By Virginia Simpson-Young, Bulletin 5/2024, July

Walk leader, Max Solling, sporting the Glebe Society’s new voice amplifier (Photo: V. Simpson-Young)

The Society organised this Walk to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the preservation of Glebe Estate when the Whitlam Government purchased the ‘Glebe lands’ from the Anglican Church, which is much of the area bounded by St Johns Road and Broadway.

Back then, when the Glebe Society was young, Max Solling, a young historian, guided interested people around St Phillips and Bishopthorpe Estates and showed them why these streetscapes and community were worth saving.

Max had also conducted much of the research that convinced decision-makers that Glebe’s heritage was worth preserving. So, it made sense to see if Max was willing to be our guide on this Walk. Fortunately, he agreed.

On Saturday 25 May, we met outside Glebe Town Hall, where Max provided some background information about the area, including that the Anglican Church, which was given ownership of the whole of Glebe area by Governor Phillip in 1789, put it up for sale in 1828.

Later subdivisions into small allotments were made in St. Phillips in 1842 and Bishopthorpe in 1856. The Walk was a good opportunity to use the voice amplifier of which the  Glebe Society had recently become the proud owner, and Max showed great forbearance with the faffing, poking and prodding required to get it going.

Rowe’s terrace at 146-156 St Johns Road (Photo: V. Simpson-Young)

Our first stop was just a stone’s throw from the Glebe Town Hall: Rowe’s Terrace’ at 146-156 St Johns Road. This post-regency terrace with cantilevered balconies was built in 1870. A bit further down, on the corner of St Johns Road and Westmoreland Street, we looked at the large house named Ayshleigh, built around 1890. In its lifetime, the house has been a private hospital and sculpture gallery; now, it is Kathleen York House, a rehabilitation clinic. We continued on to 55 Westmoreland Street to see the former Toxteth Park Hotel, which was built in 1874 and closed in 1908. It is now a private home.

When Max mentioned that a house designed by Edmund Blacket was on Derwent Street, most of us were keen to look. Blacket’s design is 104-106 Derwent Street, built in 1863 and is one of three Colonial Georgian cottages in a row, the others being 108 Derwent Street (‘Thorpe House’) built in 1867 and 112-114 Derwent Street, built in 1876. And on the other side of the road from the Blacket house is a George Mansfield house, 111-113 Derwent Street, built in 1869.

We then walked down Mitchell Street and crossed Glebe Point Road to the St Phillips Estate. Max told us about the Old Fire Station and the role it played in the local community and pointed out the building on the corner of Glebe Point Road and Mitchell Street (115-117 Glebe Point Road) that has been vacant for decades and was once the headquarters of the Glebe Project – the Whitlam government program to revitalise the Glebe Estate.

All in all, a good Walk!

Further reading

Max Solling has written extensively on Glebe and Forest Lodge. The following of his publications include detailed information about the Bishopthorpe and St Phillips Estates:

Foster, M. and M. Solling (2002). ‘A semi-rural retreat: places, people and society in Glebe 1828-1861, part 1.’ Leichhardt Historical Journal, 23: 5-36.

Solling, M. (2007). Grandeur and grit: a history of Glebe, Halstead Press.

Solling, M. (2011). ‘Glebe’. The Dictionary of Sydney, from

Solling, M. and H. Randerson (2018) ‘Forest Lodge.’ Dictionary of Sydney, from