Now a Woodville icon, The Brocas was originally a modest, symmetrical 6-roomed cottage. It was built in 1851 for Henry Giles, a merchant who had migrated to South Australia in 1837. Giles’s father was the first manager of the South Australian company.
In 1853, John Newman, a prominent Port Adelaide merchant and shipping agent purchased the property. Under his ownership the cottage was transformed into a mansion.
Between1869-70, additions were made to front and rear. These additions included drawing and dining rooms, and a tower for viewing the Adelaide plains, hills and Port. The front balcony was added in 1873.
Newman also gave The Brocas its name. He named it after a sporting field at as his old school, England’s prestigious Eton College.
Following Newman’s death in 1873, The Brocas was purchased by Henry Cruikshank Fletcher, another Port shipping industry identity. He was its longest resident, living there for 38 years. On his death in 1912, The Brocas passed to his son and grandchildren.
By the time The Brocas came into the ownership of Woodville Council in 1972, it was a much different property. The building had been divided into four separate flats and the 9 acres of paddocks and garden had been reduced to the current modest L-shaped block.
Demolition of The Brocas was recommended but the Council recognised its value as a marker of Woodville’s past.
The last resident moved out of The Brocas in 1978. Since that time it has had multiple community uses, most notably as a local history museum.
Major building conservation works were carried out between 2007 and 2010.