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Building Blackwood

Daniel John Hewett
Daniel John Hewett

Daniel John Hewett was born in 1842 on the site of what is now parliament House in Adelaide. Daniel was eight years old when his father died resulting in him leaving school prematurely and causing his family to move to the Port Elliot area to live with his mother’s family. Here he spent time with his uncles learning the building trade before moving to Clarendon and in 1865 marrying Alice Ann Vawser with whom he had eleven children. The oldest Robert Henry and the youngest Albert Ernest joined their father in the building trade and later his grandson John Henry.

Hewett moved to the Blackwood are in 1881 where he found rolling hills, native scrub and land with great potential for development. Upon completion of the Blackwood train line in 1883 Blackwood’s population significantly increased and new buildings were required to accommodate this growth. In the first issue of the Blackwood Magazine it was noted that:

“half the buildings in Blackwood had been erected by Mr Hewett and his sons in their capacity as builders."

(The Blackwood Magazine, Jan p15)

Hewett’s first house, “Buffalo” is still standing today at 44 Coromandel Parade. In 1896 he purchased a 160 acre property in Hawthorndene which he named “Watahuna”. (Today on East Avenue). On part of this land the Blackwood Magazine reports locals playing hockey and cricket. He and Alice lived here until his retirement when he and son Robert built his final home at 54 Coromandel Parade where Hewett died aged 82. Most of the Hewett properties passed to his descendants for numerous decades after their construction. There are several cottages on Adey Road (No’s 1, 5, 6, 8, and 10) along with more on Johnson Parade which Hewett and his sons built for their workers.

The Hewett family was well represented in Blackwood sporting and community activities.

“DJ Hewett and his four sons all played for Coromandel Cricket club and five sons-in-laws, twelve grandsons and several great grandsons have since followed in their footsteps”

(Hills Gazette, 22/12/1976).

The Blackwood Magazine reports Hewett as active in civic life being both an Upper Sturt and Mitcham Council member for many years and donating to various causes including tree planting and the Blackwood Patriotic fund.

One hundred years later DJ Hewett’s presence continues to be evident around Blackwood with most of the buildings he constructed still standing. The Hawthorndene Reserve, which remains a popular recreation spot enabled by the donation of 17 acres of DJ’s 'Watahuna' property, displays a commemorative plaque acknowledging DJ’s contribution to the district.

The Blackwood community has further recognised D J Hewett and family as being one of the district’s premier pioneer families through the naming of Hewett Avenue and the Hewett Sports Ground on Coromandel Parade.

Thank you to Rachael Thompson from Blackwood High School who assisted with this article.

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