Gallop House in Dalkeith is a two-storey Victorian-style home built in 1877, nestled on the Swan River in Perth.
It is the oldest private residence in the City of Nedlands.
The expansive views from Gallop House are a reminder of the changing and vital role Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River) has played in the landscape known as Nanulgarup, named Dalkeith Farm in 1831 by Adam Armstrong. The riverscape’s changing moods now inspire and sustain creative practices through the Composer in Residence Program.
Adam Armstrong and his family took up Swan Location 85, 320 acres of land on a peninsula on the northern side of Melville Waters on the Swan River. He called it Dalkeith Farm after his birthplace in Scotland. The riverside suburb of Dalkeith derives its name from the estate. Armstrong established a farm including a five acre garden next to the five room limestone cottage he built. Grapes, figs and a variety of vegetables were planted.
Thirty-five acres were also fenced, probably for livestock including goats. In 1834 his eldest son was appointed as the colony’s first ‘native interpreter’ reflecting his expertise with the Noongar language and relationship to the local people. Financial difficulties forced Armstrong to sell the estate for 250 pounds in 1839. It was leased by James Gallop l who eventually bought it in two lots – the cottage and 65 acres in 1847 and the balance of the 320 acres in the mid 1860s.
Originally an indentured labourer, James Gallop l farmed the land extending production and the variety of fruit and vegetables – plantains, grapes, quinces, apples, figs, mulberries, peaches, pomegranates, black and white currents, water and rock melon and even sugarcane. His enterprise flourished thanks to an influx of convicts and an increase in Perth’s population. Gallop l was one of few in the area who had Aboriginal people working with him. One of their tasks was to shoot the tiny but troublesome silver-eyes that attacked the luscious grapes and other fruit. More than 4,500 were shot in one year alone.
“Well he had aboriginals working for him. Every Sunday he would have these chaps all spruced up and off he’d drive to the Congregational church in his open air travelling phaeton.”
The house that stands today replaced the cottage in the 1870s and was home to James Gallop ll and his wife. Lots began to be sold off in the 1890s. Rosalind Fox, the wife of Gallop’s head gardener, was brutally murdered nearby in 1899. The map of the crime scene is now a valuable document giving evidence of the location of various buildings and other structures. The case remains unsolved.
By 1911 the place had fallen into disrepair and the government bought the remaining lots and installed a caretaker. It was lived in over the next decades but deteriorated and fortunately was saved from demolition by the Royal Western Australian Historical Society in the late 1950s. A 21 year lease was signed and Leslie and Bill Anderson moved in, undertaking restoration works in the 1960s.
Over time the place has been saved from destruction firstly by the government and later by the Royal Western Australian Historical Society. Leslie and Bill Anderson lived there through the 1960 and 70s doing much to restore the house and opening it to the public.
“I remember the old Chinese market gardens. Near the bottom of the steps, tho’ the Chinese had long gone.”
The National Trust took over Gallop House in 2009 and, with the generous support of the Feilman Foundation, has been able to conserve and redevelop the house and adjacent land for use for the Prelude Composer in Residence program.
In 2015, archaeology students from UWA discovered the foundations of a store building, remnants of a chimney and more than 6,000 artefacts during a field school. Their research and findings have informed conservation, interpretation and landscaping works associated with the conservation of the place for the composer in residence program.
Gallop House is one of a number of adaptive reuse projects the National Trust has undertaken over the past decade. The reuse of heritage places ensures their significant values continue to have a place within the community.