No1 William St was built in 1856 at a time when Port Fairy was called Belfast and was the second largest port in Victoria. The cottage was built by stonemason Benjamin Bowyer with the help of his wife Mary Anne, who collected stone from the common in a crude wheelbarrow.
The Bowyers first built only two rooms, the sitting room and bedroom. These are notably uncharacteristic of a workman’s cottage with large windows and high ceilings. An arched window over the front door and arches each side of the fireplaces also set it apart. A further two humbler bedrooms were built behind. The once external weather board kitchen has been incorporated into the cottage creating a light filled living space with a second fire and French doors to the protected garden.
Other than passage walls, all walls of the first four rooms are, or have been, external and are therefore thick and solid. The passage walls, only around 10cm thick are neither wattle and daub or lathe and plaster as many have speculated, but timber framework filled with stone rubble then rendered… consistent with the home of a stonemason.
The Bowyers lived in this cottage for 3 generations and there have been relatively few owners since. We have held it, welcoming guests, for the last 35 years. It has been carefully restored to retain its charm, character and strong pull of the past while offering modern comforts.
The cottage settles beneath the heritage listed Norfolk pines a short walk across the reserve to South Beach and Pea Soup. Located in the town’s historic precinct the cottage is also in walking distance of all this town has to offer.
Both William St and the No.1 are recorded by the National Trust.