Berridale's earliest history revealed

TWO recent working bees at the old Aitchison House in Berridale have brought to light an incredible slice of Berridale's earliest history.

Earlier this year, the Committee removed the breeze-block addition built in the 1960s. Then on Sunday March 9, they removed the modern wall linings. The results are spectacular.

Now for the first time in more than 40 years the history of the building from the earliest stages of the pioneering era to the "settled period" of the 1880s can be seen.

Removal of the breeze-block addition exposed the remains of the original timber slab hut built sometime in early 1840s. The roof beams and a huge hand-adzed corner post of the of slab building are now exposed.

The structure of the slab building is also highly visible inside the house. The building was "renovated" in the 1860s, possibly to house Berridale's first Post Office which opened in September 1869. Some of the exterior slab walls were replaced with stone while inside wooden panels were added of the walls.

To their delight, the committee uncovered a wooden panel bearing the date "1865"!

In 1886 the two-roomed hut and nearby blacksmith shop were sold to Arthur Mawson, a builder from Cooma. He extended the original two-roomed hut into a small house with a brick fa ade.

In the late 1880s, Mawson leased the house and smithy shop to Daniel Aitchison who purchased the property in the 1890s. The Aitchison family lived there until 1954.

The newly-revealed structure can easily be seen from the council chamber's car park, while the 1880s fa ade remains visible on the creek side. It is a walk back in time to the very beginnings of Berridale.

The Committee is now faced with the huge task of raising the necessary funds to preserve a unique part of Berridale's heritage. The first event is a dinner dance in Berridale on April 26. Please come and help preserve this wonderful historical asset for our community and for future generations.

- Article contributed by the Old Aitchison House Committee.

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