Lesley Harwin's house
In January 1955, Lesley Harwin (1904-2003) purchased newly subdivided land in Watson Street Ermington, which had most recently been the site of a nursery, and built a two-bedroom timber framed fibro bungalow with her husband Cecil John Harwin (1900-1983). Post-World War II shortages of existing houses and building materials meant that Sydney-siders frequently turned to fibro cottages, which were economical and relatively quick and easy to erect. Two of the largest suppliers of fibro cottages, James Hardie & Co (Fibrolite) and Wunderlich Ltd (Durabestos), advertised widely and provided buyers with a wide choice of different home plans.
When the house was photographed in 1998, Lesley had recently moved into a nursing home, but the modest-sized house still retained many of its original 1950s fittings and paint finishes. The living room fireplace, and fit-out of the kitchen and bathroom are highlights. The bathroom walls are possibly lined with Tilux wall panels, which is a fibro board designed with a marble finish, that was waterproof and inexpensive compared to ceramic tiles.
The furniture, furnishings and ornament often predate the construction of the house and reflect Lesley Harwin’s interest in antiques and Australian history. For almost two decades Lesley Harwin was secretary of the Parramatta & District Historical Society and wrote articles for local papers and advocated for the history and heritage of the area.