Glebe's Social History
Aboriginal people have an unbroken and ongoing connection with the City of Sydney. The original inhabitants of the Sydney city region are the Gadigal people. Despite the destructive impact of first contact, Gadigal culture survived. As the town of Sydney developed into a city, the Gadigal were joined by other Aboriginal people from elsewhere in New South Wales. Read more »
The Glebe Estate comprises an intact community whose history goes back to the middle of the nineteenth century. So remarkable was the survival of a community so close to the centre of Sydney that it was purchased by the Federal Government to prevent the demolition of its buildings and the dispersal of its inhabitants. Read more »
In 1858, on his exploratory walks around Glebe, W S Jevons (who subsequently became a famous British economist) noted that the frontage to Parramatta Street was “…occupied by shops and public houses doing a large trade since they are the first and last which the traffic along Parramatta Street meets with.” Parramatta Street became known as Broadway in about 1890. Read more »
In 1878 Mrs W C Browne, wife of the Member for Singleton, gathered together a group of women to discuss the merits of establishing a children’s hospital in Sydney. Read more »
The Glebe Sydney Hospital for Sick Children was established in 1880 in premises on the corner of Glebe Point Rd and Wigram Rd. Separate accommodation was usually built to house diphtheria patients. Kew Cottage across the road was secured despite community consternation. Read more »
From the earliest years of the colony of NSW, the large numbers of orphaned or abandoned children on the streets of Sydney resulted in various institutional ‘solutions’. In Glebe, the earliest recorded institutions dated from the 1880s, and some operated well into the twentieth century. Read more »
The Wireless House in Foley Park was originally built in 1934. It was provided by the local council as a meeting and entertainment place for the many unemployed, working class people of Glebe, few of whom could afford radios. It is thought to be the only building of its kind in Australia and possibly in the world. Read more »
Near the end of 1879, as reclamation of Blackwattle Swamp neared completion, Glebe Council urged Henry Parkes to set apart a portion of the former swamp for “a cricket and quoit ground”. In December 1880 the trustees of the crown land invited competitive designs for the layout of 32 acres of the former swamp to become a park or place for public recreation to be named after patriot W.C.Wentworth. Read more »
Glebe of course has a huge radical history, with many different dimensions. Some of them are discussed in Terry Irving and Rowan Cahill’s book, Radical Sydney. They draw attention to working class Glebe politics and its role in major events such as the anti-conscription marches of 1916 and 1917, the General Strike of 1917, the Timber Workers’ Strike of 1929, the Unemployed Workers Union, and the controversial Youth Carnival for Peace and Friendship in March 1952. Read more »
When Bob Carr came to one of the park functions in 1988 during the development of Bicentennial Park Stage 1, he likened our campaign for waterfront open space to the Wars of the Roses – Bob’s a history, not a movie, buff! He was, no doubt, conscious of the intrigue, conspiracy and mayhem conducted along the way to our gaining this wonderful park. If you appreciate these qualities in your drama, then the campaign for the Bicentennial Park is right for you. Read more »
Although there were other issues, such as industrial pollution and unsympathetic architecture, that led to the founding of The Glebe Society it soon became clear that the greatest threat to the suburb was the proposal of the Department of Main Roads to build the expressways through Glebe. Read more »
In its early years members of the Glebe Society led a number of magnificently successful campaigns that had implications not just for Glebe but for the entire City. Some of them gained national and even international recognition.
One of the most outstanding campaigns was the one against Radial Expressways in the Inner City led by Albert Mispel. Read more »
Even though Marianne von Knobelsdorff was born in Germany, her heart is in Glebe. During the 29 years since she arrived here, she has been an indefatigable worker for The Glebe Society and has participated in most of the major campaigns that have been waged to preserve and improve our suburb.
As most members know, Marianne is returning to Germany to care for her sick mother, but has retained her flat in Leichhardt Street in the hope that she may return one day. Read more »