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Tranby House

Tranby House

Fresh Start

Tranby House lies on the banks of the Swan River in Maylands, Western Australia. The house was built by Joseph Hardey, a Methodist Lay preacher and farmer, who travelled from England with his family, to join the newly established Swan River Colony in 1830. Joseph and his wife Ann, sailed from England on the brig ‘Tranby’ which he would later name his house . Also joining Joseph and his wife were Joseph’s brothers John and William. The journey took over five months and on the journey Joseph’s younger brother, William, died under mysterious circumstances. He was found on his bunk with a silk handkerchief wrapped around his neck and tied in a knot. He was buried at sea.

Not Exactly Paradise

Like many settlers who ventured to the new colony, the family camped near Fremantle, waiting to be allocated land. Many had travelled from the modern cities of England to find themselves camping on the beach, where, during the day, all their valuable possessions were left out in the harsh sun and at night creepy crawlie wildlife came out to play. To make matters worse, many settlers discovered that most of the best land had already been taken, leaving them disgruntled and angry. As a result many packed up what was left of their goods and headed to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania). Fortunately for Joseph he was able to persuade Governor Stirling to grant his family land along the banks of the Swan River, known as the Peninsula. Stirling had originally intended the land to become a racecourse but Joseph must have had a very persuasive manner to convince him otherwise. The family camped on their new property, whilst the land was cleared and fenced, with the help of their Methodist friends.

The Houses Joseph Built

Once the land was cleared, Joseph’s first priority was to build a house for his family. As building materials were scarce, Joseph used wattle and daub ( a popular choice of the day for new settlers). The house wasn’t to last very long, during a heavy rainfall the river rose and washed it away. A second house was constructed soon after, only to share the same fate. Three times lucky and a little further away from the river, Tranby House was completed in 1839. The house was built from mud bricks, which were made on the property. Joseph (obviously not happy with wattle and daub) constructed a kiln to make his own bricks. In fact, Joseph also made the roof shingles for the house, using Jarrah wood.The house was built in a typical English farmhouse style, described as “colonial domestic” and featured a loft and wide verandahs.

Life Was Sweet

Ann beared Joseph 6 daughters and a long awaited son, Richard. Though life was tough for the family they managed to develop the Peninsula farm into a profitable venture, growing wheat , barley, oats and rye. Joseph even tried his hand at breeding horses and producing wine. The property also boasted a flour mill which was built by James Lockyer. The four sailed wind mill was called a post mill as it utilised a large tree trunk. Joseph later added a six horse power steam engine to it, in the 1850’s, to make it the most modern in the area. Life became somewhat easier for the family, when in the 1850’s, the State introduced convict labour for the first time, which solved the labour shortage. Joseph also planted many fruit trees and eventually received prizes at the Perth Agricultural show for his produce. Richard, having spent his younger years in England (attending boarding school), returned to the family home and business in 1866. He eventually took over the running of the farm in the late 1860’s, but his interests lay elsewhere (politics and viticulture), so the farm was leased out for grazing. Following his father’s death in 1875, Richard was at last able to follow his own dreams. Of Joseph’s six daughters only one was to marry (Mary Jane). He would accept no one less than a Wesleyan minister for a son-in-law, which meant slim pickings for the girls. Mary Jane eventually found one Reverend William Lowe and promptly married him.

Tranby Park

In 1903 the property was subdivided into smaller lots, with Richard retaining the original river frontage lot, which he named Tranby Park. Following his death in 1910, Richards widow sold the property to Henry Baker, who retained it as a farm. On his death the property was sold to Harold Cheshire who used the property to train his horses. In 1967 the property was all but in ruins and it looked like it was set for certain demolition when the Bond Corporation and Everyready Finance purchased the land to develop into high density housing. Fortunately the property had been recognised as a historical site and conditions were imposed on the developers before approval would be given for housing. One of the conditions was the developers had to work with National Trust to ensure the protection and restoration of Tranby House. Sadly the workers cottage and the timber barn were demolished prior to the agreement. Tranby House was finally classified by the National Trust in 1973.

Tranby Today

Tranby House, Maylands, Western AustraliaToday, Tranby House is open to the public and is run by a group of enthusiastic and knowledgeable women, who are more than happy to take you on a tour of the house. Each room is full of memorabilia from the Hardey family’s past, including letters, diaries and furniture. The Warden’s Cottage (constructed in 1984) is now a tearoom. Throughout the year Tranby House hold various functions and the year ends with a fantastic Carols by Candlelight on the lawn by the river. For more information.

Trees of Significance

The two oak trees outside Tranby House were believed to be planted by the Hardey Family around the same time as Tranby House was built in the 1830’s. The two oak trees were listed on the National Trust’s Register of Significant Trees in 1984. The acorns (seeds) were believed to have been brought from England by the family on their journey to the Swan River Colony . There is a patch of trees (mainly fruit) in the park near the river and these trees are believed to have been planted by the Hardey’s as well.

Interesting Facts About The Hardeys

Wines from Joseph Hardey’s estate were the first to win a gold medal in Paris, in 1878.

Tranby House, Maylands, Western AustraliaJoseph’s son Richard ran the successful Glen Hardey Estate winery in the Darling Ranges.

Joseph was known for his outspoken ways and was constantly criticising the government of the day. He was appalled at the governments role in the Pinjarra Massacre (1834) and in the treatment of aboriginals in general and wasn’t afraid to express his views.

Sarah Hardey (Joseph’s daughter) established Hardey Lodge in 1917 as a home for wayward girls and donated substantial money for the building of Wesley college.

Many roads in the Perth suburbs were named in honour of the pioneering family. Hardey Road in Maylands, Glen Forest, Belmont and Serpentine, Hardey Avenue in Claremont and Mt Hardey in York. There are parks too, Tranby Park in Maylands, Belmont and Serpentine. The Tranby Primary School is also named in their honour.

Opening Times

Wednesday – Sunday
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

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