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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cottages - Aberfeldy

The cottage known as Aberfeldy was built in the Whitecross area of North Springwood (now Winmalee) by Henry Charles Lennox Anderson in the latter part of the nineteenth century. 

H.C.L. Anderson, as he was usually called by the Nepean Times, was a truly remarkable man, with abilities which spanned the humanities as well as the sciences. He was important in the Springwood district in the last two decades of the nineteenth century when a number of orchardists were striving to grow fruit of many varieties, as one of his special interests was agricultural chemistry and he was always ready to share his knowledge.

Anderson was born to Scottish parents, Robert and Margaret (nee Hewson) when they were en route to Australia on board the Empire on 10 May 1853. His father became a police inspector. Young Henry attended Sydney Grammar School and then earned a scholarship to Sydney University where he graduated B.A. in 1873 and M.A. in 1878, winning prizes for Shakespearian scholarship and literature and also agricultural chemistry along the way. He taught at Sydney Grammar School during this time and, in 1880, he married Harriet Lily Lloyd at the Macquarie Presbyterian Church. They had three children—Henry C. L. in 1881, Margaret L. E. in 1883 and Lily W. M. in 1886.

He was also interested in the military and was a Lieutenant in the 1st Regiment, Volunteer Infantry in 1885. He was promoted to Captain in 1888 and resigned in 1892. In 1882 he became an examiner in the Department of Public Instruction and helped to reorganise curricula and examinations. He became Vice Chairman of the Board of Examiners in 1889. At some stage in the 1880s he, according the Australian Dictionary of Biography, ‘invested every shilling he had in a farm and orchard at Penrith’. In fact, his orchard was situated in Springwood along the Hawkesbury Road, near Whitecross. His cottage was called Aberfeldy, probably named after the small town of Aberfeldy in Perthshire, Scotland. He maintained his interest in agricultural chemistry, experimenting with soil analysis and methods of fertilising.

The Nepean Times reported on a very instructive lecture in The Rural on the subject of chemical and other manures:
       It should be read by all orchardists, Mr Anderson’s study and experience going far to prove that chemical manures if applied in a proper manner are productive of great and lasting good. But he states that the land must be fully tested so that its wants may be supplied without unnecessary waste of chemicals.

In February 1890 Anderson was appointed Director of the first NSW Department of Agriculture, formed as a branch of the Department of Mines. This appointment was reported in the Nepean Times and Mr H.C.L. Anderson was said, proudly, to be ‘a landholder and summer resident of this salubrious clime’. He was very active in this position, establishing and editing the Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales, and founding the Hawkesbury Agricultural College and the Wagga Wagga Experiment Farm. He instituted programmes to distribute seeds, plants and cuttings and travelling demonstrations.

In Springwood he agreed to lecture on Springwood soils and manures for fruit and arranged a lecture for the new Springwood Progress Association by Mr A. H. Benson, fruit expert. The Agricultural Gazette sang the praises of Ellison’s orchard, also on the Hawkesbury Road. Ellison, it was said, did not use animal manures.

Unfortunately, in 1893, the Department of Agriculture was virtually closed down. This was seen as a result of Anderson’s giving evidence regarding political appointments in the Department of Mines at a Royal Commission into the civil service. In September of that year he was appointed principal librarian at the Free Public Library, a position he did not want and one that paid a lower salary. Two months later, the Nepean Times reported that he had let his young orchard and sold some of his land to a gent from Sydney. His connection with Springwood did not end here, however. He had been one of the original members of a committee formed in 1888 to organise the building of the Frazer Memorial Presbyterian Church and in December he was present at a concert to raise funds for the new Church. It was a highly acclaimed musical event where members of the musical Deane family, large land owners in the district, performed to the delight of the audience. Charles Muzio Deane, the cellist, played several items, and Miss Effie and Miss Edward Deane sang. H. C. L. Anderson paid a high tribute to Miss Edward Deane who had organised the concert and performed so well.

Anderson, in his new position of librarian, displayed his usual ability by streamlining the Library, initiating new programmes and practices and building a library that was truly a State Library. He introduced the employment of women, set up educational courses for the staff, annual stocktaking and the sending of small parcels of reference books to country students. In 1896 he wrote the Guide to the Catalogues of the Reference Library which later became the Guide to the System of Cataloguing which is still the basis of cataloguing practice in the State Library. In 1901 he introduced the Dewey Decimal System of cataloguing.

Anderson became friends with David Scott Mitchell and moved out of his house attached to the library to accommodate the 10,000 books donated by Mitchell. Anderson was still having problems with the Public Service who instituted a Select Committee to enquire into his alleged abuse of postal concessions, undue preference shown to Angus & Robertsons as agents for the library and the presence of ‘decidedly blue’ books in the collection. He was totally exonerated and it was recommended that the Mitchell wing of the library be built.

After becoming Director of the State’s new Intelligence Department in 1905 and Government Statistician in 1907, he again was appointed to an agricultural position in 1908 when he became Acting Undersecretary and Director of the new, independent and stronger Department of Agriculture.
Henry Charles Lennox Anderson died in 1924.

Shirley Evans

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