You could easily miss this small cottage among the grand residences of Pennington Terrace. It survives from the earliest days of the colony. Similar to the nearby Religious Society of Friends’ Meeting House, it is also a prefabricated timber house sent from England.
Henry Watson brought his family to South Australia in March 1839. They also brought with them a prefabricated house from Henry Manning’s London company. Henry’s brother-in-law John Barton Hack had arrived in the colony two years earlier, when building homes was difficult. No doubt Hack suggested to his brother-in-law that it would be wise to bring his house with him.
However, the Watsons were not thrilled about by the idea of living in the prefabricated house. They thought about selling it instead. By June 1839 Henry noted that the house was being built and he intended to advertise it for sale. Unfortunately, a poor economy made it difficult to get a good price. The family had to stay in the house for most of 1840. During that year they built a brick façade and added a brick-paved verandah.
The house was eventually sold. It changed owners several times before becoming part of St Mark’s College. The building has since been renovated. Only the two front rooms show any signs of the original prefabricated panelling.With so few of Manning’s houses around today, it is rare to find two of them side by side. Walkley Cottage is not only an important South Australian architectural treasure, it has national and international significance.