Eskbank House and Museum

eskbank-house-with-sign

Eskbank House and Museum

Eskbank House and Museum is an unique Lithgow institution which celebrates the past with a wide range of activities from theatre to seasonal events and science-based days to bring the community together in a spirit of fun and enquiry.

At Eskbank House and Museum

at Eskbank House and Museum

The original Eskbank House was built from Australian cedar and local sandstone on Wiradjuri land by Alexander Binning for Thomas Brown in 1842. Brown was the first local industrialist, establishing the coal industry in Lithgow.

The fairly simple house is perhaps the first significant house built in the Lithgow area. It consists of four rooms connected by a hallway, attached to a court-yard which leads to the kitchen and wood-room. Together with its outbuildings, Eskbank House provides a wonderful insight into early colonial life.

In the 1920s William Mortlock enclosed the courtyard and extended the building. Then Eric Bracey, a local businessman, bought the property in 1948 and spent many years re-furbishing and re-furnishing the house. Eventually he donated it to the people of Lithgow, and in 1966 it was opened as one of the first house museums in NSW.

eskbank-in-spring

At Eskbank House and Museum

Now Eskbank House stands in a hectare of beautiful lawns and gardens. The four front rooms have been preserved much as they were in Thomas Brown’s day, and house the Bracey Furniture Collection, with some beautiful early Victorian furniture. They also contain the Nationally Significant Lithgow Pottery Collection, and many objects from the history of the ironworks in Lithgow. These include popular heritage items in the grounds such as Possum the Locomotive.

Originally named Cyclopes and built in 1912, Possum was brought to the Lithgow Blast Furnace from England in 1919 by Hoskins Bros to work in the Lithgow iron and steel works. After time in Port Kembla it retired in 1967, was donated to the Lithgow District History Society and moved to Eskbank House in 1969. Other exhibits include a hansom cab and a pennyfarthing bicycle, as well as a Buffalo Pitts Engine used to haul coal and two skips from the State Mine.

Visitors to the museum can enjoy a group tour of the museum or wander by themselves amongst the buildings and gardens. The Courtyard Gallery hosts regularly changing art exhibitions of community and professional art, including an event called Waste2Art.

sketching-at-eskbank

At Eskbank House and Museum

Eskbank House also hosts music concerts, plays, and themed events such as the Roaring 20s Garden Party, Steampunk Festival and a Halloween Fashion Parade. Its Treasures from Home event invited people to bring along an object with a story about its significance to the local area. These included specially commissioned jewellery, a babys night dress and a pair of convict manacles.

possum-the-engine-with-visitors

At Eskbank House and Museum

The popular Eskbank Steampunk Festival turns the house into a Victorian Village of the future. Eskbank Steampunk is such a wonderful experience, comments Lithgow City Council Mayor Maree Statham. The activities, displays, markets and high tea are all first class, but it is the visitors in costume that really win the day.

Eskbanks 1950s party, commemorates the Blagoyevich family which lived there during the 1950s and held parties there with Michael Blagoyevichs band The Fugitives. It offered dancing to the Ridgey Didge Duo, a milk bar with bottomless milkshakes, and a carnival with 50s wheels and flicks. Other entertainment included the balloon pop and ring toss, croquet with the local Lithgow Croquet Club (which started in the 1950s, badminton, totem tennis and quoits, as well as 50s cars and caravans from the Lithgow Historic Car Club. There were also prizes for the best 50s threads in the Hip Threads Competition.

Theatre also finds a home at Eskbank House. The local Blast Furnace Theatre brought a childrens picnic theatre production Hansel and Gretel to Eskbank House in

steampunk-fun

At Eskbank House and Museum

2015, with the audience travelling all over the grounds of Eskbank House with Hansel and Gretel. Writer and director Catherine Lockley also created and directed the Vampire Masquerade Fashion Show as part of the Halloween 2016 festivities.

pip-poster-plus-audience-eskbank-house-and-museum-lithgow-30-may-2015

Pioneers in Petticoats at Eskbank House and Museum earlier in 2016

And Blaxland and Daughters moving one-woman play Pioneers in Petticoats in 2015 brought four outstanding colonial women to life in this perfectly appropriate colonial space. This year Blaxland and Daughters Matilda Fish and the Bushranger will perform there too.

Eskbank House also embraces the sciences, holding a Pollinator Week Workshop where the community took part in activities including building a bee hotel, identifying pollinators and making seed-balls. Eskbank has celebrated International Mens Day too, with a Movember event including a barbecue.

So Eskbank House and Museum continue to be a vibrant part of Lithgow life, led by Lithgow Councils imaginative Cultural Officer Wendy Hawkes, backed by Council and helped by a dedicated team of wonderful volunteers.

 

 

Matilda Fish and the Bushranger – tickets now on sale!

Matilda Fish main image

We’d love you to join us at Blaxland and Daughter’s new production which brings alive a forgotten story from Sydney’s North Shore. Who remembers when bushrangers roamed this respectable area?

Matilda Fish and the Bushranger brings to life the real story of a woman who was held up twice by the same bushranger, William Geary in her house which stood right where Killara train station stands today.

Meet Matilda and William in early colonial Sydney, where times were hard and life was tough. Convict William Geary escapes six times with his gang of desperate bushrangers. Matilda Fish attempts to make a new life for herself and her family on Sydneys rough North Shore, and is determined to testify against the bushrangers. Travel with these two extraordinary people through their daring escapes and adventures in an exciting, fast-paced story. And watch out for gang member John Whiteman, the flying barber, a master with soap and a cut-throat razor!

Acclaimed actress Brigid OSullivan from Pioneers in Petticoats will play Matilda Fish, joined by versatile British actor Andy Simpson.

Our creative team includes director Jessica Blaxland Ashby, designer Deirdre Burges and composer Andrew Chessher. Wendy Blaxland and Jessica Blaxland Ashby are the mother and daughter team behind Blaxland and Daughter, which has already successfully toured CROSSING and Pioneers in Petticoats around NSW.

PERFORMANCE DETAILS

Brush Farm House, Eastwood

  • Saturday 20th August 3pm and 6pm
  • Saturday 10th September 3pm and 6pm
  • Saturday 22nd October 3pm and 6pm

Hughenden Hotel, Woollahra

  • Thursday 1st September 6:30pm
  • Friday 2nd September 6:30pm

Eskbank House and Museum, Lithgow

Saturday 17th September 3pm and 6pm

PRICESTicket prices $20-30 (discounts for families and groups 8+)

Book now

There will be a few tickets available at the venue on the day of the performance (no phone bookings). Eskbank House and Museum has some tickets available at the Lithgow Visitors Centre.

William Geary the Bushranger Soldier and bushranger William Gear Matilda Fish from Killara

A little bit of history

How Blaxland and Daughter began….

Wendy Blaxland and Jessica Blaxland Ashby launched a family theatre production company, Blaxland and Daughter, in 2012. Wendy and Jess have worked together since 1998 at Marian Street Theatre for Young People (MSTYP) where Wendy is a playwright and member of the Board, and Jess took on stage, backstage and front of house roles before becoming Business Manager in 2015. Wendy is a prize-winning writer who taught drama at the University of New England and worked with her mother Audrey Blaxland, founder of MSTYP, the longest continually running children’s theatre in Australia. Jess gained her BA at Macquarie in Performance Studies and then her MA from the Central School of Speech and Drama, London. She has a special interest in puppetry and also works at the Sydney Opera House.CROSSING 100 Bathurst Cathedral Primary 110914 Jessica BA Wendy B cutting cake portrait by Monica Morse

Blaxland and Daughter produced Wendy’s play CROSSING for the Bicentenary commemorations of the crossings of the Blue Mountains, which traced crossings from Aboriginal times through the well-known expedition of Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson in 1813, through the building of the first road led by William Cox, to the founding of Bathurst which led to the opening up of inland Australia, and to the riches gained from agriculture and gold-mining. Between 2013 and 2016 over 17,000 people saw CROSSING, mainly school students, in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, as far west as Orange and Dubbo and north to Walcha. It also held family performances in theatres and historic houses, including Gregory Blaxland’s restored home at Brush Farm House in Eastwood. Gregory is one of their forebears.

In 2015 Wendy wrote a one-woman play Pioneers in Petticoats which Jess directed, to bring alive some important but neglected women who helped shape Australia’s early history, from convict escapee Mary Bryant, through unsung scientist Fanny Macleay and child pioneer Eliza Hawkins to feisty goldfields performer Lola Montez. Coincidentally, their actress, the talented Brigid O’Sullivan, also attended Abbotsleigh.

The company has developed a signature style which includes songs, humour and well-researched, exciting or moving stories with an energetic, fast-paced approach. Small casts play a number of characters to bring history alive and validate different points of views so the audience can see how the past and present echo and reverberate.

In 2016 Blaxland and Daughter is touring no fewer than four shows to schools in NSW and Canberra, from Pioneers in Petticoats and its sister show Matilda Fish and the Bushranger, to GOLD and a lively two-person version of Alice in Wonderland. Families can see Pioneers in Petticoats during a Historic Houses tour in Sydney, Bathurst and the Central Coast. See videos of the shows at the Youtube Blaxland and Daughter Channel. More information is available on the website and you can book shows here: https://www.trybooking.com/Event/EventListingURL.aspx?aid=36929, or by calling Ticketek on 13 28 49.

 

2016 schools season

Announcing our 2016 schools season:

  1. Pioneers in Petticoats – returning for a second year
  2. GOLD
  3. Matilda Fish and the Bushranger
  4. Alice in Wonderland

This is our biggest year to date, bringing more shows than ever before to schools. We’ve had such fantastic feedback over the last three years, our only choice is to do more shows!

If you are a school and interested in one of our productions, please contact our schools coordinator Jessica at jessica@blaxlandanddaughter.com or call (02) 7901 1920.