Monday, March 21, 2011

The history of ‘Carmel’ 115 Beecroft Road, Beecroft

Considerable interest is usually expressed in the small timber cottage facing the Beecroft tennis courts. Because it is intriguing it has been the subject of many myths.

The earliest record for this property found to date is that it was leased by Samuel and Grace Higgins when they came to live in Beecroft in 1904 or 1905.[1] They did this to be on site while they were building. By no later than 1908 the Higgins family had moved into their new shop and dwelling on the corner of
Beecroft Road and Mary Street. 
The new premises were “one of the finest and most up to date premises of its kind in the Northern suburbs.”[2] It is now a liquor outlet.

The next certain occupant of number 115 was John T Griffiths who was a carrier and who is recorded as living in the home from 1915. He was there until 1918 when another carrier James Doran lived and plied his trade from the premises. Mr Doran lived in the house until 1924, with the rear of the property (presumably the shed-like building currently facing The Crescent) being used by the carriers Backman & Coleman in 1923 and then Doran & Gilroy from 1924 until at least 1932.  The size of the rear building would be consistent with a carrier using it to store a cart with the horse tethered on the land. Meanwhile the house between 1925 and at least 1932 was occupied by W J Kalman JP.[3]

This history is what might be expected of a small timber cottage that is situated in close proximity to a township, railway station and a main road.

The Harris family came to live in the house in 1936. After Mr Harris died the home continued to be the residence of his widow, daughter (Margaret Mary Therese or ‘Tess’) and son (John). Miss Harris had memories of the shed being used, after her family had moved in, by a commercial traveller to store hardware type goods that he sold. Her mother had been a nurse during the Great War of 1914-1919 and for a period of time ran a Doll’s Hospital from one of the rooms in the house.[4] No record has as yet been found for when or why the name ‘Carmel’ was given to the property but it is thought to have been named by Mrs Harris.

Miss Harris died in 2010 and the property is now in the process of being sold.

Beecroft Cheltenham History Group
Version: March 2011

[1] Interview given by Jean Higgins (b. 1907) to H Barker
[2] Cumberland Argus 29 August 1980
[3] John Sands Directories 1915-1932
[4] Information given by Jess Harris to E Slade.

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