The dry-stone retaining wall and steps outside my home at 437 Barrenjoey Rd. Newport Beach were built by my grandfather Eric Isley (1899-1978) in the 1920’s. The stone came from the nearby quarry at the end of Bourke St, near Porter Reserve, Newport.

My grandfather began living in the house at 437 Barrenjoey Rd. in the early 1920’s and from that time he ran a general store in the front part of the house. The store did good business, particularly on weekends when, as now, people would motor to Newport Beach for the day.

In 1926 my grandfather married my grandmother Lillian (nee Lewis, 1899-1981). She helped to run the store, and they opened a tea room on the eastern verandah for which my grandmother did the cooking and waited on tables.

In 1930, as my grandmother was expecting their first child, my grandparents closed the store. This coincided with the arrival of a piped water supply to the area, and my grandfather, already a Fitter and Turner and Electrical Engineer, trained as a Plumber, Drainer and Gasfitter. He established his own plumbing business run from this address which continued until his retirement around 1970.

By the mid 1930’s he was manufacturing his own “ISLEY” brand copper hot water tanks. The tanks were entirely made at this address, including the winding of the electrical elements. The thermostats and ceramic bobbins for the elements were the only items outsourced. My grandparents continued to live here for the rest of their lives.

The stone wall on Neptune St was undertaken by my grandfather to retain the bank outside this property and provide access to the front door, at a time when the local council did not undertake such work in this area. It is certainly part of the historical fabric of this district, and such original features dating from this time are rare in this area.

I have made a search for early photographs of the wall, but the earliest one I can find dates from the late 1940’s. (see photos)
Any incursion into the stone wall would be a lamentable destruction of the historical and environmental context of this house and the surrounding area. It would also considerably diminish the amenity and enjoyment by myself and my family of this property.

(Submitted by Jonathon Frost)

Dry Stone Wall Photo 1

Dry Stone Wall Photo 2