Home' The Mt Barker Courier : The Courier - 2015-05-20 Contents PAGE 16 – The Courier Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Marble Hill, near Ashton,
was the Vice-Regal summer
residence for the SA
Governors from 1880 to
The two-storey residence
was designed by architect
William McMinn as a
40-room home but only 26
rooms were built.
The grand home was
destroyed during the Black
The Governor, Sir Robert
George, and 14 members of
his family and staff were at
the house and escaped the
blaze by sheltering under
wet blankets in the lee of a
The site was managed
by the National Trust
from 1967 and then the
Department for Environment
and Heritage from 1992-
2009, and looked after by
the Friends of Marble Hill for
many years until its sale to
Patricia and Ed Michell.
By Genevieve Cooper
Restoration work has started in
earnest on the ruined remains of
the Vice-Regal summer residence at
Its owners, the Michell family, say the
renovation of the tower is well under
way and once finished work will start on
placing a roof on the main residence.
Work is also progressing on the old
stables with contractors stripping the
building back to what it would have
looked like before the structure was
converted into a car garage in the 1930s.
Patricia Michell said the stables, with
their “magnificent view out over Adelaide
and across the Gulf ”, would eventually
be used as a cellar door or event venue.
The main residence, which was
destroyed in the 1955 Black Sunday
Bushfire, will also be turned into a
Mrs Michell (nee Bishop) grew up at
Basket Range and she and husband Ed
bought the heritage-listed 20ha property
in 2009 because they wanted to make sure
the place was developed in a sympathetic
The multi-million dollar project kicked
off at the main residence in late 2014
after years of cleaning up the land and
the construction of an out building for
machinery and a work station.
“Scaffolding went up around the tower
in October 2014,” Mrs Michell said.
“Stonemasons have since cleaned,
repaired, replaced and repointed the
stonework on the upper two levels of
the tower above the roof line of the main
“The tower was completely gutted by
the fire of 1955 and renovated by the
National Trust in 1975.
“Forty years later the timbers are
rotting and need replacement.
“However, engineering regulations have
changed so we now need to insert a steel
structure into the tower for earthquake
protection, and the staircase needs to be
“The top of the tower was taken off by
crane at the end of March and the old
timber staircase was lifted out through
“Steel brackets will reinforce the tower
with steel rods inserted to the stones
holding up the stone balconies.
“A steel staircase has been fabricated
in sections by Johnson Steel at the top of
Magill Road, and that will be craned into
place before the roof goes back on.”
The Michells have sourced ironbark
timbers from outback Queensland to
build the new gazebo on top of the tower
and the new roof will be built onto that.
The original tower was made of sheet
lead, but that melted in the bushfire.
The National Trust built the tower roof
with galvanised iron and slate.
The new tower roof will be clad in new
“By later this year we plan to be back
at the same stage the National Trust
achieved by 1975, but hopefully with
a renovation that will last not just 40
years, but well into the next century,”
Mrs Michell said.
While the main house is a building site
and generally off limits to the public, the
Michells did conduct some small group
tours during their History Month open
The property will be open to the public
again in October for spring wildflower
The old stables are being stripped back to how they would have looked pre-1930 when
they were converted into a car garage.
New engineering regulations mean the tower has to be reinforced with steel brackets.
In March a crane was used to take off the top of the tower and to lift out the old timber staircase.
Marble Hill restoration work well under way
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