Frank Witherspoon originally built the "comfortable and convenient" Redcliff. The house had been completed by July 1891:
"Mr F. Witherspoon, of Newcastle, is now settling in his new home, Redclifff, erected on the heights of North Waratah, which is so attractive to the eye of the visitor. It is one of those comfortable and convenient houses, with large and well ventilated rooms, airy halls, duplicate staircases, well designed servants’ quarters, which have every comfort for the working of a large establishment. Electric bells, hot and cold water to all requisite parts, and everything to make work a pleasure instead of a burden, is provided. The spacious 8 feet verandah and balcony, which surrounds the place, gives shelter from the changeable weather and hot sun and is very handsome in design. The owner is busy laying out the grounds, which for years have been in preparation, and are now studded with trees and flowers: and when the whole is finished, the effect will be charming."
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate. 28 July 1891
"Frank Witherspoon was an importer, grocer and general produce dealer, born in Bristol, England in 1835 and left there at the age of 15 to pursue a sea faring life. About four years afterwards he ran away from his ship in Hobson’s Bay, and remained around Melbourne for about five years, then made a trip to England and returned a few months later. He spent more time at sea as a mate on an Australian coaster.
"In 1861 he married and settled in the Hunter River district, where for ten years he was alternately working for the Lambton Colliery Company , dealing on the river.
In 1871 he started a small fruit shop in Blane Street, and shortly afterwards relocated to larger premises.
"In 1878, he purchased a valuable allotment of land and stores and started his importing business, becoming the largest purely retail grocery outside of Sydney. His premises were located opposite the Honeysuckle Railway Workshops at Honeysuckle Point. He was a large owner of property, being the proprietor of the A.J.S. Bank in Charlton Street and other valuable buildings. He was described as an '…architect of his own fortune, never having received any pecuniary assistance whatever, his competence having been attained by strict attention to business.'
"He was married to Elizabeth Anne and had three daughters. His residence was Redcliff in Crebert Street, Mayfield."
Turner, John. Who was who in the Hunter Valley towns in 1888. Newcastle, NSW: Hunter History Publications, 1984.
Perhaps Frank Witherspoon named his house after an area of Bristol where he was born - Redcliff.
"Redcliff Hill is an area which is between the New Cut (a man made canal) and the River Avon and the old city dock area. Its an interesting area with a huge parish church - St Mary Redcliff ... and under the Hill are Redcliff Caves, man made caves which extend right under the Hill and have a bit of a mystery about them - they are only opened once a year!"
Bristol forum. <http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186220-i479-k776332-Redcliff_Hill_Bristol-Bristol_England.html>, (25/5/07)
"REDCLIFF 3440 1752. Borough 1164x70 (BF, p. 158; BF, supplement, p. 63). On the Somerset side of the river Avon, this was a suburb of Bristol, Gloucestershire (q.v.). It developed in the twelfth century and was held by the Berkeley family."
Samantha Letters, Online Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England Wales to 1516 <http://www.history.ac.uk/cmh/gaz/gazweb2.html>: [Somerset] (last updated 17/11/06). (25/5/07)
Frank Witherspoon owned the house until in 1911 it was purchased by Robert Beveridge. Frank Witherspoon died soon after, in July 1912. In 1916 ownership of the property passed to Emily Jane Beveridge, and she sold it to the Dominican Sisters in 1919.
History of Redcliff
F. Witherspoon, Grocer and Importer, 1891
The largest and Best Appointed Grocer’s Shop in N.S.Wales. Not 2 or 3 articles only; but all our Goods Retailed at Wholesale Prices.
"F. Witherspoon, Grocer and Importer". Newcastle Morning Herald. 19 December, 1891.
Promenade concert in Redcliffe grounds, 1903
In the well- appointed and handsomely-illuminated grounds of "Redcliffe," North Waratah, a promenade concert and continental took place last night in aid of the Queen Victoria Cottage homes for Consumptives at Wentworth Falls.
Newcastle Morning Herald. 27 February, 1903.
Image of San Clemente Dominican Convent from (Diamond Jubilee 1867-1927. Dominican Sisters: Maitland, 1927)