|12th November 2011: Glebe Walk|
Saturday 12th November 2011
Historic Glebe Walk with historian Max Solling
On 12th November 2011 COSHA members took a guided tour around the Bishopthorpe and St Phillips precincts of historic Glebe. Our guide was local historian Max Solling who provided detailed histories of the area and its buildings. Then over afternoon tea in Max spoke to us about more recent history of community activity aimed at stopping freeway development as part of the broader “green ban” movement.
The following extract from Max’s talk on the area draws on his definitive book, “Grandeur and Grit. A History of Glebe”.
Localities within 2 to 4 kilometres of Sydney's CBD were Sydney's first suburbs, sharing narrow streets, back”lanes, a range of house sizes, and a diversity of domestic architecture. When architects wish to argue for the significance of a building they are inclined to locate it in a taxonomy of styles – Colonial, Georgian, Regency, Victorian Gothic, Italianate and Federation styles which, in Glebe, broadly correspond with the periods in which the suburb was built up
Glebe differed from other neighbourhoods on the city's urban perimeter to the extent that it was a grant to a single body, the Church of England which, after 1828, continued to retain ownership of a large tract, Bishopthorpe and St Phillips estate right up to 1974 when these lands were acquired by the Federal Government. The building up of Bishopthorpe between 1856 and about 1874 by a convenient device, the building lease, is interesting.
Many who took up the original leases were not builders at all but people recruited from themost unlikely sources - dairy workers, engravers, whip makers, greengrocers and newsagents. These people sub-contracted the work to specialist tradesmen. The Glebe Estate venture by the Federal Government was notable for the scale of the project (723 properties used as family dwellings & 27 commercial buildings), for retaining a tract of Glebe inhabited by largely low income families, and being the first example of government acquisition of property to rehabilitate rather than redevelop. As a consequence census material reveals that Glebe remains something of a social laboratory, a place divided into two worlds characterised by extremes - high and low levels of education, high wealth and high unemployment.
Glebe differed from other neighbourhoods on the city's urban perimeter to the extent that it was a grant to a single body, the Church of England which, after 1828, continued to retain ownership of a large tract, Bishopthorpe and St Phillips estate right up to 1974 when these lands were acquired by the Federal Government.
From about 1870 the terrace became the dominant building form in Glebe. The terraceprovided sufficient resources to accommodate rapidly growing populations, self-contained private housing space for an economy of outlay on land and building materials At the peak of the boom in 1885, forty two builders with local addresses were operating in Glebe. The inner suburbs of Sydney began as semi rural resorts of the well-to-do, and with a renewed appreciation of city life that transformation might be perceived as something like a returns to their origins.