31 Railway Avenue, Bundanoon
Bundanoon Heritage Trail – Audio Tour
This fine residence is built on land that was owned by Mrs. Henrietta Calverley in 1905. The property was constructed for the Calverleys at the request of the Police Department. It was intended to be a police station and residence for the Bundanoon police officer and became Bundanoon’s first Police Station. In order to have enough room for a driveway at the side of the house, in 1905, Joseph Tooth sold a strip of his adjoining land, about 8 feet wide, to Mrs. Calverley, who was his cousin.
James Calverley agreed to build a police station and residence at his expense. He would lease it to them for an extended period but intended to move in when he retired from business. The building was constructed by Mr. Walker from Kareela.
In 1905, James Calverley built a Federation-style brick house with four bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen and larder, featuring 10-foot high ceilings, decorative archways and fireplaces. At one end of a wide front verandah was a large office, as specified by the Police Department, so that people coming to the station had somewhere to wait without having to enter the residence.
There was stabling at the rear for the Constable’s horse, and a portable timber lockup with an iron roof. It had bunk beds and was very small and cramped.
The property as it looked when it was used as a police station.
The lockup can be seen at the back of the property.
Constable White and his family took up residence in November 1905.
They were the first occupants of the stylish new building.
An article about the constable appeared in the Scrutineer in November 1910:
“For a month Constable White is absent on holidays. We miss his familiar trim figure, on foot or mounted on a splendid charger. Not that Bundanoon requires much policing. It is far too peaceful to need what, by the lay mind, is generally considered the chief duty of the officer in blue, viz walking about in leisurely fashion to hunt up petty or hardened offenders. Shall we add, and hoping not to find them?”
One day in 1912, two inmates attempted to burn down the lock-up to escape and were charged with damage to a public building
The property was used as a police station until 1930, when the Calverley’s decided to retire and required the premises for their own residence.
The lease of the police station was terminated and the police station was relocated to premises on the corner of Anzac Parade and Church Street until a new station was built in 1936. It had the residence for the Officer in Charge, the police office, two cells and an exercise yard. The stable building consisted of a garage, forage room and one stall.
Once the property in Railway Avenue was vacated by the police department, James and his family took up residence, renaming it as Altona
The family had been living in a house that was originally called the Altona Guest House. This was behind the Railway Avenue shops and was connected to their store, the Bundanoon Emporium, by a covered way.
The Calverley family had bought the house and store in 1901.
James Calverley died in 1947 and Henrietta Calverley in 1960. Their daughter, Lillian Caroline Calverley, owned the property from 1940 and she resided in the house until 1987 when it was sold along with antique furniture including her own 1904 Hapsburg upright grand piano. Lillian died in 1988, aged 88.
The house continues to be used as a private residence.
Henrietta and James Calverley on the steps of Altona. early 1900s
Bundanoon’s Third Post Office
The Bundanoon Post Office has been located in four different buildings. The first Post Office was opened in 1889 on the corner of Erith Street and Ellsmore Road and in 1905 it was relocated to a building on the corner of Anzac Parade and Church street.
In 1917, the postal authorities of the time advertised the specifications for a building intended to be a new post office, telegraph office, and postmaster’s residence. The building at 27, Railway Avenue met the requirements of the advertisement and became the third Post Office. The architecture of the building, brickwork, verandah woodwork, and so on, is similar to that of ‘Altona’ next door, so it is reasonable to believe that this was erected for the Calverley’s by the same builder, Mr. Walker of Kareela
The first postmaster to occupy the premises was Mr. Mobbs, who served in Bundanoon until about 1928.
A manual telephone exchange opened in part of the building in 1918. It was situated at the rear of the building and was an important source of employment for generations of Bundanoon girls – fondly remembered as ‘the Hello girls’.
The original telephone directory for Bundanoon showed the names of just nine subscribers, so for anyone else who wished to make a call, it was necessary to walk up the driveway at the side, to a window in the wall of the post office, and ask the operator to dial a number for you, then wait for the call to be put through to the telephone box outside. The Morse Code tapping of telegrams coming in or going out was quite noisy and made it hard for the operator to hear callers.
Due to the increase in telephone numbers, the exchange was later moved upstairs into the front room.
In the 1920’s everyone had to collect their letters from the post office. Inside there was a counter and a table at the side where Miss Lillian Tobin sat. She served as telegram/Morse code operator for about 40 years.
The location of the telephone box seems to have changed frequently. Archive photographs show it on the footpath outside, on one side of the driveway gatepost, and then on the other side. The stamp machine that was in the wall, is now part of the Bundanoon History Group archive collection.
In 1958 a new Post Office building opened in Church Street and the third Post Office building, owned then by Lillian Calverley, probably reverted to use as a private residence. In 1974, Lillian sold the building to Charles and Doreen Thompson, who used it as a shop selling paint and ex-military disposal items. Mrs. Jean Grant leased part of the premises and operated a plant nursery.
In 1984, ownership of the property changed again, but not before Wendy Johnston and Robyne Toohey had leased part as a second home for their “Poppins” restaurant. They also had plants for sale as part of their business on this site. They sold the business as a going concern in 1986.
Since “Poppins”, a series of restaurants have occupied that part of the building closest to Railway Avenue, whilst the other part was used as a residence. In 2005, the business called “The Bloomery” moved from a building in Railway Terrace to this site, and it was set up as an art gallery/plant nursery with separate cafe premises.