Dunkeld, Burnside, Parramatta. Digital Order No.: a106152

The opening of Dunkeld, No. 3 Cottage and third of the Burnside Presbyterian Orphan Homes

A crowd of over 1000 gathered at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday, 10 May 1913, to witness the opening of No. 3 Cottage, later to be referred to as Dunkeld. The squally weather of the previous few days had dissipated, allowing for the grounds to be “gaily decorated with bunting”, the Scots Lion featuring prominently. The crowd was made up of locals, who had been kindly asked to make their own way to the grounds, so that the “large contingent of visitors from the metropolis” might be more readily accommodated.

The Right Rev. the Moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly Alexander Smith, was tasked with the official opening of the Home. On Thursday, 8 May, at the sitting of the Presbyterian General Assembly of New South Wales, Smith had received a report from Colonel Burns on the Burnside Presbyterian Orphan Homes. The report indicated that during 1912, 1169 children were admitted to the State children’s relief department, making a total of 9130 children under the supervision of the State. Burns declared that Burnside had land to house 600 children, noting that with three cottages built, 57 children had been admitted. These numbers must have resonated with Smith as he stood on the balcony of Cottage No. 3, looking down at the 57 children “occupying seats immediately in front of the platform … looking happy and contented”.

The proceedings commenced with the singing of the hymn “O God of Bethel”. The children of Burnside also sung a hymn before the Rev. Professor Macintyre delivered an address to the assembled crowd. He declared to the crowd the story of how Burnside acquired its name – a story he would later recount in his 1947 book The Story of Burnside:

They had, he said, running in the lower part of these grounds what Australians called a creek, but which they in Scotland designated by the more euphonious title of ‘a burn’, and on the other side of the stream was an active, moving and generous Burn(s).

Although Burnside was the property of the Presbyterian Church, Macintyre reinforced to those gathered that:

The gates of the Homes were open to any child requiring the shelter they offered, and the question was never asked what denomination such a child was brought up in. The gates of the Homes and the doors of the Homes were open not merely to Presbyterian children, but to orphan children. In the Homes were to be found children from all denominations of the State.

Macintyre emphasised that the work done at Burnside was “the best kind of work that could be done for their land.” He stated:

The greatness of a nation depended largely upon the character of the men and women composing it, and the object of the Homes was not merely to clothe and feed the inmates, but to endow them with such qualifications, morally and intellectually, as to send them forth into the world so equipped for the great battle of life that they, as men and women, would serve God and honour their King.

The themes in Macintyre’s speech echoed sentiments from the presentations delivered at the opening of the first cottage. Not only did he reinforce the notion of the importance of children to the nation, but he again reaffirmed the ‘character’ of Burnside with emphasis on the ‘mother’:

“Each cottage was made to represent a home, and the children in it were in charge of a ‘mother,’ who had the oversight of all. Each one was made to feel that he or she was in his own home.

It was Macintyre’s reference to the Prime Minister Andrew Fisher (a founding member of the Labor party and former child coal miner) in the closing of his speech that resonated in the newspapers reporting on the opening of the third Burnside cottage. Macintyre, after detailing the life duties for which the girls and boys were prepared (the girls for home duties and domestic service, the boys to work the land and not “swell the great population of Sydney”) declared:

The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth was once a poor Scotch boy, and had attained his present high position by his force of character, and his own intelligent mind. Some day, perhaps, a boy from the Burnside Homes might attain to the position of Premier of the State, or even Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. Whether any of these children attained such power and distinction, or whether they were destined for the lonely walks of life, he felt sure that they would honor God, be a glory to their country, and a credit to the Burnside Homes. (Cheers).



Dr. Ronald George Macintyre

Colonel Burns then addressed the crowd, pleased to see such a large gathering and inviting them to examine the newly opened home, with the entreaty to offer any improvements they might like to suggest. The third cottage had been designed by the architects McCredie and Anderson, who had also been responsible for the two previous cottages. Arthur Latimer McCredie and Arthur Anderson were also responsible for the design of many city buildings. McCredie, born in Scotland, had a long association with the Presbyterian Church, and was a member of the Presbyterian Church of Parramatta’s church committee. He also served for some years as an alderman of the Parramatta City Council. McCredie was also known for his charitable spirit – he spent 40 years as the honorary architect on the New South Wales Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, and Blind. The builder of Dunkeld was Mr. R. Lightfoot of Auburn. The Sydney Morning Herald described the cottage, declared by Macintyre to be “built on sound Australian lines”, to its readers:

The new building, which cost nearly £2000 to construct is much on the same principle as the other cottages, being of the bungalow style of architecture…The dormitory, which is exceptionally well lighted and ventilated…provides accommodation for between 30 and 40 beds.

A gold key was presented for the opening of the cottage, as had occurred on the previous two occasions. After the official opening, afternoon tea was provided in the dining room of the new cottage, as well as in a large marquee erected on the lawn. Mrs Paterson, wife of Rev. John Paterson of St. Andrew’s, Parramatta, was in charge of the arrangements, and was “ably assisted by the ladies of the congregation”. The Pipe Band of the Highland Society provided music throughout the afternoon. A sum of £3000 was also collected, including a further £1000 from Colonel Burns. Mrs Margaret Dunlop, who had previous donated £30 to the cause, offered the sum of £750 for the “perpetual endowment of a coat in memory of her late husband”.


£3000 collected. (1913, May 11). The Sun, p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article229841882

Among the orphans. (1913, May 8). The Sun, p. 7 (FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article229847324

Buildings and works. Progress of the trade. (1913, May 20). The Sydney Morning Herald, p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15421846

Burnside home. (1913, May 12). Evening News, p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article113357051

Burnside homes (1913, May 3). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85976341

Burnside orphan homes. (1913, May12). The Sydney Morning Herald, p. 13. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15419499

Burnside Presbyterian homes. (1913, May 14). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85973316

Ermington and Rydalmere. (1913, May 24). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 12. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article85969857

Helpless children. (1913, May 8).Evening News, p. 11. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article113371145

Macintyre, Ronald G. (1947). The story of Burnside. Angus and Robertson, Sydney. [LS R 362.73099441 MACI – ASK AT DESK]

Obituary. MR. A. L. McCREDIE. (1926, April 19). The Sydney Morning, p. 15. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16286595

Presbyterian Assembly. (1913, May 11). Sunday Times, p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article126455122

Presbyterian Assembly. (1913, May 12).Glen Innes Examiner, p. 5. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article180168012

Presbyterian Assembly. (1913, May 12). Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article137622037

Presbyterian Assembly. The finances. (1913, May 9). The Sydney Morning Herald, p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15418966


Bonnie Wildie, Research Assistant, City of Parramatta, Parramatta Heritage Centre 2016