Elkington Park | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Elkington Park

Item details

Name of item: Elkington Park
Other name/s: White Horse Point Reserve
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Parks, Gardens and Trees
Category: Urban Park
Primary address: Glassop Street, Balmain, NSW 2041
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Glassop StreetBalmainLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

Elkington Park is of local historic, aesthetic and social significance as part of an early subdivision and open public recreation space and waterfront park established by Balmain Council in c. 1880 with design and plantings also dating from the early 20th century. The Park has strong links with the Dawn Fraser Pool and has significantly continued to be used since its establishment. The Park retains significant trees and plantings and landmark point and retains early rotunda and features which make a positive contribution to the local area and Parramatta River.

Note: This inventory sheet is not intended to be a definitive study of the heritage item, therefore information may not be accurate and complete. The information should be regarded as a general guide. Further research is always recommended as part of the preparation of development proposals for heritage items.

Council's Library Service has identified photos and/or subdivision plans relating to this item which may be viewed online through the council website at http://www.leichhardt.nsw.gov.au/ Select Library & Local History to get to the Library online catalogue and keyword search "Balmain Map" and/or "Elkington Park" for results.
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.


Builder/Maker: Balmain Council
Construction years: 1880-
Physical description: Park area generally bounded by Glassop and White Streets with prominent point of land with natural stone edge extending into the Parramatta River. The park generally comprises of open grassed area with mature Fig trees and plantings and avenues of Bush Box and Phoenix Palms particularly about the perimeter and central section of the park. A sealed pathway extends around the point.
A low stone fence with piers with curved capping extends along the Glassop Street frontage. Steps are located at the eastern end with landscaped entry also located at the corner of Glassop and White Street. A diagonal path bounded by an avenue of mature palms extends from the corner to steps which lead down to the Dawn Fraser Pool. The park also features terraced rock gardens, band rotunda and rose gardens. The rotunda is an Inter-War octagonal shaped structure constructed of face brick with rendered details and tiled pyramidal roof. A modern playground and small brick toilet block are also located in the middle section of the park.
A single storey Federation period cottage surrounded by a small yard and fence is located in the eastern section of the park, near the end of Fitzroy Street. Constructed as a caretaker’s residence it is a face brick structure with contrasting brick and rendered bands and details and gabled roof clad in slates with timber finials at some of the gable ends. An open verandah with hipped roof supported on chamfered timber posts wraps around the western façade and corners of the building. The north facing gable end also has timber fretwork details. A timber weatherboard and compressed fibrous cement clad addition extends from the eastern side of the house. Paths and roads also link Elkington Park to Fitzroy Avenue Park.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In good condition. Some weathering of the stone fence/ wall along the Glassop Street frontage is evident. The central section has also been affected by a large Fig tree located adjacent.
Date condition updated:08 Dec 10
Modifications and dates: Recent design adjacent to Fitzroy Ave by S.Pittenrigh & Associates. Site purchased by Balmain Council in 1880's for open space and swimming baths. First Pool constructed in 1883. The current planting is mainly Federation in style and period.

1989: Construction of a temporary skateboard facility (trial period 6 months on the foreshore terrace) ( DA/568/1989).
1993: BA/1993/714.
1994: BA/1994/687.
1995: BA/1995/278.
Current use: Public Park
Former use: Public Park


Historical notes: Surgeon William Balmain was granted 550 acres and most of the area now encompassing Balmain in 1800. In 1801 the entire grant was transferred to fellow surgeon John Gilchrist. Gilchrist never actually lived in NSW and advertised the land for sale in 1823. However, the sale was not a success. He gave power of attorney to his Sydney-based agent and merchant, Frank Parbury, who commissioned Surveyor John Armstrong to subdivide part of the land. This subdivision and sale of this land took place in 1836 and commenced from the eastern end of the suburb (East Balmain) due to its proximity and convenient water access and later spread west. The early subdivision was, however, suspended in 1841 due to difficulties associated with Gilchrist’s will, but was resumed in 1852 when Surveyor Langley divided it into 46 later 47 sections. Langley used existing routes such as Darling Street and other tracks such as Beattie and Mullens Streets, which followed the local topography and contours, to delineate the parcels. The sections were purchased over the next 30 years by wealthy investors, local speculators and builders.
The Park is located in Lot 37 of the 1852 subdivision and subsequently became part of land acquired by EW Cameron. The name of the point may have been derived from the story of "Captain Thunderbolt", Frederick Ward, a bushranger, who escaped from Cockatoo Island gaol in September 1863, swam ashore near the point and escaped on a horse provided by his lady.
Areas were not set aside for parks and recreation grounds until the 1880s, following the Land for Public Purposes Acquisition Act, 1880. Henry Parkes, in particular sought to ensure that land was dedicated for public recreation purposes as the tempo for development quickened. Resolutions for the establishment of Public Baths were made as early as 1877 with land for the Baths and Recreation grounds finally acquired by Balmain Council in May 1880 with additional area acquired in June of the same year. The purchase of the area, known as White Horse Point, was part of Council’s plan to secure waterside property as important recreation grounds for Balmain. It would appear that the park was established from this time. The Baths, constructed in 1881 were in use by 1882. Early plans show that a Caretaker’s Cottage was also constructed at this time. In November 1883 the baths were renamed the Elkington Park Bath, after a former Mayor, Alderman Elkington who was instrumental in acquiring the land from the Cameron estate.
A Sydney Water Plan (Balmain Sheet 27) dared 1888 and revised in the 1890s, shows the “White Horse Point Reserve” with Public Baths ad cottage located in the crook of the cove. An access path and steps is shown extending from the south eastern corner of the site on Glassop Street, past the cottage to the Baths. The cottage occupies its own site with fenced yard and is located in the reserve area adjacent to the western end of Fitzroy Street. The Working Men’s Rowing Club and Balmain Rowing Club are show on the western site of point facing Long Cove.
The Baths, now known as the Dawn Fraser Swimming Pool were redeveloped in 1902 and enlarged again in 1924. In 1904 the cottage was also altered/ rebuilt for the manager of the baths.
In July 1918 four Morton Bay Fig trees were planted by John and Ada Booth in memory of their son John Booth II who died in action in Belgium in October 1917. The park design dates from the c. 1930s when it is assumed that Bandstand was added. In 1964 received a high commendation from the judges in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Gardening Competition. The toilet block was constructed in 1965.
In the 1990s various plans were made by Council for a facelift and works including the addition of a new pathway around the point to possibly link the area with the “Bay Run”. Upgrade works were funded by the State Government grant which was given to assist works to a derelict jetty. It is assumed that Building Application dating from the mid 1990s relate to these works.
Since that time the Park has continued to be maintained by Leichhardt Council and provides access to the Dawn Fraser Swimming Pool.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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 Growth of Balmain-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Growth of Balmain-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Park is of local historic significance as part of an early subdivision and open public recreation space established by Balmain Council in c. 1880 with design and plantings also dating from the early 20th century.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Park is associated with Balmain and Leichhardt Councils and Dawn Fraser Swimming Pool. It is named after a former Mayor.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Park is of local aesthetic significance as an open, waterfront space and early 20th century designed park that retains a sense of its early layout and elements including peripheral plantings, paths and avenues leading to Dawn Fraser Pool and around the point, bandstand/ rotunda and large Fig trees. The Park retains a landmark point of land and enhances the surrounding residential development and makes a positive contribution to the local area.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Park is of high local social significance that has provided public open waterfront space since the 1880s with strong links to the former swimming baths and Dawn Fraser Swimming Pool.
SHR Criteria f)
The Park is closely linked to the former Whitehorse Point Baths and Dawn Fraser Swimming Pool tidal pool that is now relatively rare in Sydney Harbour.
SHR Criteria g)
The Park is one of a number of public recreation spaces and Parks established by Balmain Council in the late 19th century.
Integrity/Intactness: High
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:

It is recommended that: - the Park, including perimeter fence and plantings, large Figs, palms and specimen plantings and rose gardens and rockeries, band rotunda, perimeter and central pathways and connections around the point and to the Dawn Fraser Pool and Fitzroy Avenue Park and surrounds be retained and conserved; - the toilet block and playground may be upgraded as required provided that care is taken to any significant plantings and elements; - the park area and its features should be regularly inspected and maintenance works should continue to be carried out as part of cyclical regime; - any major works should be undertaken in accordance with a current Plan of Management.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I23823 Dec 13   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Leichhardt Municipality Heritage Study1990 McDonald McPhee Pty Ltd (Craig Burton, Wendy Thorp)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenMax Solling and Peter Reynolds1997Leichhardt: On the Margins of the City

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1940253

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