The Intercolonial Investment, Land, and Building Company purchased the three acre site of the Strathmore Estate in September 1899 from the Savings Bank of New South Wales, the mortgagee in possession of the land. The prior owner was Andrew Garran, a member of the Legislative Council of NSW, who had lived there since about 1881. Records show that he resigned his seat in October 1892 although he was reappointed in March 18951.

Dr Andrew Garran (1825-1901), born in London, had been set for the Congregational ministry in England but ill health had him in 1850 sailing for a new life in Australia2. Here he found success as a journalist and politician although defaulting on his Glebe property in 1895 was not one of his highlights.

The new owners proposed a 25 lot subdivision as shown in the sale advertisement3. The outline of the Strathmore house and stables can be seen west of Avona Ave.

Sheehy St was created in 1900 at the time of the subdivision4:

A letter was read at the Glebe Council meeting last evening, from the Intercolonial Investment, Land, and Building Company, Limited, Moore Street, Sydney, acknowledging the acceptance by the council of the dedication of the streets and lanes in the Strathmore Estate, Glebe Point, including Sheehy-street. The company sent £100, being part of its contribution towards the work, the balance (£125) to be sent upon its completion.

The lots as we know them today are different because the developer/builders proposed, and were allowed to build, both separate houses and semi-detached houses. In Sheehy St the advertised seven lots on the western side became 10 dwellings which had been constructed by 1911.

Lot No. Purchaser Date House no.

19 & part 20

Walter William Neilson of Coogee, builder

Apr 1910


part 20

John Irvine of The Glebe, railway employee

May 1900



William Charles Osborne of The Glebe, produce merchant

Apr 1901



John Byrnes of Erskineville, railway employee

Mar 1902


23 & part 24

Jessie Sinclair Brigstocke of Chatswood, spinster

Nov 1911


part 24 & part 25

Jane Ann Trass wife of Samuel Trass of Queensland, wheelwright

Sep 1903


part 25

Ada Mary Schwaeffe wife of George Schwaeffe of Glebe Point, wharf labourer

Nov 1908


Source: Certificates of Title 1294-221 & 2037-26

A produce merchant, William Charles Osborne had lived in Glebe for many years and was living above his store at 239 Glebe Point Rd when he purchased the vacant lot 21 in April 1901 with his recent bride, Margaret James; they had been married in Petersham on 24 April 1901.

Subsequently there were negotiations with John Irvine, the owner of part of lot 20, which by June 1910 resulted in the Osborne family owning both lots and a single house being built on the site. It was here at No 19 that William and Margaret brought up their daughters Elizabeth (b.1902) and Mary (b.1909) and son William (b.1911).

Travelling with his recently widowed 50-year-old lead miner father Charles (1833–1919), William Charles Osborne, his older sister Elizabeth and younger brothers Thomas, John, Anthony and Alfred arrived in Sydney on the immigrant ship Dharwar on Monday 1 October 1883. An outbreak of measles soon after departing Plymouth meant that the ship had to be quarantined for five days on arrival, but even so, the total time from Plymouth to disembarking at Sydney was 81 days5. It carried 413 immigrants.

William had been born in 1864 near Truro in Cornwall, England into a mining family. Destined to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps William, aged 17 in 1881, was already working in the local lead mine. Whether it was because his mother died in April 1883 or it had been planned anyway, the family set off in July of the same year for a new life in Australia.

How he became a fuel merchant in Sydney is not yet known. William and two of his brothers did make a success of this trade, continuing for at least two subsequent generations. From the 1890s until the mid-1930s the Osborne brothers had a shop at 239 Glebe Point Rd where he called himself variously a produce dealer and produce merchant.

The Sydney Sun of Wednesday 28 May 1919 reported on page 5 that in evidence to the Coal Commissioner Mr Campbell KC, in May 1919, William Charles Osborne, a wood and coal merchant, of The Glebe stated that he would purchase 100 tons of coal each year from Howard Smith and Co and from the Sydney Coal Company Ltd. He paid 25 shillings a ton for Maitland coal and 20 shillings for Pacific. He took delivery at the company’s yards in Blackwattle Bay, and the cartage to his own yards half a mile distant cost him 4 shillings a ton.

Their house in Sheehy St would have provided a view down to the coal yards in the bay. They would also have seen the chimneys of the new Pyrmont power station which commenced operations in 1904 providing electricity for the first time to the Municipality of Sydney6. The demand was such that the station had to be expanded in 1905, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1915 and 1919 – this was known as Pyrmont ‘A’. Pyrmont ‘B’ replaced ‘A’ in about 1952 leading to most of ‘A’ being demolished. It was ‘B’ that was demolished in 1993 to make way for the Star City Casino.

The family moved from Sheehy St to 31 Toxteth Rd, Glebe in 1925. During their time at Sheehy St, rubbish from the Glebe Municipality would be transported down Forsyth St to the Council depot at the waterfront, loaded onto barges then towed out to sea and dumped. The requirement was 10 miles off the coast but how often was it taken out this far?

Even in the 1943 aerial photograph7 there were almost no trees along the footpaths of Toxteth Rd; so while it would have been more pleasant than Sheehy St back in 1925 it was still a very new subdivision not dissimilar to the new subdivisions now being created in Sydney’s western suburbs.

Daughter Elizabeth married clerk Harold Melville Edmonds (1904-1992) in 1930 and in 1938 they bought a vacant lot at 12 Bulkira Rd, Epping which in 1943 was still on a dirt road. Here they built their home and raised John Alan, Margaret and Robert. John Alan died much too young aged only 13 in 1945 soon after Harold had been discharged after serving in the Army during WW2.

Daughter Mary married Samuel William Arnold (1906-1978) in 1931. They lived at No. 31 Sheehy St for almost 20 years during which time Mary’s parents died – William in 1937 and Margaret in 1948. Having bought a vacant block at Cheltenham in 1946 and the house by now having been built, they moved to 5 Old Beecroft Rd, not far from Elizabeth and Harold.

The Sheehy St property was sold in February 1949 changing hands another four times until it was purchased by a group of development professionals in October 1967. It was at this time the original house was demolished and the current unit block constructed.

Sheehy St, February 2019 (Image: R. Hammett)

Son, William, had moved out of home to live at 1a Victoria Rd, Glebe when he married Addie Jean Knight in 1935. Her father Wilfred was a plumber.  Starting their family here was close to his parents and Addie’s at 15 Leichhardt St. They moved to a new house in a new subdivision at Beverley Park in 1951 with their three sons, one of whom became a consultant in the construction industry and the other two who became senior managers in the produce business.

William died in 1985 aged 74 while Addie lived to just over 100 when she died in January 2013.

1. NSW Government Gazette Fri 21 Oct 1892 [Issue 748] & Daily Telegraph Sat 30 Mar 1895, p9;
2. See also Australian Dictionary of Biography;;
3. National Library MAP Folder 61A, LFSP 890;
4. Evening News; Tue 6 Feb 1900, p4;
5. Evening News; Tue 2 Oct 1883, p2 (The Immigrants);
6. See ‘Evolution of Pyrmont Power Station’;;
7. NSW Land Registry Service;