By Cathy Jones
‘Balnagowan’ was built in 1914 for its owner Walter Esmond Arnott, Director and General Manager of William Arnott’s Ltd, biscuit manufacturers. Arnott resided at ‘Balgnagowan’ until his death in 1955.
Approval to construct a brick residence was granted in April 1914 for its owner Walter Esmond Arnott. The builder was M Bills, Broughton Rd, Artarmon. The approved application was for a brick residence of more than seven rooms with an estimated construction value of £1900.
Walter Esmond Arnott (1879-1955) was the director and general manager of William Arnott Ltd, biscuit manufacturers. He lived at ‘Balnagowan’ from 1914 until his death in 1955 with his wife Mary Pattinson Arnott (1887-1954). He was the grandson of Arnott’s founder, William Arnott and became general manager of Arnott’s Biscuits. He was known as Mr Wally to his staff at Arnotts. He was later appointed a director of the William Arnott Ltd after the retirement of his uncles John McLean Arnott and Samuel Arnott.
The Arnott family are of Scottish descent. Walter Arnott married Mary Patterson Ross in 1905. The house name ‘Balnagowan’ is likely a reference to the ancestral castle and Scottish seat of the Ross Clan which is built on the shores of the Balnagowan River.
Like other members of the Arnott family, Wally Arnott was a renowned sportsman. He was the singles Bowling Champion of NSW 1901-11 and doubles Champion NSW 1912. He also won a succession of yachting competitions.
The Arnott family were prominent in Strathfield’s history. The Arnott Biscuit factory was established at Homebush in 1906 and became the largest biscuit factory in the Southern Hemisphere. Many members of the Arnott family lived in Strathfield in 20th century due to his close proximity to their business at Homebush.
Parts of the grounds were subdivided in 1955. Following the death of Arnott in 1955, the house was sold to Nancy Fischer and by 1957, the house was sold to Elizabeth Hayman and her husband, Stanley Hayman, an engineer.
Department of the Valuer General NSW – Valuation List – Valuation District of Strathfield
Family Notices” The Maitland Weekly Mercury (Marriage Arnott-Ross) (NSW : 1894 – 1931) 5 August 1905: 1. Web. 6 Sep 2020 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article126619887>.
Fox & Associates, Strathfield Heritage Study, 1986
Notice of Land Transfer under Local Government Act 1919
Strathfield Council Building Register
Strathfield Council, Minutes of Council Meetings
‘Walter Arnott’, Who’s Who in Australia