The Warwick Historical Society has maintained the historic early home of Pringle Cottage at 81 Dragon St, Map 16 E6, along with six other buildings.

Within the cottage from 1898 till 1905 Mrs Frances S Pringle and her daughter Miss FHM Pringle ran a private school, Milton College, from the upstairs rooms. Thus the many students attending would eventually respond to the concept of this being the Pringle’s Home, or the Pringles School. Then later this became popularly known as Pringle’s Cottage, still retaining this today within the museum.

25th year

Pringle Cottage is celebrating its 25th year on the Queensland Heritage Register, having been entered into the government historic records on 21st October 1992.

But the little home’s history prior to Pringles’ school is even more exciting, as this history helped create many of the fine early buildings of Warwick.

Warwick was a major town just after Queensland colony separated from the NSW colony, even providing a Premier. So, many important artisans were attracted to the city. Much land was surveyed and subdivided.

The land on which the cottage stands was first acquired on 11th August, 1862 by Edwin George Rigby as a proper separate title called a ‘Deed of Grant’.

The Scottish artisan, John McCulloch was attracted to the city at about this time, a little earlier in 1862. He was fortunate enough to be able to purchase the land from Rigby in September 1863.

The importance to Warwick of McCulloch’s settling here is that he was, not just an artist, but a genuine stone mason.

Between 1871 and 1874, he built this fine stone home for his own residence. Married to Margaret who died 7th July, 1883. They had 5 children. Second wife, Janet Reid, no further children. There is some suggestion that various private schools operated in the building, with one possibly as early as 1872.

John’s contribution to Warwick can be seen in the sandstone buildings upon which he worked: St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church was completed in 1869, St Mark’s Anglican Church 1868, and the Warwick Central State School 1874, the Methodist Church 1875, and The Court House in 1885. He would also have designed the walls and ornate fences of many of the district’s private homes. 

After 30 odd years of residence, the home was transferred from John to Mrs Helen Devine in March 1902, and a short time later to Elizabeth Ann Devine in April 1903. 

Elizabeth was again a long-term owner, and must have, for some considerable periods, rented the building, with one of the tenants being the Pringle family.

After some 26 years, Elizabeth sold the property to Archibald and Mary Crawford on 8th November, 1929. Again, they enjoyed the property for a reasonably lengthy period of 13 years, before selling in 1942 to Evan James William Mason. Evan and his family had some stake in the property until, in November 1979, the Warwick & District Historical Society gained possession.

In the 1870’s John McCulloch had constructed a truly fine building which has stood the test of time. The importance of the structure to Warwick is because of John’s thoughtfulness of design, not so much the short-term school use by one tenant.


John McCulloch built the two-storey home with sandstone blocks, and an inviting stone facade facing east to Dragon St. The then rather modern feature of a corrugated iron roof and box guttering would have allowed the then innovative capture of rain water in tanks.

With two chimneys and three fireplaces as well as a cooking fire place in the kitchen and loose cast iron fire grilles, the home would be warmed with coke and coal fires.

The home could have a basic four main rooms on each floor, with the upper level using the economic attic principles which allow significant rooms partially within the roof-space while having a roof pitch steep enough for snow. In this case a larger room was created on the top floor. John would have envisioned a school use from the start of his planning. 

Indeed using every home for some form of home business was quite normal; John would use a part of building to ply his stonemasonry trade, and either rented out, or provided for another member of the family, the space for a private school. These days, someone might use this type of space for a home childcare centre, or a bookkeeping office, a hairdresser, or as a barrister’s study; while the tradesperson would make use of the garage, or then, the stable.


Education in Scotland was normal for many children from about the 1400’s. Schools had been established in the Middle Ages through Church Choir Schools and Grammar schools. Education was further encouraged by the Education Act in 1496 requiring sons of barons and sons of land-holders to attend the Grammar schools, and encouraged them to attend the new universities. Girls also attended schools in very large numbers. Even William Wallace, played by Mel Gibson in the 1995 film Braveheart, could speak Latin and French.

The Scots educated their children centuries before the English made education universal. While the English might have built an Empire, the Scots, being educated in writing and numbers, ran the Empire as the Paymasters and the Architects … and the Teachers. The Scots were fully justified in being ‘canny’ - careful with money, knew how to save and invest, and ‘could do’ almost anything. So, little wonder, John McCulloch would make space in his home for a small school.

Other Buildings

Other buildings on the land include Eastwell Hall. This was the former Willowvale Presbyterian Church, built in 1909 by volunteers. The building was moved to Gillam St Glennie Heights in the 1950’s. In 1972 as church attendances had receded, the building was made available to the Historical Society in exchange for them just covering the removal fees. The hall, in its present position was named after a former president of the historical society, Leslie Burt Eastwell, whose father had also been a society-founding member.

The pre-1900 saddlery & carpentry building from Canning Downs sheep/horses station also made several moves before arriving at the Museum in 1974. Sometimes this had the title ascribed to it of manager’s cottage or overseeing leading hand’s cottage.

A more modern building, a la 1982, is the Emporium, which, as the name suggests, is the shop for the Museum, where, says the chairman, ‘the Pocket Book is used all the time’. Pocket Book has been around Warwick for so long that it needs a history shelf of its own. The first Warwick Pocket Book was in 1991, a year before the cottage was officially noted on the Historic Register.

From Karara came the “The Shepherd’s Hut”. Sometimes these are made from iconic “Wattle & Daub”, but this was much more robust being constructed of split logs.

The Warwick Daily News donated a building to the centre, together with historic printing presses. For many years the Daily was the smallest circulation daily newspaper in Australia, and built up a significant history of events. But times change, as the Daily became part of the Australian Provincial News Group, and now that group has merged into Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited.


The Machinery shed rounds out the buildings currently on site.

Entrance Fee

While various buildings have been donated, the cost of renovation and upkeep is continuous. Most income is from the ‘normal commercial venture’ method of charging a small entrance fee of $7, with some concessions at $5. Open Thursdays to Sundays, with Mon & Tues closed. Open Times are Thursday 9 am - 12 noon, Fridays 10am - 3pm, Saturday 12 noon - 3pm, and Sun 12 noon - 3pm. All other times, especially for coaches, are by appointment.

The Committee

Bernie Stephens, a retired farmer, is the current President. Phone 0429 941 073.

Emails:   and  

Other committee members include: 

Barbara Bokenham, retired bookkeeper, and Brian Bokenham, retired engineer, both well-known at the Probus group.

Greg Sizer, Landscaper; and Ev Eastwell. At last count, there were 16 volunteers making the museum zing.

Gerry Clarke B.PED