Today’s house is the second built as 1 Allen St. The original was demolished in 1917 after it was resumed by the NSW Rail Commissioners in advance of the excavation of the 800-metre Glebe railway tunnel. The site is roughly midway between the two exit points at Jubilee Park and west of Bridge Rd, and a shaft was excavated at 1 Allen St to allow additional tunnelling to start from the centre. After the tunnel was completed the shaft was filled in and a replacement dwelling was occupied by 1925.
Construction of the Glebe tunnel began in 1919 as part of the Rozelle goods line, a major project commenced in 1917. Between Darling Harbour and Rozelle a series of underbridges, viaducts and tunnels was constructed to carry the track through the suburban landscape. The State workshops at Wentworth Park were resumed in May 1920, and, after a delay caused by shortages of cement and sleepers, the new line was opened for traffic on 23 January 1922 at a cost of £1 million including £400,000 for land resumption.
Independent of passenger services, this dedicated goods line provided a continuous loop through Central Station, the Darling Harbour and Pyrmont wharves, with connections to Rozelle, White Bay and Glebe Island, and onto the Enfield marshalling yards, thus removing most of the heavy freight traffic from the passenger lines. Rural exports such as wheat, wool and coal could be transferred directly from rail to ship, and imported goods arriving on the docks back-loaded onto the empty trains for distribution around the State. (The goods line was part of a wider expansion of the city rail network, from the opening of St James Station for passenger traffic in 1926 to Wynyard in 1932.) A disused section of the original goods line can now be seen in Ultimo, from the point where the current light rail track swerves towards Paddy’s Markets to near the rear of the TAFE (Marcus Clark) building. This is an interesting area to walk around, for there are a number of information storyboards outlining its industrial heritage, and alongside is Frank Gehry’s UTS ‘paper bag building’.
Part of the Toxteth Estate, Allen St was until 1894 called Park Rd, first built on by 1892 when commercial traveller Henry Hynard and Captain Robert Cable (at Rubiana) had houses on its eastern side. The next year W H Nicholls was opposite at what became 1 Allen St, his neighbour banker Horace John Sendall (succeeded by W L Faire – of Faire Brothers, makers of elastic products – and inventor George Walter Blanks). Barrister Cecil Wright was at no. 1 before moving to 16 Hereford St and leaving the Colony for Europe in late 1897.
The Tilson family named no.1 Halcyon and lived there until ca 1905. The only son of Irishman Jonathan Tilson, Joseph Williams Tilson gave his occupation as engineer having been twice bankrupted as a mining agent and clerk. The household consisted of his wife Bessie Jane Roe and daughters music teacher Aileen Roe and Charlotte Elizabeth Roe (who died unmarried in 1951 at 13 Avenue Rd). Only son Jonathan Robert had died aged 22 on 16 May 1883 when the family lived at 2 Pyrmont Bridge Rd (the Corio & Glebe Clifton Cricket Club paid for his Rookwood memorial). Daughter Muriella Josephine Vicars Roe Lewis Tilson had in 1889 married St Barnabas rector William Martin. Muriella died on 19 June 1924 when Archdeacon Martin was rector of St Clement’s Marrickville and was buried at Rookwood with her nine-month-old baby daughter Mary Muriella Havergal Martin who had died on 10 December 1891. The Martins’ other children included Cyril, William, Gladys Elaine and Neville Roy.
Some time after Joseph Tilson’s death at Halcyon on 3 June 1903 his widow moved to Winster 39 Boyce St where she died on 10 June 1906.
By the time Captain Aaron J Clark moved in to the renamed Archina (perhaps for a yacht which took part in Balmain regattas) Allen St was filling up, although Michael O’Neill kept his dairy on the slope towards the waterfront. Master mariner Aaron John Clark in 1875 at the Mariners’ Church married Elizabeth Harriet Buckley whose father George Buckley hired out boats from Buckley’s Wharf Darling Harbour. In 1880 Aaron John Clark was granted a packet licence in Brisbane for the steamer Ipswich. Aaron John Clark died at Manly in 1941.
Only son of Scottish-born railway contractor William Monie, Samuel James Monie (1861-1939) was the house’s next occupant with his wife Ada Elizabeth née Guy (1862-1929) whom he had married in 1885 and their surviving children William Francis (1886-1947), Myrtle Elvira (1888 – 1976) and Doris Eileen (1894 – 1964). Twins Ivy and Guy Harrington, born in 1896, died the next year. The extended Monie-Amess family lived close by in Mansfield St. Presbyterians, the family grave was at Waverley.
In 1908 a Jewish family moved into no. 1, now renamed Co ee. Russian-born Woolf Ruta Cohen (1855-1947) in 1876 married Hannah née Novydwor (ca 1854 – 1932) and was in Australia by 1890 when Annie was born at Narrabri, followed by Leah the next year in Sydney. Woolf was naturalised in 1896. Three of their adult children were at 1 Allen St: manufacturer David, clerk Marian and forewoman Rose. Woolf and eldest son Abraham were directors of an Oxford St drapery business which in 1919 was bought by Bond’s.
After the departure of the Cohens, the house was occupied by Leonard John Dew and Bridget née McEncroe who married at St Joseph’s Newtown on 5 June 1889. Leonard’s first career was in banking. After working as an accountant and later Security Officer with the Savings Bank of NSW, he was one of the first executives of the Commonwealth Bank. In 1904 he bought an estate in the Southern Highlands which contained the Bowral Golf Links.
A devout Catholic, Leonard was a vice president of the St Vincent de Paul Society. His wife, who also worked for the Diocese in a lay capacity, died 26 on June 1924 by which time the family had settled in Randwick. After retiring from the bank, Leonard entered Rome’s Beda College to train as a Missionary of the Sacred Heart priest. His four children, all of them religious, attended his ordination in April 1929. Father Leonard Dew died in Melbourne on 22 September 1931.
Born at Randwick before their move to Glebe were Mildred (born 1892) who attended St Scholastica’s and became Mother Mildred at Melbourne’s Loreto Convent, Mary (born 1894) who became Mother Mary at St Pius Abbotsford Melbourne, Dorothy (born 1896) who became Sister Dolores at Kensington NSW, and Wilfred (1901-86) who as Rev. Father Wilfred Dew MSC died in Sydney on 27 July 1986.
By 1910 when the Thomas family moved to 1 Allen St, the area was being increasingly built on and Park Ave created. Long-term neighbour at no. 3 (its name changed from Spera to Carinya) was Alexandra Charlotte Allen who continued to live there after her marriage in 1919 to Clement Broadbent.
The family of Follet Johns Thomas (1863-1942) were at 1 Allen St by 28 December 1910, the death date of his sister-in-law Nina Victoria Dawson. A pharmacist, Follet Thomas was Methodist, a rifle shooter, and mayor of Glen Innes before his election as MLA for Glen Innes 1903-4 and MLA for Gough 1904-20. In 1888 he married Louisa Dibley Dawson at Glen Innes where their children were born: Norman Dawson (1889-1978), Thelma ‘Thel’ Dawson (born 1892), Follet ‘Fol’ Dawson (1894 – 1953) and Daphne ‘Daph’ Dawson (born 1896). Norman, a solicitor, enlisted in 1916 by which time his parents had moved to North Sydney. A sergeant, he returned to Australia in January 1919. In later life Follet Thomas played bowls at North Sydney where both he and his wife died in 1942.
No. 1 Allen St was re-christened Lucasville by Harriette Lucas (born 1851), a widow who moved in ca 1914. She was the second wife of William Wentworth Lucas (son of John Lucas MLC) who had died on 7 May 1907 and was buried in the Lucas C of E family vault at Rookwood with his first wife and their baby son. William Lucas operated the Lucasia Soap, Candle & Oil Company at Hutchinson’s Wharf Rozelle Bay 1898-1904.
Harriette Lucas died on 12 April 1916, leaving the house to her unmarried sisters Elizabeth Mary (born 1848) and Ann Jane (born 1853) Cousens. After Elizabeth’s death on 1 July 1917, Ann sold Lucasia and moved to Mosman where she died in 1929 and was buried with her sisters in the Methodist section of the Gore Hill Cemetery.
The NSW Railway Commissioners bought Lucasia for £1150 on 21 September 1917. The property was described as brick with a slate roof, containing seven rooms, a kitchen and offices, with a tiled verandah at the front and a second verandah at the rear. A month after its purchase whatever was salvageable was sold and the house demolished. After the completion of the Glebe tunnel, the Railway Commissioners in February 1922 approved the sale of the land. Six months later it was bought for £424.3.6 by painter and decorator Thomas May (ca 1875-1949) who had been living for several years at 44 Allen St. The replacement house was designed in the Californian bungalow style, popular in Sydney from 1913 onwards but very unusual in Glebe. Californian bungalows are characterised by low-pitched roofs, rendered walls, heavily built verandah posts, and sandstone fences. No. 1’s heavy sandstone fence was built using sandstone blocks from the onsite excavation to the tunnel below. Thomas May also recycled the sandstone as ornamental pillars, and displayed his decorating skills inside the house by painting friezes in Egyptian style (a ‘Tutmania’ craze followed the excavation of the pharaoh’s tomb in November 1922).
The house remained in the May family until 1972 when it was sold by Thomas’ daughter-in-law Annie May May [sic] to university lecturer David Christopher Hunt and his wife Sonia Ann. The Hunts sold the property in 1982 to Dr William Paul Nelson previously at 21 Alexandra Rd, and it is now the home of Katharine Vernon and Phil Young. All owners since 1972 have been Glebe Society members.
Sources: Australasian Decorator & Painter 1923-4; Australian Town and Country Journal 15.4.1899; Australian Worker 21.8.1919; Construction and Local Government Journal 20.5.1918, 27.5.1925; Evening News 12.10.1897, 20.6.1924; NSW births, deaths, marriages registry; NSW cemetery records; NSW electoral rolls; personal information; Railway Commissioners of NSW Annual Report 1917-22; Sands Directories; Sydney Morning Herald various issues including 28.12.1910, 13.4.1916, 3.7.1917, 9.10.1917, 16.10.1917, 20.10.1917, 22.4.1919, 24.1.1922, 6.4.1929; William Moonie family tree online.