Renwick was established by Department of Community Services in 1976, using the buildings and land that had been occupied by the Mittagong Cottage Homes and Mittagong Training School for Boys. Renwick was a home for dependent children (state wards) of all ages and both sexes. It closed in 1994 and was sold to developers. The site has been subdivided and many of the cottages have since been demolished. Challoner Cottage was heritage listed in 2014.
Renwick was formed from the buildings that had been Mittagong Cottage Homes (for state wards) and the Training Home (for convicted boys). The name Renwick honoured Sir Arthur Renwick, the first President of the State Children's Relief Board, who had established the Mittagong Cottage Homes in the late 1880s. Renwick was a complex of cottages, solely for 'dependent children', as state wards were often described as in the 1970s.
Each cottage home had house parents living in with the children. The 9 cottages were:
Many of the children attended the local schools in Mittagong, while the remainder went to school on the premises.
In 1980, the Department's annual report remarked upon the flexibility of the multi-cottage system at Renwick, and that it enabled sibling groups to be kept together. That year, there were a total of 163 boys and girls living at Renwick. By 1984 the average weekly population at Renwick was 65.
Renwick was closed in 1994.
In 2005, plans were announced for subdivision and development on the former site of Renwick, which had been sold by the New South Wales Government. Many former residents and members of the Mittagong community were concerned about the loss of heritage that would result from the destruction of buildings.
The Renwick Association was formed in 2011. Its members include former residents of Renwick and the institutions that preceded it, former workers and house parents, as well as family members and local people who are interested in the history of this institution. Former residents of Mittagong often refer to themselves as 'Govos'. The Renwick Association campaigned for heritage protection of the site after it was sold by the New South Wales government and there were plans to subdivide and redevelop the area, resulting in substantial loss of buildings. The Renwick Association hosts reunions at the site.
In 2014 members of the Mittagong community and former wards were trying to preserve surviving buildings for use as a children's museum and youth centre.
Challoner Cottage was heritage listed in 2014.
1885 - 1976 Mittagong Cottage Homes
1976 - 1994 Renwick
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; Official Renwick (Mittagong Farm Home For Boys) web site, Official Renwick Association: Renwick Association Incorporated, 2011; Renwick (Mittagong Farm Home for Boys) web site, http://web.archive.org/web/20130410184643/http://www.renwick.com.au/smf/index.php; 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; Mittagong Farm Homes: Renwick Mittagong NSW: Caring for disadvantaged and delinquent children 1885-1994, https://web.archive.org/web/20160202065505/http://www.talktome.bigpondhosting.com/renwick.htm; Needham, Kirsty, 'Renwick State Ward Home at the centre of feuding between the government and community group over plans for the site', The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 April 2014, http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/renwick-state-ward-home-at-the-centre-of-fueding-between-the-government-and-community-group-over-plans-for-the-site-20140405-365r6.html#ixzz2yGZgFCP6; 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://clan.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/connectkin_guide.pdf; Email from Kathie Bezer, 9 October 2012.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry and Cate O'Neill
Created: 23 March 2011, Last modified: 21 September 2018