Saturday, February 18, 2012

Darlinghurst Blog: Street of the Week: Tewkesbury Avenue

Most people who live in the Darlinghurst-Kings Cross area, have their favourite street in the neighbourhood. 
For some, it is Roslyn Avenue, with its little shop-houses and cafes; for others it is the leafy-canopied Surrey Street; and, for me, it is Hardie Street - more for the memories of my life there, than for any of its physical attributes. 
One reader has written to me about Tewkesbury Avenue. 

Photograph: City of Sydney Archives, 1982.

I don't know if this stumpy little street is his favourite in Darlinghurst, but he was interested enough to want to know who, or what, it was named after.
I only really know Tewkesbury Avenue as a shortcut, somewhere to look for car spaces, or as the back entrance to filmmakers Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin's mansion, Iona
Here is his investigation into the history of Tewkesbury Avenue.

"From the 1920’s to the 1970’s there were two huge warehouses occupying the site incorporating the present day residential towers called Palisades, Kirketon Mews, Kirketon Gardens, Kirketon Manor and No. 1 Tewkesbury Avenue (entrance in photograph above)," he writes.

"Prior to this, there were four to five single-storey large houses on the site, dating from the 1850’s, which formed part of the original William Long land grant of 5 acres.
"Obviously the houses deteriorated to a point that the land was more valuable for warehouse distribution and the then council allowed for such “backward” land-use change. Strange!
"So the houses were eventually torn down to make way for the warehouses."

Photograph: City of Sydney Archives, 1921 (see Clapton House/Earls Court in the top left).

"These warehouses appear on some of the 1940s black and white photos available from Archives and form the physical reason which made it possible to amalgamate a large development site in an inner-city area. By the way, the initial developer was The Hayson Group and they referred to this site as  'Pallisades'.

"You can also find out what the warehouses were originally used for:
"The main warehouse was used as the headquarters for Yellow Cabs of Australia Ltd and the other, Harden and Johnston Pty Ltd (distributor of automobiles)."

"The first building constructed was for Yellow Cabs and its entrance was simply a private driveway sandwiched between two buildings fronting Darlinghurst Road.
"The gentleman who introduced Yellow Cabs to Australia was William Pearson Tewksbury, nicknamed 'Tewks' (notice that his surname is spelled without the 'e').
"My theory is that the driveway to the business was coined Tewksbury Avenue by the staff working for Mr Tewksbury."

One of the large 19th century houses he mentions, was Rosebank - one of 17 gentlemen's villas from the original subdivision of Woolloomooloo Hill.
Rosebank was demolished in the 1920s and the Pallisades apartment block on Farrell Avenue was built on the site.
Do you know anything more about Tewkesbury Avenue?
What street would you like to know the history of?


Arnold. said...

I for one would like to know the history of Premier lane, which runs parallel to William street for a good while.
I lived next to the old post office, which was an old "demountable", on william st in the 80's. renting from the Wolanski's ( the developers of the "new" Belltrees on onslow ave, and the donators of that ugly statue outside the kingsx copshop)
The traffic noise was horrendous, as was the soot. At night the working girls would come out on william st and the transvestites would work their patch on premier lane, right outside my loungeroom window.
Talk about colourful. The girls were ok, quite funny sometimes, you couldn't help overhearing the conversations sometimes during a break in the traffic noise, but the kerbcrawlers and yobbo's from out of town looking for trouble were a real pest (putting it mildly.).
Thanks Violet, I just wish I had a camera back then so's I could send your blog some great snaps.
P.S. You put a lot of effort into your blog and some of the stories especially the one about the Botanic Gardens are real masterpieces, but these gems get no comments. Does it upset you? It does me.

Terry Page said...

Found this on a chance tonight just surfing net for some razorhurst info. Thanks, I lived in the kirketon apartments for many years. Thanks for the blog I miss Darlinghurst SOOOOOOOOOOOO much. the character, colour and people.
I'll keep visiting this one now!

john said...

I worked at yellow cabs in Tewksbury avenue from 1963 thru till 1967 as an apprentice panelbeater..many memories of my five years as a young boy working at Darlinghurst.Just recently I went back there and surprise its all changed since my days there..nearly fifty years does that!!