own land grants were insufficient to cope. It was later the subject of land grants to convicts deemed suitable for a grant to assist in their rehabilitation to normal life on the land. In later years the estate served as an out of town residence for William Chadwick esq, Sydney solicitor and his wife. This would appear to have been a sociological trend introduced to Australia from England and continues today for those fortunate enough to afford it. The house Melrose was built of a combination of Australian and European materials and the design displayed the thinking of colonial architecture. In the early twentieth century the estate became the venue for poultry farming and orcharding for the district and, following World War One, served the Australian nation in the rehabilitation of invalid soldiers both locally and throughout the state of NSW through training and the provision of land and resources for these ex-servicemen to resume, as much as possible, a normal life. The State assisted through sub-division of much of the Samuel Dent's land grant into 5 acre lots for poultry farms and provision of poultry and feed for these farms as well as other Soldier Settlements around NSW. In addition, the estate was a home for these returned servicemen first with tents and later a wooden bachelors' barracks as they undertook training in poultry management (Criterion A.4). The scientific Committee of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service recently gazetted the Cumberland Plain Woodland as being an endangered ecological species under the Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995. It did so because there only 6% of Cumberland Plain Woodland remains today. Also, it will soon consider a recommendation from the Urban Bushland Biodiversity Survey which seeks inclusion of swamp oak forest in that protection as there is only 4% of this ecological system remaining in western Sydney. In Seven Hills, the largest fragment of Cumberland Plain woodland is to be found on that parcel of State Government land/local council land that was the former Grantham Poultry Research Estate. Similarly, the estate has one of the few swamp oak forests remaining in western Sydney. The loss of these ecological systems would severely reduce the biodiversity of the Seven Hills area. While Seven Hills would have some parks and native trees it would be devoid of understorey and would therefore be without a complete sample of the natural features of the early landscape of Seven Hills and the Cumberland Plain. It is quite evident that early settlers preserved Cumberland Plain woodland and swamp oak forest on this estate, one as a close feature of the house Melrose and the other along the creek line toward the bottom section of the estate. Surely all efforts need to be taken by responsible people to preserve it today. There have been reported sightings of possums and a rare owl (Criterion B.2). The bushland of the estate has the potential to provide an excellent example of the Cumberland Plain woodland and swamp oak forest that formed the natural environment of western Sydney. Aboriginal artefacts will also help explain the living patterns of early human habitation of the area. Ample historical information, including photographs, exists to warrant establishment of a heritage park incorporating a historical museum. The history of the State and the area can be admirably displayed in the Administration building on the site (Criterion C.2). When the Grantham estate became utilised for poultry farming it set a course that would see it play a leading role in the development of the international poultry industry. Through the skills of manager James Hadlington the estate contributed to the Blacktown community being renowned for its poultry farms and for being the chief egg producing area in NSW. Hadlington later influenced the government to use the estate for the rehabilitation and training of World War One returned servicemen in poultry farming. This enabled men, many of whom were invalids, to find lodgings and make a new start in life. It also contributed to the development of an industry which has become one of the leading agricultural industries in Australia. However, it was when the NSW Government took control of the estate for the purpose of poultry research that the most significant technical achievement occurred. Research undertaken on the estate revolutionised the poultry industry both nationally and internationally. In the 1940s a problem existed for the poultry industry by way of vitamin deficiency in feed. Research undertaken at Grantham found a deficiency in manganese. When added to feed this nutrient enabled the world wide industry to farm poultry in much greater numbers than had been past practice. It was a development that played a significant part in making eggs and poultry meat more economically available today. This research established the Grantham Poultry Research Station as a leading scientific operation not only in Australia but internationally and convinced the Government to continue research for nearly fifty years. During the 1950s Dr Malcolm McDonald obtained a number of scientific achievements at the estate. Notable was his contribution to resolving problems with meatmeal control amino acid requirements, high energy diets and poultry feeding practices. Dr McDonald's contribution to Australia's egg and chicken meat industry was regarded by his peers to be profound. Dr Bert Sheidan undertook research into practices of hybrid vigour and identified the practices that ensured poultry breeding obtained the best available product. He also introduced the means for obtaining superior brown egg laying. Dr Bob Pym achieved success in broiler genetics that enabled companies like Steggles Chickens to develop chicken meat that was 'more meat and less fat' efficient (Criterion F.1).
Official Values Not Available
Description
Melrose [Grantham], erected in 1897, is the focus of a complex which includes a relocated cottage of c 1900 (Residence Number 2), a 1937 feeder shed and store, the foundations of demolished research structures and the 1969 administration building.  Two other buildings of the 1960s include a workshop and store.  The site includes plantings which define the functions and layout of the site.  The complex is approached from the north via the original road access to Melrose on the Seven Hills Road boundary.
 
The following structures remain in place:
 
Melrose [Grantham]: A single storey masonry vernacular Federation Bungalow style cottage with verandah on the eastern, northern and western sides.  Wide central entrance hall, drawing room, four (formerly five) bedrooms and a large dining room.  Bathroom, laundry, kitchen and pantry conveniently placed.  Brick walls on concrete and bluestone foundations below a corrugated iron roof (formerly a Welsh slate roof).  Three low brick chimneys with string course and corbelling are located at the mid-point of the roof plane; one chimney serves the kitchen areas.  String courses and arch bricks of a dark blue brick.  Windows 2x2 timber sash.  Verandah timber framed with three porch gables and posts of colonial beech.  The associated landscape retains a circular driveway feature important to the setting.  The slate roof has been replaced with galvanised iron and the false gables to the verandah removed.  The kitchen and laundry have been modernised but the other rooms retain their original features.  A fibre cement skillion has been added to extend the kitchen at the south west end of the building.  Cracking of the brickwork on the western elevation corners.
 
Residence No 2: A single storey Federation period weather board cottage of late Victorian Georgian form with bellcast hipped gambrel roof.  Corrugated iron roof and encircling verandah brick subfloor structure.  The building includes two bedrooms, bathroom, lounge and separate dining room.  Windows feature twin opening casements and may not be original.  Ceilings were relined after relocation but the chimney features were not relocated.
 
Administration: A two storey brick and concrete building containing offices, reception, library and conference rooms for the station.
 
Feeder Shed: A rectangular functional building erected in several stages.  The southern section was constructed first.  Employs rural construction techniques with bush posts and a trussed roof with corrugated iron cladding.  Walls were clad with horizontally placed corrugated iron sheeting.
History
The site of Grantham Poultry Station was originally part of the Cumberland Plain set aside for use as Prospect Common in 1804.  Although the name of William Faithful is connected with the site, the first confirmed occupiers were Samuel Dent and Samuel Haynes, who purchased the two 50 acre lots which were to become the site of Melrose [Grantham] in 1897.
 
The western boundary of the two 50 acre holdings was Seven Hills Road, which connected Prospect with the Toongabbie to Windsor road to the east.  Seven Hills Road typically followed the line of high ground between the Windsor road and Prospect.  The area was originally covered by Cumberland Plain woodland but does not appear to have been cleared entirely for farming.  It would appear that the area adjacent to Seven Hills Road, in effect the ridgeline, was left uncleared at this time.  The railway was extended from Parramatta to Penrith by 1863 with Seven Hills Station built at the junction of Seven Hills Road and the railway line.  The Hills District became a prosperous orcharding area once the railway was established.
 
During the 1880s speculative land boom, small, intensively cultivated farmlets were established on the Cumberland Plain.  By 1897, the two 50 acre lots were owned by solicitor William Chadwick who built a brick, out of town, country residence called Melrose, designed by architect Mr B Hadley.  The estate passed into the hands of a family who renamed it Grantham sometime after 1901 and appointed a manager James Hadlington, who in 1912 was appointed State Poultry Expert.  Grantham Stud Poultry Farm, purchased in July 1917 by the Returned Soldiers Settlement Branch of the NSW Lands Department after World War One, became the focus of small holdings for Soldier Settlement in the Seven Hills district of the Cumberland Plain.  In 1923 it was considered that the Grantham Stud Poultry Farm was no longer required as an adjunct to Soldier Settlement and it was transferred to the Department of Agriculture.  The Government Poultry expert, Mr James Hadlington, as manager of the stud, provided support to poultry farmers until 1930, when he was replaced by Doug Duncan.
 
Melrose, erected in 1897, was used as the manager's house.  In 1946 the Grantham Stud Poultry Farm became the Poultry Experiment Farm, following a hatching crisis in the poultry industry.  Research at this time by Professor Bill McClymont and Dr Len Hart into vitamin deficiencies helped the poultry industry to move from the free range system to intensive deep litter and cage systems.  The success and international acclaim led to the farm being renamed the Poultry Experiment Station and its function redefined as undertaking research for the poultry industry.  During the post war period, research by Dr Malcom McDonald after 1952 defined nutritional requirements for the Australian poultry industry which are relevant today, accepted industry practice and which had a profound impact on Australia's modern egg and chicken meat industry.  The importance of his research into the need for trace minerals and vitamins as possible deficiencies in broiler diets was recognised by a nomination for the prestigious Newman Prize in Britain, the only one ever for an Australian.  Some of this work is still quoted in textbooks today.  Other work from 1965-84 included egg production, nutritional quality control and the genetics of feed efficiency.  The latter was of international significance and was adopted in Britain, France, Israel and the USA.  Key researchers who contributed to the development of the Australian Poultry Industry during this period included Dr Bert Sheridan (layer genetics) and Dr Bob Pym (broiler genetics).  In 1982, the State Government rationalised its services and withdrew from poultry research at Seven Hills.  The name was changed to Agricultural Station, Seven Hills in 1983.  In the late 1980s, medium density housing was erected in the centre of the site following the winding down of operations in 1988.  The poultry research and related buildings have now been demolished; the former administration building, designed by the Government Architects Department, two houses and a feeder shed remain in place.  In June 1997, the NSW Scientific Committee made a Final Determination to list the Cumberland Plain Woodland as an Endangered Ecological Community under Part 3 of Schedule 1 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act.
Condition and Integrity
Integrity:
Melrose: Intact externally except for modification of the verandah railings, removal of the false gables to the verandah and the attachment of a small fibre cement skillion to the kitchen at the western end of the building. The slate roof has been replaced by corrugated iron.
Administration building: Apparently intact
Residence No 2: Replacement of the ceilings and loss of the brick chimney. The building has also undergone refurbishment to bring it up to standard internally.
Feeder Shed: External galvanised iron cladding removed in addition to the loss of fittings.
Physical Condition:
All buildings appear to be stable and in reasonable order with the exception of Melrose [Grantham] which has settlement cracking to the northern wall at the corners. Attempts have been made to stabilise the cracking.
Location
About 4ha, Seven Hills Road South, Seven Hills, comprising Lots 360, 361 and 362 DP 48686.
Bibliography
Helen Proudfoot, Exploring Sydneys West, Kangaroo Press 1987.

Partridge & Davies Architects, Conservation Plan for Grantham Poultry Research Station April 1991for the Property Services Group Department of Agriculture.

DC Duncan for NSW Agriculture and Fisheries Windsor, pers.comm. 1/14/1992

Ross Macindoe, NSW Agriculture and Fisheries, undated article

NSW Scientific Committee, Final Determination to list the Cumberland Plain Woodland as an Endangered Ecological Community, gazetted 13/6/1997

Blacktown City Council Heritage Study 1986

Australian Technical Journal Supplement 30 June 1897.

Report Produced  Sat Apr 19 23:48:00 2014