Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Katoomba Street History Walk

Katoomba St, 1940

In its early years Katoomba laid no claim to the status it later achieved among the Mountain towns. While there had been an inn and stock resting place at Pulpit Hill from the 1830s, the town’s real beginnings were with the railway. Towards the end of the 1870s, this lonely mountain outpost began to change dramatically. The official name change to Katoomba occurred in 1878, the same year that businessman John Britty North registered his coal mine at the base of the cliffs near the Orphan Rock. Within a year the high quality of his coal was winning prizes at the Sydney International Exhibition and the small settlement of Katoomba gained a reputation as an important mining centre.

While North was developing his mining enterprise, the leaders of Sydney society also began casting their eyes in the direction of Katoomba. The 1870s had seen the growing popularity of the areas of Springwood  and Mt Wilson as locations for country retreats. The 1880s-90s saw the beginnings of an era of hotels and guest houses in Katoomba and the upper mountains. Shops, schools and a local newspaper appeared and in 1889 the town was gazetted as a municipality. Its first Council was elected in January 1890; it governed a socially divided community – at one extreme a roaring mining camp with slab and weatherboard cottages and hotels, cable ways and horse drawn tramways stretching out into the Megalong and Jamison valleys and at the other a fashionable and wealthy resort high on the hill of Katoomba Street, together they comprised about 100 buildings.

The early visitors who arrived during the 1880s and 1890s were primarily from the privileged classes. They stayed in gracious comfort at stylish establishments like The Carrington, The Leura Coffee Palace (later The Ritz) or The Balmoral and sought the mysteries of nature among the cool fern walks and glens. They had money and leisure and the Blue Mountains offered a hill station retreat from the summer heat and dirt of the city, and the pressures of the political and business world of Sydney.

By the turn of the century economic and social changes were occurring in the wider Australian community which began to produce a more affluent and mobile middle class. Visitors whose preference was for cheaper less palatial accommodation arrived and the patronage of the rich moved elsewhere. As the war clouds began to gather in Europe Katoomba was entering its boom period and in the post war optimism of the 1920s there were over sixty guesthouse operating in the town.

The motor car also revolutionised tourist activity and tourist coach firms flourished in many of the upper mountain towns, some guest houses even kept their own fleet. To the holiday makers and honeymooners who flocked to the guest house during the twenties and thirties, Katoomba was the holiday capital of NSW. They spent the days touring the sights in their charabancs and putting roses in their cheeks in the bracing mountain air; and in the evenings danced, roller-skated and attended the latest moving pictures.

Following the Second World War the Mountains became increasingly suburbanised with cheap land and long travelling hours for commuters; local tourism declined as the coast gained in popularity and cheap overseas travel become possible. The old hotels and guest houses gradually lost patronage and many fell into disrepair, some were demolished, some were converted to nursing homes hostels and a few remain.

By the 1960s and 1970s day trippers arriving by car or bus replaced the long stay tourists and the supermarkets forced many of the old style shop keepers out of business, to be replaced by coffee shops, galleries and souvenir shops.  Yet despite the changes, the economic and other benefits of preserving the extensive original building fabric of Katoomba have finally been acknowledged and much of the old Katoomba Street remains as do some of its stories.

The Sites

Katoomba Street was named before 1882 and is now the main street of the township. The earliest business centre however developed on Main Street, originally the Bathurst Road, in the area of The Balmoral and later The Burlington. This development included the top of Park Street where the Town Hall and Council Chamber were situated, then gradually spread to the intersection at the top of Katoomba Street as the railway station became a centre of activity; then around the corner and down the hill to Waratah Street. A number of building inventories and heritage surveys have been carried out in recent years and these together with early photographs, surviving building plans and rate records, form the basis of this presentation. New information however will continue to be discovered as research continues. 

Railway goods yard c.1900

  1. Katoomba Railway Station 1881
Following the completion of the railway line to Mt Victoria in May 1868, the area was known as The Crushers, the name of the quarry established to supply the railway with track ballast. Trains from the West also found The Crushers a convenient place to adjust their loads before the steep descent to Penrith. The present station building replaced an earlier timber platform and station building erected in 1881. Until motor cars become affordable in the post war period and the highway improved, most people arrived at Katoomba by train and were conveyed to guest houses by local cabbies, the most famous being the local poet, songster, raconteur and favoured driver of royalty and the aristocracy, Harry Peckman.

Harry Peckman c.1910
Peckman was born in Kurrajong in 1846, and in the 1880s, with his older brother John, started a hire service of wagonettes with a fleet of 30 horses. In 1884 he rescued a tourist, a Captain Black, who had become lost in the wilderness at Echo Point for over a day thinking Katoomba was below him and trying to find a way down; he had written a last message to his family when the Peckmans found him. Harry also did the surveying for the Federal Pass walking track in 1900. In 1868 at the age of 21 he was engaged to drive the Duke of Edinburgh’s royal party to view the Wentworth Falls waterfall, thus began a long association with many heads of state, parliamentarians and international visitors, including the Governor General, Lord Carrington, Sir Frederick Darley, Chief Justice of NSW and owner of Lilianfels. The brothers established a daily coach service to Jenolan Caves in 1889 and in 1892 he married Emily Sarah McAveny from the Megalong Valley, he was 46, she just 15. A few years earlier Emily’s grandmother, had murdered her grandfather with an axe while he was drunk, because of his ‘cool treatment’ of her. Her death sentence was commuted to life and she died 10 years later in Darlinghurst goal. By 1905 the Peckman’s fortunes were in decline and Harry spent his final years as a cabbie on the rank until he was granted a government pension at the age of 83, five years before his death. Peckman’s Road was named after him around 1900.

Railway crossing with James' corner
  1. James’ Corner 1925  Inter-war free classical
George James (1855-1938) was a prominent citizen, butcher and businessman, man of property, alderman and twice mayor of Katoomba Council (1909-1910, 1914-16). As a member of the Council Parks and Reserves Committee he was active in establishing many of the lookouts and walking tracks we have today. Among the many buildings he owned and erected in Katoomba, he considered the James’ Building his proudest achievement for the town, his home McClintock in Abbotsford Rd is now a B&B. See also 40-44 Katoomba St. Four of his five sons also became butchers and operated James Bros Quality Butchers at Circular Quay in the 1920s.

The Carrington c.1900
  1. The Carrington. Federation free classical, Art Deco, Art Nouveau styles
In 1882 the building of the Great Western Hotel marked the emergence of Katoomba as more than just a mining town. In 1886 it was sold by the widow of the original owner, Harry Rowell, to FC Goyder a squatter from Queensland and first mayor of Katoomba who improved its facilities,  added wings to doubling its accommodation and obtained the patronage of the then Governor General Lord Carrington in whose honour it was renamed. In 1905 AL Peacock leased the hotel from Goyder and in 1905 it was advertised as ‘the largest and best known tourist hotel in the Southern Hemisphere’. He also served as an alderman on Council and in 1907 was instrumental in bringing a town water supply and the sewerage service to Katoomba. Coincidentally this also allowed the Carrington to advertise ‘a splendid service of lavatories, baths and water closets upon each floor’.

By 1913 the wealthy newspaper magnate James Joynton Smith, owner of the Imperial Hotel at Mt Victoria and lessee of the Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath, had gained control of the Carrington. He built the power station at the rear of the building with its famous tapering octagonal brick chimney and contracted to supply power to Katoomba and the upper mountains until Council built its own power station in 1925. The hotel has continued to dominate Katoomba for over a century.

  1. Carrington Inn Bar 1916 Federation free style.
This building was constructed within the Carrington property by Joynton Smith around 1916, initially as the City Bank of Sydney, later the Australian Bank of Commerce 1918 and the Bank of NSW 1931 and converted to a saloon bar 1933, classified by the National Trust 1978.

  1. Shops 49-57 Katoomba St, post 1922. Inter-War free classical style
Also constructed on Carrington property by Joynton Smith, in front of an older boarding house dating from 1884 which Joynton Smith purchased for his wife and named Clarendon House, this was demolished around 1937. These shops are listed as a local heritage item.

Katoomba Post Office during the 1951 Crossing re-enactment
  1.  Katoomba Post Office 1919-10, 1923, 1971. Federation period free classical style
This was Katoomba’s fifth post office and replaced earlier temporary offices in the railway station (1880), Balmoral House (1885), Main Street (1887, 1895). In the early 1900s the local business community successfully lobbied the Government for a permanent building. The chosen site was on vacant land which was purchased for £1100 in 1907, construction commenced the following year. In 1917 the building was altered to accommodate rest room facilities for the new female staff and in 1923 the first floor addition was made. Note the brick upper storey contrasting with the ground floor stucco. In 1996 the Post Office moved to a new building in Pioneer Place.

The Paragon cocktail lounge with a sprung floor for dancing
  1. The Paragon Café building, 63-67 Katoomba St, 1916, 1925, 1934, 1936. Art Deco, Aztec Odeon (Banquet Hall) and early Modern Ocean Liner styles.
Zacharias (Jack, Zac) Simos (1897-1976) emigrated from the Greek island of Kythera in 1912 with several other Kytheran boys and spent four years working in Greek cafes in Sydney and Tenterfield before establishing a business in Windsor selling ham and eggs and vegetables door to door. In 1916 after improving his English he leased a small a tea shop at 65 Katoomba Street with just four tables and a kitchen in an old weatherboard house at the rear.

After he was naturalised in 1921, Jack Simos purchased the building and set about establishing a high-class refreshment room. He named it the Paragon meaning model of excellence and in 1925 engaged Henry White, architect of the State Theatre, to reconstruct the building in Art Deco style, adding the Banquet Hall in 1934. In 1936 the Blue Room was designed and built by the firm of H & E Sidgreaves who designed the original Washington H Soul pharmacies in Sydney. In 1946 the sculptor Otto Sheen produced the alabaster friezes for the front dining area of the restaurant. They depict figures from Greek mythology including Zeus, Chiron the Centaur, Apollo, the Flight of Icarus and the Judgement of Paris.  

The Simos family home, built in the early 1940s, is the imposing Art Deco ‘Olympus’ on Cliff Drive at Echo Point. Jack Simos died in 1977, two years after The Paragon was registered by the National Trust and placed on the Register of the National Estate. The face of the Paragon to generations of  visitors was his wife Mary, who was born in Elkton, Maryland in 1912, grew up in Kythera and attended an English boarding school in Athens before marrying Jack and coming to Australia in 1920, dying at the age of 88 in 2001. See also 88, 92, 98 Katoomba Street

The Embassy 1930s
  1. Embassy Theatre building 73-75 Katoomba St, 1914, 1933
The original Empire Theatre was built on this site by AH Small and A Seller in 1914 in a Federation Free Style design by prominent cinema architects Guy Crick and Bruce Furse, and opened 16 January 1915. In 1920 Seller sold the property to Katoomba Theatres, part of the Joynton Smith Management Trust, who later acquired the Kings Theatre, later the Savoy, across the road. First described in contemporary accounts as ‘prettily designed’ and with ‘big crowds flocking nightly to view the pictures’, it was refurbished in 1936 with a shorter auditorium and renamed the Embassy Theatre with a seating capacity of 843. It retained the name until it was sold to G J Coles & Co for £50,000 in 1954 and remodeled by McDonald Downie & Assoc. It was more recently described as a valuable piece of cinematic history showing two decorative styles separated by 22 years. Since the 1970s the main building has been series of discount stores and the original milk bar has become a fish shop.

  1. Froma House 1867 and Froma Lane 1913
Built by bachelor and Member for Hartley in the Legislative Assembly, James Henry Neale around 1867, Froma House is the first known dwelling of any permanence, apart from the railway gatehouse, built in the central area of Katoomba. Neale, a butcher by trade, and his brother Thomas, acquired a 400 acre portion of land running from The Crushers down to Echo Point, covering much of the area of central Katoomba, for £1 an acre in 1875, land which included several waterfalls.

Around 1878 he disposed of most of the land, then known as the Katoomba Estate, to the consortium which built the Great Western Hotel, later to become The Carrington. Neale was interested in bush walking and developed many of the scenic tracks and reserves around Katoomba, all radiating from Froma. Neale Street, named before 1882, follows his original track to Katoomba Falls.

In the 1870s, while on a picnic with Harry Peckman, Neale took a local Kanimbla Aboriginal woman, known as Black Bet or Princess Betsy, to Katoomba Falls and asked her what the place was called, her answer being ‘Katoom-bah’, translated then as ‘place of falling water’. However recent research has shown that this also refers to an edible fern root that was a staple Aboriginal food collected from the Megalong and Jamieson valleys. Neale died in 1890 in Wentworth Falls and was given a large Methodist funeral.

In 1883 Froma was bought by Michael Metcalf (1813-1890), a merchant, customs agent and prominent Sydney Anglican, who lived there with his family until 1911. By 1914 old Froma had gone, replaced by a new kindergarten school of six rooms, close behind the new post office, which had recently been erected in rapidly developing Katoomba Street.

Froma Lane was established as a right of way to connect Park and Katoomba streets and was described in the Echo of 29.08.1913 as a ‘very crooked alley that follows the tortuous plotting of the various allotments’ and contains the postmaster’s residence, now ‘Froma Court’.

  1.   Raeburn 1916  145 Katoomba St. (PF800)
William Raeburn Copeland (1855-1928) was born in Rothiemay, Scotland where he trained as a stone mason arriving in Australia in1882. He worked for JB North on the mine tramway and for the railways, before commencing as a speculative builder in Katoomba until the bank crash of 1891. He built a number of stone residences in Katoomba Street and the presbytery of St Canice’s Church and claimed his son was the first white child born in Leura. In 1897 he opened the first shop in Katoomba street, a general store and timber yard which was burnt down to be replaced by the present building in 1916.

The Central Buildings
  1.   Central Buildings - corner Katoomba and Gang Gang Streets  1915  Federation Free Style
In style it compliments the James’ building opposite and during the level crossing period its imposing stepped façade formed a prominent part of the town entry. The current buildings replaced a smaller group of single storey buildings sometime after 1905. Rates records show that the site was occupied by shops in 1901 and the first floor was being used as flats in 1937. This was also one of the Post Office sites. Theo Poulos real estate has been here long enough for it to now be called Poulos’ Corner.

The skating rink under the Savoy
  1.   The Savoy Theatre complex  8-32 Katoomba Street,  1910 1936 1946,  Inter-War Functionalist Style,  Art Deco shopfronts
This site was formerly occupied by the Kings Theatre, sometimes referred to as the King George Theatre which was one of the first picture theatres in NSW. The Kings Theatre was constructed about 1910 and historic photos show an imposing two storey brick and stucco building in a Federation Free Style. In 1920 it was owned by Katoomba Theatres Ltd., part of the Joynton Smith management trust and operated as a live theatre, a Palais de Dance and also contained a Turkish bath.

Prior to this the site was occupied by single storey timber shops  with awnings which rate records show existed in 1901. According to the 1926 rate records the site was occupied by ‘casino, shops and offices’. By 1931 the Kings theatre had closed and became a shop and warehouse before the building was demolished in 1937 to make way for the Savoy complex which opened on 18th December of that year. The basement, formerly a billiard room, was used as a boys club in the early 1940s, then licensed as the Trocadero Theatre in 1946 with a seating capacity of 500 people and later as a roller skating rink. Both had been closed for some years before a fire caused extensive internal damage to the complex in June 1960.

This building is significant as the only historical example in NSW of one cinema built above another, and is a good representative example of the cinema architecture of Guy Crick and Bruce Furse, important cinema specialists in NSW, whilst the shopfronts are outstanding examples of Interwar Functionalist design.

Tabrett's building under construction 1904
  1.   Tabrett’s Building 34-38 Katoomba Street  1904  Federation Free Style/Anglo-Dutch pediment above parapet 
In 1901 the land was owned by E Marx who was probably associated with the theatre group adjoining. By December 1904 the current building had been constructed on the site with three shops, the builder was James Ray (Jim) Anderson for the owner J Tabrett. The Tabrett family was well respected in Katoomba and operated several prominent businesses including auctioneers, estate agents, Mountain Coaching and Motoring Co., tourist agents taking bookings for Jenolan Caves and a boot shop. Tabrett and Co were still operating an estate agency from this building in 1954. The Art Deco style Café Florida operated in the central shop in the early 1940s and its shop front remains intact although the original dining booths, lighting and furnishings were removed during refurbishment for a new business in 1993. 

James Anderson, a Scottish carpenter arrived in Katoomba with his wife Alice in 1903 and worked as a master builder for the next 40 years, his three sons Raymond, Leslie and Victor, also becoming builders. His daughters Alice and Enid were the first waitresses to be employed at the Paragon Café outside of the Simos family. James is marked with an X in the above photo.

Many of the town’s early carpenters and builders were Scots, including Joseph Nimmo who arrived from Lanarkshire in 1879 aged 28 (died 1917), he operated a grocery and timber merchant business in Katoomba street on the site of Copeland’s store, owned the Railway Hotel, later Hotel Gearin in the 1890s, was Mayor of Katoomba in 1892 and a foremost Freemason. Joseph’s son Robert worked in the Katoomba post office for many years and married Alice, daughter of Katoomba’s famous butcher ‘Honest’ George James in 1918.

  1.   Shops - 40-44 Katoomba Street 1902  Federation/Anglo-Dutch
This building was owned by George James from 1920, in the second half of the 1930s the shops included the Blue Mountains Butchery, A West bootmaker, Penfold’s Wines. The first floor façade is described as among the finest and most intact Edwardian fabric in the town centre. The western shoe store at the bottom of Katoomba Street was owned by the west family for may years.

Top of Katoomba Street showing the Penfold's Wine Bar c.1915

  1.   Shops - Aroney’s  46-54 Katoomba Street  Federation Free Style  1921 date on parapet
Rates records show that shops have operated on this site since 1901 and by the 1920s the three shops were owned by George James. In the 1930s the shops were owned by Penfold’s Wines, Zacharias Simos and Mr. Veripatis a fishmonger respectively. By the 1940s the third shop was known as Aroney’s Fish & Oyster Café and later as Aroney’s Café Milk Bar which was sold in the 1990s and is now called Journey.

  1.   ANZ Bank 56-64 Katoomba Street 1985
The façade is a remodeling of an older building, the walls of which are still visible at the rear. Rates records show a house occupied the site in 1901 and by the 1920 two shops owned by a Mr. Goldstein; in 1938  it was the Paris Café offering ‘meals and fountain drinks’ owned by a Mr. Comnino. Remodeling took place around 1984 for the current bank.

  1.   Shop - Webb’s  66 Katoomba Street  1912  Federation Free Classical
Purpose built bank offices, in remarkably good condition, occupied by the Australian Bank of Commerce then after a merger in 1931 the Bank of NSW, renovated 1934 to a design by Peddle, Thorpe & Walker; for many years Webb’s Fashion Salon, the exclusive ladies wear shop in the town and more recently Raine & Horne real estate.

St Hilda's 1940s
  1. St Hilda’s Church of England 1914 foundation stone, 1915 opened, Federation Gothic Style, tower is a later date (1960?)
This was designed by prominent 20th century architect John Burcham Clamp, a partner of Walter Burley Griffin, built by Mr. Johnson of Leura. Replaces the first Anglican church built in 1885 know as the School Church of St Hilda built through the activity of the Rev. Simons, the incumbent at Blackheath. The first clergyman was the Rev. Power; the present building was dedicated by J C Wright, Archbishop of Sydney, on 16th September 1914.

  1.   Commonwealth Bank  68  Katoomba Street 1926  Interwar Free Classical design by the Dept of the Interior
The Commonwealth Savings Bank opened in Katoomba in 1913 and the present building was erected in 1926; it became the Commonwealth Bank in 1931. Significant as representative of a number of Commonwealth Banks constructed in the state during the 1920s in this style and evidence of the commercial consolidation of Katoomba during that period.

  1.   Shops 81-83 Katoomba Street 1935, Pepperday’s Building
From the mid 1920s these premises housed Pepperday’s Mercery Store and Helen Hunter’s Ladies Hairdressing salon and gift store. The façade underwent later modification and during the 1990s was occupied by Crazy Prices, Go-Lo, and more recently a computer shop.

  1.   Shops  Woolworth building 87 Katoomba Street  1939  Interwar 1930s Functionalist Style
Opened 23 June 1939 as a purpose designed retail outlet for the Woolworths chain. Prior to this in the 1930s the site was the premises of S Kensell Grocers and the Civic Fruit Vegetable and Confectionery Shop. It is significant as one of the few remaining examples of a chain of purpose-designed stores from the period. During the 1990s was occupied by Crazy Prices and more recently an office supplies store.

  1.   Bank  86 Katoomba Street  1956-7  Post war stripped classical style
An unimproved property was purchased by the Bank of NSW in November 1938 and premises were erected in 1956-7. One of a number of purpose designed bank buildings of the Post War era in Katoomba Street which provide a positive and monumental element within the streetscape. Later is was the State Bank and more recently Mr. Pickwick’s Bookshop.

  1.   Shops Goyder Bros. & Tozzi’s 88-92  Katoomba Street 1920s  Interwar Free Classical Style
Goyder Bros. were a prominent Katoomba family with interests in real estate, auctions, tours and holiday cottages. Tozzi’s building was altered in 1939 by the then owner Mr. Simos, local architect H L Blackwood.

  1.   Shops  98  Katoomba Street 1940  Interwar Art Deco
Alterations to an early building carried out in 1940 for Mr. Simos, design by local architect H L Blackwood, shopfront is post war, with cement rendered façade, and metal frame windows from 1940 modification. Katoomba Record shop in1980s, recently a rug shop.

  1.   Shops  108-114  Katoomba Street  1910  Federation Free Classical
Two storeys with exuberant parapet detailing, cement moldings and green ceramic tiles in the pedimented sections; the fine lead light shop fronts date from the 1920s.
In the mid 1930s T J Andrews occupied 108-110 and the first Soper Bros. replaced a ladies hairdresser in 112-114 before Soper Chambers was built next door in the late 1930s. Now it is Higgins & Higgins Solicitors and RSPCA Op Shop.

  1.   Shops  113-117 Katoomba Street  Thompson’s Shoes  St. George  Arnold’s
During mid 1930s Arnold’s Drapery occupied 117; McIntyre’s Katoomba Boot Palace 113 now Thompson’s Shoes.

  1.   Soper Chambers  118 Katoomba Street 1922
Two storey building, first floor façade of face bricks divided into three sections by wide piers rising above parapet level, stepped parapet with signage in central position, multi-paned double hung window sashes.

Purpose built for Soper Bros real estate agents.

  1.   Canberra Flats  State Bank  122-126 Katoomba Street 1905+, 1956
From 1905 guesthouse ‘Aircourt’, 1921 ‘Springhill’, 1930 ‘Craiglee’, renamed Canberra Flats, purchased 1950 by the Rural Bank and rebuilt as present building opened December 1956 with banking chamber, offices, flats and restaurant in basement. The State Bank dated from the 1980s and Colonial State Bank the 1990s, now business stationary supplies operated by Katoomba Newsagency. Façade and sides were originally clad in ceramic tiles now painted.

  1.   Allawah Flats 123-129b Katoomba Street, Inter-war 1930s,  c.1935
Three storey building, upper two storeys brick divided into three sections by wide brick piers. Pairs of large double hung windows with multi-paned sashes and concrete lintels, terracotta tile roof.

Looking south 1930s
  1.  Shop Miss Duff  Dressmaker 128 Katoomba Street  1910
During the 1930s occupied by Miss Duff dressmaker and later by a cleaner and presser 1938, the original verandah was removed and the first floor window and awning was constructed in the period 1933-38. The Duff family has been associated with the Blue Mountains for over 150 years. Robert ‘Bob’ Duff was born in Hartley 1845, his parents having arrived from Scotland five years earlier. At the age of nineteen Bob married sixteen year old Caroline Smith from Campbelltown and the couple settled in the Megalong Valley, farming 1100 acres on the Cox’s River. Between seasons Bob worked his team of bullocks, sometimes on the road for up to five months. Physically he cut an imposing figure, standing 6’3” and weighing 17 stone. Bob Duff died in March 1893, killed while breaking in a colt; he was forty eight years old and left a family of sixteen children. His wife Caroline eventually moved her family to Blackheath where she died in 1942 at the age of ninety seven.

  1.   Gloucester Flats  130-134 Katoomba Street, Inter-war 1930s,  c.1935
Three storey building with terracotta tiles roof contained by parapet ends. Intact shop fronts, upper storeys finished with cement render, masonry portions of bay windows finished with rough cast; timber framed double hung windows.

  1.   Shops  XOOX  131-133 Katoomba Street  Interwar Free Classical
First floor verandas were originally open with balustrading and column supports.

  1.   Shop  Ayr Lodge  140  Katoomba Street  1937
Deep window canopy with colour blended terracotta shingles. The original 1926 house sold to Dr. and Mrs. Alcorn in 1929, by 1937 site occupied by shops and offices, became known as Ayr Lodge by 1943.

  1.   Uniting Church  142  Katoomba Street  1888  1907
This was originally Katoomba Methodist Church, the oldest church in Katoomba, foundation stone 8th  September 1888, opened 17 November 1888, extensions 27 January 1907. Brick building embellished by cement rendered copings, moldings and spires arranged along the western parapet, terracotta inset panel high on main façade.

  1.   Shops  153-155 Katoomba Street  1905-1910  ‘CWC’ in parapet
In the second half of the 1930s the building was occupied by W Smith bootmaker now Peter Sudich Art Supplies & Framing (155) and Johnson & Sharp bakers (153), The Buttery.

  1.   St. Canice’s Roman Catholic Church,  157 Katoomba Street, foundation stone laid 1903, Federation Gothic
Cement rendered building with pointed stone openings, stone trimming around some openings, rusticated stone at corners and at buttresses. Squat tower with shallow hipped roof at south-western corner. Terracotta roof tiles.

  1.   St. Canice’s Presbytery  1905, Federation Bungalow
Two storey building with large hipped roof covered in terracotta tiles. Two storey verandah on western side with timber posts and timber shingles at first floor level which also features a cantilevered balcony. Cement rendered walls elsewhere.   

Harry Phillips' shop
  1.   Shops 157-159 Katoomba Street  1910-15,  Interwar Free Classical 1920s
In the winter of 1908 Harry Phillips, an unemployed printing machinist, suffering from work injuries to both hands which cost him his job, arrived in Katoomba to recuperate. After three weeks camping out with his wife Isobel and their only child Isobel, the landscape had made such an impression that he decided to settle in the area permanently and established a small confectionery and photographic business at 159 Katoomba Street and by 1912 had moved to 179 Katoomba Street. As business expanded he combined his talent for photography with his skill as a printer, producing the Blue Mountains view books for which he has become best known.

Harry Phillips brought a passionate intensity to the presentation and promotion of the Mountains that had never been seen before and would go to any length for a picture often waiting hours for the right conditions. His books were sent to the trenches on the Great War and his photos hung in Parliament House. A sober and religiously minded man of slight, wiry figure and always formally attired, his friends would joke when there was mist about, that, ‘Harry’s happy’.  Harry and Isobel were both born in Ballarat into families of 11 children. Note classically derived details of later Interwar first floor addition: panels, plaques, Greek Key band. Gemglow Jewelers (157), Serene’s Café (159), Elephant Bean Café.

  1.   Shops 165-171 Katoomba Street  1910-1915,  Federation Free Classical
In 1930s occupied by Mitchell’s Drapers & Mercers; Young’s Chinese Restaurant (169) Fine Flowers (167) Mostly Rugs (165)

John Merriman 2008, 2016 
Local Studies Librarian  
Blue Mountains City Library

All images from the Local Studies collection at Springwood Library.


§  Pictorial Memories - Blue Mountains, John Low, 1991
§  A Building Census of Katoomba Street, Mark Broderick, 1997
§  Katoomba Town Centre Heritage Study, Rod Howard Heritage Conservation, 1999
§  Blue Mountains City Library Local Studies Section: files, rate books, indexes, photographs
§  The Prince of Whips, the life and works of the Blue Mountains pioneer Harry Peckman, John Low & Jim Smith, 1993.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Japanese Street Names in Leura & Hazelbrook

Japanese sailors at Taronga Zoo, 1924
Australian National Maritime Museum

In the latter part of the 19th Century and the early 20th Century, Japanese art and culture had a widespread influence on Western art, interior design, music, fashion and textiles. Many Australians, like others in Europe and elsewhere, were fascinated by things Japanese. Japanese Navy training squadrons twice entered Sydney Harbour, in 1903 and 1906, to enthusiastic receptions. During the 1906 visit, Katoomba Municipal Council extended a formal invitation to the officers and men of the fleet to visit the Blue Mountains, and a number of new streets were named in their honour, one other street was given a Japanese name in 1922. However following the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1942, the Japanese names were changed as follows.

Japanese name 1906                                                    New Name 1942

Ito Pde, Leura                                                             Britain St

Iwasaki Pde, Leura                                                     Franklin St

Kamimura Lane, Leura (1922)                                    Victory Lane

Kamimura Pde, Leura                                                 Winston St

Togo Ave, Hazelbrook                                                Cunningham St

Togo Pde, Leura                                                         Churchill St

Tokio Rd, Leura                                                          Roosevelt St

John Merriman
Local Studies Librarian


* Street Whys, the Origins of Blue Mountains City Street Names. Christopher J Woods, 1997.

* Minute Books, Katoomba Municipal Council, 1906, 1922,

Friday, February 5, 2016

Knapsack Viaduct, Lapstone

Knapsack Viaduct c.1880
For the early train travellers, rattling across the Emu Plains in the late 1860s and 1870s, the seven classical, white sandstone arches of the Knapsack Viaduct must have presented an inspiring sight with which to begin their ascent of the Blue Mountains. The construction of the viaduct, the like of which no native-born colonial had ever seen, reaffirmed their nineteenth century faith in Man's mastery of Nature, a faith which, in the colony's short history, had often seemed threatened by this range of mountains.

In order to avoid costly tunnels, the Engineer-in-Chief of the NSW Railways, John Whitton, proposed the construction of zigzags on both the eastern and western flanks of the Blue Mountains, known as the Lithgow or Great Zig Zag and the Lapstone or Little Zig Zag respectively. In Whitton's words, the bridge 'consisted of five spans of fifty feet and two of twenty feet each, built in masonry . . . for a single line of railway on an incline of 1 in 30'.

The contract for construction was let to W. Watkins in March 1863, and the work was completed in 1865. The bridge was constructed of sandstone quarried in the neighbourhood, and carried a single rail line. The construction work brought hundreds of people to Lapstone, and later, employees of the railways to service it. The construction workers camped near their work sites, often with their families. The seven arched viaduct at Lapstone was hailed as a landmark of Australian engineering and the finest piece of masonry in New South Wales when it opened in 1867.

When the line was opened to traffic from Penrith to Bowenfels in October 1869, ease of travel by the new railway almost immediately began to broaden the public perceptions of the value and worth of the Blue Mountains. When the western line was extended to Bathurst in 1876, a new period of settlement and tourism was already underway. The track included a now abandoned station called Lucasville which was built for the Minister for Mines, John Lucas who had a holiday home nearby.

Lapstone Zig Zag plan showing both viaducts and roads
The Railway Guide of New South Wales, 1879 described the journey toward the viaduct from Penrith, and then the structure itself, rather more romantically, 'the Railway may be seen winding upwards - past huge rocks and steep declivities, alternating with dense woods; the noble viaduct across Knapsack Gully being hence already distinguishable . . . You have by this time arrived at the Knapsack Gully Viaduct - boldly erected across a steep and stony gorge by the genius of the Engineer in Chief, John Whitton. This admirable and imposing structure (which Imperial Rome . . . might have been proud to claim) consists of seven successive arches'. Nell Aston in 1988 imagined the view from the train as it crossed the Knapsack Viaduct before ascending the Zig Zag writing, 'it must have seemed like flying'.

Nevertheless, in the years that followed, the railway landscape on the eastern escarpment underwent significant modification and the place of the viaduct in the scheme of things was destined to change. By the turn of the nineteenth century the increase in the volume of freight on the western line and the restrictions on the length of trains imposed by the Zigzag meant it had become uneconomical and Whitton’s masterpiece was gradually replaced by tunnels and deviations and the Lapstone viaduct was abandoned. The Zig-Zag itself was replaced in the early 1890s by a tunnel through the ridge over which it had allowed access. While this first deviation did not affect the role of the viaduct, such was not the case twenty years later when a second deviation, of considerably greater magnitude, was constructed through Glenbrook Gorge.

Fire's On, Arthur Streeton, 1891
In 1891 the artist Arthur Streeton visited the Lapstone Hill tunnel site and painted his famous picture ‘Fires On’. The painting captures a critical moment during the construction of the railway line: the death of a railway worker in an explosion. 'Fire's on' was the warning call before the blast, as the gang dynamited the tunnel through the hillside.

Opened in 1913, the new route represented a dramatic change and included a new viaduct over Knapsack Gully, lower down than the original it replaced. Only seventy-five feet above the creek bed, this second viaduct was on a curve and built of brick. With its phasing out as a part of the rail route over the Blue Mountains the old nineteenth century Knapsack Viaduct was, however, soon to find a new role as part of a very twentieth century system of transportation.

The advent of the motor car focused attention upon the condition of many of the State's roads including the Main Western Road up Mitchell's Pass. A more suitable route was sought and, in October 1926, the viaduct was taken over by the Department of Main Roads and incorporated into the route of the Great Western Highway, and in response to increasing traffic the road deck was widened to 30 feet (9.1m) in 1939. With the opening of the M4 motorway extension in 1993 the viaduct was closed to traffic completely and developed of a tourism and heritage precinct commenced. In 1995 the bridge was reopened for pedestrian access, along with the John Whitton Memorial Reserve, by Member for Macquarie, Maggie Deahm.
Lapstone Zig Zag Walking Track
For those willing to pause from their travels for a time, a walking track winds down from the old Lucasville Station, through the arches of the viaduct to the floor of the gully, across Knapsack Creek and up the opposite slope to Elizabeth Lookout. From this track visitors can observe closely the graceful, arched contours of the viaduct and discern the solid nature of its construction which so impressed our colonial forebears. Despite being overshadowed later by its grander cousins on the western flank of the mountains, the Knapsack Viaduct was one of the early achievements that helped to encourage the fledgling Australian self-confidence.

Length of each of the 5 main spans: 15.2m
Smaller spans at each end: 6.1m
Maximum pier height from deck to rock: 40m



Knapsack Viaduct, Lapstone. In: Historic Blue Mountains, John Low (1987).

Rails, Roads and Ridges, History of Lapstone Hill- Glenbrook. Nell Aston, for the Glenbrook Public School Centenary Committee (1988)


Local Studies Librarian, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Katoomba Court House

Aerial view of the court House in 1972
By the early 1890s Katoomba had become, through coal and tourism, a town with a future. Municipal status had been granted in 1889 and the possibilities of continued growth held promise of glittering prizes for local commerce.

Civic pride flowered in the hearts of the town's citizens and men prominent in local affairs began to seek expression of Katoomba's new prestige through the erection of appropriate public buildings.

A new brick post office was erected in the Bathurst Road in 1887 while, in 1891, a substantial timber railway station replaced its earlier counterpart at the gateway to the town. A year later, in 1892, a deputation of aldermen travelled to Sydney to argue for the construction of a court house at Katoomba.

Three years later, on Saturday 4 May 1895, a large crowd of locals and visitors gathered by the Bathurst Road on the Sydney side of Katoomba. They watched as the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Frederick Darley, accepted a silver, ebony-handled trowel and mallet of lignum vitae and proceeded ceremonially to lay the foundation stone of the latest jewel in Katoomba's crown. The new court house, said the Mountaineer newspaper, would be a building whose "outward appearance will delight those with architectural tastes, while its inner compartments will be a terror to evil doers".

In his speech Sir Frederick acknowledged that he was no stranger to Katoomba, declaring that the last seven years he had spent at Lilianfels, his country retreat on the cliffs at Echo Point, had been the happiest of his life. He had watched the town grow from a village, huddled around one main road and a few bridle paths, into a municipality with the potential to become the playground of Australia. He had no doubt that Katoomba would prosper and praised the energy of her leading citizens.

All who spoke, both at the ceremony and at the "capital lunch" which followed in the Carrington, echoed these sentiments. And, as the building took shape over the ensuing months, the quality and style of its construction seemed to personify this prevailing spirit of optimism.

The stone used for its outer walls was a "perfectly white" freestone quarried locally, within a mile of the building site. It was claimed by one of the contractors that "he had never met its equal". Internally, the story was the same. The walls were finished in smoke coloured plaster, the ceiling curved and paneled with heavy cedar moldings. The acoustic properties were especially commented upon as was the large semicircular, lead-lighted front window through which a softened light suffused the court room. When the building was opened for business on 19 February 1896 the presiding magistrate declared it to be "one of the most comfortable and elegant in the colony".

At the laying of the foundation stone several dignitaries had expressed the hope that, while the court house was a credit to the district, it would be little, if ever, used. Throughout the first day of business, in these admired and civilized surroundings, such fanciful expectations were grounded by reality. A succession of flawed humanity stood before the bench charged with everything from drunkenness and obscene language to assault and robbery. Later, by 1926, business was such that the building had to be enlarged.

The civic optimists were soon reminded that not all Katoomba's citizens shared their faith. The court house served other functions than the mere provision of "an architectural ornament to the town".

Ref: The Court House, Katoomba, in: Historic Blue Mountains, 1987 by John Low

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Frazer Memorial Church, Springwood

Frazer Memorial Church c.1910
the jacaranda tree in front is newly planted

In the early 1890s Springwood's Presbyterians were on the pastoral fringes of their Church. Few in number and without a building, they had been worshiping God for a number of years in a variety of makeshift locations - in the open air beneath a clump of turpentine trees, in the lounge of the Oriental Hotel, and on the screened verandah of Braemar, the private home of one of their congregation.

By 1896, however, things had changed. A picturesque church fronted the Western Road in the centre of town, its solid sandstone construction proclaiming to all the permanent position it would henceforward occupy in the evolution of Springwood's townscape.

The key to this sudden improvement in the circumstances of the town's Presbyterians was a man whose original profession had been the same as that of the Galilean founder of his faith: John Frazer, a carpenter and joiner, migrated to Australia from Ireland in 1842. He was one of those men who, arriving with little, prospered on the colonial scene, becoming, by the 1880s, an influential figure in the business and political circles of Sydney.

Like many of his social class in the colony, he viewed the Blue Mountains as the ideal summer retreat from the heat and stench of the city. To this end, in 1882, he built his country residence, an imitation Swiss-styled villa he named Silva Plana, on the elevated north side of Springwood. However, his enjoyment of the mountain climate was to be brief and he died at his Woollahra home in October 1884 at the relatively young age of fifty-seven. His death, nevertheless, was to prove of great significance to Springwood's Presbyterians for John Frazer bequeathed them five hundred pounds and three and a half acres of land in the centre of town to help provide a church worthy of their faith.

Unfortunately, the trustees of the Frazer estate showed considerable reticence about granting the bequest to what they considered at the time an inadequate congregation. Indeed, more than a decade passed before they were sufficiently convinced of the strength of the Springwood faithful to release the funds.

When the foundation stone was laid on 17 August 1895, construction, using locally quarried sandstone, then proceeded with relative speed. Four months later the first stage of the church was opened, while the following year the project was completed with the addition of the spire and a rear section incorporating vestry, chancel and organ recess.

The Church in 2010

While expressing a quiet elegance the building complied appropriately with nonconformist aesthetics. Thus, the Nepean Times’ assessment was in the following terms: "The building, which is chaste in appearance, is designed in a simple treatment of Early Christian architecture, effect being obtained rather from the general lines and grouping of the features than from any undue richness in ornamentation or detail."

With a sermon preached on the theme of the building of King Solomon's temple, and to the strains of a thirty strong choir who sang their praises to the accompaniment of an American organ, the new church was officially opened on Sunday 8 December 1895. The regular minister to the Springwood congregation, the Rev. James McKee of Penrith, swapped his pulpit for the day with the Rev. John Walker of the Frazer family's home church of Woollahra.

The church was classified by the National Trust in 1978. It had, said the Trust, "an architectural quality rare in buildings in the area".

Source: Historic Blue Mountains, text by John Low, paintings by Richard Smolicz, Blue Mountains City Council, 1987.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Bridge at Emu Pass Lennox Bridge, Blue Mountains NSW

The Western Road Proves Difficult

On Monday 31st May, 1813, Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Wentworth looked out from the summit of a high hill, later named Mount Blaxland, over a vast expanse of forest land that spread away to the west. Almost immediately upon their return to Sydney, their success was confirmed by the expedition of George Evans, the surveyor, who assured the authorities that a practicable route over the Blue Mountains had indeed been found. By mid-January the following year (1815), William Cox and his party had completed their rough but serviceable road to the site of Bathurst, and the west lay open to the expansion of European settlement from the confines of the coastal plain.

While government restrictions on travel over and settlement beyond the Blue Mountains were early enforced, a thriving wool industry was soon established on the newly discovered grazing lands in the west. In the 1820s this was to provide the foundation upon which emerged a small but powerful pastoral gentry, who were to influence significantly events in New South Wales for the next two decades.

The Western Road over the Mountains was the life line that sustained the growth of pastoral capitalism during this period. Supplies and stock went west while the wagons, loaded with wool and drawn by teams of oxen, became an increasingly common sight (and sometimes a major hazard to other traffic) negotiating the narrow mountain road and winding their way precariously down the Lapstone Hill to the coast.

As use of the road increased, the difficulties of ascending and descending at both the Lapstone and Mount York ends began to stimulate thinking toward improvements. At Mount York, the precipitous nature of the descent saw the search begin in the early 1820s for an alternative route, culminating eventually in the opening of Victoria Pass in 1832.

At Lapstone, Cox's Road remained the main access route until 1824, but was particularly hazardous in wet weather suffering badly from washaways and creek flooding. It was replaced in that year by the Lapstone Zig Zag Road, believed to be the work of William Lawson, which was opened a couple of kilometres to the north. Avoiding the flood-prone crossing at Jamison Creek, it rejoined Cox's Road at Blaxland and remained until the mid-1830s, the principal route up the eastern escarpment. It is still in use today as the Old Bathurst Road.

Milestone on Mitchell's Pass

Major Mitchell

In 1827 Major (later Sir) Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, veteran of the Peninsular War, restless, irascible, ambitious and talented, arrived in New South Wales to become John Oxley's Deputy. Following Oxley's death in 1828, he succeeded to the office of Surveyor-General, an office to which, at the end of 1828, Governor Darling transferred the responsibilities for roads and bridges.

As Surveyor-General, Mitchell was, in the late 1820s and early 1830s, greatly occupied with the surveying and marking out of permanent lines for the colony's main roads. He believed strongly that the definition and establishment of the lines of direction of roads "should precede, as much as possible, the progress of colonization" (Mitchell 1839, 156). With the most advantageous direction ascertained, "the public means may be applied with certainty to their (the roads) substantial improvement, by removing obstructions and building bridges" (Mitchell 1839, 156). The establishment of towns could then also be planned with confidence in their future.

Towards the middle of 1830, Mitchell, having completed the marking of the lines of the main roads north to the Hunter River and south to Goulburn, turned his concentration back to completing the re-definition of the line west to Bathurst, a task he had recommended in a Report made in November, 1827 (In Mitchell 1855a, 3-10).

By 1830, Lapstone Hill was again causing concern to the authorities. In January 1830, the Colonial Secretary wrote to Mitchell informing him of the Governor's suggestion "that there are several places, 'Lapstone Hill1, for example, (which from the steepness of the ascent, suffer extremely in heavy rains) where it would be advantageous to station a few men with an overseer permanently for the purpose of immediately repairing any damage which may be occasioned" (In Mitchell 1855a, 13). Two years later, in May 1832, following representations from the carrier of the Royal Mail to Bathurst, James Watsford, the Surveyor-General was once more informed of the Governor's desire for a permanent road-gang to be stationed on Lapstone Hill (Mitchell 1855a, 31).

As well as this direction, Mitchell had, the previous year (1831) , been ordered by the Governor to lay out plans for a township on Emu Plains. In line with his views on establishing the direction of roads in advance of settlement, he declared that the planning of Emu could not proceed until the line of the Western Road was finally established in relation to its ascent of Lapstone Hill.

From his own examination of the area, he settled on "the gully which descends most directly from the Pilgrim (Inn) towards the proposed site, and I found that it would admit of the most direct and least inclined road that can possibly be made between that point and Emu Plains" (Mitchell 1855a, 33). Having satisfied himself as to what should be the permanent line up the Lapstone escarpment he recommended, in his Report of June 1832, that its construction be undertaken as soon as possible in preference to the Governor's earlier suggestion of placing a permanent repair gang on the old road.

A Bridge is Needed

Work on the new Pass commenced in August, 1832, when the Assistant Surveyor, John Abbott began the preliminary clearing work along the line Mitchell had marked. While construction proceeded satisfactorily, there was a major problem which had to be solved. About half way up the proposed route, Mitchell had decided to take the road across the creek, a plan that would require the bridging of a 30 foot deep gully with a span of 20 feet.

To Mitchell, this problem was both a practical and an aesthetic one. An admiration for classical times reinforced his belief that the possession of well-designed bridges was one sign of a civilized society. Bridges were "the most indispensable of public works. Such works constitute the capital of a nation - no country is thought anything of that does not possess them", (Mitchell 1855b, 602).

Here in the Emu Pass at Lapstone, the opportunity presented itself to experiment with a bridge designed to stand the test of time, a bridge that would be the forerunner of others built to improve the system of Great Roads he had recently surveyed.

However, to transform his vision into reality would require the services of someone who possessed both the necessary technical knowledge and the experience. Such a person would not be easy to find in a country where the art of bridge construction was virtually unknown and where flimsy wooden structures, easy victims of flood and fire, predominated. The only bridge of a substantial and permanent nature was the Richmond Bridge built in 1828 in Tasmania.

A sketch by Robert Marsh Westmacott, 1840s.
David Lennox

The right man did however, appear in the person of David Lennox, a recently arrived "mechanic" with considerable bridge-building experience. The combination of the talents of these two men, Lennox and Mitchell, at just this particular time was, in many ways, a remarkable coincidence. Lennox was a master mason of twenty years' experience who had worked on a number of bridges in Britain, including two of Thomas Telford's major designs - the Menai Suspension Bridge (opened 1826) and the stone arch Gloucester Bridge (completed 1827). Following his wife's death in 1828, he decided to come to Australia. Arriving in Sydney in . August 1832, he found work as a day labourer constructing the stone wall outside the Legislative Council Chambers in Macquarie Street.

At this time the work on the Emu Pass was just beginning and, on . making Lennox's acquaintance, Mitchell lost no time in arranging for him to re-direct his talents to the construction of the required bridge. On Mitchell's recommendation, Governor Bourke, in October 1832, granted Lennox a provisional appointment which was sub­sequently confirmed from London, with the official title of "Superintendent of Bridges" being awarded him in June of the following year.
The element of chance in his discovery of Lennox and the speed of the latter's appointment were alluded to later by Mitchell when, in a lecture to the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts in 1855, he described how David Lennox "left his stone wall and with his shirt sleeves still tucked up - and trowel in hand - undertook to plan stone bridges for this colony" (Mitchell 1855b, 601).

Lennox's job required him to "furnish the designs, construct the centering, and direct the application of convict labor to stone cutting and setting, and to all the branches of carpentry and masonry necessary for the construction of a bridge". (Mitchell 1855a, 277).

Lennox Bridge c.1890
The Bridge Takes Shape

By November 1832, Abbott had cleared the road almost to the Pilgrim Inn. Much of the stone for the bridge had been quarried and cut, and obtaining lime from Windsor, Lennox began the laying process. The bridge work party was selected from the larger road gang by Lennox himself. Made up of about twenty convicts, an overseer, a constable and an armed sentry, it worked at the site from about 7 o'clock in the morning, returning to the stockade at Emu Plains in the evening after 4.00 p.m.

Lennox's relationship with his convict workers was, it seems, a good one and, despite the absconding of one convict which for a time held up the sawing of timber for the arch centering, he was very successful in conducting on-the-job training of the men he had picked to carry out the often difficult tasks required in bridge construction. Abbott described him to Mitchell, in a letter dated 10th November, 1832, as "indefatigable in instructing than how to work". Indeed, so effective was he that Governor Bourke let it be known that he would try to prevent the services of these newly skilled workers from being lost to the Department of Roads and Bridges after the Lapstone job was finished.

Lennox's confidence in his men was emphasized later, in May 1833, when he was beginning to transfer operations to his next job. At this time he petitioned the Governor to remit the remainder of the iron gang sentences of eight convicts he wished to take with him. Although some of the sentences were, he said, "for heavy crimes, it appears to me to have been more the effect of a bad system at that time in regard to prisoners than any particular depravity of the prisoners themselves". (Lennox to Bourke, 8th May, 1833.)

The convicts in question were:

William Brady
John Carsons
Robert Hyams
John Johnson
Patrick Malowney (or Maloney)
Thomas Nelson
James Randall
Daniel Williams (an "American black")

The sentences of Brady, Carsons, Malowney and Nelson were remitted while Randall and Williams were promised remittal of their sentences after a further six months good behaviour.

During March 1833 the approaches to the bridge were dry-packed with square-rubble to raise them to the level of the road while the road approaches themselves were quarried to a satisfactory width. The keystones were also inscribed at this time, with the date on the downstream side and the builder's name on the upstream side, and set in place.

By May 1833 the work on the bridge had progressed to the point where Lennox could direct his attention to his next assignment - the construction of a substantial bridge over Prospect Creek, on the Great Southern Road near Liverpool. By the end of the month he had moved his headquarters to the new site, leaving the completion of the Qnu Pass bridge under the supervision of his young overseer, George Neilson, to whom he paid periodic inspection visits until the work was finally completed toward the end of June. Lennox reported the bridge finished in early July 1833. The Pass itself, while traversable, was not completely finished until March the following year.

On Sunday 28th July 1833, Governor Bourke and his party rode up the Pass to the Pilgrim Inn and were, according to the Sydney Monitor's report, suitably impressed with the "rural splendour" of the new bridge, the simple design of which merged harmoniously with the surrounding landscape. Following the U-turn which the road took at the point where it crossed the gully, the single arch bridge traced a gentle curve to form the connection at the bottom of the "U". Its curving sweep demonstrated Lennox's command of geometry and earned the bridge the later nickname of "The Horseshoe Bridge".

Lennox Bridge c.1920
Bridge Use & Restoration

"A somewhat experimental work", as Mitchell (1855a, 277) described it, Lennox Bridge formed part of the main route to the west for almost one hundred years until the Great Western Highway was channelled across the Knapsack Viaduct and along the old Railway route to Blaxland in 1926.

The Bridge has borne traffic of which Lennox and Mitchell could have had no conception and, during the 1950s particularly, it suffered severely from the increasing load of fast modern cars and heavy vehicles. Damage to the stonework eventually rendered it structurally unsound and it was closed first to heavy lorries and then to all vehicular traffic, while negotiations took place with both State and Federal Governments to obtain funds for its restoration.

Finally, in the latter part of the 1970s, serious work began with the assistance of grants from the National Estate and the Heritage Council of New South Wales. The restoration work was designed to recreate the shape and appearance of the original bridge while, at the same time, providing the structural strength necessary to prevent damage by modern traffic. A reinforced concrete road deck, concealed behind the bridge's existing facade, was laid over the old stone arch. Abutments and approach walls were strengthened, damaged balustrading repaired and paving blocks re-laid along the bridge footpath. The work to aesthetically restore the bridge included the removal, cleaning, grouting, redressing and replacing of the original sandstone blocks as well as the quarrying of new sandstone to replace those blocks damaged beyond repair. The tender for the restoration of the old bridge's stonework was let to the Sydney firm of Melocoo, whose subsidiary, Loveridge and Hudson, carried out the work. Much of the new sandstone was quarried at Gosford.

The Bridge was officially re-opened to traffic by the Mayor of the Blue Mountains City, Alderman Peter Quirk, at a public ceremony on 14th December, 1982 - almost one hundred and fifty years since Lennox's convict work gang toiled in the gully on the Emu Pass.

Blue Mountains City Library
John Low

Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol. I, 1788-1850. (1966). Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. Contains entries on Lennox and Mitchell.
HAVARD, Ward L. 1933. Mitchell's Pass, near Emu Plains. Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, XIX (Part VI): 352-363.
HERMAN, Morton. 1954. The Early Australian Architects and Their Work. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. Chapter XIV is about David Lennox.
Historical Records of Australia, Series I (Vol. XVII): Governors' Despatches to and from England. (1923). Sydney: The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament. Contains correspondence relating to Lennox's appointment.
KULLAS, Henry. 1977. Lennox Bridge - 'Horseshoe Bridge'. Springwood: The Author. Describes in some detail the method of constructing the stone arch.
LENNOX, David.  1832-53.  Various Papers Relating To.  Held in the Mitchell•Library, Sydney.
LOW, Jim. 1983. Lennox Bridge - Spanning The Past Into Tomorrow. Mount Riverview: The Author. Contains suggested creative activities for children.
MITCHELL, Thomas Livingstone. 1839. Journal of An Expedition Sent to Explore the Course of the River Darling in 1835. In Three Expeditions Into the Interior of Australia Vol. I. London: T. § W. Boone.
MITCHELL, Thomas Livingstone. 1855a. Report Upon the Progress Made in Roads and in the Construction of Public Works in New South Wales from the Year 1827 to June 1855. Held in the Mitchell Library, Sydney.
MITCHELL, Thomas Livingstone. 1855b. Lecture to the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts. In 'Papers of Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell Vol. VIII, Miscellaneous'. Held in the Mitchell Library, Sydney.
SELKIRK, Henry, 1920. David Lennox, the bridge builder, and his work. Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, VI (Part V): 200-243.
SMITH, A.I. 1955. David Lennox. Springwood : Macquarie Historical Society. A paper read before the society on 21st October, 1955.
SPEIRS, Hugh. 1981. Landscape Art and The Blue Mountains. Chippendale (N.S.W.): Alternative Publishing Co-operative.

The Blue Mountains and the Ashes

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