Dr. Busby’s Cottage, Bathurst

    A rare colour photo of Dr Busby's Cottage on Howick Street Bathurst, circa 1960s. (Image source: Bathurst City Life)

    240 kilometres west of Sydney, in Bathurst, a temporary green ban was placed on the destruction of the town’s oldest house. The single-storey wooden cottage in Howick Street was built in 1836 for Dr George Busby, the then Government Medical Officer in the district. In the early twentieth century it operated as Cranbrook Maternity Hospital, under the direction of nurses Edith Mitchell and Esther Colga. In 1930 the cottage was purchased by sisters Myrtle and Mable Kessey where they resided for several decades before they sold it to a Sydney-based development company. Marayong Developments planned to demolish the house to make way for a four-storey office block with a basement carpark. The ban was placed in response to opposition to this on the part of the National Trust, Department of Urban and Regional Development, Bathurst City Council, the Bathurst Historical Society and the Bathurst Action Committee to Secure Unified Planning.

    A meeting was held by the BLF in Sydney on 7 January 1974 to discuss the future of Busby’s Cottage. It was decided that a joint inspection of the site, by the company, the National Trust, and the union would be carried out on January 10th with Marayong prepared to resell the cottage to the National Trust or the Federal Government (without profit) if the decision was made to preserve it. Ultimately, it was found that Busby’s Cottage was beyond repair, it was missing most of the original joinery and the structure itself was compromised. Joe Owens, the BLF representative for the inspection, agreed that the building was just too far gone. The union considered the matter and decided to lift the ban on 20 January 1974. Dr Busby’s Cottage was subsequently demolished and the site became a car yard which today stands vacant.

    References
    Verity and Meredith Burgmann, Green bans, red union: the saving of a city, 1998; Bathurst City Life, ‘Time Warp – 17 May’, 2018, < http://www.bathurstcitylife.com.au/category/time-warp/page/4/>.

    Research provided by Isabella Maher

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