The Smoking Gun

Water reservoir at Menangle photographed in the 1930s
Water reservoir at Menangle photographed in the 1930s

Paul Leap has re-opened this column's most contentious issue over the last 12 months - the orgins of the treehouse-like structure on the Hume Highway near Menangle.

I thought the case was closed, when in July (Getting Tanked, July 7), Marie Holmes of the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society reported that the wooden structure was a tank stand.

''It was used to store water from the nearby Nepean River for use in the property's dairy and butter factory and for a time also serviced the Menangle township. The tank held about 8000 gallons of water and the water was transported by an open wooden trough to where it was to be used,'' Holmes says.

At the time, this explanation was fully endorsed by the current landowner.

However Leap says that in a recent family discussion with his 93-year-old father-in-law, Hugh Finn of Campbelltown, it was revealed, ''that it was in fact built by his dad in the 1890s as a secure tobacco drying facility''.

''Apparently the colony was short on tobacco back then, so a tobacco crop grown at nearby Menangle was of great value. It would be dried in the wooden structure which was elevated to not only aid in the drying process but also to easily enable it to be guarded by a security guard and dog.''

I get the feeling I've re-opened Pandora's Box.

This story The Smoking Gun first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.