Pittwater Road Conservation Area | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Pittwater Road Conservation Area

Item details

Name of item: Pittwater Road Conservation Area
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Other - Residential Buildings (private)
Primary address: Pittwater Road, Manly, NSW 2095
Local govt. area: Manly
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Pittwater RoadManlyManly  Primary Address
Parts of Pittwater Rd, Kangaroo St, Alexander St, Carlton St, Colingwood St, Denison St, Golf Parade, Pacific Strees, Pine Street, Raglan Street, Rolfe Street, Sunter Street, Steinten St, Whistler StManlyManly  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

This street pattern is distinctive and underpins the urban character of the area. The streets remain unaltered in their alignment, although the names of Malvern, Pine and North Steyne are now names for what were Whistler, Middle Harbour and East Steyne respectively.

Manly Council is in the process of updating the inventory sheets for places listed as Items of Environmental Heritage on the Manly Local Environment Plan (2013) as amended.
The information in this inventory entry may not be complete.
For further information, please contact Manly Council’s Heritage Advisor.
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.


Construction years: 1880-1963
Physical description: The streetscape of Pittwater Road is a winding vista of late 19th and early 20th century commercial and residential architecture of generally one or two floors - although there are exceptions such as the four storey private hotel. The streetscape provides a 19th century atmosphere due to it's scale, width and the number of extant Victorian structures. Within the streetscape there are a number of individually signifigant buildings which are listed seperately. Adjacent streets generally comprise a consistant pattern of one and two story residential cottages, with the occasional terrace. Some streets have intermittent street plantings and remnant stone kerbs. The flat topography is accentuated by the escarpment to the west which provides an important visual, vertical and vegetated backdrop.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
(a) Relatively high degree of intactness of fabric from between the key representative dates (b) Some archaological potential, such as that found in Smith Street during road upgrading works in 2001
Date condition updated:15 May 03
Modifications and dates: The current area includes structures and alterations and additions made prior to, and after the key construction years. The listing however is on the basis of the degree of intactness and representativness of the settlement pattern between the key dates.
Further information: This Conservation Area extends an earlier listing of part of Pittwater Road as an item of Environmental Heritage in the Manly Local Environmental Plan, 1988 - refer to SHI# 2020509


Historical notes: “The First Road”
The creation of suburban streets and allotments in the Conservation Area begins with the alignment of Pittwater Road, which appears to predate European settlement. It corresponds with an early, probably Aboriginal track leading from Manly Cove to the Head of Curl Curl Lagoon and shown on an 1842 parish map of Manly Cove. The distinctive bend in the road after Collingwood Street is explained topographically as a sweep around the embankment of the lagoon which once existed directly to the north.

The Victorian Design of Streets
The other main streets originate from the design by the developer Henry Gilbert Smith for his development called Brighton, later known as Manly. This established East Steyne, Carlton Street, Belgrave Street and the alignment of Francis Street and Pine Street.

Two large subdivisions of the Brighton Estate occurred in the mid-Victorian period and contain all of the area in the Conservation Area. These two subdivisions bear the character of Victorian urban design. Rectilinear, wide streets are arranged in a grid with allotments which are rectilinear and large, of approximately 1000sq.m each. There are back lanes to serve the allotments and the layout is arranged so as to make regular the allottment areas.

The streets created run parallel variously to the coast and to Pittwater Road, thereby creating a series of out-of-square corners and junctions and small connecting streets. This street pattern is distinctive and underpins the urban character of the area. The streets remain unaltered in their alignment, although the names of Malvern, Pine and North Steyne are now names for what were Whistler, Middle Harbour and East Steyne respectively.

The Second Design of Subdivision
The majority of the allotments underwent a re-subdivision in the Edwardian period and later. These closer grained re-subdivisions created smaller allotments for smaller houses. In some cases the end allotments are turned to address the short street. In the Sunlight Estate and an estate near Carlton Street, large subdivisions of original allotments were made.

The major interference with this street pattern is the radical re-alignment of the corner of Pittwater Road and Raglan Street which was made after 1965. Also, although large villas were built on several amalgamated allotments, none of these have survived.

It is possible to see in the place today the result of the close scaled Edwardian re-subdivision of the larger scale Victorian street pattern with lanes and long blocks. Small houses and narrow shops address larger scale streets, broad enough for tree, and good footpaths, with prominent intersections where the streets meet out of square. Blocks are deep with rear lanes. All streets have a common flat topography giving a clear perceivable character.

The Village in 1893
By 1893 the northern part of Manly had been subdivided and built up as a substantial Victorian village, with some 100 houses arranged on both sides of Pittwater Road, from Raglan to Carlton Streets, and on the east side of Pittwater Road, from Carlton Street to the lagoon. With two exceptions, the development is of houses on single allotments from Victorian subdivisions. Larger estate-type houses existed in the vicinity: The Lawn and Undercliffe. The completeness of the village can be seen in early photographs from this time which illustrate not only houses, but developed gardens, fences, kerb and guttering and street trees in the gutter.

It has been possible to locate those buildings which survive from 1893 or before. About 32 buildings survive of the hundred or so which existed in the Victorian period. The greatest density and those most intact are on Pittwater Road, between Denison and Steinton Streets. This includes the substantial terraces development on the corner of Pittwater Road and Denison Street.

Early 20th Century Development
Almost all buildings in the conservation area were extant at 1933. These buildings include small terraces of houses, single detached houses, small apartment buildings and shops.

In historic terms therefore the urban fabric around Pittwater Road is, in the main, a result of an historical development over a relatively short time: about 40 years leading up to 1933. Considering that it includes domestic and commercial development it is a place of relatively unusual historic cohesion.
Later 20th Century Development
This pattern of development came into being without any particular control over the relative placement of different types of land uses. This has led to the current diversity of residential and non-residential land uses found along Pittwater Road. In part, Pittwater Road took on some service area functions for the main part of Manly and many of these activities still exist in residential zones. Reflecting this, town planning controls introduced in the 1950’s established a light industrial zone on the western side of Pittwater Road south of Carlton Street. This was later changed to a general business zoning, with residential zonings elsewhere. Importantly, a road widening proposal for the east side of Pittwater Road was not removed until the 1980s.

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 (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Manly Local Environment Plan 1988 (as ammended) (I) Conservation Area (ii)various individual items of the Environmental Heritage (buildings, street trees, stone kerbs, stone 'Kangaroo' statue, escarpment) The Conservation Area is associated with the early development of Manly including association with the early developer of Manly, Henry Gilbert Smith who laid out many of the early roads of the area. The historical development is also associated with the tramline of Manly, which traversed through the Conservation Area. The Area is also associated with sub-urbanisation of the area and is historically cohesive in terms of its development from the late 19th century to the 1930s from which the majority of the historic buildings stock dates from. (b) Early development associated with Henry Gilbert Smith and the suburbanisation of Manly in the late 19th century.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Conservation Area displays an aesthetically distinctive pattern of development. Illustrates cohesive period of building styles from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Displaus a distinctive pattern and scale of development. Landmark qualities include the Kangaroo statues, escarpment, views, historic street planting, and sandstone kerb and guttering.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Local community value is demonstrated though the local precinct committee and public submissions to Council over the years (since at least the late 20th century) regarding the character and quality of the locality
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
There is potential for archaeological relics to be found throughout the area. Recent relics have been found in Smith Street during the road improvements in late 2001.
SHR Criteria g)
The Pittwater Road Conservation Area has representative signifigance as a late 19th century aand early 20th century urban village developed within a relatively short period displaying a unique historic cohesiveness. Through its physical form, topography, early road layout, Victorian and Edwardian subdivision and even scale of domestic and commercial development demonstrates and typifies the early suburbanisation of Manly.
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.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanManly Local Environmental Plan 1988 as amended 05 Apr 13   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Manly Heritage Study1986 Blackmore, Ashton, and Co.  No
Pittwater Road Review2001 Kim Ketelby  Yes
Review of Proposed Pittwater Road Conservation Area and Additional Heritage Item2002 H. Abrahams  Yes

References, internet links & images


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

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2020536

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