I visited Urrbrae House yesterday, as part of the Open House scheme, with my Mum and my grandson Josiah.
Urrbrae House was home of Peter and Matilda Waite who came to South Australia from Scotland. The area was named by Robert MacGeorge after his Scottish home town Urr, and the word Brae (meaning the side of a hill).
I was disappointed that they didn’t have tours running on the day and also that they didn’t state on their website that prams aren’t allowed in the building as the wheels may damage the flooring. I totally understand that however it would be good to state it on their website so that people can make choices accordingly. Gee my back is sore today from carrying Josiah and I’ll bet my Mum’s is too.
On arrival in Adelaide in 1859 Peter joined his brother James at ‘Pandappa’, a pastoral property near Terowie in the north east of South Australia. Peter quickly adapted to the harsh conditions and in 1862 Thomas Elder offered him the lease of a nearby property, ‘Paratoo’. When James Waite was drowned in 1863, while crossing a flooded creek on horseback, Peter took over both stations. http://waite.adelaide.edu.au/urrbraehouse/pwaite/
Peter’s connections with the already established and successful South Australian family the Elders, whose business still operates today, gave him an advantage over other Scottish and English immigrants.
More information about the Waites and their contribution to South Australia can be found here- http://waite.adelaide.edu.au/urrbraehouse/pwaite/
I’m learning far more South Australian history now than I ever learned in school!!!!
In the late 1880s a major reconstruction and enlargement of Urrbrae House was undertaken and when completed in 1891 it was one of Adelaide’s significant mansions. Peter took a great interest in the décor of the House employing Aldam Heaton from London to advise on the furnishings. Urrbrae House was the first home in Adelaide to have electrical light in 1891 and also a refrigeration system installed in 1895. http://waite.adelaide.edu.au/urrbraehouse/pwaite/
I was fascinated with the early use of electricity in the house. This puts into perspective something I hadn’t thought much about previously. All my ancestors living in South Australia didn’t have electric light in their houses until after 1891.
Architecture and Views
In The Classroom
School groups visit the classroom regularly to experience school from a bygone era.