The History of Brookwood and the Mann Family

"Brookwood's history spans back to 1908 when the Mann family moved to the region as part of the thriving timber industry."

The Mann Family and Margaret River

(Compiled by Guy Jennings and the Margaret River Historical Society)

The first member of the Mann family to come to the south west was Leslie Rupert who, in 1908 at the age of 17, worked at Millar’s Timber Mill at Karridale, as offsider to the cook Doug Wilson. An accident put Leslie in Karridale Hospital, where Matron kept him working in the kitchen while he recuperated. Later, when he lost his mill job, he returned to the Goldfields to be with his parents and two brothers and two sisters. His father, Henry Ernest Mann, was a carpenter on the Great Boulder Mine.In 1910 Lesley returned to Margaret River with his father and younger brother Arthur to Location 859, which Leslie had bought two years previously.


They called the block Brookwood and lived in tents while building a jarrah bark hut. Their hopes of farming were thwarted by lack of money, so they took on a contract to ringbark trees and fence a neighbour’s land. They later began building and renovating houses. 



In 1912 Henry’s wife Emma (Clegg) and two daughters Ruby, 12, and Edna, 10, joined the family in Margaret River. Their first son Alan Herbert Mann, who was getting married, stayed in Boulder. The Manns stayed in a house Roy Snelling had built near the Mann property Loc. 859 before he returned to the goldfields.Henry, Leslie and Arthur renovated EG. Allnutt’s house at Deepdene near Karridale, and instead of cash were paid in cattle: one cow and four heifers, all due to calve.

This became the start of their farm. Somehow they herded the cattle back to Brookwood and let them loose in the bush. No fences had been built, no bush cleared, but Arthur learnt how to milk. Three cows were lost to rock poison in the first year so they moved the herd down towards the coast to Boodjidup for the summer. The Maxwell and Rodgers families were down there and they all became friends.

The Manns cleared enough land to grow potatoes, though their stock still roamed the bush. Ruby looked after the cows and would often meet Letitia (Tish) Higgins, who was often searching for her cows. They never wandered far and had their favourite lush spots.

One was the ‘24’ near where the high school farm is now. This was at the 24—mile mark from Karridale, the head of the railway from the timber mill. Around 1904 there was a small settlement there and a landing for loading logs onto rail cars. The timber workers had dug a big well there to water the bullock teams and provide water for the locomotives. When the workers moved on to the Skeleton Bridge area on the Margaret River this area was lush with grass for cattle.

 In 1914 Alan, the son who had married in the goldfields, arrived in Margaret River with his wife and took up Location 999. This 177-acre block stretched from where the High School is now and west right through past Railway Terrace. At that time you could be given 160 acres on Conditional Purchase and the Lands Department would give you a regional permit to occupy the land until a surveyor could get down and mark it out for you. Alan ended up with an extra 17 acres, but he had to pay 10/ - an acre for it.

Alan, a fitter and turner, built his house right where the high school pigsties are now. His eldest son Ernest was born in the house in 1914. Shortly after, Alan went to England to work in munitions factories during World War 1. While he was away his wife moved to Perth and opened a dressmaking shop, so when Alan returned there wasn’t much to hold him in Margaret River, especially as his house had been burnt down in a bush fire.

 Alan had known Leonard (Jack) Crofts for some time and had told him he intended to“ throw” his block of land and move to Perth when he returned from the war. So when Alan wrote to the Lands Department to relinquish location 999, Jack wrote in immediately and applied for it. He had no trouble taking over the full 177 acres and reaped all the benefit because he owned it when the sub-division went through later.



Leslie Mann joined the army at the age of 25 on 4 February 1916. He was posted to the 
16th Battahon and by December was in France.
While on leave he met and married Emily May Wade from Brixton, London, in September 1917 and returned to Margaret River with her two years later.

Leslie teamed up again with his brother Arthur in their building business, purchasing Town lot 14/ 1438 on which they built a house with a shop front.

Leslie and his wife lived there, while Arthur lived at Brookwood with the family. Leslie and Arthur built the Anglican Parish Hall, the Church of England, the Sisters of Elizabeth of Hungary Convent and the Margaret River Bakehouse.


The Rev. Mother Elizabeth, on her first visit to the Convent wrote in a letter - “The first thing

I did on Monday morning was to see Mann, the builder, to tell him how immensely I appreciated the beautiful work he had put into it. I was very anxious to do this because he often loses jobs because he will not do cheap, shoddy work. It is a dream Convent, and all he wants to finish it by completing the quadrangle, but that must not be yet. There were certain things to be done there however, wood preservative etc., and that historic kitchen stove can now be installed in the convenient out—house he has put up.”

Convent of St. Elizabeth, Margaret River, 1928 (taken from rear of building)

Source - Little Grey Sparrows by Merle Bignell. 


During the 1920s Arthur also worked for Pilgrim’s Mill at East Witchcliffe, where he was paymaster and tallyman for the groups of sleeper cutters who worked and camped in the bush. He travelled around the camps tallying the number of sleepers cut by each man and paying them accordingly. When the Depression started to bite Leslie and Emily moved to Perth with their sons Reginald, Leslie and Brian.

Catherine Quealey met Arthur when she was one of the first sisters employed at the Margaret River Hospital when it opened in 1924. In 1927 she bought Lot13/ 1438 from E. Higgins, a block that remained undeveloped until the mid—1950s when she sold it.

It eventually became a Caltex garage and then the Gull Service Station, now demolished. About 1930 Catherine moved to the Wheatbelt, where she became Matron at Koorda Hospital. Arthur also moved out to the Wheatbelt, building schools and houses.

He and Catherine were married in 1935. After a couple of years they returned to Margaret River, where Arthur built Wise’s brick garage, the CWA rooms at Cowaramup and a house for themselves on land on the corner of Mann Street and Railway Terrace, which he had bought from his sister Edna’s husband, Mervyn Longbottom.

Arthur was a member of Augusta-Margaret River Road Board for many years and later became a building inspector. Arthur and Catherine had no children and after Arthur’s death from a stroke their property was left to Arthur’s brother Alan’s three sons Ern, Allan and Norm.

By 1919 Ruby Mann was working in Bunbury at Buswell’s Laundry. She returned to Margaret River after a couple of years and made good money trapping possums.
In March 1922 she married James William Kinsella and went to live on her family’s property Brookwood where their children Claire, Jim and Cynthia grew up.
Jim recalls: “She’d have known Jim Kinsella snr. from when she first came here they all met at dances. Dad was on a property at Yallingup and just as Karridale people came up to Margaret for dances etc, so the northern settlers came down too. Nancy Zani’s family and the Smiths all used to come down from Yallingup and Mum knew all of them. She knew Madge Willmott very well and the Terrys — in fact there were not many people in those days, so everyone knew everyone else.”
Ruby’s younger sister Edna worked for Captain Lamb, who had the first general store in Margaret River, until marrying Mervyn Longbottom, a bullock driver from Nannup. They went to live in Ellis Creek, east of Nannup.


Source - Research by Jim Kinsella, Mae Wise and the Mann family.

This information is an exert from Margaret River Stories 

We would like to sincerely thank Guy Jennings and The Margaret River Heritage Society 

The publication of "Margaret River Stories" brought to fruition a lengthy but enjoyable exercise conducted mainly by our member Guy Jennings, who tirelessly interviewed local people and families to produce many of the the fascinating stories included in the book. Together with these family histories are newspaper extracts, personal stories, and many, many intriguing old photographs.

The book also includes, as long promised, the definitive account of why the Margaret River was so named, plus the quirky little account of how the town's name was changed - and changed back!

Curtin University's Professor Graham Seal, Professor of Folklore within the Australian Studies Program at Curtin, summarised the book thus:

This book brings together the history and traditions of Margaret River and its people. From the original Wardandi, inhabitants of the region through to the present, Margaret River Stories provides snapshots of the pioneers, timber cutters, the Group Settlers, surfers, winemakers and tourists who are all part of a unique story. Illustrated with a wealth of fascinating photographs often drawn from the families of the community, this book is nothing less than a treasure and a tribute to the work of dedicated and talented historians and writers. A joy to look at and to read, it is a model of what a local history should be.

Copies of the book can be purchased through local booksellers or directly from the Society through this website. To purchase, please transfer the appropriate amount to our bank account, details of which are: Bankwest Margaret River, BSB 306 021, Account Number 0541686, Margaret River & Districts Historical Society Inc., using your surname as reference. Then email the receipt for funds to with delivery details.

Alternatively, a cheque may be sent to MRDHS, PO Box 1575, Margaret River, WA 6285 with delivery details.


Book: $59.95

Postage and packing within Australia: $15

Postage and packing overseas - please email