Surry Hills Walks
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The History of Collins Street, Surry Hills (2011) (1.8 MB)Collins Street was created in the 1840s as part of the Riley Estate subdivision, and has seen a steady development of residential and industrial buildings since the 1850s. The street is almost a microcosm of the local area, as it eventually contained a pub, grocery shop, fruit shop, school, library, park, children's welfare centre and a Scout Hall. A variety of industries also sprang up, including a steam laundry, cannery, carriage maker, and a patent medicine manufacturer.
The History of McElhone Place, Surry Hills (2013) (1.8 MB)
McElhone Place is an historic lane with 1840s sandstone cottages on one side and 1870s brick terrace houses on the other side. It was built by the wealthy former convict Terence McElhone and his descendants, and owned by the family until sold to the pickpocket and property tycoon Teresa Taylor in 1927. It narrowly survived the threat of demolition for high-rise flats in the 1960s to enjoy a resurgence in the 1980s with a beautification project by the residents that saw the street win many gardening awards.
Jaffas in the suburbs - the cinemas of Sydney's eastern fringe (2016) (4.6 MB)
The invention of the Cinematographe in the 1890s saw cinema gradually take over from vaudeville, so that by 1911 it was the most popular form of entertainment in Sydney. Several picture theatres started operating in the eastern fringe of the city, often quickly-erected wooden structures with no roof, eventually replaced by a sturdier brick building if they were successful. Talkies arrived in the late 1920s, and suburban cinemas did well enough until after WWII when the cost of living rose steadily. But a mortal blow was dealt by the advent of television from the late 1950s. The few cinemas that survived were those that converted to smaller arthouse venues to cater for a new audience interested in Continental films.
The History of Moore Park, Sydney (2018) (4.8 MB)
Sydney Common was an area of 1,000 acres set aside by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1811 for the grazing of animals. By 1866, the demand for more sporting facilities prompted Sydney City Council to create Moore Park in the western half of the Common. SInce this time, the park has been home to a great variety of sports and recreational activities, as well as the Royal Easter Show, an incinerator, a dogs' home, and a rifle range. Along with the adjacent Centennial Park and Queen's Park, it remains the green heart of the eastern part of Sydney.
The History of Victoria Park, Zetland (2019) (3.0 MB)
The Waterloo Swamp, part of the system of lakes between Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay, was first used by European settlers in the 1820s to operate water mills for grinding wheat. By the 1840s, the growing wool industry saw the mills converted to wool-washing establishments. In 1904, James Joynton Smith transformed the much-reduced swamp into a fine pony racing course that he named Victoria Park. The racecourse flourished until World War II, when government legislation closed down pony racing in NSW. In the 1950s, the area became the Leyland automobile factory until 1975, when the Australian Navy took it over for a vast stores depot. In 1995, Landcom purchased the site and it was developed into apartments.
Taylor Square - Sydney's first hub (2019) (6.2 MB)
A road was built in 1811 to connect Sydney Town with a signal station at South Head. Bourke Street, created to transport goods from the Woolloomooloo docks, intersected this road at a point that became Taylor Square. In time the renamed Oxford Street was filled with retail businesses and was widened to accommodate the increased traffic. The square was Sydney's first major hub for transport, trade, several pubs, and institutions such as a gaol and courthouse.
Gunsmoke in the park - the Paddington Rifle Range (2020) (2.3 MB)
After Victoria Barracks was constructed in Paddington, a rifle range was established in present-day Moore Park in 1852 for musketry training. A second range was constructed next to the military range in 1862 for civilian riflemen, including the growing Corps of Volunteers. It was an era when firearms were widely used in the colony for self-defence, sport shooting and to supplement the meagre diets in the early years. The range closed in 1890 when a new site was opened in Randwick.
Circuses and Exhibitions - Prince Alfred Park, Surry Hills (2022) (3.2 MB)
Daniel Cooper purchased ten acres south of the city, which became known as Cleveland Paddock. It was declared a public reserve in 1865, then renamed Prince Alfred Park in 1867. A large Exhibition Building was constructed for a major Intercolonial Exhibition in 1870, and this building was used for many public events until being replaced by a swimming pool and ice rink in 1954. Circuses became an annual feature of the park from the 1880s to the present day. The pool and other sporting facilities have been modernised, keeping the park as an important public recreation area for inner city workers and residents.
Rosebery: the modelling of a Sydney suburb (2022) (2.8 MB)
Rapid urban growth in late nineteenth century Sydney resulted in overcrowded, unhygienic and polluted living conditions. In an effort to improve the urban environment, the British Garden City Movement developed a model of urban planning that influenced the design of Haberfield, followed by Rosebery and Daceyville. Housing was well spaced and landscaped, factories and warehouses were constructed with employee welfare in mind and the two were separated by green spaces. Most of the factories have been now replaced by apartment blocks or adapted to modern usage, but the bungalow cottages remain to give Rosebery its special charm and character.
Flying around the boards - the bicycle velodromes of Sydney (2023) (3.4 MB)
The first human-powered wheeled vehicles were a mixture of designs until settling on the penny farthing bicycle in the 1870s. This was replaced by the modern safety bicycle, which was being manufactured in Australia by 1899. Bicycle racing was undertaken on roads until the first tracks were built around ovals in Moore Park and Ashfield. By the late 1920s, timber velodromes were being constructed, bringing Australia in line with overseas track racing standards. The golden era of track cycling was the 1920s to 1930s, when huge crowds flocked to see stars like Hubert Opperman and Dunc Gray in action. While most cycling tracks have closed now, Australian cyclists continue to do well at Olympic Games and World Championships.
The industrial history of Marshall Street, Surry Hills (2023) (1.8 MB)
Marshall Street is a good example of the wide range of small businesses and industries that grew in inner Sydney during the economic boom of the late nineteenth century. Grocers, butchers and bootmakers were eventually joined by heavy industries, startng with the Allington Stoveworks in the 1880s. In time, factories making Eveready batteries, Cottee's soft drinks and commenorative medallions made the narrow street a busy place to work and live. The street even boasted its own electricity substation to keep the factories humming. Today almost all the industrial buildings have been converted to residential use.
John W. Ross.