St Mary’s Lodge, 15 St Marys Street, Willunga

The original part of the house is believed to date from the 1840s. It was greatly enlarged and extended after it was bought in 1862 by Thomas Martin, owner and operator of the Willunga Slate Quarry, whose home reflected his position in Willunga at that time. The rear eastern pug and stone section is part of the original 1840s building. Martin family descendants lived in the home until 1956.

Thomas Martin and his brother John arrived at Port Adelaide in 1847 on the ship La Belle Alliance. Thomas had been employed in copper and tin mining in Cornwall and had earned a reputation as one of its foremost tin-dressers. Initially he thought that he would try his luck at the Burra mines but, on arrival, decided to settle at Willunga after hearing about the discovery of slate. As early as 1849 Thomas Martin advertised slate for sale from a Willunga quarry. Later, in about 1856, Thomas Martin and Sampson Bastian(senior) were partners in the quarry opened by Thomas Williams and Thomas Polkinghorne in the early 1840s. It gave employment for some 40 years to about a dozen men and carried on a large inter-colonial trade, principally in flagging. They worked several quarries in the vicinity and after the partnership was dissolved, Bastian’s and Martins’ quarries continued operating independently of each other. Martin worked his quarry until his death in 1900 after which operations continued under his son Thomas.

Thomas Martin (senior) spent a short time at the Victorian goldfields, where he achieved some success. In 1878 he visited Europe and attended the Paris Exhibition in 1879. Thomas took an active interest in politics and engaged in local matters. He was appointed to the South Australian Commission of the Peace in 1874. For several years he was chairman of the Willunga District Council, and took an active interest in the Willunga Agricultural Society.

Thomas was married twice, firstly to Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Polkinghorne, who was another pioneer of the slate industry. They had four surviving children: Thomas, John, Ernest Edward and Grace Elizabeth (Mrs Dunstan). In 1868, after Elizabeth’s death Thomas Martin married Mrs. Bridget Hall, the widow of Inspector Hall.

This building is on the State Heritage Register (SA Heritage Places database #5284)

References:

R Baxendale & F Lush Willunga Walks Willunga National Trust Willunga 2010 (1989).
Chronicle Saturday 10 February 1900.
The Register Wednesday 30 November 1927 p5.

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