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Allan slab hut

This is a rudimentary, hand-built hardwood hut built after 1900 by Henry Price, an emigrant miner from Wales, as the home for his family.

The small hut is framed with round timber and hewn timber. The roof is covered with corrugated galvanised iron, the walls are enclosed with ver­ti­cal split slabs, and the floor was of tamped earth.
Henry Price arrived by ship in Maryborough sometime around the turn of the century and was followed some time later by his wife Esther Ann Price and her daughter Blodwen Comely Evans Price. It is believed that the family squatted on their small selection before formally selecting the land in 1913. The possibilities for self sufficiency offered by this selection of one hundred and sixty five acres and three roods, would have brought greater economic stability and autonomy than Esther Price had ever known. Illiterate and twice widowed by mining accidents in Wales, Esther married Henry Price in her middle age and emigrated to Australia with her daughter. Their lives were typical of poor migrants who came to Australia and eked out a living on small marginal selections.
     The slab hut was the first house the family had ever owned and Henry built it himself from hardwood felled, or already fallen, on the property, possibly ironbark or stringy-bark. Esther was a midwife and in Wales had lived in a tiny urban cottage with her brother and five lodgers. She had to acquire a range of new skills to deal with life in rural Queensland. She cooked outdoors at an uncovered hearth and worked five acres of market gardens to raise a small income.
[From the heritage register entry].

Inside the hut. The represents basic bush carpentry, rather than fine crafts­man­ship. Almost all of the timber was cut on the property and worked by hand with axe, saw, wedge, mallet, adze, auger and chisel.

The hut, and the landscape around it, reflect the hard life of the people who established it, and who made their way growing veg­e­ta­bles and working in the coal mine at Howard. Many im­mi­grants lived similar lives, but very few places have survived to show what life was like.

The structure depends on six main posts that extend from the top of the wall down into holes in the ground. By 2008 the bottoms of the posts had rotted and the structure had started to lean. Its condition was precarious.

In 2008, with the aid of a small Queensland government grant, the owners​—​two great-grand-daughters of Esther Price​—​com­mis­sioned me to prepare a conservation plan. Among my rec­om­men­da­tions I said that the structure should be propped straight away. With a further grant, in 2009, this was done.

I also recommended long-term repair work. The owners ac­cep­ted the advice, but were not in a position to act on it.

project details

Client: Private owners.

Year: Conservation management plan 2008, stabilisation works 2009.

Related: Queensland heritage register entry

filed under  House + Timber building

Project types
Award winning
Government building
Industrial site
Timber building

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