Casey & Lowe Pty Ltd were commissioned by Otto Cserhalmi & Partners (OCP) to provide an archaeological assessment of the Toyota building at 139–143 Parramatta Road, Camperdown. The site is part of the former Fowler’s Pottery site which was demolished c1918. The properties associated with the pottery extended to the west and east but the main group of pottery buildings were in the block between Australia and Denison Streets and were within the study area.
The study area is located within the boundaries of two land grants; Thomas Rowley’s 240 acre grant that he named Kingston Farm after his birthplace on the Thames at Surrey and William Bligh’s Camperdown Farm also of 240 acres. Rowley arrived in the colony in 1792 and in 1796 was promoted to captain, serving in Sydney and Norfolk Island.
By 1805 he was using his 1975 acres for sheep farming focusing on meat production rather than breeding or wool. The homestead comprising a dwelling, cooking house, servants’ rooms, gig-house and a stable was built on high ground and surrounded by a garden.
During the first half of the nineteenth century the standard of Australian-made pottery wares had improved resulting in local demand increasing. This in turn stimulated the on-going development and expansion of the industry. It has been estimated that in the period between 1840 and 1860 only seven potters (as distinct from brickmakers) operated in New South Wales.
Enoch Fowler was born in Newtown Stewart in County Tyrone, Ireland. Several generations of the Fowler family worked in the pottery trade and Enoch followed in the tradition.
Soon after his arrival in Sydney Enoch Fowler established a pottery on leased land on the northern side of Parramatta Street (now George Street) between what are today Harris and Wattle Streets, Broadway. After building a small up-draft kiln he began manufacturing salt glazed storage jars and ginger beer bottles from clay found on the site. His early pottery was simply stamped ‘FOWLER’ or ‘E. FOWLER’.
Fowler moved his pottery to Bay Street, Glebe, behind what was then the site of the Lansdowne Inn in 1854. With a staff including his son Robert from about 1856, and a number of young boys, ginger beer bottles, blacking jars and household goods were made for the local market. Goods were stamped ‘E. FOWLER POTTER SYDNEY’ during the period 1854 until about 1863.
Anticipating the growth of his Glebe pottery works and knowing that Camperdown had a good source of clay, from c.1861 Fowler began to acquire land in North Kingston later known as Camperdown. By 1863 the pottery works had outgrown the Bay Street site and the pottery was moved to Camperdown, a site which they would occupy for more than fifty years. Enoch Fowler died in 1879 at the family residence on the site of Fowler’s Pottery at Camperdown and was buried in cemetery of St Stephen’s Church, Newtown. The business was carried on by Enoch’s eldest son, Robert Fowler and later by his grandson.