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Killowen

Mt Lawley, architect: Charles Lancelot Oldham, 1903.

The Mount Lawley Society published articles on Robinson and on Killowen in its newsletter, From the Verandah, Jan-Feb 2023. I have taken the liberty of republishing the Killowen material here. The May-June 2023 number has two pages about Arthur Lightfoot and Onkaparinga.

Mt Lawley Society:
2 Ellesmere Road, Mount Lawley - Killowen Estate
The Killowen Estate was the brainchild of Robert Thomson Robinson who set about creating the crème de la crème of garden estates in 1903 on his nine acres overlooking the Swan River – with panoramic views to the Darling Ranges.
There were meandering pathways through rose trellis passages, designer grass slopes, pergolas, arbors and a Roman bathing pool of great beauty.
The completed Killowen gardens were said to contain a greater range of trees, plants and shrubs than any other garden in Australia. Not surprisingly, apparently, there were five groundsmen employed to manage the upkeep. The property had a workman’s lodge, a sundial and an attractive entrance from Ellesmere Road. The house was named after the then Lord Chief Justice in the UK, Lord Killowen. From the Verandah, Jan-Feb 2023.

Killowen was in Thirlmere Avenue, which is now in Mount Lawley. It was part of the original Swan Location Z.

It was built 1903 for Robert Thomson Robinson, KC, MP. The Sisters of Mercy bought the property in 1933 after his death (in 1926) and it became St Anne's Mercy Hospital. A large part of its early function was as a maternity hospital. I was born there in 1943. A much larger St John of God hospital has now swallowed it up.

Killowen, built in 1903, was named after the Lord Chief Justice of England. The House was designed by architect Charles Lancelot Oldham (1865-1920), who also designed Robinson's holiday home Sorrento at Middleton Beach, Albany.
The house is of red brick with a stone foundation, with Marseilles tiles, gables and a red granolithic verandah. By all accounts the house was well furnished.
The auction to dispose of contents furniture & effects at Killowen was well attended and lasted three days 6-8 December 1933. The plan of the house gives an indication of the comfortable lifestyle. There are thirty rooms and four bathrooms.
The ground floor included a cloak room, billiard room, study, drawing room, dining room, writing room and an impressive entrance hall. There is ample provision of built-in linen closets, pantries, and cupboards, with a nursery food lift from kitchen. Hot water was provided from a boiler and electricity and gas were connected.
Social divisions are maintained in the house with the main entrance off Ellesmere Road with featuring a carriage drive and porte cochère. There are separate staircases for the staff, and a tradesman's entrance off Thirlmere Road. There is provision of additional separate staff quarters for the gardener and the chauffeur away from the house.
In keeping with the notions of the time about the value of fresh air and exercise, there was provision for sleep on verandahs and balconies It is likely with a large family, the tennis court and swimming pool were well used. (Source unknown, from MaylandsHPA flickr set for Killowen.)

Estate agent's advertisement from 1911. The large block already has Killowen (1903) on it. The next block to the right, Lot 23, was purchased in the 1950s by Arthur Daley. The last to the right, Lot 22, became the property of Arthur Allan Lightfoot, whose house on it was called Onkaparinga. His brother-in-law was Peter Albany Bell, who built the Albany Bell confectionary factory 'castle' which still stands in Guildford Road (at 1 Thirlmere Road) and was immediately to the east of the the Lightfoot house. Bell and Lightfoot married sisters from South Australia, whence the name of the house also comes.
Killowen still stands, having been converted into the original St Anne's Hospital, but both the Daley house and Onkaparinga have been demolished, as the whole area is now St John of God's Mt Lawley Hospital.

Killowen in the middle of its estate.

I had my piano lessons all through childhood - until I failed my AMusA exam in 1961 - from Phyllis Daley, who lived in her father's large house in the area shown above with the dash/dot line. I thought my lessons started a few years before 1955 (despite the date on the above plan).

Map showing the hospital buildings added around Killowen. I am personally very interested in this image, as it shows the Daley house on the next property to the north-west. I remember Arthur Daley, on one occasion when I arrived for a lesson, driving golf balls off his lawn into the Swan River. He gave me one (golf ball). I was delighted.

Unknown source, found in the flickr set referred to below:
History of Mercy Hospital Mount Lawley
On January 9, 1846, the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Western Australia and brought a very special quality to the wellbeing of the fledgling Swan River Colony. Sister Ursula Frayne arrived with five other Sisters of Mercy to found a Mission in Western Australia. The Sisters had nursed at the Crimean War and cholera outbreaks in Dublin and wished to extend their care to Australia.
In 1932, Mother Brigid McDonald identified some of the health services that, at the time, were limited in Western Australia. Through her efforts, the Sisters of Mercy acquired Killowen House Mount Lawley and in 1937 opened St Anne’s Nursing Home in order to fulfill those unmet needs.
The original staff were Sisters Eugenius Fox as the first Matron. Attracta Byrne, Assumpta McMahon, Gertrude Willoughby. Josephine Fitzpatrick, Eymard Quinlan, Magdalene Eagers and Cyril Flynn. They were the first Nursing Sisters of Mercy in Western Australia.
Sister Gertrude Willoughby was the first religious midwife in Australia and established a tradition of midwifery excellence amongst the Sisters of Mercy. St Anne’s was the first Maternity Hospital run by a religious order in Western Australia.
Over the years the Hospital grew in size and complexity. A new two storey wing was added in 1941 and a new maternity wing followed in 1958. This housed the first Catholic Midwifery Training School in Western Australia. In 1973, extensions were added to the maternity wing and a 100 bed General Hospital was opened. A fourth floor was added in 1980 and Killowen House was no longer used as part of the Hospital and was converted into Medical Suites. In 1995, the Maternity Wing was converted into the Mercy Medical Centre and the Family Birthing Unit was incorporated within the General Hospital. [probably unfinished]

References and Links

MaylandsHPA flickr set for Killowen.

The Sisters of Mercy convent (1847) is in Victoria Avenue, Perth, as is Mercedes College, the associated school.

See also: ONKAPARINGA AND THE LIGHTFOOT FAMILY, and see there mention of Arthur Daley.

From the Verandah, Jan-Feb 2023 with information about Killowen and R.T. Robinson.


Garry Gillard | New: 23 December, 2021 | Now: 7 May, 2023