by Sybil Jack, from Bulletin 7/2021, September 2021

After fifty years of settlement in Australia in 1842, a Constitution was established that gave local residents some government input. A council was also established for the city of Sydney with boundaries that excluded Glebe. General rules for municipalities under acts passed in the British parliament for the responsibilities of councils were being established. These included such things as markets being regulated, and slaughterhouses being moved out of cities and towns.

Grose Farm from Toll Gate, ca. 1862-1869, a watercolour by F.C. Terry (source: SLANSW)

The new and poorly-managed Sydney Council looked for a site as close to the city as possible, and their eyes were drawn to Grose Farm. It appears that a proposal was developed to divide Grose Farm, taking approximately a quarter to create a cattle market and an abattoir. In September 1846, just after Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy (1796-1858) had become the Governor-General, one Glebe resident was moved to adverse comment in the Spectator.

His approach was to ridicule the location as an extraordinary way to provide a suitable entrance – the only land entrance – to the city by comparing an abattoir to the grandeur of entries to great European cities. The area which was otherwise being beautified would be doomed. He went on:

then I looked at those beautiful places that had been created in the very vicinity of this contemplated Charnel House. I thought of the residence of the late Mayor [presumably George Allen and Toxteth Park], of Hereford House, of Lyndhurst, (henceforward the nursery for the Church), of Johnstone of Annandale, of Garryowen, and of various other valuable properties in the immediate neighbourhood of this projected pest, as well as of the deterioration of all that was in course of completion around the doomed spot.

The letter envisaged the smell that would spread throughout the area and into Sydney itself and consider the alternative idea of developing a new promenade in a park to add to Hyde Park, the Domain, and the Botanical Gardens. Some thought this proposal would find the value of Grose Farm an obstacle which the writer dismissed.

Neither idea, if indeed they were ever serious, eventuated.