Family’s call for heritage protection of iconic Bendigo home

RESEARCHER: Tony Knox in Bendigo this week continuing research on his father Alistair's legacy and pushing for the protection of one of his projects. Picture: NONI HYETT
RESEARCHER: Tony Knox in Bendigo this week continuing research on his father Alistair's legacy and pushing for the protection of one of his projects. Picture: NONI HYETT

Related: Architect calls on city to save Bendigo's iconic 'golden-era' mud-brick home

The son of the man who designed and constructed an iconic home which faces demolition was in Bendigo this week to further calls for it to receive heritage protection. 

Retired businessman and restaurateur Tony Knox has spent the last several years researching the legacy of his father Alistair – a man regarded by his admirers as the father of the modern mud-brick movement in Australia. 

The late environmental designer built more than 1000 houses but Strathdale’s Nanga Gnulle is believed to be his only work in Bendigo. 

Mr Knox – who ran a second hand and antique store in Carlton – said the 1973 home constituted an important part of Bendigo’s built heritage and that it would only gain value with time. 

“Bendigo has maintained many colonial-era buildings but the heritage value of mid-century homes are becoming increasingly recognised,” Mr Knox said.

“It’s the same with antiques – everyone is buying mid-century pieces now.

“This home is going to become increasingly important and it deserves protection.” 

Mr Knox is not the only child of a Nanga Gnulle builder calling for the site to be protected. 

CALL TO ARMS: Jacquie Anderson and Cathy Spencer are calling on people with a connection to Nanga Gnulle to help save their old family home. Picture: NONI HYETT

CALL TO ARMS: Jacquie Anderson and Cathy Spencer are calling on people with a connection to Nanga Gnulle to help save their old family home. Picture: NONI HYETT

As young girls Jacquie Anderson and Cathy Spencer helped their parents Rob and Peg Green source the materials and build the mud-bricks for their family home. 

But while the architect’s son is primarily concerned with the “Knox box” Ms Anderson and Ms Spencer want an interim heritage overlay to also encompass the sanctuary building – which hosted hundreds of weddings over several decades – and the property’s two hectare gardens. 

“The building is significant not only in Bendigo’s but in Victorian architectural history,” Ms Anderson said. ”But with these buildings, the way they were designed was all about incorporating the gardens as part of the building, as part of the way of life. 

“And once that’s all gone, it’s gone for good.” 

Ms Spencer said the family had received hundreds of letters of support since news a demolition and subdivision permit had been lodged for their family’s former property.