The Rocks Sydney NSW Australia during the World Wide Photo Walk on Sat 1 Oct 11
Taken at Susannah Place Museum, Gloucester St, The Rocks – Historic Houses Trust
HDR 5 x bracketed images, handheld +/- 1 stop processed in Photomatix Pro and CS5
Nikon D700 24-70 f2.8
ISO 320 f11 @27mm 1/100th sec
Featured in: Wall Of The World 2 Dec 11
Built in 1844, Susannah Place is a small terrace of four brick houses including a corners grocer’s shop, located in the heart of The Rocks, Sydney.
Susannah Place has never been substantially remodelled; it has never been converted into offices or degenerated into factories or warehouses. Rare in the City of Sydney, it has a continuous history of domestic occupancy by working class families and demonstrates the ways these houses were lived in from the mid-1840s to the late 20th century. This is the heritage significance of Susannah Place.
Each house is solidly built with, originally, six rooms on three levels, including a basement kitchen. Each has a fire isolation and ventilation, water supply and sewerage arrangements. These challenge popular ideas about the standards of housing in The Rocks in the mid 19th century.
The intactness of the amenities in the houses and backyards records the great changes in household technology and power sources with a shift from dependence upon oil, candles, wood and coal to gas and electricity for light, cooking and heating. Susannah Place was probably connected to piped water by about 1855 and to the sewer line by about 1858.
Behind the houses are original brick privies and generations of outbuildings. Early last century corrugated iron bathrooms and partly open laundries with laundry tubs and coppers were added. These amenities are some of the earliest surviving washing and sanitary arrangements remaining in the City of Sydney. There was slum housing in this part of The Rocks, and indeed in other parts of the city last century, but Susannah Place was well built and well kept and not one of the ‘plague and pestilential dwellings’.
The diversity of 19th and 20th century decorative finishes, wallpapers and floorcoverings surviving in the houses tells much about the decoration and furnishing of working class interiors, and documents changes in ownership and the contributions made by individual occupants to the updating and refurbishment of their homes.
The tenants have included a compositor, a shipwright, a bookbinder, a packer, a seaman, a dressmaker, three labourers, two drivers, a clerk, a carpenter, a butcher, a salesman and five coal lumpers. One of these, Thomas Hughes lived here with his family from 1916 until 1929. In 1934, after living at No 52 Gloucester Street, John and Adelaide (Ada) Gallagher moved to No 58, remaining until their deaths in 1949. Their daughter Mary (Girlie) Andersen, her husband Martin and their two sons then moved No 64 to No 58. The younger son Ernie lived here until 1974. For this house there is a rich oral history from Ernie, his brother Jack, their cousin Leslie Gallagher and Thomas’ son Fred. This house is being kept ‘as found’ with only essential repairs being made. It will remain as an archive for conservation, research and teaching purposes.