Lost Moruya – Braemar Farm Homestead
“It (Braemar) was situated not far from town on the road to South Head. The homestead stood high on a hill overlooking the Moruya River. The lounge was 26 feet long and led to the front verandah via French doors. Rose vines grew on the verandah and a path led to a rose-covered front gate. Ma had rose gardens front and back of the house.
Pamela Oxley (Wiggins)
Not Just Ordinary People, 1995
When the remains of Braemar’s chimney, the sole remnant of the once lively homestead, ‘disappeared’ very recently, the homestead of Braemar Farm, a building that has overlooked Moruya from 1879, officially became part of ‘Lost Moruya’. However, while the physical building – the wooden and brick structure – has gone from the built environment, Breamar Homestead is still very much part of Moruya’s heritage.
Homes are organic creations that grow and change over time according to the needs of the families that live in them. Old homes like Braemar hold banks of memories of great celebrations – births, engagements, parties and anniversaries – as well as of more solemn occasions such as death. They also hold recollections of meals cooked, gardens tended and rooms furnished. These memories provide a sort of mental time capsule of how people lived at different points of time in a home’s history.
In this post I hope that I can provide a small snapshot of life at Braemar from 1924 to 1942 , when Sidney and May Louttit and family made the homestead their home. I have been extensively helped by Shirley Jurmann, one of the Louttit clan.
History: Braemar Farm Homestead was build c 1879 by Dr Henry Kirwan King, Moruya’s second doctor. The home was built as single storey weatherboard structure overlooking Moruya . The original cottage was simple in its construction, built to a typical four room plan with verandas on three sides.
Dr King is remembered for flying a flag to indicate when he was home and available to treat patients in a time well before telephones..
Following Dr King’s departure for England the then 25 acre farm and homestead was bought by Eliza Thomson for 274 pounds in November 1900. The property was then purchased in May 1916 by Matilda Emmott, the wife of Abraham Forster Emmott. The property seems to have been used primarily as a family residence at this stage.
In 1924, Matilda Emmott sold the property to Sidney Louttit, a farmer of Moruya. The Louttits, like the Emmotts, were a well known and respected extended family in Moruya. The Louttit Brothers had established a quarry outside Moruya in 1858.
Sidney Louttit (1881 – 1949) and his wife Sarah May ( known as May) Louttit and family settled on the property. The family established the Braemar property as a thriving cattle stud and dairy farm. Sidney and May Louttit had five children:
- Eunice Minnie b. 8-2-1905 (known as Minnie)
- John Sidney b. 18-4-1907 (known as Jack)
- Victor Leslie b. 27-2-1909 (known as Vic)
- Roland Mervyn b. 12-8-1910 (known as Roly)
- Daphne May b. 10-2-1916
Braemar and the Louttit family: Pamela Oxley, the granddaughter of Sidney Louttit, described her memories of “Braemar Farm” in her book, Not Just Ordinary People (1995) Pamela allows us to glimpse inside Braemar through the lens of an adoring and curious grandchild.
“Braemar” was my special place. I always felt it was “home”. The lounge room was twenty-six feet long. Sid and May held monthly Euchre Parties to raise money for the Church of England. There was a piano with fold back candlesticks. Both Mum and Daphne learned to play the piano and when I was older the music on top of this piano was handed down to me. It now belongs to our daughter Sandra. Two pieces I remember well were “Land of Hope and Glory” and “Advance Australia Fair”. Daphne’s favourite was “Broadway Melody”. By the front door was a long old fashioned wooden padded sofa. There were cane lounge chairs with black velvet cushions hand painted by Mum. The dining room suite had a round table that could be extended. The sideboard was my delight because it was filled with china and silver. When I was good “Ma” would let me sit on the floor and look at the beautiful things in that sideboard.
The mantelpiece over the fireplace held more wonders. In the centre was a Sydney Harbour Bridge covered in red velvet and shells that had been made for my grandmother by the Aborigines. Each side of this were two beautiful glass black cats. The lounge room led out onto the front verandah via French doors. Two bedrooms led off one side of the lounge room. One was the “blue room” with pillow shams embroidered with blue birds and the other had white embroidered pillow shams. Both beds were covered with Marcella Quilts. Ma and Pa’s bedroom was on the opposite side of the lounge room. Ma always had eider downs on the beds. These she made herself. I have helped her collect the duck down and sat beside her while she sewed these quilts.
One thing I liked very much about “Braemar” was the French doors that led down the steps from the lounge room to the dining room. The top half of the doors were stained glass pictures of two Crusaders, one to each door. There they stood in full colour, dressed in chain mail armour with the big white overdress and the large red cross on the front. They stood resting on their swords. Many times I have wondered where these Crusaders are now. “Braemar” had a large kitchen and a pantry room.
As the family grew so did the house. Before Minnie Louttit married Clarence Wiggins in February, 1929 a garage was built for the Louttits’ new car, a 1927 Chevrolet Tourer, bought especially for the wedding.
One early anecdote that Pamela relates is about the property’s stove – no doubt the stove that sat at the base of the chimney that watched over Moruya for over a century.
When Sid took possession of the homestead he found that Abraham Emmott had removed the fuel stove. As this was a fixture it should have remained. May stood her full five feet two and demanded the restoration of the stove. Abraham Emmott was a very respected man in Moruya and people were not expected to dispute his decisions. But May stood her ground and her stove was re-installed.
Sidney Louttit successfully ran Braemar as a cattle stud and dairy farm, with stables, barns, a piggery, chicken houses, a tennis court and orchard.
During the Louttit’s time at Braemar, the house became a centre for local social events. Monthly Euchre parties to raise money for the Church of England parish were held at Braemar as were other fund raisers for the Red Cross.
In 1942 Sid and May retired and went to live in Campbell Street, Moruya. Braemar was leased to the Cowdroy family. When Sidney Louttit died in 1949 the farm was left to daughter Daphne and son Vic. The property when eventually sold.
Later lessees and owners used the property as a working dairy farm, to grow corn and to raise beef cattle. Over time the house was rented out and finally left to stand empty and neglected.
In 2010 the homestead was demolished. The chimney was the only part of the house that was left standing.
In July 2015 the chimney ‘disappeared’.
Today only the bunya pine remains as a reminder of this part of ‘Lost Moruya’.