Search This Blog

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Early Residents - Alexander Borthwick

Borthwick family
Mr Borthwick, a well-known paint and varnish manufacturer, purchased ten acres of land in Springwood prior to 1922. The land included the cottages Orotava and Carleen.  The former cottage was apparently named for the ship which brought the original Borthwick family to Australia. Borthwick was not the original owner, and it is thought that the Rev. Britten built the cottage named Carleen c1905 while Robina Smith built the cottage that became Orotova, c1908.

 Carleen still stands as part of the Springwood Garden Centre and has been returned to its former glory after extensive restoration. Orotava, however, was demolished to make way for Yandina Avenue when that area was subdivided. Both cottages were built of weatherboards and designed with large living areas containing the necessary fireplace. A covered walkway sloped down to a big outside kitchen where a whitewashed dairy was also situated. Open sheds were located further on, and these were used to accommodate carts and sulkies. This was located in what is commonly referred to as a ‘working yard’.

The property flourished during the time of Mr Borthwick. He employed three gardeners to attend the three hundred rose bushes and fields of beans and peas planted out in the garden.  Four water tanks supplied water to the house, gardens and poultry runs before the advent of reticulated water.

The Sands Directories of 1879 and 1884 list Alexander Borthwick who had an oil and colour warehouse at 229 George Street, Sydney. This could very well relate to this Alexander Borthwick, or his father.  Mr Borthwick was listed in the 1916 telephone directory and 1917 electoral roll for Springwood. He married Annie Elizabeth L., and the couple had at least two children, Archibald Leslie Edward who died in 1939, and Elma J. who married Alexander J. Clubb in 1909. Mr Borthwick died in 1922 and his wife Elizabeth died in 1942.

Elma was left a cash legacy on the death of her father but decided to take one of the properties in part settlement. She chose Orotava which, as mentioned, was named after the ship on which her grandfather, Alexander Borthwick, sailed to Australia from Scotland in 1853. Elma and family lived in Orotava during 1923–4.  Her son, Alexander Borthwick Clubb repeated sixth class at Springwood Public School and then commenced at Penrith High School in 1924. Elma later realised that she could not easily educate six children in Springwood and so returned to the city where the children attended Sydney High. A Mrs Eleanor E. Noble was renting the cottage Carleen in 1923.

From The Making Of A Mountain Community: A Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District

 More on the Borthwick family:

Alexander Borthwick (Springwood) married Annie Elizabeth Louisa Cornwall at Stanmore in 1878.  Their children were: Alexander (died infant), Jessie, Alexander, Florence Vera, Elma Jean, Archibald Leslie Edward and Marion Isabelle.

 Elma Jean Borthwick married Alexander James Clubb at Marrickville 1909 and their children were: Alexander Borthwick Clubb, Neil Cornwall Clubb, Jean Clubb, William Murray Clubb and two others.  Elma died  at Katoomba in 1963.

Ref: Ellery, R. L. J. et al: Victoria and its Metropolis. Vol II. 1868 had this to say about the senior Alexander Borthwick of South Melbourne.  “He was born at Biggar Scotland, in 1827, and arrived in Victoria in 1853. He commenced business as a painter and decorator in Collins-st east and at Emerald Hill. The Victoria Varnish Company, of which Mr Borthwick is manager, was started in 1865, for the manufacture of paints, varnishes and decorative materials for shops and houses, and has obtained several prizes at various exhibitions. Mr Borthwick is the inventor and manufacturer of the anti-fouling composition for ships' bottoms, known by his name. This has been used for the past thirty years with great advantage to the shipping community, and is now made in large quantities in both Melbourne and Sydney, under the personal superintendence of Mr Borthwick - to whom this branch of the business especially belongs. The factory in Victoria is situated in Moray-street north, South Melbourne, and occupies a large area of ground near the Falls Bridge."

Similarly, Leavitt, T. W. H. (ed.): The jubilee history of Victoria and Melbourne. 2 vols. 1888. “Alexander Borthwick: Manufacturer of paints and varnishes, Moray-street, South Melbourne. The business was established in Collins-street in 1853, whence it was removed in 1855. Mr Borthwick employs 25 men in the above factory, and has a branch in Sydney where 30 hands find plenty to do. He has also the  ... (line missing from copy on fiche) paints and varnishes in Victoria. While visiting in the United States he received orders from the Government there to decorate some of the Public buildings.  He also took occasion to hold classes, in which Fine Art and Painting were taught.  Mr Borthwick received awards of medals at the following Exhibitions: Philadelphia 1876, Sydney 1879; Melbourne 1879, 1881; London 1886(?)."

See also The Argus 14.2.1867 which mentions Alexander Borthwick among prize winners for the Intercolonial Exhibition

The Sydney Morning Herald 7.11.1922 page 7 mentioned the death of Alexander Borthwick, head of Borthwick Proprietery Company and the Victorian Varnish Company, who died at his residence Cowper Street, Longueville.  The paper stated that he worked for his father who pioneered the paint and varnish industry in Australia.  Alexander Borthwick senior founded the Victorian Varnish Company while Borthwick junior founded the proprietery company of the same name.

Pamela Smith

No comments: