Tuesday 21 June 2016

Historic Darlinghurst - History on our doorstep

 Article by guest author Andrew Woodhouse, Director, Heritage Solutions

The Statler and The Hopes with St Pancras at their rear, at 251-61 Darlinghurst Road, have more layers than a lasagne but are more intriguing: it's a mine of urban archaeology.

The Hon Joseph Docker MLC (1802-1884), Minister for Justice and described as “an old fogey” by media, lived on Darlinghurst Road in today’s Kings Cross. He then moved in 1880 to his home opposite St John’s Anglican church, later no.101 and now 261 Darlinghurst Road.

Sands’s Sydney and Suburban Directories show this new site in Darlinghurst Road was occupied by society’s upper echelons including another politician, a solicitor, and Joseph Docker, all close to the  courts and Macquarie Street.

Joseph died in 1884 but an old 1884 site survey shows no. 101 in its original form.
It was later named Nyrambla by 1888, and became the home of Joseph’s son, Wilfred Docker (1848-1919). The reason for the name is unknown. Wilfred was a banker, St John’s parishioner and a tireless charity worker. His brother, Ernest Docker, who died later in Elizabeth Bay, was a District Court Judge for 37 years, known for his harsh sentences.

By 1895 the site adjacent was the Hope Private Hospital, later becoming The Hopes flats in 1931, and later “residential chambers”, or a boarding house. Nyrambla was then converted to flats by 1929 and by 1931 another apartment block, St Pancras, was built at the rear of The Hopes. Meanwhile, The Statler was re-badged with a neo-classical face lift in 1931.

Today’s apartments explain how the past has become the present.

The former 19th century home with its gables, chimneys and wrought iron finials can still be seen high above and behind the 1930s façade overlay. The neo-classical 30s style features include Roman arch windows, terrazzo entrances and medallions.

This attractive group makes a significant heritage contribution to its neighbourhood.

For more information on the history of these wonderful Darlinghurst landmarks check out the blog 'My Darling Darlinghurst' 

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