Memorial Clock Tower, Wharf Rd/Meriton Street | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Memorial Clock Tower, Wharf Rd/Meriton Street

Item details

Name of item: Memorial Clock Tower, Wharf Rd/Meriton Street
Other name/s: Sheridan Memorial Clock. Monument
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Monuments and Memorials
Category: Memorials
Primary address: Intersection Wharf Rd /Meriton Street, Gladesville, NSW 2111
Parish: Hunters Hill
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Ryde
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Intersection Wharf Rd /Meriton StreetGladesvilleRydeHunters HillCumberlandPrimary Address
Wharf RoadGladesvilleRyde  Alternate Address
Meriton StreetGladesvilleRyde  Alternate Address
Victoria RoadGladesvilleRyde  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

The Gladesville Clock Tower (Sheridan Memorial Clock) is of historical significance as an important piece of civic infrastructure from the Inter-War period of the mid-20th century.
It evidences the improvements made to Wharf Road Square as part of the widening of Victoria Road and the wholesale redevelopment of the western side of the Gladesville town centre in the late 1930s
to early 1940s.

Designed by Ryde Municipal Council Engineer J. C. Sutherland in 1940 in the Inter-War Functionalist style, the clock tower is of representative significance as a good example of a locally designed public clock tower and is rare within the City of Ryde local government area, having no equal.

The clock tower sits atop of a circular two-tiered reinforced concrete base. The structure is of rough textured red brick construction, comprising four tiers; the lower base, the central vertical column, the upper vertical column and the clock face top. Each tier is separated by corbelled masonry courses.

Erected in 1941, the clock tower functioned not only as a public clock tower, but its circular base served as a traffic island for the road intersection – evident through the incorporation of a series of directional arrows, each with reflective glass ‘cats eyes’. The traffic island was extended to the present triangular shape in the 1960s-1970s.

The clock tower is significant for its association with former esteemed Alderman James York Sheridan, who served a term on the Ryde Municipal Council from 1938 until his sudden death in 1941 and whom the clock tower commemorates.

Towards its completion in mid November 1941, Council proposed to erect a plaque, commemorating the work and services to the Council and the citizens of the Municipality by the late Alderman James York Sheridan, incorporating a pink granite commemorative stone on the eastern (front) elevation.

Subsequently, the clock tower became commonly known as the ‘Sheridan Memorial Clock’, The clock tower is of aesthetic and social significance as a distinctive landmark feature within Wharf Road Square and forms an important element of the Gladesville town centre, being prominently visible from Victoria Road, Wharf Road and Meriton Street, contributing to the community’s sense of place.
Date significance updated: 11 Nov 16
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Ryde Council Engineer, JC Sutherland
Construction years: 1941-1941
Physical description: The clock tower is located at the intersection of Wharf Road and Meriton Street and Victoria Road, Gladesville. Wharf Road is blocked off where it joins onto Meriton Street. Meriton Street forks at the western end where it joins Victoria Road, and the monument is located on a circular plinth within triangular traffic island in the middle of Merton Street. It is evident from the history that the traffic island was designed at the same as the clock tower monument (1941).

The monument is a stepped red texture brick clock tower with three brick corbelled rectangular sections of progressively smaller cross sectional areas surmounted by the clock section (also rectangular with four faces on round flat concrete base).

Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
There is some damage to brickwork, some bricks fallen out or missing, and evidence of movement in mortar joints.
Date condition updated:02 Aug 12
Current use: Memorial
Former use: Memorial


Historical notes: AREA HISTORY
Aboriginal people inhabited the Sydney basin for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. The northern coastal area of Sydney was home to the Guringai people, western Sydney was home to the Dharug clans, and southern Sydney was inhabited by the Dharawal clans. The Guringai lived primarily along the foreshores of the harbour, and fished and hunted in the waters and hinterlands of the area. All clans harvested food from their surrounding bush. Self-sufficient and harmonious, they had no need to travel far from their lands, since the resources around them were so abundant, and trade with other tribal groups was well established. The British arrival in 1788 had a dramatic impact on all of the Sydney clans. Food resources were quickly diminished by the invaders, who had little understanding of the local environment. As a result, the Aboriginal people throughout the Sydney Basin were soon close to starvation. The Sydney clans fought back against the invaders, but the introduction of diseases from Europe and Asia, most notably smallpox, destroyed over half the population. The clearing of land for settlements and farms displaced local tribes and reduced the availability of natural food resources, leaving Aboriginal people reliant on white food and clothing. The French surgeon and pharmacist Rene Primavere Lesson, who visited Sydney in 1824, wrote: "the tribes today are reduced to fragments scattered all around Port Jackson, on the land where their ancestors lived and which they do not wish to leave." (Information taken from City of Ryde Aboriginal Site Management Report, Aboriginal Heritage Office, 2011)

European settlement of the Gladesville area has its origins in the earliest land grants in the Ryde LGA, which were made from 1792 and were known as the "Eastern Farms" (being east of Parramatta). From 1795, land grants in the Gladesville and Tennyson Point areas in the district of Kissing Point were made to John Doody, a convict artist. William House (1795), Ann Benson (1796) and Charles Raven (1799).

In 1836 John Glade, an emancipist, was issued with the deeds to Doody's grant, which he had purchased in 1817. The district became a rural farming and dairy area supplying the Sydney market, but remained isolated, with the only access via the Parramatta River. By the time of John Glade's death in 1848, he had expanded his property to include a number of adjoining holdings. His land was sold to a Sydney solicitor and developer Mr William Billyard,. Billyard promptly subdivided the land, and offered it for sale from November 1855, as the "Gladesville Estate". However, development was slow and large portions of the Gladesville Estate were offered for sale over the next thirty years.

In colonial times, a flagstaff was erected on the high point of a local ridge. It was an important communication point between Sydney and Parramatta, especially when the Governor was in residence at Parramatta. Signal flags relayed messages from Sydney to the next flagstaff near Brush Farm, and on to Parramatta.

A defining aspect of the development of Gladesville was the building of the Great North Road. The road was surveyed in 1825 and led from the road between Sydney Town and Parramatta, down modern-day Great North Road at Abbotsford, across the Parramatta River by punt through Gladesville, along the ridge line through Ryde and then north to the Hunter Valley via Wisemans Ferry. A ferry house/inn was established by December 1830, sited above the cutting leading down to the wharf. The footings for this building survive. The first commercial building in Gladesville was the Flagstaff Inn, licensed to John Worthington in 1856, set up to meet the needs of travellers along the Great North Road (Martin, A Pictorial History of Ryde 1998, 19).

The point at which the punt reached the northern shore of the Parramatta River was called Bedlam Point, presumably due to the nearby Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum, designed by Mortimer Lewis and opened in 1838. Bedlam (a corruption of Bethlem/Bethlehem) was the name of England's first lunatic asylum. However, the name Bethlem was applied to the area as early as 1820 and it was officially called Bedlam Point soon afterwards, long before the Tarban Creek asylum was built. In 1869, Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum was renamed Gladesville Hospital for the Insane. By the mid-1960s, the institution was known simply as Gladesville Hospital. In 1993 premises at Gladesville Hospital and Macquarie Hospital were revoked as hospitals, and were amalgamated to form the Gladesville Macquarie Hospital. Today, much of the hospital's riverfront grounds forms part of the Parramatta River Recreation Park.

The subdivision and development of Billyard's Gladesville estate included the building of a wharf at the bottom of Wharf Road to allow better access to the area and overcome the difficult task for passengers of alighting midstream from the regular Parramatta River steamers onto the punt to be conveyed to shore. The land parcels were described as suitable sites for 'gentlemen's villas' with ample grounds for gardens, lawns and orchards. A post office was established at the wharf from 1861. The regular ferry services, bringing residents and visitors, led to a decline in the use of the punt after the 1860s.

By 1880 most of the Gladesville Estate lots had been purchased and the subdivisions were extending to the west into Raven’s land that became known as Tennyson Point. Master Mariner, William Raven, had been granted and acquired 154 hectares (extending from Tennyson Point to Buffalo Road) from 1795. Raven was also part owner of HMAS Britannia and he mastered the naval store ship Buffalo, after which Buffalo Creek and Road are most likely named. The Parramatta River was the focus of rowing and sculling in NSW with highly competitive races attracting many thousands of spectators along the foreshores between Henley Point and Meadowbank. The subdivision of Raven’s land capitalised on this popularity with the advertising flyers highlighting the proximity to the "championship course" and the streets being named after rowing terms and personalities. The Tennyson Estate however was not fully settled until the early twentieth Century.

Not withstanding the construction of the wharf at Gladesville, residents had been petitioning since 1861 for improved access to Sydney by road. This was finally provided through the release of the Field of Mars Common for subdivision in 1874, which provided the funds to construct bridges at Gladesville (1881) and Iron Cove (1882) and thus direct road links to the city.

After the opening of Gladesville Bridge in 1881, horse-drawn bus services operated to the city and provided an alternative to ferry transport. In 1910 the tramline from the city to Drummoyne was extended across the Gladesville Bridge through to Gladesville and eventually to Ryde. This fast and efficient transport service was the impetus for many subsequent residential subdivisions along the Great North Road, later Victoria Road.

The Bedlam Point settlement, which had begun around the junction of Wharf and Great North roads and grew westward, emerged as the distinct village of Gladesville by the 1870s. The post office moved from the wharf to this area in 1867. Sydney's first Protestant hall was built in Gladesville in 1867, allowing different itinerant ministers to conduct services in the area. The Anglican Christ Church opened in 1877 and became a separate parish in 1878. Gladesville Public School began classes in April 1879. In 1888 the Presbyterian Church of St Andrew was built.

By the early 20th Century Gladesville and Tennyson Point were effectively developed, the residents enjoying fast commutes to the city by horse-drawn buses and later trams. The first Gladesville bridge was replaced by the present concrete-arch bridge in 1964.

The origin of the street name for Meriton Street is not known, however the street was the inspirtion for the naming of Harry Triguboff's Meriton Apartments construction company, as in the 1960s Triguboff built his first block of units "Elizabeth", in Meriton Street, Gladesville.

This clock tower was originally planned as a traffic separation device at the intersection of Meriton Street and Wharf and Victoria Roads, Gladesville, referred to as Wharf Square. It was designed by Ryde Council Engineer J.C. Sutherland and built using funds originally allocated by a subsidised works programme for unemployment relief. Tenders for the construction of the clock were called in May 1941. The concrete kerb and base of the clock were completed and the brickwork of the tower was in progress when Alderman James York Sheridan of Gladesville died on 24 October 1941 at the age of 53 years. He had been a Ryde Council Alderman since 1937. A motion of sympathy recorded in the minutes of a meeting of Ryde Council on 29 October 1941 noted that Alderman Sheridan was beloved not only by the members of the Council but generally by all classes throughout the Municipality for his kindly manner and his high ideal of citizenship.When the clock tower was nearly completed in mid November 1941 it was proposed that a suitable plaque be placed on this clock tower to commemorate the work and services to the Council and the citizens of the Municipality by the late Adlerman J.Y. Sheridan. Since that time the clock has been known as the Sheridan Memorial Clock.

In 1997, the monument was identified as part of the Australian survey of sculpture monuments and outdoor cultural material by the Ryde Heritage Taskforce.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Roads-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Developing Community-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing Community-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with prominent local persons-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The monument is of historical significance as evidence of mid-20th century Council road changes, as part of mid twentieth century development of the Gladesville village. and as a memorial to a Ryde Alderman.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The monument has historical association with Ryde Council engineer , J.C. Sutherland, who designed the monument, and with Ryde Alderman James York Sheridan of Gladesville who died on 24 October 1941, whom the monument memorialises.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The monument is of aesthetic significance as a landmark in the Victoria Road Gladesville village.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
No specific social significance has been identified for the monument.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The monument is considered to have little archeological or research potential.
SHR Criteria f)
The monument is a rare example of a memorial clock tower in the Ryde area.
SHR Criteria g)
The monument is a fine representative example of a locally designed mid-20th century monument.
Integrity/Intactness: The memorial is intact.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

DOCUMENTATION AND CONSERVATION: A maintenance schedule should be urgently prepared for the monument, by a qualified heritage architect or conservator. The monument has damaged brickwork, some missing bricks and some discolouration of brickwork. A Heritage Impact Statement is required by Council to accompany any Development Application for non-minor work (but not for maintenance). The overall form of the monument should be retained and conserved and the clock maintained in working order. All significant fabric should be retained and conserved. The setting of the monument should be protected from the impacts of development and landscape elements should be retained. The external surfaces and materials of the monument should be conserved. Brickwork should not be painted or coated. The landscape setting for the monument should be improved if possible.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanRyde LEP (Gladesville Town Centre & VictoriaRd2010I101 Nov 11   
Local Environmental PlanDraft Ryde LEP 2011I137   
Local Environmental PlanRyde LEP 2014I13702 Sep 14   
Local Environmental Plan - LapsedLEP No. 10522417 Jan 03 14360
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Ryde Heritage Study1988224Jonathan Falk Planning Consutants P/L Assoc with Rodney Jensen and Assoc P/L  No
Ryde SHI Review Stage 22012 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  Yes
Gladesville Clock Tower Conservation Management Plan2016 Edwards Planning  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 2012Dictionary of Sydney online - entry for Gladesville
Written  Ryde Library Local Studies - research

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2340123

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