My earliest memory of Glebe goes back to when I was a university student in the early 1970s. Glebe was where there were cheap flats for university students. That was all I knew. After our marriage we bought our house in Victoria Rd in 1978. When we bought it, people were very surprised that we bought in Glebe because it had a terrible reputation: it was not only a run-down suburb, there was a lot of crime. In the 1960s there had been two child murders, which people remembered. We bought because it was close to the university where Michael and I were working.
We have stayed in Victoria Rd, but the street and the area have both changed significantly. When we bought, Harold Park was still fully functioning as a dog and trotting track and the former council waste depot at the end of Victoria Rd had been bitumened over and functioned as a car park during meetings. Attendances were so high that buses used to park in our street with the engines running all evening to take the crowds away. Also, the Goods Rail Line was still functioning and coal trains used to go through the tunnel and over the viaduct several times a day. It was a comforting sound at 3am when I was feeding a baby; ie ‘someone else is awake in the world’. Jubilee Park foreshore area – then Federal Park – was occupied by timber yards, which had been taken over by squatters. There was no foreshore park, and a road ran across what is now parkland to the bridge over Johnston’s Creek.
Transport is much the same except for the coming of the light rail which has transformed Glebe.
The biggest changes are in the gentrification; the boarding houses and cheap flats have disappeared. The houses have increased in value enormously. Families of a higher socio-economic bracket moved in. Glebe, and especially Glebe Point, became a very desirable place to live. The best way to get involved in the life of Glebe was through the children at Hilda Booler kindergarten and Toxteth Rd kindergarten, and then at St James School.
I don’t miss anything and think Glebe is better than it used to be, especially since it reverted to the City of Sydney. I did miss Grace Bros after it closed down, but the Broadway Shopping Centre is an excellent replacement.