Students at the University of Sydney

Early women students

Beryl Mary McLaughlin

Beryl Mary McLaughlin was one of the first eight graduates of the Faculty of Architecture and one of its first three women graduates, graduating Bachelor of Architecture in 1922.


Her early years

Her father was John McLaughlin (1850 - 1918) who in 1852, at the age of two, had emigrated with his family from Ireland to New South Wales. He became a successful Sydney solicitor, with landed and political interests in the Upper Hunter, for which he was a member of the Legislative Assembly from 1880 until 1885. In 1879 John was granted 20 hectares (50 acres) in Wentworth Falls and it was on this estate, after his marriage to Ada in 1882, that he built 'Tarella'.

Her student days at the University of Sydney

Beryl Mary McLaughlin enrolled in the Department of Architecture, Faculty of Science, in 1918. It became a separate faculty in 1920, and she graduated in 1922.

Beryl McLaughlin

Beryl McLaughlin aged about 18/20 years old, photo, courtesy, Blue Mountains Historical Society

Her career

After her father's death in 1918, the property was inherited by his eldest son, John Harley McLaughlin (1883 - 1953), but the actual occupants in 1919 were her mother, Ada, Beryl and her sister Ida.

In 1922 Ida married Harold Lane and moved to a house in Leura designed by Beryl (now a qualified architect), where Beryl shared the premises.

In 1937 Beryl purchased 'Tarella' from her brother and used it as a holiday home, occasionally leasing it to tenants.

After World War II Beryl designed and built a new house for herself to the east of 'Tarella' and in 1947 she and her now widowed sister moved there, while her elder brother, John Harley, moved into 'Tarella' and lived there until his death in 1953.

Beryl and Ida, now resident in yet another new house on the estate, moved back into 'Tarella' in 1953, carrying out some modernisation.

In the early 1960s Beryl designed and built what is now the Blue Mountains Historical Society’s research rooms adjacent to 'Tarella'. In 1967 she sub-divided more of the estate but transferred the northern section to the Historical Society.

When Ida died in 1980, Beryl transferred more land including 'Tarella' itself to the Historical Society and in 1982 added a meeting room to the Society’s building.

In 1988 Beryl died, aged 99, and bequeathed the remainder of her estate to the Historical Society. Tarella is now used as a house museum and the custom-made modern premises continue as the nerve-centre of the vigorous Historical Society.

At the 1987 Back-to_Sydney_U weekend

Beryl is pictured here aged 99, when she attended the 1987 Back-to_Sydney_U weekend, photo,The Gazette, December 1987. She died the following year.

Information sources
  • The Office of Environment and Heritage
  • Blue Mountains Historical Society