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About GlebeNet

History of Glebe

Glebe's name derives from the fact that the land on which it was developed was a glebe, originally owned by the Anglican Church. 'The Glebe' was a land grant of 400 acres given by Governor Arthur Phillip to Reverend Richard Johnson, Chaplain of the First Fleet, in 1790 (from Wikipedia).

For detailed information on Glebe's early history from the late 1700's to the early 1900's, see the Glebe Society website.

Detailed history and information and photos on heritage buildings in Glebe can be found at

Ever wondered who or what your street was named after? Search the City of Sydney Council's "A Guide to Sydney Street Names" and to find out about the history behind Wigram Road, Cowper Street, Derwent Street and more!

For further reading, also check out GlebeNet's bibliography of Glebe books, and in particular Grandeur and Grit: A History Of Glebe by Max Solling (Halstead Press, 2007).

See also the following sections on GlebeNet:

Glebe Buildings

The New South Wales Heritage Office website, has extensive historical notes on properties around Glebe.
Many properties and landmarks around Glebe have a heritage listing, including most of the properties on Glebe Point Road.

Search the Heritage Database to see if your property is listed, or read up on some Glebe landmarks, including:

Lyndhurst, 61 Darghan Street, Glebe
"Lyndhurst is an important early Sydney mansion designed by a leading architect for an important pioneer family. It is also important for the role it played in education both as a theological college and as a school. It also has importance in the conservation history of Sydney."

Tranby, 13 Mansfield Street, Glebe
"Tranby and its history can be viewed as reflecting the evolutionary changes which took place on the Glebe Peninsula in architecture, land allocation and the growth and diversity of society. It is a fine example of a post-Regency picturesque cottage and one of the earliest buildings in Glebe to have an asymmetrical plan. The property is the focus for the Tranby Aboriginal Co-operative, the first and only independent, Aboriginal controlled adult eduacation centre in Australia. It has been the scene of a number of key issues in the history of indigenous activism. ... It has become a landmark for Australia's Aboriginal people and the world's indigenous peoples."

Sze Yup Temple & Joss House, Victoria Road, Glebe
"The Sze Yup Temple was built by immigrants from the area known as Sze Yup in the province of Kwongtung, China. From its inception it has been open to all members of the Chinese community for their spiritual and welfare needs. ... Throughout Australia only four temples of this type remain. The Sze Yup temple is the most renowned and is still used today."
For more information, see the
Sze Yup Temple website and the ABC Radio's "The Ark" program transcript first aired on 4 March 2007.

The Glebe Railway Viaduct, Wentworth Park and Jubilee Park
"This is the longest section of brick arch viaduct on the NSW system and the largest viaduct structure to survive. It is significant as a major engineering work built on reclaimed land with the brickwork sitting on timber piles. The viaduct is an elegant structure built on a curve with well detailed arches. The viaducts are an integral part of the parklands in which they sit and are important aesthetic items in the Glebe townscape."

Glebe Landmarks - Past and Present

Anzac Bridge / Old Glebe Island Bridge

"The Anzac Bridge, originally named Glebe Island Bridge was opened on 3 December 1995 by the Premier of New South Wales, The Hon. Bob Carr MP. The bridge increased the capacity of the road network connecting the city and the western suburbs.

On Remembrance Day, 11 November 1998, the New South Wales Government bestowed the bridge to the NSW Returned Serviceman’s League for re-naming as ‘The Anzac Bridge’ and unveiled a monument of a digger bowed in silent reflection. The monument is located at the western end of the bridge on the northern side. A handful of sand from Gallipoli rests undtects Kaberry and Chard. It is a rare and significant example of a 1930s suburban cinema progressively and faithfully refurbished in the 1930s Modern style. The Valhalla and its sister theatre the Paddington Chauvel were the only Sydney venues consistently providing alternate non-mainstream and foreign language films of exceptional quality and consequently the Valhalla is held in very high esteem by the film going public. The Valhalla was the NSW home of key foreign and animation film festivals and the much acclaimed “popcorn taxi” film technical appreciation events and was held in high high esteem by the community involved and interested in film production. It had strong associations with celebrated actors, directors, cinematographers, composers and writers who have presented their work personally at the theatre and discussed with the audience their craft."
From the
National Trust of Australia. See their page for more information and the Valhalla section on the GlebeNet News Blog for several news articles.

The Valhalla as a cinema closed in 2005 and has been renovated into "creative office" space. See the new Valhalla website for details, and get a sneak peek at the interior on GlebeNetTV.

Wireless House, Foley Park

"The "Wireless House" which sits inside the HJ Foley Park on Glebe Point Road was built in 1934 to provide radio broadcasts to the local community. A wireless set was donated at the time by Grace Bros to be operated in the Wireless House so that local people who could not afford to buy such equipment (they were extremely expensive at the time) could come and sit in the park and hear the radio programs of the period. It was very popular especially during World War Two, commonly drawing crowds of up to 100 people, and no other example of such a facility is known to exist today. The concept for a Public Listening room is highly unusual and appears to be without precedent in Australia and perhaps internationally. From the very beginning (22 November 1934) the press hailed the development as unique in Australian municipal history. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on its popularity with the community: "Since the official opening last Saturday, large crowds including many unemployed, have congregated to enjoy the programme". Locals would gather around the Wireless House (a small plain brick building) to hear broadcasts. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, men would often listen at dawn for reports of where work was available at the docks in Darling Harbour. Whilst the Wireless House lacks architectural charm, it retains an historical and cultural merit that transcends the local historical context, locating its value as a rare example of the provision of a social and cultural facility, at a national and potentially at an International level." From City of Sydney media release, 23 June 2008

In June 2008, the City of Sydney council announced that through the efforts of the Glebe community, it had won a coveted $30,000 grant from the National Trust (NSW) to help gather oral histories from the Glebe community as part of its Wireless House public art project in Foley Park. Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP said that the National Trust of Australia (NSW) working with American Express awarded the City of Sydney the prize to help fund this important conservation and interpretive public art work. The Wireless House Art Project by Dr. Nigel Helyer proposes the 'sonic activation' of the park through the 're-purposing' of the Wireless House. The artist's proposal for the Wireless House seeks to draw on archival material by accessing old radio recordings and also recording actors reading historic material. People in the park can enjoy the historic material in a number of ways: activating sensors on the Wireless House to trigger audio material; using FM radio reception which can be received by mobile phone and standard FM radio receivers; through the City of Sydney's free internet connection and by downloading of podcast material to mobile phones and future portable digital devices.

The City of Sydney officially opened both the renewed Foley Park and Wireless House on 26 September, 2009. Check out the new
website of Wireless House, with videos, soundbytes and more.

Glebe Public School

For an extensive history of Glebe Public School and education in Glebe from 1858, see Max Solling's article on Glebe Public School's website.

St Scholastica’s College

"Founded in 1878 by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, it was originally located in Pitt Street Sydney on what is now the site of Central Railway station. In 1901 when the government resumed the land to build the railway, the convent and college were re-located to the Toxteth Estate in Glebe Point where it has remained to the present day."

Wentworth Park

"A park was created in gardenesque style with curving paths, and gardens, enclosed cricket grounds, ornamental lake, bowling green, rotunda, caretaker's house, and in 1882 it was formally opened and named Wentworth Park after a politician of the day.

Wentworth Park became the centre for the district's cricket and Rugby League competitions. Both drew big crowds that became very involved in the games. In fact the referees often had to be escorted from the field by the police for safety. One famous match where the result was not to the liking of the crowd ended with the referee being chased through the streets of Glebe." From The Blackwattle Cove Coalition.

For a comprehensive history of Wentworth Park including the recent changes that have happened, see The Blackwattle Cove Coalition, the Wentworth Park Complex website and the Wikipedia entry.

Harold Park

"The Harold Park course in 1902 was known as Forest Lodge, and for the first meeting there were five events with total prizemoney of 99 sovereigns." See the Harold Park Paceway website for a comprehensive background.

Glebe Incinerator

Glebe's incinerator, designed by Walter Burley Griffin & Nichols was built in 1936 and was restored and "reinterpreted" in 2006.  Read a history of the Griffin and Nicholls incinerators on the Griffin Society website.

More History

Glebe Reds

For rugby league followers, an extensive history of Glebe's own footy team, the Reds has been documented at One of the first clubs to be formed in 1908, in its 21 seasons it was the premiership runner-up four times.

The Elsie Refuge

This was a women's refuge set up in Glebe, Sydney in 1974. A group of feminist activists squatted a housing commission property in Glebe and set up the refuge in response to the lack of services & support available to women & children suffering from domestic violence. Initially, there was no support from governments, with the staff at the centre providing security with nothing more than a cricket bat. The Whitlam Government granted funding to the service 3 years later in 1975. The refuge was the first of it's kind, and served to inspire other women to recreate the service model in their local areas. See Wikipedia entry.

Glebe Electoral District

Glebe was an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of New South Wales, originally created in 1859, partly replacing Sydney Hamlets. It elected one member from 1859 to 1885 and two members from 1885 to 1894. In 1920, with the introduction of proportional representation, it was absorbed into Balmain. Glebe was recreated in 1927 and abolished in 1941. See Wikipedia entry.

The Labour Party in Glebe

For a comprehensive history of Glebe politics, read Michael Hogan's Local Labor: a History of the Labor Party in Glebe, 1891–2003 (Federation Press 2004).

"The suburb of Glebe in the city of Sydney is traditional, inner city, rusted-on Labor Party territory. Local Labor tells the story of the branches of the Australian Labor Party in the area over more than a century. It recounts the broad sweep of history at the small local level, the recurrent issues, the personal and political battles. It is an account of political activity at branch level such as has never before been attempted in Australia. The history begins with the Party’s first election in Glebe in 1891 – it was successful – and ends with the suburb’s incorporation into the City of Sydney municipality in 2003." From Federation Press.

For reviews of the book, and to read the speech delivered at the launch of the book at the Glebe Town Hall on 10 June 2004, by Senator John Faulkner, see the Federation Press page for more details.


See Wikipedia for further information on:

- The old tram system that ran through Glebe until 1957.

- Glebe's underground railway tunnel, which is now used as part of the Metro Light Rail system.

Old railway tunnel, by Yeweni

For more history, see:

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