BAG History Group / Hannaford Reserve

Image credit - Irene Carrig

In 2020 the focus of the Blackwood Action Group History Subcommittee’s regular articles will be on the reserves and parks of the Mitcham Hills district.

The Kaurna people knew the area around Hannaford Reserve as piraldi (pira meaning moon, shaven or bald) and ldi (meaning beyond). The reserve is located towards the bottom of Laffers Road, separated from Belair National Park by one row of houses which back on to the reserve.

The building still standing is the Old Winery built in 1852 and extended in 1866 – amazingly one of the oldest industrial buildings in the City of Mitcham. It was built as a wine store for the 17 acres of vineyard and the walls are about a metre thick.

Charles Giles was the first of three landholders who originally bought property in the Monalta district in 1844. He was a pioneer of the horticultural and floricultural industry of South Australia and built a cottage on his 80 acres in 1846.

In the 1860s Richard Bullock Andrews, MP, Solicitor and Queens Counsel purchased all three properties and named the area Monalta. He was a proficient amateur viticulturist and turned it into a successful vineyard. Further up the hill, he built a large new house which eventually became the Blackwood Hospital, and now owned by Integrative Health Solutions.

From 1877 Alexander George Downer owned the property which was surrounded by hundreds of acres of apple orchards. This is where he spent the summer months until his death in 1916. He never married and much of his estate (which included many large properties state wide) was divided between his 14 nephews and nieces.

In 1920 Harry Oswell Hannaford purchased what remained of Monalta - 114 acres, 50 of which were orchard and the remainder clear grazing land. The bee keeping with which Harry had previously had success didn’t suit this new district, so he sold off the bees, keeping just a few for crosspollination of the fruit trees. Also sold was the large house which became Wykeham Boys’ School, until Mrs Blades purchased it in 1939 for private use.

Meanwhile, the Hannafords remained in the district. They kept dairy cattle and apple orchards and later their son Gordon grew cut flowers from 1935 until 1973.

The Old Winery was relined for use as a cold store in 1945, able to hold 4 000 cases of fruit from along the Coromandel valley and surrounding areas.

Between 1943 and 1974 Doug and Gordon Hannaford and their families operated a dairy (now demolished) to the west of the cold store - one of the best-designed and efficient dairies in the state at the time. Much of the timber used to build it was cut in their own sawmill, which stood to the north of the cold store.

Subdivision of the land continued between 1966 and 1972 with the requirement that approximately 11% be retained for reserves.

The Old Winery building has been well preserved and cared for by the City of Mitcham and is often used for CFS training sessions. The reserve itself is a tranquil, well-maintained community space where people gather to let their dogs off the leash in a natural setting. A drinking fountain has been installed for two and four legged creatures and a path for pedestrians and cyclists traverses along one side, ending a short distance from the entrance to Belair National Park.

An attractive feature of the reserve is the mosaic picnic table which graphically illustrates the history of the area. Nearby is a metal plaque acknowledging the Hannaford family connection.

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