George Chirnside's Experimental Dairy Farm, Crawfords Road, Werribee South.
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This property referred to as either the Duncan farm house (after the manager) or as George Chirnside’s Experimental Dairy Farm, consists of a rendered brick farm house and a cheese room. The farm house is a long building with verandah (now enclosed) along one side. It has a hipped roof. The house has been quite altered.
The most important building on the site is a cheese room, a two-roomed weatherboard building near the house, complete with terracotta tiled floor and cellar. The building is comprised of a ‘building within a building’ for insulation purposes and features long thin door openings at the corners of the cellar end of the building. Brick courses have been added at the base of the external walls in recent times.
This place was documented by Andrew Ward in his 1990 study ‘Werribee growth area heritage report’. It was inspected and the cheese room documented in the 1994 Rural Heritage Study. It is thought to have been damaged by fire in 1995 and may have been demolished.
This property was originally part of Thomas Chirnside’s huge land holdings between Point Cooke and the Werribee River. By 1890 the Werribee Park Estate passed from Andrew Chirnside, on his death, to his two sons, George T. Chirnside and John Percy Chirnside. Both leased out their farms to tenant farmers to avoid a State Government tax on unimproved land.
The Chirnside’s built farm houses for these tenant farmers and made other permanent improvements. This property was used for the breeding of the Chirnside’s prime stock. Productivity improved greatly. George Chirnside’s experimental dairy farm was hailed as a success. A butter factory was built near the railway as a convenience to tenant farmers (who were independent suppliers). By 1904, the Chirnside’s had sold some of these tenanted farms by auction.
John Duncan, after whom Duncan’s Road is named, managed this property as a tenant farmer for the Chirnside’s.