Raith Lark Hill Hostel at Campbelltown was established by the Child Welfare Department in 1964. The main house was called Raith, while Lark Hill was a baby and toddler complex that, according to the Child Welfare Department Annual Report of 1966, was within the same grounds. Raith Lark Hill accommodated children of a wide range of ages, from infancy to teens, including family groups, and is thought to have closed around 1990.
The State Library of New South Wales has a collection of photographs of children who were in Raith Lark Hill Hostel in 1978.
Raith Lark Hill Hostel was established in a 16 bedroom house built for HJM Merewether and his wife, Wilhelmina Gore. The house dates from 1903 and was sited on Appin Road. The area, now known as Bradbury, was later subdivided to form French Street, which the property now faces onto.
The Child Welfare Department bought Raith in 1963 from Lend Lease. An advertisement for its sale in The Sydney Morning Herald described it as a fine residence that presented opportunities for conversion to an exclusive club, restaurant, hospital or convalescent villa. It was in a secluded position, amidst landscaped grounds, and boasted 20 rooms including a dining room, guest lounge, two modern kitchens and 158 feet of covered verandahs, plus a two-bedroom staff apartment.
The 1965 Annual Report of the Child Welfare Department described the opening of Lark Hill:
Lark Hill. A recently built single storey private cottage at Campbelltown was purchased and adapted for the needs of 12 pre-school children and is proving most successful. ... The first children were admitted on 10th September, 1964, and to date, approximately 50 per cent of children admitted have been placed in foster homes or restored to their own parents.
'Raith' was a cottage on the same site as the original Lark Hill, opened in 1966, which, as that year's Annual Report claimed, was meant to 'provide for whole family groups thus avoiding the need for separation of brothers and sisters'.
Raith Lark Hill was described in the 1977 Annual Report of the Youth and Community Services Department as a short-term home for children 'of normal development suitable for early placement in the community'. It was associated, by the 1970s, with other cottages which housed pre-school children of similar ages at Guildford (McCredie Cottage) and Baulkham Hills (Thornbury Lodge). There was a married couple in charge in each of the two cottages, under the supervision of a Manager who worked from the Lark Hill cottage. The complex was closed down in the 1990s.
In January 2013, according The Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser, the property was severely damaged by fire. It was still owned by the New South Wales Department of Community Services.
Sources used to compile this entry: Report of the Department of Youth and Community Services for the year ended 30 June, New South Wales government, 1976-1988. Also available at https://www.opengov.nsw.gov.au/main; Child Welfare Department, Annual Report: Child Welfare Department of New South Wales, New South Wales government, 1923-1970. Also available at https://www.opengov.nsw.gov.au/main; Gorrey, Megan, 'Heritage house gutted', Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser, 30 January 2013, http://www.macarthuradvertiser.com.au/story/1266106/heritage-house-gutted/; Homes and Orphanages Listings, Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN), https://web.archive.org/web/20180421161802/http://www.clan.org.au/homes/all/; "Lark Hill" - the Nursery. "Lark Hill" is in the same grounds as Raith. The two homes together care for a wide age range of children [original caption] [Image], Date: c. 1966; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998, https://insideblog.nma.gov.au/2011/02/11/connecting-kin/; 'This magnificent manor house "Raith" - Appin Road, overlooking Campbelltown', The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 1963, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1301&dat=19630901&id=g6ApAAAAIBAJ&sjid=VuYDAAAAIBAJ&pg=1912,4976001.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry and Liam Hogan
Created: 23 March 2011, Last modified: 19 March 2015