One of Wodonga’s most recognisable buildings

Stonleigh is one of Wodonga’s earliest buildings and stands on land granted to Daniel Rhodes in 1854, in one of the first land sales conducted in Wodonga.  The building commenced soon after with the stone walls being 18 inches (46cm) thick.

It passed through several owners including Paul Huon in 1858.  Peter Tenner, a farmer and vigneron took over in 1866 when it was described as “built of stone and having a cellar and a detached kitchen plus outside toilet, and a shed or two.”

In the late 1880’s it was owned by William Smith who had come to Wodonga as a missionary for the Presbyterian Church and who, together with John Whan, storekeeper, was instrumental in building the Presbyterian Church nearby, now the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Between 1890 and 1910 further buildings were added, consisting of double brick walls, two bedrooms, kitchen, laundry with brick and copper, bathroom and side verandah.

William Smith established Wodonga Cordage Works in the Stonleigh buildings.  The front room of the house was the display room for the business which manufactured and sold fishing lines, various types of cordage and water bags, the latter being of hand-sewn canvas.

In November 1897 Wodonga and Towong Sentinel we read that William Smith was to resign his position as minister of the Presbyterian Church and devote his time exclusively to the cordage factory business together with his son.  “The industry has acquired a foothold all over the North-Eastern district.”

In February 1975, Wodonga long time resident, Wally Cottrell, told the Border Mail his “first job after leaving school was with Mr. Smith’s Wodonga rope works at the property known as “Stonleigh”.  “I was paid 7/6 a week for the first three months when my wages went up to 10/- a week and 18 months after I started I was paid 30/- a week. The covered rope walk stretched from High Street to Hovell Street.”

The galvanised iron covered “rope walk” accomodated the entire length of rope during its manufacture.

After 1954 Stonleigh became a bottle depot and bottle museum under ownership of Ray Porta.