Tintern is a single storey mansion erected in 1855 for William Westgarth. The oldest part of the house is a ten room portable iron dwelling, manufactured by W. and P. McLellan of Glasgow and erected in 1855. Between 1870 and 1894 the house was dramatically extended, before some demolition of the eastern section in the late 19th century. There have been some largely undated alterations in subsequent years.
How is it significant?
Tintern is of scientific, historical and architectural significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
Tintern is of scientific (technical) significance as a very rare surviving example of a 19th century pre-fabricated iron dwelling. Manufactured by W. and P. McLellan of Glasgow, the earliest part of the house illustrates the application of 19th century industrial techniques to housing construction and provides some idea of the nature of colonial development in the middle of the 19th century. The importation of portable houses to Australia reflected both the shortage of materials and workers in gold rush Victoria and the economic reliance of the colonies on Britain. While a large number of pre-fabricated dwellings were imported to Victoria during the gold rushes to cope with Melbourne?s rapidly growing population, very few now remain here, or, indeed, in the world. The use of decorative cast iron to simulate traditional rendered finishes, including brackets and scrolls, is a notable feature of the house.
Tintern is of historical significance for its association with William Westgarth (1815-1889), eminent pioneer colonist, author, politician, merchant and historian who was responsible for the construction of the building, although he owned it for only a short period.
Tintern is of architectural significance for the two 20th century fireplaces which are the work of the noted architect Harold Desbrowe Annear.
The crown grantee of the land on which Tintern stands was T. Colclough, who obtained the property in 1845. William Westgarth acquired the 105 acre property around 1853, at around the same time he resigned his seat in the Victorian Legislative Assembly to return to England. It wouold appear that while in Britain he ordered a pre-fabricated structure for erection back in Melbourne. Westgarth sold the house in 1857 and the property passed through several hands before being acquired by the noted architect William Butler late in the 19th century. Major additions which are generally sympathetic to the Italianate style of the original iron house were made between the 1870s and 1894. In 1902 much of the estate was subdivided and sold. The property is now (1999) owned by descendants of William Westgarth.
Associated People: AL Smith (probably the supervising architect for the erection of the pre-fab)
William Butler (lived there in late 19th century)
Harold Desbrowe-Annear (responsible for 2 20th century chimneys)