Recently I went along to have a look around Eskbank House. It is located in Lithgow and was the first house built inside the Lithgow valley. Built in 1842 for Thomas and Mary Brown, the house was their residence for nearly 40 years. The helpful guide advised me that they were the only owner-occupiers of the house until it became a museum in 1966. There were various other tenants over the years, mainly mine managers and their families, and the house has had various incarnations over time.
The property was one of the earliest house museums in NSW, opening in 1966. Originally the house consisted of four rooms and a central courtyard. There were fireplaces in each of the rooms, and during my visit on a glorious late autumn morning the flagstone hall had a definite chill despite the warmth outside. It would have been very fresh there in winter.
There have been various additions and demolitions over the years, and there are four outbuildings in the large gardens. There are displays in each of them, including the most recent building which was constructed in 1993. This is the pottery museum and it holds the Lithgow Pottery Collection. There is also a range of industrial machinery in the grounds, including Possum the Locomotive, which worked on the Lithgow Ironworks from 1919 until 1928 when it was relocated to Port Kembla. Possum was gifted back to the museum in 1969.
Throughout the house and the gardens there are various items of interest. The furniture in the master bedroom includes an exquisite four-poster bed, and there are several period pieces of furniture as part of the Bracey Furniture Collection which help provide an insight into how the house would have looked over a hundred years ago. The wide assortment of tools and household paraphernalia in the stables and blacksmith area are a testament to the skilled trades of a bygone era, as are the samples of the Lithgow Pottery Collection.
At the time of my visit, the gallery space (old courtyard) featured some amazing local artwork courtesy of the Waste2Art Exhibition 2016. There are regular exhibitions held here which help to keep Eskbank House a living space and worth a visit.
There is an excellent website on Eskbank House here, and a detailed blog post here by Anne Dignam which helps to flesh out the history of the property. Some of the photos I took at Eskbank House are available through this link.
What brings history to life for you?
[Photo of Eskbank House taken near the stables]