Heritage Festival Event – Open Day at Hunter Baillie Memorial Presbyterian Church, Annandale.

Hunter Baillie Memorial Presbyterian Church“inSPIRE’d at Hunter Baillie Church”

Visit this magnificent 1889 Arthur Blacket Neo-Gothic
church with its landmark spire and splendid William Hill &
Son organ built for Helen Mackie Baillie as a memorial
to her husband, John Hunter Baillie. There will be talks
and an exhibition of historical interest. Devon-shire teas
will be served in the 1886 hall. Wheelchair accessible.

When: Sun 10 April 12noon – 4pm
Where: Cnr Johnston & Collins Street

Cost: Admission free – tax deductible donations
for restoration welcome  Contact: Enquiries: 9969 8071


 1890s Annandale an Easy Guided Walk (45mins)

 When: Sun 10 April 3pm

Where: start at Hunter Baillie Church Cnr Johnston & Collins Street  

Cost: Devonshire Tea and walk for $10 

or Tax deductable donation (min $5/person)


Take a walk. .

The Heritage Group of Leichhardt District (HGOLD) has recently published a collection of historic walks in the area, compiled by Jeannette Knox and funded through Leichhardt Council’s Local History Grants Program. There are 11 walks in all: six in Balmain, 3 in Leichhardt and one each in Annandale and Lilyfield/Rozelle. Each one is accompanied by a map and there is historic detail about each suburb as well as about the buildings and other sites, illustrated with a number of photos.

Information is also provided about the duration of each walk and public transport connections to each area. The book is spiral bound for easy use while walking and there is space for your own notes at the end.

This is the ideal solution for people wanting to discover more about where they live, or for those outside the area who are interested in the history and heritage of one of the oldest parts of Sydney. Best of all, these walks can be undertaken in your own time, doing as much or as little as you like.

Exploring Leichhardt Heritage costs $20 and is available from the Balmain and Leichhardt libraries, the Customer Service Centre next to Leichhardt Town Hall, at Journeys Bookshop in Booth Street, Annandale and Shearer’s Bookshop in Norton Street, Leichhardt, and from the Balmain Association.

Further information about HGOLD is available at:

Picture of the week

This artwork was donated to Leichhardt Council by Reg Richardson of Security Self Storage, Annandale. In the 1990s Security Self Storage worked out of Beale’s Trafalgar Street building, where the painting had formerly hung in the foyer.

Signed “Smith and Julius Studio” the painting would have been produced in the 1920s. In 1906 Ure Smith joined with fellow artist and friend Harry Julius to form Smith and Julius Studio in Bond Street, Sydney. Drawing on contacts in advertising and with printers, the Smith and Julius Studio set high standards in Australian advertising. Clients of the studio included David Jones, Anthony Hordern and ‘Home’ magazine. A hub for Sydney’s art community from the early 1900s, Smith and Julius employed such artists as Lloyd Rees, Margaret Preston, Roland Wakelin and Thea Proctor.

The largest piano factory in the Southern Hemisphere, Beale’s Pianos were known for their fine craftsmanship – in 1908 they won every award in the Franco – British Exhibition held in Paris. Operating for over 60 years in Trafalgar Street, today Beale’s Piano Factory building is an apartment block listed on the register of the National Estate.

Eco-Annandale 2009




Eco-Annandale 2009 is an exhibition, walk and talk examining Annandale’s contemporary eco-system.


The exhibition features the work of 7 local artists who have reflected on Annandale‘s  ecology in glass, on paper and by using recycled packaging. It looks at local provenance plants, the Whites Creek Wetland and the wild birds now thriving in inner-city Annandale. Bronwen Campbell will talk about the work of the Rozelle Bay Community Native Nursery.


The self guided walk takes in the sites that have been

revegetated with Local Provenance Plants by the Rozelle Bay Community Native Nursery’s volunteers, Annandale‘s two wetlands and the mangroves reintroduced into Rozelle Bay. The exhibition offers an opportunity to reflect on the dramatic changes to the local environment since European arrival in Sydney.



January 1 – 31, Leichhardt Library, Piazza level, Italian Forum, 23 Norton Street, Leichhardt.


Opening event: WEDNESDAY January 7, 2009 6-730pm, RSVP 9367 9266 or localhistory@lmc.nsw.gov.au


For more info, see: www.ramin.com.au/annandale/ecologically-sustainable-annandale-2009.shtml



Marine Officer, Convict Wife : the Johnstons of Annandale

George Johnston played an important part in creating a viable colony out of pitiable beginnings. He gained enduring notoriety for deposing govenor Bligh in 1808 but his wider role as a soldier and entrepreneur was no less important. In a new book written by Alan Roberts of the Annandale Urban Research Association Johnston’s achievements, and their personal cost to him, provide for a fascinating read.

More striking is the depiction of Esther, a young milliner transported for stealing 21 yards of silk lace who rose to play a key role in managing Johnston’s large pastoral properties. The name of Johnston will always be associated with Annandale, if only for Johnston Street. Marine Officer, Convict Wife is a study of place as well as personality, tracing the development of Annandale from 1793 when the family farm and mansion dominated the district just west of Sydney, to the 1870s when it began to take shape as a suburb.

Paintings, drawings and photographs illustrate a new world being created in an unfamiliar landscape. Funded through Leichhardt Council’s Local History Grants Programme, Marine Officer, Convict Wife will fascinate not just those who enjoy local history and architecture, but anyone with an interest in the early days of white settlement in Sydney. Available from all good bookstores, Marine Officer, Convict Wife retails at $29.95

Annandale – the houses of John Young

John Young “The Eminent Australian Builder”

John Young master builder, engineer and masoner, erected a row of notable and original houses in Annandale, situated along Johnston Street. Six of these houses remain to be significant historically and architecturally: Nos 260-272 Johnston Street are: Kenilworth, Highroyd, Hockingdon, the now demolished Claremont, Oybin, Greba and The Abbey.

Johnston Street, Annandale, ca 1880s showing The Abbey

Kenilworth: 260 Johnston Street, built 1888-1889 The house Sir Henry Parkes rented for the last years of his life and died there in 1896. Originally there was another identical house called “Claremont” at 258 Johnston Street, which was demolished in 1967. This pair of houses featured a centre spire. The design of the four original “Witches Houses” display Gothic and Romanesque features which are likely the work of architect John Richards. It is thought the homes were dubbed the “Witches Houses” from the resemblance of the silhouettes of the towers to witches hats.


Highroyd & Hockingdon 262, 264 Johnston Street, 1888-1890. Hockingdon and Highroyd were built as a pair, to provide an income for Young’s daughters, Annie and Nellie, although they never lived there. These two houses featured side spires, unlike the other two “Witches Houses”.


Oybin: 270 Johnston StreetAnnandale Situated next to the Abbey Oybin was built for the architect C.H.E Blackmann who occupied it from 1881 to 1885. A handsome example of the Victorian Italliannate villa, the home features a square tower over the front enterance, a typical feature of houses built in the 1880s in Annandale and nearby suburbs.


The Abbey

The Abbey is the most notable and renowned of the houses built by John Young,  It has been suggested that the architect may have been William Wardell (architect of St Mary’s Cathederal) in conjunction with Young. The Abbey has been described as a stone Gothic Revival mansion, modelled on a Scottish manor. Young gave his imagination free rein and the house incorporates gables, arches, gargoyles, lions, quatrefoils, chimneys, turrets, a cloister and a tower with copper cladding (it was rumoured that Young may have stolen gargoyles from St Mary’s Cathedral, which he built, but there was no proof). Young was the highest ranking Mason in Australia and The Abbey incorporates Masonic themes. It is possible that the building may have been used by Young as a Masonic Lodge. After Young’s death, The Abbey was occupied by a series of tenants, who subdivided the house to create flats and flatettes. A new owner acquired the house in 1959 and restored it. It is now on the Register of the National Estate.[1]


Kentville, was built as John Young’s home, in a three-hectare garden setting adjacent to Rozelle Bay. The land was bought by Young in 1877, and included a cottage built by Robert Johnston. Young enlarged the cottage and named it Kentville after his home county in the UK. He also built a bowling green on the land and opened it to the public – thought to be Sydney’s first lawn bowls green. Young hoped that the Annandale area would be fine enough to rival places like Darling Point – a suburb for the “genteel” classes – but by 1895 Annandale was referred to as a “working man’s suburb”, similar to its neighbouring inner-city suburbs, with workers housing interspersed with manufacturing industry. John Young’s vision for Annandale was never realised.

Witches Houes

This image taken in 1952 shows number 262-268 Kenilworth, Highroyd, Hockingdon, Greba.


1. The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981, p.2/34

2. The Annandale Association Newsletters.

3. Annandale – Buildings file in Leichhardt Local History collection.

Current News on the Houses of Sir John Young

The magic touch in inner Sydney

The horse trough on Johnston Street. .

Some of you might have noticed the horse trough on Johnston Street, Annandale just outside Annandale North Public School. You may even have wondered about its story or stopped to have a closer look. If you have done the latter you would have noticed on the inside the words George & Annis Bills Australia. But what is the meaning behind these words? Who were these people? And why are their names there?


This is the story

It begins in 1859 when George Bills was born in Brighton England. He came to Australia as a young man and he and his brother established a wire mattress manufacturing business in Kent St Sydney, which operated successfully over many years.


During his lifetime George was a philanthropist, who took a keen interest in seeking out cases of human need and gave many thousands of pounds anonymously to assist needy people.


George Bills died 14th Dec, 1927 and his wife Annis died on the 20th June 1910. After providing some personal bequests, his will directed the income from the residue of his estate to be used to provide troughs for horses, and for the purpose of preventing cruelty, and the alleviating the suffering of animals in any country.



More than 500 troughs were erected in Australia, mostly in NSW and Victoria and some in overseas countries – England, Ireland, Switzerland (for donkeys) and Japan.In the early stages of trough supply, each was individually designed and constructed. One of the first was a granite Memorial trough, hewn in one piece as a memorial to Mr Bills. It was situated in Barton St, Hawthorne, Melbourne; the trough has long since been removed.


Later a standard design was adopted, and Rocla concrete products supplied many hundred of the troughs in Victoria and NSW. Troughs were supplied on application to the Bills Trust by local councils and truckloads of ten would often leave the factory for installation by a team of workmen. Most of the troughs were made and supplied in the 1930’s in Victoria.


The cumbersome steel & concrete moulds were later transferred to the Rocla factory in Junee NSW, where about 20 troughs were made in 1938. The moulds were then taken to Sydney where about 200 were made and supplied to various areas. However the growing use of motor vehicles caused a halt in demand and none were installed after World War 2.



A large number of troughs were erected in the streets of Sydney, but have been removed over the years. There is a growing interest in the restoration of those that remain.  Annandale resident and long time campaigner for the protection of Annandale’s built heritage Betty Mason told me recently that Council had planned to remove the trough in Johnston St in the 1970’s but a strong campaign by the Annandale Association saved it. Several attempts have been made to grow flowers in the trough over the years and thankfully the ones there now seem to have taken and are surviving, which is a great improvement on the weeds & refuse which gathered in the past.


David Lawrence, Annandale.


Further info. on Bills troughs can be found at:






Bills Trough, Johnston Street, Annandale, 2008

The Annandale Hotel and The Empire Hotel, Annandale

UTS final year communications student Maggy Lee is keen to hear from people with knowledge of Annandale’s two popular live music venues The Annandale Hotel and The Empire.


Maggy is undertaking

“a socio-cultural research-based task documenting the music scene of Annandale. For example, the history of the venues in the area, past events significant periods in the live music scene in Annandale etc. 


The information gathered from the research will be presented in the form of visuals, sound files, writing/blogs. This presentation will be in blog form initially; and then in the future, could become an exhibit displayed at Leichhardt Library or a similar venue”


You can contact Maggy through the Local History team at Leichhardt Library on 9367 9335 or

email: localhistory@lmc.nsw.gov.au.



Place is People – Annandale 1907-2007 – a book launch

Leichhardt Library hosted the launch of a publication by writer/historian/performer Mary Haire on Wednesday, 9th April. UTS journalism student Dan Bishton attended the launch and posted this report for

Local historian Mary Haire launched her new book to a packed Leichhardt library on Wednesday April 9th. The event opened with a speech from fellow actress and author Judith Nunn. Haire; an historian, actress and 23 year Annandale resident took on the project with a $5000 grant as one of five local history grants awarded by Leichhardt Council last year.

Place is People – Annandale 1907/2007 presents a colorful cast – leaders, ghosts and chimney-sweeps feature in twin portraits of a suburb a century apart. Haire reveals uncommon knowledge of a mild suburb in her obvious delight for untold stories – two examples being Annandale’s sudden secession from Leichhardt Council and Sydney’s bubonic plague outbreak – complete with the district’s own rat catchers.

Born in Perth, Haire moved to Annandale in 1985. She cites the inspiration for her forays into Annandale’s past as her discovery of the story of Esther Abrahams, a Jewish convict who arrived in Australia on the first fleet and eventually became first lady of the colony. “I discovered Esther at the Jewish Museum, I’d never seen her name in Annandale – I was fascinated, and from that moment I decided I wanted to bring her back to Annandale.”

Esther’s story became the basis of a guided walk started by Haire in 1999, which covered important sites in Annandale’s development from estate to municipality. The success of the walks led into a successive set of local history projects that have culminated in the publishing of Place is People.

Haire’s Annandale projects aim to provide a reference point for current social developments by drawing strong parallel between the two eras, for example the recent influx of wealth into the suburb that is comparable to its 1907 status as one of the wealthiest in Sydney. Her motive in drawing this comparison is an attempt to regain an element she’s seen disappear. “I think we’ve lost our sense of community generally,” she says. “I want people to go away and be stimulated to think – not just have some entertainment and then close the book. I’d like to inspire people to be more community minded, and I’d like people to be inspired to do something themselves on heritage and history.”

Place is People: Annandale 1907/2007 is a limited release of 250 copies, and is available for sale through Leichhardt Library.