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Wayville. Part of the 7,000 book library of the Sporting Car Club of SA in Mawson House. The house was built in 1911 for a chaff miller. Later owners included Schlank a German Jewish jeweller and Bernard Vigor a French restauranteur.

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posted by alias denisbin on Wednesday 15th of May 2019 10:47:09 PM

Wayville. The Sporting Car Club of South Australia has its headquarters in Mawson House on King William Road. The land here was taken up in 1837 by the South Australian Company but it was not developed for housing until 1909. A chaff mill merchant of Adelaide George Branson built a fine stone Edwardian house with a Queen Anne tower and spire on the corner from 1909. Branson disappeared in 1915 and the house was sold to Thomas Comfrey in 1913 who sold it on to Michael Schlank a German Jewish jeweller in 1919. That family kept the house until 1952. The massive strong room built into the arched cellars in the basement dates from that period as the business jewellery was kept here. In the 1960s French man Bernard Vigor (1915- 1998) and his wife residents of Salisbury bought the house and converted it into an up market French restaurant called Chateau Fort. In 1976 the Terra Novas family bought the restaurant and operated it and a nightclub in the basement until 1984. A new owner in 1984 named the house Mawson House. In 1992 the Sporting Car Club of South Australia purchased the property. Their club rooms include much memorabilia and trophies and the largest and finest motoring library in the Southern Hemisphere. The Edwardian house is known for its arches, superb leadlight widows, decorative ceiling panels etc. In some rooms the central panels of the leadlight windows have been replaced with new leadlight and painted windows of seductive French women, probably put in by Bernard Vigor in the 1960s. George Branson. He was born in Freeling in 1863. In 1902 he established the Emu Chaff Mill in Freeling in partnership with Johann Kleinig. They soon opened a mill in Roseworthy but Kleinig died in 1903. Branson went on to employ 50 people in the most up-to-date chaff mills in SA with most of their product exported. He employed 15 men at the Hamley Bridge chaff mill. He was also a director of the International Fertiliser Company at Kilkenny. George Branson retired to the city in 1907 and bought land at Wayville in 1909 upon which be built a new Queen Anne style home now known as Mawson House. But in November 1910 he was in financial difficulties and the partnership with the Kleinig family was dissolved. His Hamley Bridge chaff mill burnt down in 1912. In 1913 he sold his North Unley or Wayville home and bought a house in Wood Street Millswood. Branson was declared insolvent in 1915. He was still travelling to and running the mill at Freeling at that time. George faked suicide at Henley Beach but was located in Sydney where he boarded a steamer for New Zealand and Vancouver. He was arrested in Auckland with £1,500 in his coat. He was returned to Adelaide, charged with defrauding creditors and sentenced to 12 months in jail. His mills and a house called Hatherley on Wood Street Millswood of 9 rooms was put up for sale in March 1915 to clear the business insolvency. After his court case and jail he worked for and became a partner in C. R. Luxton & Co bag and sack company at Port Adelaide. In 1921 he sold his farm at Stockyard Creek near Owen. Before he died in 1936 he was living at 7 Trinity street St Peters and he was buried in Mitcham cemetery. He left an estate of £8,313 which was a big come back from insolvency in 1915. Salis Schlank joined a jewellery partnership which was founded in 1864 with offices in Birmingham, Melbourne and Adelaide. When the partnership dissolved in 1878 Salis Schlank took over the Adelaide based business. After his death in 1892 his wife and then son Michael took over the business. Schlank and Co were commissioned to design and produce the government commemorative medal produced in 1936 for the centenary of South Australia. Schlanks were the longest residing inhabitants of Mawson House. Bernard Vigor married an English woman Doris Hedges in 1938 in Normandy. She and her baby son were among the last civilians evacuated out of France with the start of World War Two. Bernard Vigor completed a Cordon Blue cooking course in Marseille and helped the French Resistance. The family were not reunited until 1947 and in 1952 they migrated to South Australia where Bernard set up a motor vehicle garage and repair shop in Salisbury using his skills acquired during World War Two. He later went back to his passions which was French cooking. Their son born in 1939 in France became a Democrat Senator in the Federal Parliament in Canberra in 1985.When Bernard Vigor died he was buried in the Rosenthal ( Rosefield) Pioneer Lutheran cemetery near Sandy Creek. Bernard died in 1998 and his wife Doris died in 2004.



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  • Published 10.28.21
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