Tag Archives: Florey Reconciliation Task Force

From cellar to cold store

At the beginning of my directed study, I centred my focus on the historical building that is Boord house – a sturdy, sandstone structure consisting of a thatched roof, 2 rooms, and a cellar below. Aside from the surrounding, evidently non-native fruit trees, it hadn’t occurred to me until later to extend my focus on the two storage sheds that are attached to the house.

At first glance, it would seem like a couple of huge storage sheds, and a piddly little hut attached to them, but these buildings were part of a different complex a few decades ago – one involving fruit and fruit processing. Now this may seem like a mundane fact, but horticulture was actually a very big business in Tea Tree Gully, and provided a means of stability for the settlement. With fertile ground, and proximity to the River Torrens, it was the perfect place for garden, orchards, nurseries, and vineyards.

Alexander Boord was known for his beautiful garden and orchards, but he was also a vigneron who apparently had unconventional methods of maintaining his plants and making wine. Apparently, he would smash grapes against a wooden grating, and he did not use a wine press of a grape mill for fermentation. Regardless, he made a variety of red and white wines (though I couldn’t find anything regarding the quality!). Rusted farming implements have been recovered, and have been placed on the southern end of the complex for display – these supposedly belonged to Boord. Following his death, his property maintained a long history of owners who were gardeners, and orchardists, according to state land title records.

Technological progress accompanied the passing years. These sheds are an example of cold storage which used ammonia to help preservation which was pumped through a system of pipes. In fact, these pipes and their accompanying pump are still intact, but are not in use. The system itself would be a fascinating subject for research.

It appears that the cellar of Boord’s house was used for packing. Fruit would be rolled down the shaft leading to cellar, and into great boxes that would be shipped all over Australia. Indeed, past visitors have claimed that stencil plates were present in the house, but are now kept in the Highercombe Museum. These plates were used to label crates, some of which would be shipped interstate!

Today, the complex is used as a horticultural depot for the City of Tea Tree Gully; however, the development of the horticulture industry is illustrated by the combination of Boord House, and the two cold store sheds. I wouldn’t have otherwise managed to reach this if I hadn’t broadened by scope from the little thatched house. It truly shows the significant progress made from smashing grapes against a grate to make wine, to packing fruits for interstate.

-Antoinette Hennessy, blogpost 3

The Basement Bedroom – Boord House and the Truth

I had an interesting conversation with a friend today. It was on different perspectives and values; how one person might perceive an object – well … let’s say “site” because we were talking about archaeological sites – as one thing, and how another might perceive it as something else and value it in a different way. I had just come from a lecture that touched on the issue of differing values and value systems, specifically scientific values versus, say, social values. One may seek truth by means of rational and logical explanations and investigations into the what, how, and when of a site; however, another might believe a site to be an important factor to their identity regardless of the scientific facts. They are different values, but ultimately both truths and realities.

Now as stimulating a debate as it may be, I won’t be covering it on this post. It just got me thinking …

It got me thinking about Boord house, and the issue I had when I looked at the house for the first time. I was shown the holes in a wall that were the purported gun slits that were made to protect the Boord family from threats (so a plaque on a wall tells me). I took down notes about the site, now a storage depot for the Tea Tree Gully council, from the caretaker who was interested in the local history, and who took much of what he knew from what locals had told him throughout the years. There was an obvious sense of pride in the little cottage, and its connection to local history; the narratives that made it so interesting for such a quaint little place; the gunslits encapsulating the romantic notion of the frontier and its hardy pioneers.

It makes it difficult to share my views, which contradict some of these stories, based on observations some friends and I had made about some of the house’s features. One of these was in regards to the basement. I was told that this was where the family would have slept, having my attention drawn to a squared alcove in the northern wall that seemed to resemble a fireplace. And why not? It was quite cool, and would probably be cosy in the winter as well. How intriguing!

But it was probably just a cellar. Indeed, it was used as a storage place in later years, indicated by an end of a shaft on southern wall, directly to the left of the doorway.

There were no windows, or proper means of ventilation to support a family, let alone with a fire burning. And the “fireplace” did not seem to be a fireplace at all – it didn’t even have a chimney – and was probably just an alcove to store something in. Had it a chimney, we approximated that it would have come up at the entrance-way of the room above, and would have probably left some people disgruntled at the sootiness of their feet.

What was my point to this?

Stories often play an entertaining and educational role in our lives, and they often give something meaning. I believe there is a kind of pride in the unconventional; the unique; the idea that “you’ve probably never heard of it”. The story about the basement bedroom is one that seemed to make the house unconventional in its structure, and interesting. That’s not to say it could be wrong. It could have been a room, much like a panic room, especially if the stories about the gunslits were true: in the face of an attack, the family runs to the basement and takes shelter as Alexander Boord takes his gun and fires at the encroaching enemy through the gunslits he so wisely built …

… but is there any truth to this? Is it important if there is, or isn’t? Will it make the cottage any less significant to the community than it is now?

Just some things I thought to consider.

-Antoinette Hennessy, blog post 2