Reinstating Beulah's windows and doors


The SLM Heritage Team is currently working on reinstating the windows and doors into the Beulah homestead, a project being undertaken with the heritage architect Nicholas Powell and members of the local Appin Men's Shed group.

The windows and doors that will be reinstated will match those that were probably fitted into the house around the 1880s. Through research by Megan Martin, SLM’s head of Collections and Access, we know that a significant upgrade of Beulah was undertaken in 1884 for its then owner John Kennedy Hume. Megan additionally uncovered a pair of photos from March 1899 that show the front face of the homestead at that time. The detailing that survives in the timber frames of the windows and door match the features in these photos.

The two front windows were both double sashed with the top sash fixed in place. The bottom sash had no lifting system but would simply have been held open with sash drops. The windows had external louvered shutters, one of the original iron shutter-catches that would have held the shutters open is still in place in the wall. The front door was panelled and topped by a glass fanlight. Some suggestion of the original 1830s joinery survives in a pair of crude pintles in two of the door frames and a similarly hinged hatch door into the house’s attic. From these we assume that the original doors would have been very simply constructed and hung.

It is likely that the 1880s window and door joinery would have been ordered from a trade catalogue, the fineness of the detailing being beyond the capacity of a typical country builder. A wide range of hardware and joinery was commonly available through catalogues at that time. The detailing of the Beulah windows very closely resembles in style and dimensions a standard 10” x 12” window available from an 1890 Goodlet and Smith catalogue that is held by the Caroline Simpson Library.

To find a fabricator for the new joinery the Heritage Team approached the local Appin Men's Shed group. The group has already undertaken other remedial works at Beulah and includes skilled joiners and carpenters. John Davis, a member of the group and retired builder, offered to lead the assembly and installation. Fabrication of reproductions of the remaining original shutter catch has been separately commissioned from one of Sydney’s few remaining practicing blacksmiths.

The existing window and door frames are in surprisingly good condition and much of the timber fabric will be retained. To avoid any future confusion about what building fabric is original versus replacement, the new sashes will be fabricated out of Accoya, a modern modified timber that has the joinery qualities of cedar but with enhanced durability. All new timber will, additionally, be stamped with the date of its installation.

About the Author

Portrait view of man in black long sleeved shirt with arms crossed against background of old building.
Richard Taylor
Former Project Manager
Heritage Team
Richard Taylor was a project manager in the heritage team at Sydney Living Museums.

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