This week we were lucky to talk to local Andrew Woodhouse, who writes a weekly historical update about our area for the Richardson and Wrench website.
Andrew runs the Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage Conservation Society and is Director of heritage consultancy Heritage Solutions.
Here are five interesting facts Andrew says you may not know about our area’s colonial past.
1. Potts Point lays claim to being Australia’s oldest suburb.
No, it wasn’t settled by Europeans before locations such as The Rocks. However, previously settled areas weren’t planned in any great detail. Potts Point was Australia’s first deliberately designed suburb.
2. Potts Point was originally a refuge from the chaos of the Sydney settlement.
By the late 1820s, Sydney was a crowded, disorderly and unsanitary town of 12,000 white settlers, focused around The Rocks and Sydney Cove. After Governor Ralph Darling (1824-1831) received applications from prominent Sydney citizens for better living conditions, he decided to establish an enclave in Potts Point for Sydney’s military and political elites. In 1828, Governor Darling allowed 17 land grants in Potts Point, on which were to be built stone villas with landscaped gardens. Of these original grants, Rockwall (1831-37) at 5 Rockwall Crescent, and Tusculum at 1 Manning Street, (circa 1830) remain.
3. Potts Point was named after Joseph Hyde Potts.
Potts was an accountant and the first employee and teller of the Bank of New South Wales, now known as Westpac. Potts bought land from the bank’s Director, Judge John Wylde (after whom Wylde Street is named) and built some houses near where Jenner, at 2 Macleay Street is now located. Potts hoped to make a profit on selling them but the depression of 1844-45 meant his scheme failed. His name is celebrated by the cafe Joseph Hyde, at 36 Llankelly Place.
4. Elizabeth Bay was used by the local Aboriginal people for fishing.
While Governor Macquarie was in charge of the colony, the Cadigal people used the area as a fishing village. At the time, the Cadigal were under the leadership of Aboriginal Community Leader, Bungaree. A pen sketch by Edward Mason from 1822-1823 shows a series of bark huts in the locality where Beare Park is today. Elizabeth Bay was named in honour of Governor Macquarie’s wife Mrs Elizabeth Macquarie. Today, it is one of a few places around Sydney Harbour that the Geographical Names Board (GNB) has officially designated as dual-named, with its official title now ‘Elizabeth Bay / Gurrajin’.
5. Majestic Elizabeth Bay House was built by Alexander Macleay, after whom Macleay Street is named.
Alexander Macleay (1767-1848) was a Scottish public servant and entomologist, who arrived in Sydney in 1826 to take up the post of NSW Colonial Secretary. He brought his wife and six daughters and an impressive collection of insects, seeds and plants, hoping to develop a garden that would replace what he had left behind in County Surrey. Governor Darling granted Macleay 22 hectares at Elizabeth Bay, with commanding views of Sydney Harbour. He built his new home, Elizabeth Bay House, in 1835-9 in the Neoclassical Regency period style, complete with an extravagant private botanic garden, rustic bridges, paths and grottos. The gorgeous residence still stands today in some of its original gardens. It is now owned by the Sydney Living Museums.
If you’re interested in buying or selling in Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay contact my team today.