Bancroft is a brick bungalow built in 1927 for Tom Shaw and his family and named Bancroft after Tom’s school in Essex. The house remained in Shaw family ownership until 1996, retaining original architectural features, including brick fireplaces, decorative plaster ceilings, casement windows with leadlight glass and dark stained timbers. Many interior furnishings also remained in situ, including a bedroom suite from Sydney furniture makers Beard Watson & Co. Ltd. The kitchen was ‘updated’ in 1935 with an electric stove. During the inter-war years the front porch was enclosed and the back verandah turned into a closed-in winter sun-trap, a common method for increasing living spaces at the time. The fencing, single carport and ramp were added in 1961.
Of particular interest was Tom Shaw’s tool room, located under the rear of the house in a space formed by the brick foundations. Tom Shaw set up this room in 1928, after the family had moved into their new house, but using materials left behind by the builders. It was a crowded but orderly space, housing a vast collection of hardware and tools for metalwork, woodwork and the garden. Shelving was filled with jars and bottles containing all manner of hardware, boxes housed tools and labelled parcels tied with string and brackets and hooks on the walls held the larger implements. The room evolved through Toms’ changing needs and interests up until his death in 1992. His widow Margaret wrote a short account of the room: “Tom Shaw was twice married. His first wife played bridge and socialised, his second wife went to church and moralised. I suspect his tool room was a refuge from domestic disturbances, as well as a quiet retreat where he could pursue his modest talents”.
Our Home: Emoh Ruo, Reflections on the Way We Live, Historic Houses Trust of NSW, 1995.