Nant Gwylan and Camden Town Farm

Llewella Davies gave a great deal to the community during her near century of life in the area. From charitable works with organisations such as the Red Cross or Meals on Wheels, to sharing and creating yarns of the old town, Miss Camden, as she was affectionately known, contributed much to the community. But her most lasting contribution, and the one with which most current residents have a connection, is her bequeathing of her family’s 55 hectare dairy farm to Camden Council.

Miss Davies' dairy farm, winter 1994. Exeter Street to left, Macquarie Grove Road in foreground. Looking west. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Miss Davies’ dairy farm, winter 1994. Exeter Street to left, Macquarie Grove Road in foreground. Looking west. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

The Davies property was divided into two sections. The more intimate is the brick federation style house that was the Davies family home. The Davies called it Nant Gwylan, Welsh for seagull brook (nant=brook or stream and gwylan=seagull). Built in the 1910’s it would remain the Davies family home until Llewella’s passing in 2000.

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‘Nant Gwylan’ the home of the Davies family built in the early 1910. Photograph from 1920s. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Its gardens were extensive, and according to the Council Property Report (2002), the garden was of “greater significance than the house”, although it did mention that both were in their original form. Llewella Davies spent a great deal of time in the garden well into her senior years, always accompanied by her dog Tess. The house’s intimacy was retained, remaining in private hands while the rest of her estate, the Davies dairy farm, was bequeathed to Camden Council.

Llewella Davies In her garden, with her faithful dog Tess, at nanat Gwylan. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Llewella Davies In her garden, with her faithful dog Tess, at Nant Gwylan. Copyright: Camden Historical Society.

Evan Davies, Llewella’s father, started the dairy farm on the 55 hectare  property on Exeter Street opposite the house. It is located just on the outskirts of the town leading to the Nepean River, entirely within the famous Camden Flood Plains. According to the Council Property Report (2007), the land is representative of both Camden’s dairy heritage, and also of Camden’s heritage character as a town immediately surrounded by agricultural land. Some of the structures that existed on the farm were in poor condition when bequeathed, but have since gained a kind of rejuvenation.

Some of the old buildings of the Davies dairy farm, now forming part of Camden Town Farm. Copyright: Camden Council.

Some of the old buildings of the Davies dairy farm, now forming part of Camden Town Farm. Copyright: Camden Council.

As Camden Town Farm the property has gained new life within the community. Centred around gardening, the Town Farm facilitates the activities of Camden Community Garden, a hub for community learning through social inclusion and interaction. It comes alive every Saturday with the Fresh produce markets, showcasing the top quality produce from the Town Farm and local producers.

Community groups and individuals growing their own produce in allotments at the community farm. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

Community groups and individuals growing their own produce in allotments at the community farm. Copyright: Camden Council Library Service.

Of the many buildings and farms in Camden, Nant Gwylan and the Davies dairy farm are perhaps the most representative. They may not feature the grand architecture of Macaria or Camelot, or boast the agricultural innovation of Camden Park Estate, but as a symbol of the town, of what it was and what it is becoming, through its transformation from working dairy farm to community hub, it represents the best of Camden past and present.

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