1840s Our Campbelltown

Our Campbelltown 1840s


Caroline Chisolm

Situated in a cottage at the corner of Appin and Old Menangle Roads was the Immigrants home. Immigrant girls could rest there on their journey to employment to the “interior”.

Rural labour was needed in the 1840s, but the government had no plans for dispersing the throngs of assisted immigrants who remained in Sydney without employment. Mrs Chisholm found positions for immigrant girls and sheltered many of them in her home. She was granted use of part of the old immigration barracks for her Female Immigrants' Home. Entirely dependent on public subscription, it sheltered up to ninety-six women. Her next concern was to disperse the unemployed into the country. Hundreds of circulars were sent to leading country men seeking information and enlisting support. She soon had resting stages and employment agencies at a dozen rural centres including Campbelltown.

An image of Caroline Chisolm
(Image sourced from Factfile.org)


The first Catholic School for the Colony

The first Catholic school in the colony built by private subscription (by local Irish families) opened in 1840 – as St Patrick's School – in the Quondong building (now known as the Campbelltown Visitor Information Centre). The land was a gift from Dennis and Mary Sheil and the foundation stone was blessed by Archbishop Bede Polding on March 17,1840. Fr John Therry was the driving force behind the school and organised funds from the local Irish Catholic families so their children could be educated. The school was conducted by lay teachers until the arrival of The Sisters of the Good Samaritan in 1887. The Sisters established a convent/boarding school/high school for female students at St. John's Church building(PDF, 233KB) (bordered by Sturt, Broughton and George Streets) as well as continuing with the provision of Catholic primary education at St. Patrick's school. The Sisters also purchased land on the current site of St. Patrick's college and established , in 1888,St John's Preparatory College- "Westview", a boarding school for boys aged 5-12 . St. Patrick's School (Quondong) was closed and sold in 1914 to Mrs. Catherine Teresa Keihone(nee Bourke). It was Mrs. Bourke who is attributed with naming the building "Quondong".

Below is the first known St Patrick's class photo circa 1870 .

Black and white photo of school students in 1800s
(Image sourced from Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

Many local Irish families made contributions toward the building of the first Catholic School in Campbelltown. This extract from the Australian Chronicle lists the subscribers and the funds each family had contributed. Many of these surnames will be recognisable as well known Campbelltown families.

A page from the newspaper that lists families who contributed to the building of St Patrick's School
(Image sourced from Australasian Chronicle and provided by St Patrick's College)

Quondong is strongly associated with the growth of the Catholic Church in Australia. It remained in use as a school until 1914 when it became a private dwelling. This building pre-dates the Queen Street Georgian terraces making it one of the oldest buildings in Campbelltown.

Black and white photo of Quondong Colonial building and the site of the colony's first school
(Image sourced from Steve Roach Collection, Campbelltown City Library )

This painting below was created in the 1980s by local artist Sandy Inglis, depicting school life at St Patrick's School in it's earliest days.

Painting of St Patrick's School in the 1800's by Sandy Inglis
(Image sourced from Campbelltown Catholic Club Collection)

There is a replica of the original 1840's classroom at Quondong, which is now the Campbelltown Visitor Information Centre.

Photo of the replica 1840s classroom at Quondong
(Image sourced from Jeff McGill Collection)


St John the Evangelist Church

Built during the 20s and 30s, St John the Evangelist Catholic Church(PDF, 193KB) celebrated its first mass in 1834, and was formally consecrated in August 1841. The church on the hill, St John the Evangelist, has not always been acclaimed for its architecture. Its square form, 2 rows of windows, and low roof was certainly unusual in design. Father John Therry was the driving force behind it's construction. The first Catholic Church built in Campbelltown, this building still stands on the hill, having been through a career change to become a boarding school.

Black and white photo of St John's Church in 1840
(Image Sourced from Kerry and Jones Collection, Campbelltown City Library)

Kendall's Mill

A relic of the most important industry in Campbelltown's early history, and evidence of Campbelltown's early colonial period status as a granary for Sydney. The industrial revolution came to Campbelltown in the 1840s with the opening of Laurence Kendall's monolithic steam-powered mill at the southern end of Campbelltown's main street. The photo below shows the mill in its busy heyday, with an attached millhouse in which James Bocking later ran a bakery and store. After rust destroyed local wheat crops in the 1860s the mill became a ruin and was pulled down in the 1920s, although Bocking's adjoining millhouse was renovated as Milby Private Maternity Hospital. It is now known as the old Fisher's Ghost Restaurant site(PDF, 227KB) and is a falling-down ruin, but the Campbelltown Catholic Club is hopeful of finding a way to restore it.

Old Kendall Mill House is of State significance for its strong historical association with Lawrence Kendall, who completed the Mill and Mill House in 1845, and operated the mill from 1845 till 1861, living in the Mill House with his family throughout this period. Lawrence Kendall, apart being a significant local figure in Campbelltown, went on to play a significant political role in the early years of governing the City of Sydney, and as a significant businessman. Lawrence Kendall was one of the Millers of Millers Point, after whom Kendall Lane and Mill Lane in Millers Point were named.

Black and white photo of a Mill in the 1840s
(Image sourced from Local Studies Collection, Campbelltown City Library)


One of the finest examples of this classical type of colonial house in New South Wales. Behind the house are the old stone stables, contemporary with the house, with their dormer windows, gables and bargeboards, adding a picturesque note to the composition. 2020 marks 50 years of public ownership of Glenalvon(PDF, 405KB). Built 1841, by Michael Byrne, this elegant sandstone house now belongs to Campbelltown City Council and is the home of the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society who hold regular open days and historic tours.

A black and white photo of Lithgow street, a horse and cart and Glenalvon
(Image sourced from Kerry & Jones Collection, Campbelltown City Library)

Varro Ville House

With cast-iron verandah supports, french windows and marble fireplaces, it was a local showpiece in the 1840s, when it was owned by James Raymond, the first Postmaster General. Another owner of this beautiful property was the famous explorer, Charles Sturt. Learn more about Varroville House(PDF, 50KB).

A photo of Varro Ville House, built in the 1840s
(Image sourced from Jackie Green Collection)