By Katharine Vernon, Bulletin 3/2024, May

Late Victorian streetscapes, Toxteth Estate, Glebe
Walk leaders, Katharine Vernon (in yellow top) and Jan Macindoe (in burgundy top) (photo: V. Simpson-Young)

The first of three Glebe Society Guided Walks inspired by people and events 50 years ago was an enjoyable occasion and a great learning experience. Jan MacIndoe and I led this leisurely walk exploring the streetscapes of the Toxteth Heritage Conservation Area, an area now recognised for its historic and architectural significance.  This walk was held to commemorate the major contribution made by Bernard and Kate Smith to recording and preserving Glebe’s heritage.  Bernard and Kate were founding members of the Glebe Society and just over 50 years ago they published their seminal book, ‘The Architectural Character of Glebe’.  

Drawing on Kate and Bernard’s research and a collection of their photographs, 17 of us set about exploring the appealing streetscapes of the Toxteth Estate, the area developed between 1884 and WWI.  After a brief history outlining the development of this part of Glebe we set off along our route.  Within this relatively small area we found an enormous range of house styles, mostly late Victorian Italianate and Federation dwellings as well as a significant number that included features of both styles, adding to the uniqueness of this heritage area. Such an enormous range of decorative features!  Many of us have trodden the same paths for years, yet this walk gave us the opportunity to stop, admire and learn about the decorative elements of Glebe’s architecture that have given this area its distinctive charm.  The walk was truly a feast for the eyes!

Two of the houses built only three years apart in Avenue Road (Photos: Phil Young)




Little wonder that the Toxteth Estate is recognised as having ‘rarity significance as one of Sydney’s most important turn of the century townscapes with a high degree of architectural intactness’.  This walk reminded us of the important work of Bernard and Kate Smith and our ongoing contribution as the Glebe Society to preserving Glebe’s heritage.  

Reference: Toxteth HCA: Heritage Inventory Assessment Report, October 2012.

In Victoria Road (Photo: Virginia Simpson-Young)