The Currie Premises (Britannia)
Built as a residence for one of the more important families on Random Island, the Currie Premises is one of the few merchant homes still standing on that island.
© 1998 Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
Built in 1921, the house served as the residence for John Currie, one of the pioneers of the slate industry in Newfoundland. The family first arrived in Newfoundland from Wales in the mid-nineteenth century and quickly established a slate quarry at Porridge Cove, on the north side of Random Island. The community later changed its name to Britannia Cove after a visit by the British warship Britannia. Thanks in part to the efforts of the Curries, the community became a centre of commerce for the area.
Later, the family diversified its commercial trading by expanding into fishing and forestry. They also owned a fleet of schooners. By the 1960s, however, the influence of the Curries and the community of Britannia was fading as regionalised centres such as Clarenville became important. The house remained in the Currie family until the early 1970s, when Annie Handsford assumed ownership. Hunter Wight currently owns the house.
The Currie house built is unusual in that it remains in excellent condition while all other houses of a similar design have since been destroyed or are in a state of severe disrepair. It is a two-and-a-half-storeyed wooden structure with its original windows, doors and steep peaked roof. The only noticeable alterations were with the deck and a chimney. The family removed the deck because of instability while the chimney was rebuilt in the mid-1980s. The chimney is also centrally located, as opposed to the more traditional location at the end of the building.
Today, the building is noteworthy for its retention of its original slate roof, quarried locally. At one point, almost every building in the community of Britannia boasted a slate roof - every building from private homes to churches to outbuildings. Most of the slate roofs have been replaced, despite the fact that slate is one of the best and longest lasting roofing materials known to the building industry.
The Currie Premises remains a private residence and became a Registered Heritage Structure in May 1997.