Llankelly Place epitomises is one of Potts Point’s most central streets.
But it’s also relatively hidden.
This short pedestrian laneway runs parallel to Macleay Street, connecting Darlinghurst Road to Orwell Street, and I think it epitomises all that’s great about our area.
Join me on a short walk down this Place and discover more about its history…
The making of Llankelly Place
Llankelly Place has been a thoroughfare for well over 150 years.
In the early days it terminated before Orwell Street, but in early 1936 the Municipal Council of Sydney resumed land to extend it. This was part of a border plan to improve and re-plan the area, coinciding with the demolition of Orwell House in 1937.
No one seems to know exactly how it came to be called Llankelly. However, it’s a name with Celtic origins (most likely Welsh).
Originally known as Llankelly Lane, in 1938 (around the same time the area was being transformed by Art Deco flats) The Sun reported the Council had changed it to Llankelly Place as a result of a request from an “investment company”:
“The city engineer (Mr. Garnsey) reported that an Investment company had asked the council to change the name of Llankelly Lane to Birmington Road or Arcade. He said there was no record of the thoroughfare having been named by the council.”
Another report on the petition to change Llankelly Lane to a more “appropriate name” appeared in the Daily Telegraph in 1938. Interestingly, it also reported that the lane was shown without a name on a map from as early as 1850, then appeared as Llankelly Terrace in an 1861 directory, and as Llankelly Lane on an 1884 plan.
A developer’s dream
A subdivision map from 1937 reveals the price many buyers paid to buy into Llankelly Place at that time, and how little of it was actually developed as the area rapidly changed.
At the Orwell Street end, the corner block backing onto Llankelly and fronting Macleay Street is marked “vacant land” and sold for 10,000 pounds. Today this is the landmark Art Deco apartment building we know today as “Gowrie Gate”.
The block next to it is already labelled “Cahors” and also sold as vacant land for 11,000 pounds. Next to this is “The Gordon flats”, which sold for 26,850 pounds, while a smaller block of land next door was “available at 8,500” pounds.
On Orwell Street at the junction of Llankelly, “Orwell House” is listed as vacant land. It was sold for 10,500 for the Minerva Theatre.
Many of the buildings from this era remain today, with their Art Deco brickwork and tiling, giving Llankelly Place part of its unique atmosphere.
Creating a pedestrian zone
Many decades later, in 1973, a local publication called Now reported on “opportunities for action” to improve the Kings Cross area. Among the suggestions were the widening of footpaths and construction of new car parks, as well as the closure of Llankelly Place to cars. Springfield Avenue and Darlinghurst Road were also suggested as possible pedestrian areas, and a novel “mini rail” was also proposed, to be “paid for by private developers”.
Within four years, Llankelly Place was pedestrianised. A notice from the Council of the City of Sydney announcing plans to close Llankelly Place to cars was posted in the Government Gazette on 25 June 1976. Another notice in February 1977 provided a few more details and gave residents 28 days to object:
“Closure of Llankelly Place, Kings Cross. Between Darlinghurst Road and Orwell Street.—Notice is hereby given that the Council intends to apply to the Traffic Authority of New South Wales for consent to the placing and maintaining of obstructions or barriers in Llankelly Place, Kings Cross, at Darlinghurst Road and Orwell Street, in order to establish the area as a pedestrian way. Garbage disposal for residents will remain unaltered. Access for essential services will be provided at all times.”
A destination in and of itself
Llankelly Place is known well beyond Potts Point. Over the years it has become a mecca for dining and shopping, attracting thousands of tourists and visitors.
This has been helped by the fact that many of the apartment blocks on Llankelly Place were built with commercial premises and small shops at ground level.
Interestingly, this is something many people were up in arms about in 1934, when the council was accused of “lacking power” to stop “small shops” being built in residential areas. But it’s one of the things that has given Llankelly Place its unique “eat street” charm today.
In 2012, Sydney City Council commissioned architect Peter McGregor to design and install decorative starburst (or medallion) shaped lights, inspired by the nearby El Alamein Fountain. These helped transform Llankelly Place into a welcoming night time destination.
Where to eat and drink on Llankelly Place
If you’re looking for coffee, lunch, dinner or drinks, you’ll be spoilt for choice on Llankelly Place. Outdoor seating, trees and a vibrant Melbourne-style laneway atmosphere combine to create a truly unique experience with shops, boutiques, hair salons, art and plenty of people watching.
Some of our favourite venues include:
- Joseph Hyde
- The Little Italian Place
- Room Ten
- Llankelly Thai
- Pizza Boccone
- Dear Sainte Eloise
- Et Al.
If you’re looking to buy or sell in Potts Point or Elizabeth Bay, contact my team today.