By Cathy Jones
‘Belcutha’ is located on the Hatherley Estate, which was subdivided in 1913. Each lot on the southern side of Victoria Street was 100 feet wide and over 300 feet in length. The huge land lots encouraged the building of large houses with substantial gardens. In the 1910s and early 1920s, a number of large mansions were built on the southern side of Victoria Street including ‘Belclutha’, ‘Swanton’, ‘Cheppen’, “Girraween’, ‘Bellevue’ and ‘Brockby Lodge’. ‘Swanton’ ‘Girraween’ and ‘Cheppen’ were demolished in the late 1960s and the cul-de-sac Summit Place was developed.
In February 1920, owner Fred Searl Jnr, received approval to build a house with the estimated value of £3000. The house was built on Lot 11 on land with a frontage of 100 feet and depth of 375 feet depth. The house was a brick house of more than eight rooms and slate roof. The builder was Kell & Rigby, Bishop Street, Burwood.
The house is Inter-War Georgian Revival set within formal gardens.
Searl was the son of Frederick Searl Senior, founder of Searl’s Florists and Nursery, a famous Sydney based business. His father Frederick Searl Snr was a resident of Strathfield and died at his home ‘Blair Athol’ in 1920. Searl Snr commenced the business in the 1850s in store in the old city markets (now the QVB building in Sydney) selling flowers, plants and seeds.
He was joined by his two sons, Fred Jnr and John and the family started a nursery business, growing their own flowers and plants at their Botany nursery. Over time, Searls established specialist nurseries including a Kentia palm nursery on Norfolk Island and a cold climate seed and bulb farm in the Southern Highlands. The Searls flower shop in King Street Sydney was an institution.
Following his father’s death, Searl Jnr managed the family business. He was a prominent member of the Petersham Baptist Church and associated with the NSW Homes for Incurables. He died at the early age of 50 years in 1937.
About 1927, the house was sold to Mrs Lily Alma Gough, wife of Henry Gough. In 1928, the Gough’s added a brick garage with a slate roof to the house. Mrs Gough died in 1949 and the house was sold to Arthur White, manufacturer and his wife Clara. By 1957, the house was transferred to the ownership of Clifford Tidmarsh, company director.
Department of Valuer-General, Valuation Lists, Municipality of Strathfield
Emery, Linda. Flowers and fashion: the life and death of Frederick Searl [online]. Australian Garden History, Vol. 20, No. 3, Jan-Mar 2009: 15-17.
Fox & Associates, Strathfield Heritage Study, 1986.
FRED. SEARL DEAD AT 50 (1937, July 20). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), p. 12 (LATE FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved November 11, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article231083797
OBITUARY. (1937, July 21). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 12. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article205564415
Strathfield Council Building Register