In the 1900s, Goulburn farmer and orchardist Frederick Shepherd was hailed as the ‘Apricot King’ of NSW. He grew more stone fruit on the sunny slopes of ‘Teneriffe’ than anyone else in the state. The property’s trees’ slight elevation was enough to escape the worst of the frosts.
Acclaimed architect Edmund Cooper Manfred designed a two-storey mansion for Frederick. The original 1845 north-facing bluestone cottage comprised two rooms, one of which was a large meat safe able to hang at least 12 sheep. Edmund designed elaborate additions to create a home reflecting the success of Frederick, who lived there with his wife, Anna, two sons and two daughters. A third son was killed in World War I, in 1918.
But in more recent times, long after those halcyon days, ‘Teneriffe’ stood vacant on the northern outskirts of Goulburn and was almost destroyed by fire, vandals and neglect.
Steve Hazelton bought the property in 1987.
“Mum thought I was crazy, and she was right,” he says.
Steve could see the potential of reviving the ‘Teneriffe’ story, which is worth revisiting to appreciate the life and times of its original owner.
A good cricketer who owned racehorses and show jumpers, Frederick was riding his horse, Warlock, along a fence in December 1900 when a neighbour’s bull, pawing the earth and bellowing for the cows on ‘Teneriffe’, smashed through the fence and gored Warlock in the chest, inflicting fatal wounds to the horse.
In December 1920, when the orchard’s trees were loaded to the ground, ‘Teneriffe’ produced 100 tons of fruit. From the 700 apricot and 1200 cherry trees on 50 acres of orchard, between 800 and 900 cases were sent to markets in Sydney, Albury and Leeton.
Plums, pears, apples and grapes were also grown there, and Frederick grew the district’s first crop of strawberries.
The Shepherds’ daughter, Violet, became a prominent apiarist, winning Sydney Royal Easter Show ribbons for her fine honey.
Frederick died from pneumonia in August, 1923, aged 77. JA Hutchinson continued growing fruit at the property in the following years.
Another owner, Colin Cameron, died in 1925. The farmers had enjoyed the bounty from ‘Teneriffe’, with dairy cows, sheep and pigs. Many years later, in 1980, ‘Teneriffe’ was on the market with 150 acres of land.
Current owner Steve leads an equally colourful life as Frederick once did, albeit in different arenas.
A vocalist and lead guitarist in a Sydney band in the early 1980s, Steve also published classic motorbike magazines, and he continues to import and sell classic bikes. He was handy with a bricklayer’s trowel and hammer while restoring ‘Teneriffe’.
His partner, Sandra Greenstein, says Steve rebuilt a small cottage near the main house.
“He lived in it until he decided where to start on the big house,” she says. “One day he just decided to make a start.”
A mountain of work awaited throughout the five bedrooms, three large rooms on the ground floor and conservatory at the rear.
A backhoe was brought in to demolish unstable back walls. At the time, council said the entire building should be bulldozed. Floors had rotted away, windows were smashed and other sections had been removed. Digging out rubble beneath the floors took weeks, and underpinning was needed everywhere.
Steve completely rebuilt the front verandah. Intricate detail on the ceiling roses took two weeks to paint.
“A ruby, glass hallway light was given to me by an old chap who purchased it at the original clearing sale in 1964,” he says. “He just dropped it out and said, ‘This belongs back here, I want you to have it.’
“The original sidelights on either side of the front door were found in a paddock 100 metres from the home – vandals must have grown tired of carrying them away.
“One of the hardest things to do was replacing the old pediment in the centre of the building.”
Steve rebuilt a front bay window and a new jarrah staircase after vandals had burned the original one. Repairs are ongoing, although crumbly bricks will need replacing with more modern alternatives to protect the interior from the weather.
Out near Mary’s Mount, ‘Teneriffe’ faces the city of Goulburn as if it has witnessed generations of people who have toiled hard and enjoyed the fruits of their endeavours.