The Swifts, Darling Point

heritageslateCase Studies

The Swifts is a heritage-listed late-Victorian castellated Gothic Revival mansion located in the suburb of Darling Point, Sydney. Swifts is a rare survivor of a group of similar grand private residences sited on the southern shore of Sydney Harbour. It is described by the Australian Heritage Council as “perhaps the grandest house remaining in Sydney”.

Swifts was listed on the Register of the National Estate on 21 October 1980, and the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.

Designed by G. A. Morrell, Swifts was built in 1875–82 by Sir Robert Lucas Lucas-Tooth, the distinguished Australian brewer. In the 1880s, Sir Robert Lucas-Tooth had the house significantly remodelled in the style and likeness of his family home, Great Swifts Manor in Cranbrook, Kent.

Swifts falls into disrepair: 1986–97

Throughout this period Swifts fell into disrepair. Substantial parts of the exterior sandstone walls of the house and gardens, as well as the roofing, become seriously dilapidated. The leaking roof, including a fully collapsed part of it above the main staircase, caused significant damage to the already neglected interiors.

Purchase & Restoration 1997 – Present

In April 1997, Swifts was purchased by the Moran family, operators of private health and aged care facilities, for a reputed $12 million. The Moran family engaged the experienced conservation and heritage architect Clive Lucas of Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners to take on the mammoth task of restoring the derelict house. This involved extensive stone and roofing reconstruction and the interior paintwork required restoration.

Drawing on the expertise of builders and decorators skilled in traditional techniques, the restoration of Swifts, undertaken between 1997 and 2012, was probably the largest and most expensive of its type for private family use in Sydney.

Our Role

We were contracted to help aid to the restoration of the roof on this highly reputable property. We gathered a team of workers to repair, replace & amend any damages to the slate & lead suffered from the elements over the past decade.


After the repairs were done we were then asked by the owner to deck out his chicken coop out the backyard with none other than welsh slate & copper ridges. Safe to say they were chickens living in luxury!