By Cathy Jones
‘Tiptree’ was built in the first decade of the 20th century and was located on land bordered by Llandilo Avenue, Wakeford Road and Kingsland Road Strathfield.
The house was built in 1908 for the Reverend Charles T. Newman (1841-1911), a Methodist minister, and his wife Elizabeth Newman (nee Vickery). Mrs Newman was born on-board the ship SS Tiptree in 1860 and the house name was derived from this source.
Elizabeth Newman (1860-1942) was the daughter of Ebenezer Vickery MLC (1827-1906) who lived at ‘Edina’ Waverley. Vickery amassed a vast commercial empire and large fortune from a diverse range of business interests including manufacturing, shipping, mining and property. He was one of Australia’s wealthiest men. After his death in 1906, his estate was valued at over £500,000, which was left to his family with large donations to the Methodist Church, of which Vickery and his family were devout members.
Four of Vickery’s children settled in Strathfield in the early 1900s, including Elizabeth Newman, Joseph Vickery of ‘Strathfield House’, George Begg Vickery of ‘Inveresk’ Coventry Road Homebush and Amy Alfreda Vickery of ‘Lauriston’ The Boulevarde (now Santa Sabina College). Both ‘Tiptree’ and ‘Lauriston’ were designed by architect Alfred Newman, son of the Rev. Charles Newman and his first wife, Emma.
Elizabeth Vickery (1860-1942) married Rev Charles Newman (1841-1911) in 1900. Newman was widowed with several children from his first marriage. The Newmans moved into ‘Tiptree’ in 1908. In the same year, the Strathfield Methodist Church was built in Carrington Avenue, mainly funded by the Vickery family. Like ‘Tiptree’, the Church was designed by architect Alfred Newman. The Rev. Newman was the first pastor of the Church.
‘Tiptree’ was a grand home, set within expansive gardens and tennis courts. The house shares many similarities in design to ‘Lauriston’, the home of Mrs Newman’s sister Amy, which is now part of Santa Sabina College.
Rev. Newman died in 1911, but Mrs Newman continued to live at ‘Tiptree’ until her death in 1942. She hosted many charitable events at ‘Tiptree’, such as fundraising for the war effort and made the house available for meetings and educational seminars especially for the Methodist Church.
In 1926, Mrs Newman gifted Leigh College, the Methodist Training College, on Liverpool Road Enfield, the amount of £2000 to build the Ebenezer Vickery Memorial Chapel in memory of her father.
After Mrs Newman’s death in 1942, ‘Tiptree’ was sold to the Red Cross, who converted the home into a convalescent home for women of the auxiliary services. It was the first Home in NSW which was purchased, renovated and furnished for women serving in World War II. ‘Tiptree’ was renamed the Eva Hordern Red Cross Home and was opened on 11 March 1944 by the Minister for Army, the Hon. Frank Forde.
In 1948, the Red Cross converted the home into a tuberculosis diagnostic and treatment unit. The ground floor was fitted out as a tuberculosis clinic and upstairs was a 15 bed unit for the accommodation of expectant mothers suffering from tuberculosis. The unit liaised closely with Crown Street Women’s Hospital.
In 1956, the Red Cross submitted a subdivision plan to Strathfield Council to subdivide the land on which ‘Tiptree’ was sited. The subdivision plan involved demolition of the house and creation of 17 land allotments fronting Llandilo Avenue, Kingsland Road, Wakeford Road and the cul-de-sac road Tiptree Avenue. Following approval of the Plan in October 1956, land from the ‘Tiptree Estate’ was advertised for sale.