BAG History Group / Craiglee House
The 2015 series of articles focussed on historic landmarks around the Blackwood district by The Blackwood Action Group history team.
"Georgian style residence home to first biscuit maker"
One of the oldest substantial homes in the Blackwood district is ‘Craiglee House’ at 183 Coromandel Parade in Coromandel Valley and was built by Alexander Murray in 1844.
By 1845, Murray had established an orchard including plums, apricots, apples, pears, mulberries, and gooseberries. Murray and his son Alex jnr became the first biscuit manufacturers in South Australia producing around 165,000 pounds of biscuits annually. The Murray Biscuit Factory, a substantial stone building, was established on the Craiglee landholding near Craiglee House.
'Murray catered for the welfare of workers. On Craiglee land there was a large recreation area which consisted of playing fields and an artificially formed pool in the river. The pool was large enough not only for swimming, but also for boating. At the time there were trout in the river too, and so the employees could go fishing in their off-duty hours. Houses were built on Craiglee to accommodate workers in the factory...'
When Murray senior died in 1880 his son Alex and his wife Elizabeth Murray nee Cumming continued to reside at Craiglee. The couple had one daughter, Nellie, who married Lachlan McTaggart of Wooltana Station to whom ownership of Craiglee passed.
The couple moved to Wooltana but by 1915 were spending most of their time in semi-retirement at Craiglee. Lachlan McTaggart died in 1936 with Nellie continuing to live at Craiglee until her death in 1964 ending the Murray families 120 year occupancy of Craiglee House.
Harvey White and wife Rosemary purchased the substantial estate and lived in Craiglee House where they subdivided the grounds including selling ‘The Biscuit Factory’ which was converted to a residence.
The Whites are understood to have lived very simply doing very little in the way of modernising or maintaining Craiglee House resulting in it becoming very rundown.
In the 1990s a further joint subdivision between Rosemary White and the current Craiglee House owner occurred with a view to restoring Craiglee House from the proceeds.
Craiglee House is constructed from stone taken from a nearby quarry (now the site of ‘Warrawee House’) and is believed to have originally been a 'two up and two down' Georgian style residence with a concave verandah and balcony to the southern elevation.
Historical photographs indicate that around the late 1800’s the home was extended with further and larger ‘two up and two down’ rooms. Dating of the doors and feature ceilings in the upstairs formal rooms suggests that further work was undertaking in the 1930’s.
Awaiting its restoration, today Craiglee House consists of 8 main rooms, an entrance hall and stairwell and a number of stone ‘lean to’ rooms including the servants quarters, kitchen and two sunrooms as well as outbuildings.
Our thanks to 1. A Sanctuary in the Hills, Winter 1987; Louise Gregory and the Coromandel Valley & Districts National Trust for assisting with this article.