The Dunn family moved to Mont Albert in the late 1880’s after buying large tracts of land north of Whitehorse Rd which they subsequently subdivided into a number of housing estates. These early subdivisions laid down the foundations for the early development of Mont Albert.
The house and garden at 1 Lightfoot St has been a historic feature within the Mont Albert /Whitehorse area for 133 years. The house is representative of the early development of this part of Mont Albert and was built in the late Victorian style. It should be valued for these reasons but also because it is a rare example of the lifestyle, culture and historical environment in which the people who developed our area lived. There is no other building dating from 1886/7 of this architectural style, size, heritage and cultural significance in this part of Mont Albert. The Dunn’s also contributed to the horticultural heritage of Mont Albert and Whitehorse by planting numerous Oak trees at 1 Lightfoot St, as well as along Lightfoot St itself.
Their daughter Edith Dunn Jnr. was the first woman to gain a qualification in 1907 in photography in Melbourne and went on to become a well known Melbourne photographer.
In 2011 the Planning Minister appointed a two person Panel which made the following amending recommendation: ‘Amendment C140 to the Whitehorse Planning Scheme, as exhibited, proposes to apply the Heritage Overlay to 28 Places comprising 27 individual places and one precinct across Box Hill, Blackburn, Nunawading Mitcham, Mont Albert and Surrey Hills’.
This ‘Whitehorse Planning Scheme Amendment C140, 2011’ which was accepted by Whitehorse Council stated that ‘1 Lightfoot Street, Mont Albert be included in the HO and that the revised citation, dated September 2011 be adopted’.
Thus ‘Dulverton’ became protected by a Council Heritage Overlay (HO237) but it is not on the Register of the National Estate or registered with the National Trust or on the Victorian Heritage Register; inclusion on these registers should be looked into to further protect it.
It is sad to see that the contributions of the Dunn family are not being recognised but I am hopeful that the State government, Whitehorse Council and those interested in our heritage will work together and recognise and acknowledge their contributions.
‘Dulverton’ was sold in 2020 after the house had been lived in by the Dunn family and their descendants for 133 years.
The Dunn family
In 1849 Edward H Dunn, his wife Betsy (nee Robinson) and son Edward Jnr sailed on board the Duke of Roxburgh from Plymouth to Sydney. Edward Snr’s occupation on the ships passenger list was ‘printer’ but later in Australia his occupation was listed as ‘carpenter’. In 1852 the family moved to Goulburn in New South Wales where their second son James Dunn was born in 1853. In 1856 they all moved to Beechworth in Victoria.
In a book The Richardson’s of London and their kin by Elsa Hepburn she mentions that after the family moved to Beechworth ‘There E.H. Dunn, enterprising and willing to turn his hand to anything, became a cordial manufacturer. This was a shrewd decision; the summers were scorching, and gold-mining was thirsty work’.
James may have inherited his father’s enterprising drive and is referred to in Elsa Hepburn’s book The Richardson’s of London and their kin that ‘James Dunn did not share his elder brother's early single minded passion for collecting pebbles, minerals and rocks which was later to make him famous. His versatile intelligence lay in a variety of other areas. The family archive records a tantalising list: surveyor, merchant, broker, dairy produce exporter, and estate agent!’
In Elsa Hepburn’s book The Richardson’s of London and their kin she refers to the early education of the Dunn children ‘E. H. Dunn and his wife Betsy, aware that their children were intelligent, wanted to provide the best education possible for them. Carole Woods in her history of Beechworth (p.87) sheds interesting light on the school they attended: Arthur Scott taught at the little Anglican school which opened in Church Street in August 1856 and was replaced the next year by a granite building with buttressed walls, gabled roof and small bell tower. Henry Phelan, a classical scholar from Trinity College, Dublin, and “an enthusiastic and zealous teacher” became headmaster in 1857. Among his pupils was a future leading geologist, Edward John Dunn. ... At weekends Edward and other youngsters explored the bush surrounding Beechworth and became attached to a country unmentioned in most of their school text books....’
Records show that Edward H Dunn died aged 69 in 1890, and that Betsy Dunn died in 1899 at the age of 87 both at their son Edward Jnr’s home Roseneath in Kew. The house is still there and is registered with the National Trust.
From 1874 to 1881 James Dunn worked for the Lands Department in their Melbourne offices in various positions including Draughtsman.
In 1885 land in Mont Albert was subdivided and offered for sale as part of the first Moira Estate subdivision; it was bounded by Grace St to the north, Lightfoot and Victoria Crs to the south, Trent St to the west and Plumley St to the east. James Dunn was the estate agent for this Moira Estate subdivision land sale and at the time of the sale he bought lots 1 to 6 which is the current location of 45 Victoria Cres and 1, 5, 7A, 9, 11 and 13 Lightfoot St. After buying these lots he subsequently further subdivided them. Between 2020/1 1 Lightfoot St was then further subdivided into what are now 1 and 3 Lightfoot St.
The subdivision was owned by Edward Lightfoot a prominent Melbourne businessman who in 1873 had married Eliza Swallow who was the daughter of Thomas Swallow one of the founders of the famous Melbourne biscuit manufacturer Swallow and Ariell. Edward Lightfoot named the Moira Estate after his home in Malvern and Lightfoot St in Mont Albert after his family name.
It appears the James Dunn was a very energetic businessman for he seems to have been involved in many different ventures around this period.
It is interesting that James Dunn in Elsa Hepburn’s book The Richardson’s of London and their kin she refers to his occupation as: ‘In the Melbourne Directory of 1885, p.502, James Dunn has the listing: Ostrich feather merchant - Manufactures of Dyes 7 Flinders Street East. On the business letterhead for Sydney Buildings, James Dunn & Co., 7 Flinders St. East, we read the extra item "Opposite Hobson's Bay Railway Station." (His business site is now a railway yard.)’
She also states that ‘One of his business cards is extant, professionally printed. In the top right corner we read: Telephone City 991. Below that in block letters we read: JAMES DUNN, GRAIN and PRODUCE BROKER, FARM SALESMAN and FINANCIER. 44A King Street, Corner King Street and Flinders Lane, Melbourne. James Dunn's private address then was 45 Jolimont Square, Jolimont.’
Then in 1886, James Dunn and James Woods founded the firm of the Dunn, Wood and Co as ‘Commission and produce agents for farmers and dairymen’. The company exported butter and other dairy products to England for a number of years but ceased operations in 1905.
In 1886 James Dunn was involved in a syndicate which subdivided land they owned in Mont Albert which they called the Phoenix Estate. The subdivision was bordered by Hamilton St in the west, Mont Albert Rd in the south, Churchill St in the north and Salisbury St in the east. This is the current Mont Albert shopping centre area and in Mona Stuart Webster’s book The History of the Mont Albert Shopping Centre 1887-1985she wrote ‘At that time the land was open paddocks owned by three gentlemen whose names were McKirdy, Andrew and Dunn. They apparently wished to subdivide and sell it, and acted together in their efforts to do so.
Their first problem was to ensure that there was transport to their proposed subdivision as there was then no nearby station on the railway line which, this side of Camberwell, was only single-tracked’. Surrey Hills had not been opened as a railway station until 1883 as its position on the grade had been considered too dangerous for steam trains to stop and start there.
A reference in an estate agent's advertisement to "the proposed Elgar Road station" shows that alternative sites were being considered. There was also a report in the Argus in July 1885 of a deputation to the Commissioners asking for a station there on the eastern boundary of the former Elgar’s Survey.
However, the decision was made in favour of a site nearer to the Mount Albert Road level crossing ... The decision on the site of the station having been made, the residents were asked to select a name for it. ... The name [Mount Albert] was selected ... but when the station was built and opened on 18th August 1890, the name boards sent out from the [railway] workshops were found to read MONT ALBERT. Someone had blundered! They were erected just the same, and so Mont Albert it became ...’
In 1886 James Dunn married Edith Byrchall at St Barnabas’s Church in Balwyn. They had two children Edith Jnr. and James Oswald who died in infancy. Edith Byrchall was born in Beechworth in 1862; she was the daughter of Samuel and Marian Byrchall (nee Richardson).
In 1857 Samuel and his family had moved to Beechworth as he was appointed to the position of Postmaster.
In her book The Richardson’s of London and their Kin Elsa Hepburn mentions ‘E.H. and Betsy Dunn later moved to Melbourne, the exact year not known; it seems clear that they and the Byrchalls kept in touch. Edith Byrchall was only eight or nine when her family moved to Melbourne in 1870 with her father's job relocation. At that stage, James was about eighteen. There was a nine-year age gap. But while in Beechworth he may have already become drawn to the pretty little girl with the dark brown curls, helping her busy mother, along with her elder sister Marian Kate’.
In 1870 Samuel Byrchall was promoted to the position of Manager of the Mail Branch at the Melbourne GPO. Also in the same year the family moved from Beechworth to Collingwood.
In 1880 Samuel bought 16 acres of land with a house near the corner of Narrak and Whitehorse Rd in Canterbury Park (Balwyn), he also bought a 34 acre plot of land on Whitehorse Rd also in Canterbury Park. In the same year the family moved to Canterbury Park. According to a family story the house was humorously named Amsterdam Dale as it was surrounded by water after heavy rains; it was later known as Burderop.
In an interesting aside in 1872 Samuel’s daughter Florence Byrchall married Edward Vidler who lived near the corner of Banool Rd (46 Banool Rd, demolished in the 1950’s) and Whitehorse Rd in Balwyn. After their marriage they continued to live at 46 Banool Rd until Edward’s death in 1942 and Florence’s in 1950. Banool Rd is west of and runs parallel to Narrak Rd where the Byrchall family lived.
Edward Vidler was a well known Australian writer, journalist and publisher. He was a part owner of the Evening News in Geelong, founder and secretary of the Geelong Progress League, a founder and life member of the Geelong Art Gallery and a life member of the Geelong Public Library. He was also Secretary of the Warrnambool chamber of commerce and the progress league.
Later he was editor of the Melbourne Tatler, a weekly magazine of art, literature, music and drama. Edward’s keen interest in the arts was the inspiration behind the foundation of Australian Institute of Arts and Literature. He wrote a number of books that included Our Own Trees 1930, Warnambool: Past and Present 1907, The Rose of Ravenna 1913 , The art of Sara Levi 1921, Wonder Animals of Australia 1931,Wonder Birds of Australia 1931, An Australian flower painter 1923 and many others. The National Library of Australia holds copies of Edward’s books.
He was also a keen naturalist and was appointed an honorary joint curator of the Maranoa Gardens in Balwyn where he assisted in the design and layout of the native gardens. Edward’s contribution to the development of the Maranoa Gardens is mentioned in the Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre Annual Report 2019 ‘His role seems to have been largely overlooked. With the centenary of the gardens marked for celebration in a few years, it is hoped this will be rectified’.
Back to James Dunn
1888 was a busy year for land sales in Box Hill and Mont Albert, James Dunn subdivided the land he owned and called it the Victoria Hill Estate, Elgar Park, Box Hill an area to the north of Whitehorse Rd and south of Victoria Crs and Curlewis St. The second Moira Estate land subdivision sale also took place. This subdivision was owned by four partners one of them being Edward Lightfoot mentioned above. The sale of the Moira Estate land this time was handled by two estate agents John G Cooke and Harry S Derham and Co and not James Dunn.
Harry S Derham handling this land sale was an Auctioneer but also a Councillor and Mayor of Kew; he was the brother of Frederick and Charles Derham.
Frederick Derham was at one time the Post Master General (similar position to the CEO of Telstra) and a partner in the famous Melbourne biscuit manufacturer Swallow and Ariell. He was married to Frances Swallow, a daughter of Thomas Swallow one of the founders of the famous Melbourne biscuit manufacturer Swallow and Ariell. It is interesting that Edward Lightfoot had also married a daughter of Thomas Swallow.
Charles Derham was a prominent Melbourne grain broker who had borrowed heavily to buy shares in his brother Fredericks Balmoral Land Company. Charles also borrowed most of the money from the Land Mortgage Bank and the Melbourne Permanent Building Society, of which his father Thomas Derham had been legal adviser. By 1892 Charles and Harry Derham were on the verge of bankruptcy when Edward Lightfoot gave them financial assistance almost going bankrupt in the process.
In 1907 the Victoria Hill, Mont Albert Estate was subdivided again and offered for sale. The estate was bounded by Victoria Crs to the north and west, Whitehorse Rd to the south and Kingsley Crs to the east. Title records for 1908 show that Edith Dunn Snr. owned the land that made up the subdivision.
In December 1916 it was reported in The Age newspaper that James Dunn wrote a circular letter to all Councils in the Melbourne Metropolitan ‘urging that action should be taken to prevent cruelty to horses by overloading. He states that there is no standard legal load for horses. Mr Dunn in conclusion urges the councils to convene a conference for the ventilating the whole subject’.
‘In response to Mr Dunn’s appeal Richmond council has decided to cooperate in the movement, and has written to the Municipal Association asking that a conference of representatives of the metropolitan municipalities be convened’.
It appears that a number of council’s agreed with James that the regulations must be changed to better protect horses from the practice of overloading. The Country Roads Board was the responsible authority for regulating matters in regards to roads. In relation to this matter The Mildura Cultivator newspaper in December 1916 reported that ‘The Roads Board asked that a report, sought on the 7th of October, should be forwarded at once. – The Secretary said that the report in question had been forwarded on the 16th October, and he read a Departmental communication which acknowledged receipt thereof. Evidently the report has been pigeon holed by a Works officer and temporarily lost’.
The Municipal Association held its yearly meeting in October 1917 and the issue that James Dunn had raised was not discussed.
In 1919 business partners James Dunn and Frederick J Andrew owned 13 lots on the eastern side of Hamilton St in Mont Albert which they put up for sale. Although the subdivision did not appear to have a name, the heading in large bold font at the top of the flyer read ‘at Mont Albert’. Lots 2 to 7 were bounded by Mason Lane in the South and North and lots 1 to 7 were bounded by Mason Lane in the south and Whitehorse Rd in the north.
Frederick J Andrew lived in Hamilton St, Mont Albert with his family; his occupation is listed as Identor (Salesman) and later as Manager.
In 1922 James Dunn was listed as one of the vendors of the Kenmare Heights Estate, Mont Albert land subdivision. The subdivision was bounded by Belmore Rd in the north, Union Rd in the west, Boundary Rd (now Boondara Rd) in the east and Strabane and Dunloe Ave in the south.
Edith Dunn Snr. died in 1928 and James Dunn in 1941 both at ‘Dulverton’.
Their daughter Edith Freeman (nee Dunn) moved to ‘Dulverton’ after her parent’s death and died at ‘Dulverton’ in 1972. Edith’s daughter Aileen Freeman lived at ‘Dulverton’ until her death in 2013 and her son Richard ‘Kelvin’ Freeman also lived there until his death in 2018.
Neighbours and friends of James Dunn and his family
According to the book by Elsa Hepburn ‘The Richardson’s of London and their kin she mentions ‘The archive also holds letters written to James and Edith Dunn in the 1920s by Mrs. Anna Lodewyckx. She and her husband, Professor Augustin Lodewyckx were long-time friends of the Dunns and lived in a charming historic Victorian house surrounded by oak trees in Beatty Street, Mont Albert’. The address of the Lodewyckx family home is 3 Beatty St in Mont Albert and the house is still there.
Below is an excerpt from the Australian Dictionary of Biography in regards to Professor Augustin Lodewyckx.
‘In 1905-10 Lodewyckx was professor of French and German at Victoria College, Stellenbosch, South Africa. On 24 January 1910 at Simonstown he married Anna Sophia Hansen. Next year he was appointed to the Belgian colonial service in the Congolese province of Katanga, where he organized the settlement of Belgian colonists and established a system of education for children of European settlers. Concern about the adverse effect of the climate on his family prompted him to seek employment in the United States of America, sailing via Australia, in 1914. Stranded in Melbourne on the outbreak of World War I, he was advised by the Belgian consul to remain. His knowledge of European languages was utilized by the wartime censorship office and, after a year as modern language master at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School in 1915, he was appointed lecturer in German at the University of Melbourne when his predecessor, a German national, was dismissed because of wartime prejudice.
The time Lodewyckx spent at the University of Melbourne marked a turning point in the approach to modern languages, which hitherto had been taught as dead classical languages. As teacher and scholar he represented the European tradition of strict intellectual exactitude and with his distinguished colleague A. R. Chisholm he raised the intellectual and cultural standards of his discipline. Chisholm wrote that Lodewyckx was 'a born explorer, who wandered far afield in both the literal and metaphorical sense'; in so doing he inspired generations of students.
His book on Germans in Australia (1932) was the first standard work in the field and set the pattern for later research. Shortly before his eightieth birthday he published People for Australia: A Study in Population Problems (1956), a book highly commended by A. A. Calwell, architect of Australia's post-war immigration programme. Altogether he published fourteen books and innumerable articles in five languages. He was decorated by the governments of Iceland (1937), The Netherlands (1952), Sweden (1963) and Belgium (1964) and in 1955 received a gold medal from the Goethe Institute in Germany.
Lodewyckx died at his Mont Albert home on 4 September 1964. He was survived by his wife, son Karel Axel, librarian of the University of Melbourne, and daughter Hilma Dymphna, translator, editor and wife of Manning Clark, historian’.
According to the book by Elsa Hepburn ‘The Richardson’s of London and their kin she mentions ‘In London the nineteenth-century Richardson’s had known Charles Dickens (1812-1870). After the move to Australia the link continued, between their descendants and Dickens’s granddaughters Kathleen and Violet Dickens even to 1950. They used to visit James and Edith Dunn at ‘Dulverton’, Mont Albert and also knew Edward Dunn’s family of Kew. These sisters were the daughters of Alfred Dickens who had come to Australia in 1865, to be followed by his brother Edward in 1869. Alfred D’Orsay Tennyson Dickens (1845-1912) was the fourth son of Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine nee Hogarth’.
Charles Dickens was a world renowned 19th century British author. He wrote many well known books including A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and Our Mutual Friend. To find out more about Charles Dickens please click on the following link: Biography - Charles Dickens - Australian Dictionary of Biography (anu.edu.au)
The Greenwood family were neighbours of the Dunn family and lived at 11 Rostrevor Parade from 1928 to 1937.
Professor John Greenwood was a world renowned Australian scientist, his son Norman also became a world renowned scientist. In Normans book Recollections of a Scientist: Boyhood and Youth in Australia he mentions visiting the Dunn family ‘slightly further away, on the corner of Rostrevor Parade and Lightfoot Street lived Mr Dunn and Miss Dunn (sister or daughter). He may have been an Estate Agent. We called their large mansion ‘The Mansion House’ because it contained so many trophies from big game hunting expeditions. I recall being greatly in awe of the numerous stags’ heads and various stuffed animals in the hall and other display rooms. They also had a large garden that we used to play in’.
The Dunn’s - a family of scientists
Edith Dorothy Dunn – a trailblazer and the daughter of Edith and James Dunn
Their daughter Edith Jnr. was educated at Miss James' Surrey Hills School and Ormiston Girl's School. After leaving school she became a trainee nurse at the Royal Melbourne Hospital for twelve months.
As a child Edith visited the photographer Alfred Lomer and his studio in Sydney on a number of occasions. A trailblazer, she was the first woman to enrol at the Melbourne Working Men's College (RMIT) where she gained a Diploma in Photography in 1907.
Between 1908 and 1919 she worked as a commercial photographer spending some of that time at ‘The Rembrandt Studio’ in The Block Arcade in Melbourne, the ‘Alexander Photographic Studio’ in Bendigo, as well as visiting Sydney, Adelaide, Launceston, Yarrawonga, Horsham, Ararat and Victor Harbour. Edith Dunn Jnr. is regarded as one of the first female commercial photographers in Australia and was a member of the ‘Victorian Ladies Photographic Association’.
In 1912 the University of Melbourne lobbied the Federal Government to invite and fund the British Association for the Advancement of Science’ (BAAS) to come to Australia to promote science, progress and empire. The Prime Minister Andrew Fisher requested the formation of committees in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane to make arrangements for the visit. In 1914 the BAAS held their first meeting in Melbourne which was attended by over 300 delegates but it was overshadowed by the start of World War 1. Nevertheless Edith Jnr became a member.
While on a photographic trip to Horsham Edith Jnr. met John Freeman Jnr. a Stock and Station Agent and grazier. He started the family business of Freeman Bros. in 1911 in Warracknabeal.
In 1919 Edith Jnr. married John Freeman and she moved to Warracknabeal where they had five children – Lindsay, Richard ‘Kelvin’, Peter, Aileen and Carol. John’s parents John Snr. and Mary Freeman were graziers and lived near Stawell, they later moved to ‘Rosebank’ near Horsham.
Edith Snr died in 1928 and James Dunn in 1941 both at ‘Dulverton’, the house was left to Edith Jnr.
John Freeman died in 1944; the firm of Freeman Bros. was sold off a year later.
In 1945 Edith Jnr. moved back to the family home at 1 Lightfoot St, Mont Albert with her children Richard ‘Kelvin’, Carol and later Aileen.
Edith Jnr. died in 1972 at ‘Dulverton’.
Edward Dunn Jnr. - renowned Australian Geologist and brother of James Dunn
Edward Dunn Jnr. was born in 1844 at Bedminster, England and migrated to Australia with his parents in 1849. They lived near Goulburn in New South Wales before moving to Beechworth in Victoria in 1856.
Edward Dunn was educated privately and at Beechworth Church of England Grammar School. From boyhood he was an ardent collector of minerals and rocks.
In 1860 Edward joined the staff of the local Lands Survey Office, and four years later transferred to the Geological Survey of the Mines Department where he trained under A. R. C. Selwyn and G. H. F. Ulrich. He discovered curious specimens of chalcedony near Beechworth; these specimens formed the subject of his first published scientific article.
In 1869 Edward Jnr qualified as a mining surveyor.
In 1871 Edward Jnr travelled to South Africa where he was appointed Government Geologist. His pioneer geological work there included a part in the discovery of diamonds and the opening of the Kimberley diamond mines, and investigations of the goldfields of Transvaal and the coal deposits of Cape Colony.
In 1873 and 1875 Edward returned to England. In 1875 he married Elizabeth Perchard and they had four children Edward P, Herbert, Lillian and Bessie.
In 1884 he was elected a fellow of the Geological Society of London.
In 1886 Edward returned to Melbourne where he worked as a consulting geologist throughout Australasia and in New Caledonia. Also in the same year he discovered and mapped the first rocks of the Cambrian age (500 million years old) near Heathcote in Victoria.
In 1888 he published the first of several scientific articles on ‘250 million year old Permian rocks of glacial origin’ that he had discovered near Heathcote in Victoria.
Between 1889 and 1894 he conducted geological work demonstrating the essential ground structures of the Bendigo goldfield.
In 1904 he was appointed director of the Geological Survey in the Victorian Department of Mines and Water Supply.
In 1905 he was awarded the Murchison Medal by the Geological Society of London for his geological work in Australia and South Africa. To learn more about the Muchison Medal please click on the following link: The Geological Society (geolsoc.org.uk)
Edward was involved in the discovery of coal deposits in Gippsland, which led to the development of the State Coal Mine at Wonthaggi in 1909. After studying the geology and physiography of Mount Buffalo he helped to make it popular as a tourist resort; nearby Mount Dunn is named after him.
It was on his recommendation that Buchan marble was used in the staircase and entrance of the Dome of the State Library of Victoria and he also helped to make the ‘Buchan Caves’ a popular tourist attraction.
Most of his large collections of minerals, rocks and ethnological artefacts collected during his lifetime are now in the National Museum of Victoria.
As well as being a renowned Geologist Edward Dunn was an avid collector and researcher of plants. Having lived in England and South Africa over a twenty year period he had many opportunities to research, discover and collect plants.
In 1884 Edward while in South Africa collected seed from a new species of flowering plant in the eastern Transvaal. It was grown at Kew Gardens and named Streptocarpus dunnii Hook F in his honour.
In 1885 while working in South Africa Edward collected plants in the Camdebo and Graaff-Reinet district that are in the Bolus Herbarium, University of Cape Town.
In 1886 Edward Dunn returned to Melbourne where he worked as a consulting geologist throughout Australasia and in New Caledonia.
In 1915 while Edward was in the Northern territory, he discovered a new species of Acacia at Blunder Bay near the Victoria River. The newly discovered Acacia was named Acacia Dunni by Joseph Maiden the Director of the Botanical Gardens in Sydney. In 1922 his new discovery was confirmed and published by Kew Gardens in London; it is also known as ‘Dunn’s Wattle’.
Edward Dunn at his home ‘Roseneath’ in Kew in 1937 – the house is still there and is registered with the National Trust.
Frederic Dunn renowned Analytical Chemist – brother of James Dunn
It appears that the interest in science ran strongly in the Dunn family as Frederic Dunn became a chemist.
In 1870 the ‘Industrial and Technological Museum’ was opened in Melbourne and James C Newbery was appointed as its first scientific superintendent with Frederic Dunn as his assistant. At this time the method of teaching new chemists involved the student working as an assistant of an experienced and qualified chemist.
According to Carolyn Rasmussen’s book A Museum for the People - A history of Museum Victoria and its predecessors, 1854-2000 mentions ‘The museum had its origins in the international movement to promote the application of arts and science in the advancement of industry, which had begun with the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, London, and in turn spawned the establishment of the Science Museum at South Kensington in 1857, on which the Melbourne museum would be modelled.
Public education was the raison d'être of the I&T Museum over its first two decades, with weekly evening public lectures offered on a variety of technical topics attracting average audiences of 200. From early 1871, courses were offered to students of any age or background for a modest fee with twice weekly lessons and practical laboratory sessions. Initial subject offerings included classes in chemistry, mineralogy, mathematics, practical geometry, mechanics, industrial design, painting, mechanical drawing, modelling and model-making.
The Industrial and Technological Museum was first housed in the Great Hall and Rotunda which was constructed for the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition of 1866-67 (behind the Public Library on Swanston St where the State Library of Victoria is now located).
In 1876, the Argus published a series of analyses carried out by Frederic Dunn and James C Newbery on confectionery, tea and milk revealing serious adulteration. The public outcry, together with continuing work by Frederic Dunn and others led eventually to the Victorian Pure Food Act of 1905 and its associated regulations, the first such legislation anywhere in the world.
In 1884 Frederic Dunn became a Public Analyst and was employed by Central Board of Health of the City of Melbourne.
In 1886 Frederic married Hannah Strickland; they had four children John, Irene, Muriel and Frederic S.
In 1900 Frederic became a partner in the firm ‘Dunn and Stone’ with Francis Stone, the firm was later known as ‘Dunn, Son and Stone’ after Frederic’s son John joined the firm. That same year Frederic became a member of the newly formed ‘Society of Chemical Industry of Victoria’ (SCIV). According to the 1905 Sands & MacDougall directory – the firm offered ‘analysis and assays of every description. The analysis of food, explosives, water, spirits & mineral made a specialty; instruction given in all branches of chemical, metallurgical & manufacturing processes.
The Melbourne based company of ‘Dunn, Son and Stone’ is still in existence and offer services including ‘Scientific Testing & Analysis Service and Analysts & Analytical Services’.
Frederic Dunn died in Kew in 1933 and was buried in the Box Hill cemetery.
‘DULVERTON’ - THE HOUSE
The house was built in the late Victorian style and was named ‘Dulverton’ by James Dunn after the town of Dulverton in England where his family had lived. ‘Dulverton’ would eventually become 1 Lightfoot St, Mont Albert.
In Elsa Hepburn book The Richardson’s of London and their kin describes the house ‘the large weatherboard home built there was owned by Edith featured lofty ceilings to combat the hot summers, verandahs edged with decorative iron lacework, and other Victorian items such as stained glass panels, high mantelpieces over open fireplaces and long passages...an ideal home for a child to grow up. The rambling garden was enchanting, with unusual exotic trees and shrubs, bordered by a clipped hedge, English style’.
Since James Dunn and Edith Byrchall were married in 1886 and their son James Oswald was born at ‘Dulverton’ in 1888 this would indicate that the house was built between 1886 and 1888.
The house has a Council Heritage Overlay (HO237) but it is not on the Heritage Victoria Register or registered with the National Trust; it should be considered for registration with both of these organisations to better protect it.
Exterior and interior of the house
Photos of the exterior and interior of the house taken for a sales campaign in 2020 show the house in an exceptionally well cared for and largely original condition.
An independent panel was appointed by the Planning Minister to hold public hearings into the proposed amendments to Whitehorse Planning Scheme C140. These hearings were held in 2011 in regards to heritage policies and areas.
Below is an excerpt from the Revised Citations report (Whitehorse Planning Scheme C140 amendments) that was submitted by HLCD Pty Ltd on behalf of the Whitehorse council in regards to 1 Lightfoot St in Mont Albert. HLCD (Helen Lardner Conservation and Design) Pty Ltd is a heritage consultancy firm based in Glenferrie Rd in Hawthorn.
HLCD Pty Ltd 2011 Revised Citations report
The residence at 1 Lightfoot Street Mont Albert dates from c1880s and is a single storey Victorian weatherboard retaining its original form, siting and many decorative elements. The building is positioned on the block to align with the curve of Victoria Crescent as shown in the MMBW Plan 1928 (attached) and reflecting its original address in 1889 as 45 Victoria Crescent.
This now means that the house is obliquely positioned with two elevations overlooking Lightfoot Street, its current address. The north-east elevation, approached via Rostrevor Parade, functions as the front of the house and main entry point as it was the historical frontage to Victoria Crescent. This elevation has a greater degree of decoration including iron lacework frieze along the verandah face which is supported on fluted metal posts, and bracketed eaves. In contrast simplified detailing is evident on the north-west elevation.
The intersecting hipped roof has a square form and is clad in tiles replacing an earlier roof cladding and the surrounding verandah has an iron roof. There are also three rendered chimneys with moulded caps. Visible windows are timber framed and double hung. External walls are clad in painted horizontal weatherboards. A hipped roof structure is attached to the south-east corner of the main house. There are other utilitarian buildings of unknown origin and function located in the same vicinity on the site including the sleep out extension (1955), the office adjoining the sleep out (1955) and bathroom behind the office (1956).
Some modifications have occurred which are typical in houses of this age. This includes recladding of the roof, alterations to some windows and replacement of timber verandah posts. However these do not detract from the original form, materials, siting and many details which demonstrate the characteristics of a Victorian villa from the c1880s.
The examples discussed may demonstrate similar aspects of heritage significance to the City of Whitehorse. Those already in the Schedule to the Heritage Overlay in the Whitehorse Planning Scheme have a HO number. Others are drawn from Final Heritage Assessments Report, HLCD Pty Ltd, 2010 and Whitehorse Heritage Review 2001, Places of Potential Cultural Heritage Significance, Ward, 2001 which both include properties being reviewed by Council for potential future inclusion in the Heritage Overlay.
In some cases where the use of the property is significant, comparisons may be made with places which are not recommended for heritage protection but provide a historical context for analysis.
1 Lightfoot Street is a good example of a substantial symmetrical weatherboard Victorian villa with surround verandah and no projecting bays in Mont Albert.
The comparative examples listed above feature a similar symmetry, parallel hipped roofs, return verandahs and no projecting bays. 17-21 Junction Road and Labedir are weatherboard, though much later Edwardian era examples. Similar to 1 Lightfoot Street, Callingnee and Albion are from the Victorian era and feature a return verandah and decorative iron lacework, although both are constructed of brick. All of these examples are aligned facing their current street address, unlike 1 Lightfoot Street which faced its original address in Victoria Crescent.
The Mont Albert area includes a number of weatherboard Victorian era villas, e.g. 26 Dunloe Avenue and 2 Gawler Court*. As a group, these villas are representative of this era of development for the Mont Albert area when relatively few houses were constructed and the houses were of considerable scale compared with other parts of the municipality.
* 'Verona' at 2 Gawler Court is due for demolition in 2022.
What is significant?
The property at 1 Lightfoot Street, Mont Albert including the residence.
How is it significant?
The property at 1 Lightfoot Street, Mont Albert is of historical and aesthetic significance to the City of Whitehorse.
Why is it significant?
The property at 1 Lightfoot Street, Mont Albert is of local historical significance for its representation of the early development of the Mont Albert area. A number of subdivisions were occurring in the 1880s, but relatively few houses were constructed at this time, giving the suburb a very different appearance to that we see today. The scale of the Victorian villa and its placement on the allotment facing Victoria Crescent provide tangible evidence of the changes in subdivision patterns since those days. (Criteria A & B)
The property at 1 Lightfoot Street is of local aesthetic significance as a good example of a Victorian villa. The form, materials and some details of the residence incorporate key characteristics of the style and era. The c.1950 extensions are not considered significant. (Criteria D & E)
The property at 1 Lightfoot Street is of local historical significance for its associations since 1889 with James Dunn, a prominent property developer in the area. Dunn was also responsible for the planting and care of Oak and other exotic trees established in the streetscapes around this northern area of Mont Albert.
The gardens have been part of the Mont Albert area for 133 years and are in a well maintained condition.
‘Her garden was a lasting joy to her and the sweetness and fragrance of her flowers was the keynote of her influence among those with whom she came in contact’.
Box Hill Reporter, September 1928: in a tribute to Edith Dunn Snr published after her death.
The City of Whitehorse has a ‘Statement of Tree Significance’ and the following excerpt is in regards to the trees/garden of this property:
Property Address: 1-3 Lightfoot Street, Mont Albert Melway’s Ref: 46 K8 Surveyed: 5th July 2006 (AJ)
Statement of Significance:
Tree #1 is of good health and structure. It is younger than most other oaks on this property but does contribute to the wider landscape and is worthy of inclusion within the Register.
Trees #2 are a group of four trees. These are part of a number of oaks that are growing in Lightfoot Street. These trees, together with those at no’s 5, 7, 7A & 9 Lightfoot Street, bounded the original property of this area and have historical significance. They were grown from acorns collected from Buckingham Palace by the current owner’s grandfather. Although they have had some harsh pruning, these oaks should be included due to their historical significance to the area.
Tree #3 is a very large Weeping Elm. It is already listed on the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) Significant Tree Register (File no. T12054) and therefore should also be included on the Whitehorse Significant Tree Register. It is listed on the state register as it ‘makes a significant contribution to garden of 19C homestead.’ It has some decay in one limb and evidence of minor Elm Leaf Beetle attack and possum grazing however overall is of good health and structure. It does not pose a hazard. It was planted in approximately 1890 by the current owner’s grandfather who brought this tree out on a ship from Scotland in that year.
The Weeping Elm in the front garden is listed on the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) Significant Tree Register and is on the state register. In the City of Whitehorse – Statement of Tree Significance 2006 in regards to the Weeping Elm states ‘It is already listed on the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) Significant Tree Register and therefore should also be included on the Whitehorse Significant Tree Register. It is listed on the state register as it ‘makes a significant contribution to garden of 19C homestead.’ I have looked on Whitehorse’s Significant Tree Register but I could not find the Weeping Elm. The gardens are not covered by a Vegetation Protection Overlay.
The future for the City of Whitehorse
The Dunn family and their descendants lived in this house for over 133 years. They built and named the house ‘Dulverton’ and pioneered the early development of this area contributing to its social, built, architectural and horticultural heritage of not only Mont Albert but the City of Whitehorse, Victoria and Australia.
The house is covered by a Council Heritage Overlay (HO237) but it is not on the Register of the National Estate or registered with the National Trust or on the Victorian Heritage Register; inclusion on these registers should be looked into to further protect it.
It is sad to see that the contributions of the Dunn family are not being publicly recognised but I am hopeful that the State government, Whitehorse Council and those interested in our heritage will work together and develop and implement strategies that recognise and acknowledge their contributions.
‘Not least in the history is the part played by Kelvin’s grandfather James Dunn, estate agent and surveyor, in the pioneering of Mont Albert village and his lasting contribution to the beauty of Victoria Crescent and Lightfoot Street, Mont Albert, with as its focus the lovely garden of ‘Dulverton’.
The Richardson’s of London and their kin by Elsa Hepburn
‘Dulverton’ was sold in 2020; ‘Dulverton’ was in the Dunn family and their descendants for 133 years.
The demolition or irrevocable changes made to our built heritage raises a number of important questions about how we and our governments value, define and protect it. In Victoria the state government is responsible for developing and implementing heritage legislation/protections.
When will the Victorian government implement heritage legislation that better protects our built heritage?
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In September 2023 a developer lodged an application (WH/2023/768) to demolish and build three dwellings at 25 Thames St, Box Hill North.
This house was lived in and may have been built by William H Elsum, a well-known Melbourne poet, historian, editor, newspaper founder and printer.
Please email the Councillors of the Whitehorse Heritage Steerage Committee requesting that an assessment be undertaken of this house by a heritage consultant to ascertain its local &/or state heritage significance.