Eighteenth Street 12

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Fast Facts
Also known as: Former May Bros Office
Address: 12 Eighteenth Street
Town or Locality: Gawler South
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This single-storey, double-fronted Victorian cottage is constructed of coursed tooled bluestone with a tuck-pointed finish, and rendered quoins and dressings to the façade. Side walls are constructed of overpainted rubble. The hipped roof is clad with corrugated metal and includes chimneys of overpainted brick with banded cap. Windows are timber-framed, double-hung sashes to either side of the central timber-framed door with leaded fanlight. The concave verandah features a central gablet and is clad with corrugated metal, supported on square timber posts with cast-iron feet. A non-original timber picket fence defines the front boundary.


Likely constructed around 1885 and then used from 1900 as a pay office for May Bros.’ Gawler Engineering Works, the former cottage at 12 Eighteenth Street is associated with one of Gawler’s largest industrial businesses of the late-nineteenth century. Its use by May Bros. demonstrates a phase of major increase in the iron manufacturing industry and employment in Gawler by Mays, whereby the demand to take up adjoining property drove development. The former cottage is a good and largely intact example of a late-Victorian cottage of local stone and brick. As May Bros. office, the cottage is associated with Frederick and Alfred May and their May Bros. Gawler Foundry.


The area formerly known as Bassett Town had been laid out in 1858 in response to the establishment of the Gawler Railway Station; it included a concentration of commercial and industrial premises located in proximity to the station, which had been established in 1857. One of the most prominent was the May Brothers & Co. Limited Foundry and Engineering Works, at its peak employing up to 300 staff. The choice of location was an obvious one – placed to take advantage of the transport of raw product inwards and manufactured goods outwards. According to the original subdivision, Eighteenth Street was initially named ‘Blanch Street’ and extended along the northern edge of the May Bros complex.

May Brothers’ industrial operation was established in Bassett Town by brothers Frederick and Alfred May in 1885 and began with one building and a small number of men. It followed a split from James Martin’s business based in Gawler Town and initially focussed on manufacturer of agricultural implements and mining equipment. Within a very short period of time the business expanded on the basis of orders for smelting, crushing, pumping and winding plants. This represented a major increase in the iron manufacturing industry in Gawler by Mays and others. Adjoining land and residential properties were taken up for expansion of the plant and ancillary purposes; ultimately occupying Lots 8-14 in Eighteenth Street, Lots 19 and 20 in Nineteenth Street and Lots 11 and 12 in Twenty Third Street. The subject property was sited immediately east of the foundry and used as an office by May Brothers from around 1900.

Allotment 6 of portion of Section 8 of the Hundred of Mudla Wirra was transferred to William Gow, Gawler South Engineer, in 1885. The owner of the property or date of construction prior to this is unknown. In 1900 the property was purchased by Alfred, William John and Frederick May, all of ‘Gawler Station’, Engineers. On Alfred May’s death in 1920, the property was passed to the May Brothers & Company Limited, then May Bros & JH Jones Limited together in 1925.

Please <click here> to view photos of 12 Eighteenth Street.


This report has been prepared by the following people:

• Nancy Cromar (Flightpath Architects)

• Deborah Morgan (Flightpath Architects)

• Kate Paterson (Flightpath Architects)

• Douglas Alexander (Flightpath Architects)

The study team would like to acknowledge the assistance of the following people:

• David Petruzzella (Strategic Planner; Town of Gawler)

• Jacinta Weiss (Cultural Heritage Centre Coordinator; Town of Gawler)

• Jane Strange (Senior Development and Strategic Policy Officer; Town of Gawler)

Gawler History Team Inc. thanks: Flightpath Architects, Ryan Viney and the Town of Gawler for allowing us access to this important document of Gawler History.



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