Print Page Close Window
Lonsdale  |  European History and Heritage
Glenheath Barn
Photograph courtesy of the Local Studies collection – City of Onkaparinga’s libraries.

Originally settled in the early 1840s in the movement of colonists south from Adelaide into the Morphett Vale region, Lonsdale took its name from the English place, Kirkby Lonsdale, from where one Henry Johnson had come. Johnson’s daughter, Margaret, married a local farmer Thomas Henry Tank. Tank, at one time, leased land from Miss Dorothy Sheriff and gave the name Lonsdale to his property. A local railway siding came to bear the same name, and, in time, the suburb.

Local farming families of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries included Tank, Sherriff, King, Liston, Eagan and Bain. Farming continued in the area until the mid-1970s. Orchards, vineyards, cereal cropping and hay production were all mainstays of the region.

The South Australian Government, through the Housing Trust, had purchased a large amount of land in the vicinity. From the late 1950s, portions of this land were set aside for industrial and housing sites. The Port Stanvac oil refinery and firms like Chrysler (now Mitsubishi) and Sola Optical were among the first to occupy the manufacturing sector. With the onset of industry and of suburban development, the smaller farms became unprofitable and by the 1980s there were few, if any, farms left.


Glenheath home & outbuilding
Photograph courtesy of the Local Studies collection – City of Onkaparinga’s libraries.

Built by the King family in about 1846, the original Lonsdale farmstead stood the test of time for some fifty years. The Liston family, who set up the first commercial almond grove there in the 1890s, built a new house in 1895.

In due course, the Eagen family farmed the property until the 1970s. During their occupation, the Eagens saw the introduction of new forms of agriculture, assisted in planting vineyards, made the move from horses to motorised tractors, and had the benefit of water reticulated from Happy Valley Reservoir.

By 1974, the coming of manufacturing industries and of suburbia, made agriculture unprofitable. The house is indicative of the farming heritage that once sustained the local economy.