In 1873 the erection of a bridge was commenced by Mr Frank Rees George, but soon after the government decided to procure the services of Mr Henry Parker as the Superintendent of Bridge Work.
In about 1876 he had a rather curious looking building erected as his residence on the hill near the bridge. This became known as "Parker's Folly" and later the Round House.
When the bridge was completed in 1879 the building and grounds were used for other purposes, including having a croquet lawn area for recreation at the rear of the building, now part of the car park.
In 1884 the building was transferred to ANR and was known as cottage 146.
Sometime in 1918-1920 additions were made and the building lost its unusual shape but retained one side, the front section, verandah and the croquet lawn.
During the depression in the 1930s when Mr J E Walton, Superintendent of the Railways, was in residence, the croquet lawn was a popular social event, as it was a game that women could play outdoors in the company of men.
It was also recommended as helping the body stay fit and keeping the mind alert; for the ladies it was a gentle, outdoor exercise where they could remain seated whilst participating in dainty afternoon tea or high tea depending on the day until it was time to pick up their mallet to strike the ball.
Remember "Alice in Wonderland" played croquet with the Queen of Hearts using flamingos as mallets and hedgehogs as balls. Even the Simpsons engaged in the sport.
You too can enjoy high tea and croquet on Sundays in the gardens while learning from Murray Bridge Croquet Club members.
The Round House is open until May 31; from 11am to 3pm Wednesdays to Saturdays and 11 am to 4pm Sundays. Refer to http://www.murraybridge.sa.gov.au/historyfestival
If anyone can recall their relatives discussing the Round House croquet lawn, the Murray Bridge Historical Society would love to hear from you. Members are looking for photos and information. The sport was played by the railway workers and their families.
"A Community Saving our Past"