Federation Queen Anne style dwelling | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Federation Queen Anne style dwelling

Item details

Name of item: Federation Queen Anne style dwelling
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 8 Oates Avenue, Gladesville, NSW 2111
Parish: Hunters Hill
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Ryde
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
8 Oates AvenueGladesvilleRydeHunters HillCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The house at No. 8 Oates Avenue is historically significant as a Federation period house constructed on a 1914 subdivision of part of the Field of Mars Common, the Vista Estate, representative of the history of the diminution of the common at this time. The house has strong association with the Ratcliffe family, as it was built for Mary Jane Ratcliffe and her husband Robert George Ratcliffe, a contractor, and an alderman on Ryde Council from 1942 to 1948. The Ratcliffes resided in the house from its construction in 1916 till their deaths in the 1960s. The house is of aesthetic significatce as an intact weatherboard Federation Queen Anne style dwelling, possibly built by Gavan Park or R.W. Park & Sons, builders of Gladesville.
Date significance updated: 27 Nov 12
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: Gavan Park or R.W. Park & Sons builders (possibly)
Construction years: 1916-1916
Physical description: A modest single storey weatherboard vernacular Federation Queen Anne style cottage with a hipped roof clad in terracotta tile. Front and side verandah with decorative timber fretwork. It is set on rendered and painted brick foundations and wooden stumps. It has a triple paned gabled window that projects to the front, and features coloured glass panes at the top and a bracketed awning. The house is set on a landscaped allotment with remnants of a low concrete barrier along the front that is probably the base of an original fence, possibly of woven wire.
Date condition updated:17 Jul 07
Current use: Residential
Former use: Residential


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 a high point at Gladesville . 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 land on which 8 Oates Avenue stands (Lot 12, DP 7563) was originally part of the Field of Mars Common. This was a large tract of land alienated in 1804. Under the Field of Mars Resumption Act, 1874 the land was progressively sold off.

On the 5th February, 1886 Benjamin Morris of Petersham was granted 3 acres 33 perches which was part of allotment three, section 15 (vol 777 fol 242) and 3 acres 1 rood 20 perches which was part of allotment two, section 15 (vol 777 fol 241).

While the ownership of both parcels of land changed hands over the next 27 years the land itself remained intact. On 22 December, 1913 William Thomas Anderson of Kogarah, a school teacher, purchased the land included on both certificates of title (vol 777 fol 241 and vol 777 fol 242).

On the 25th of April, 1914 the Vista Estate, Ryde was advertised and consisted of lots 1-29 (see sub-division plan). These were blocks of land to the north and south of Oates Avenue and bounded on the west by Monash Road (then called Victoria Road) and on the east by Westminster Road.

John Emmett purchased lots 5-8 DP 7563, on 26 May, 1914 (vol 777 fol 241).

A new certificate of title vol 2520 fol 99 was issued to William Thomas Anderson on 1 October, 1914 for the surviving land from CT vol 777 fol 241 and all of the land from CT vol 777 fol 242 ie lots 1-4 and 9-29 DP 7563 (a total of 5 acres 3 roods 32 perches).

From August 1914 the individual lots owned by Anderson as listed above were sold off, including the site of the house at 8 Oates Avenue: Lot 12, 35 ¼ perches: (8 Oates Avenue): 31 October, 1916 to Mary Jane Ratcliffe, wife of Robert Ratcliffe of Gladesville, licensed drainer. New CT vol 2718 fol 110.

With no surviving rate books for the Municipality of Ryde at this period the only evidence for occupation in the street is from the Sands Directories where a build up of occupants can be seen in Oates Avenue from 1915. Oates Avenue is not listed in the 1914 Sands Directory. In the 1915 edition there is only one occupant: Bismarck W Wilson. By the 1916 Sands Directory there are six occupants: Albert E Weston, William Cleary, George Francke, Robert G Ratcliffe, Hubert P Butler and Bismarck W Wilson.

By the 1918 Sands Directory there are 11 occupants. South side: John Goodsir, James Foster, William Cleary, John M Cook, Robert G Ratcliffe, Hubert P Butler, Bismarck W Wilson, John Kelly; north side George Easton, Walter H Davies, Roderick Sinclair.

This build up of occupants in the street is curious given Bismarck Wilson (listed in the 1915 Directory) does not purchase land until 1919 (lots 14 and 15). Hubert P Butler listed in the 1916 Sands Directory (compiled 1915) does not purchase land until the end of 1918 (through his wife). Likewise, Robert G Ratcliffe is shown in the 1916 Directory (compiled in 1915) but his wife does not buy land until the end of 1916. Were these families living in houses built by others which they subsequently purchased? In any case, the documentary evidence is that the house at 8 Oates Avenue was built by the end of 1916.

At the time Mary Jane Ratcliffe buys the land the following covenant exists:"‘The above mentioned transfer contains a covenant by Mary Jane Ratcliffe that she will not at any time after the date of the said transfer erect or permit or suffer to be erected upon the land above described any main building of less value than £250."

It is notable that various lots in the street were purchased by the wife of Gavan Park, a builder of Gladesville, the wife of Albert Thompson, a bricklayer of Gladesville, and a carpenter and his wife (John and Agnes Kelly). Gavan Park was a son of James Wallace Park and his wife Catherine, who had arrived in Australia on the Strathleven in 1879 with their children Mary (b. 1875), Gavan (b. 1878) and David (b. 11879). James Wallace Park was a mason and founded the Sydney building firm J.W. Park & Sons, listed in the Sands Directory from 1907 to 1910 as operating out of premises at Jordon Street, Gladesville: a prominent project for the firm was the building of the Catholic church at Hunters Hill in 1904. It is not known whether Gavan Park operated his own building business or working as part of J.W, Park & Sons builders.

The 1924 Valuer-General’s land valuation describes the cottage at 8 Oates Avenue as a weatherboard cottage, with 5 rooms and a kitchen. On that record it also records the name of the house as ‘Dilston’ but notes that the owner is Robert George Ratcliff, a contractor. From the land title evidence there is no evidence that he owned the land.

Robert George Ratcliffe was a local alderman on Ryde Municipal Council from 1942 to 1948. From the evidence of the electoral rolls the Ratcliffes lived at 8 Oates Avenue their entire married lives. The 1965 electoral roll (Division of Bennelong, sub division of Gladesville) lists both at that address. Mary Jane Ratcliffe died 30 October, 1966. Robert died 16 June, 1967.

On 19 April 1968 Michael Anthony Bell, assistant secretary of Perpetual Trustee Company became the registered proprietor of the property (vol 2718 fol 110).

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 Suburban Development-
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 house at No. 8 Oates Avenue is historically significant as a Federation period house constructed on a 1914 subdivision of part of the Field of Mars common, the Vista Estate, representative of the history of the diminution of the Common at this time.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The house has strong association with the Ratcliffe family, as it was built for Mary Jane Ratcliffe and her husband Robert George Ratcliffe, a contractor, and an alderman on Ryde Council from 1942 to 1948. The Ratcliffes resided in the house from its construction in 1916 till their deaths in the 1960s.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The house is of aesthetic significatce as an intact weatherboard Federation Queen Anne style dwelling, possibly built by Gavan Park or R.W. Park & Sons, builders of Gladesville.
SHR Criteria g)
Dwelling is a fine example of a weatherboard Federation Queen Anne style house.
Integrity/Intactness: The dwelling is reasonably 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: A Heritage Impact Statement is required by Council to accompany any Development Application for non-minor work. Please consult Council staff about your proposal and the level of documentation that will be required as early as possible in the process. Note that Council has adopted planning provisions to assist in the making of minor changes that will not have any impact on the significance of properties without the need to prepare a formal application or Heritage Impact Statement. In this case Council must be consulted in writing to confirm the nature of the works. APPROACHES TO MANAGING THE HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROPERTY: (Note: the detailed requirements for each property will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The following advice provides general principles that should be respected by all development.) Further subdivision of the land is discouraged. The overall form of the building should be retained and conserved and new uses should be restricted to those that are historically consistent and/or able to be accommodated within the existing fabric with minimal physical impact. All significant exterior fabric should be retained and conserved. The setting of the property should be protected from the impacts of development and significant plantings, walls, paths and other landscape elements should be retained in a manner that will not threaten the viability of significant gardens, landscapes or views. The external surfaces and materials of significant facades (generally, but not limited to, those visible from the street or a public place including the water) should be retained, and painted surfaces painted in appropriate colours. Sandstone and face brickwork should not be painted or coated. Significant door and window openings should not be enlarged or enclosed. OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGE: All development should respect the principle of ‘do as much as necessary but as little as possible’. In most instances, new work should not attempt to replicate historic forms. A ‘contemporary neutral’ design that sits quietly on the site, and enhances the quality of the item, will be a more sympathetic outcome than a ‘fake’ historic building. Respecting the scale and overall forms, proportions and rhythms of the historic fabric is critical. As a general principle, all major alterations and additions should NOT: - result in demolition of significant fabric - result in excessive site cover; - be visually prominent or overwhelm the existing buildings. - intrude into any views of the property from the public domain, including the water; and should be: - located behind the historic building/s on the site; - visually subservient and have minimal impact on heritage significance including that of views over the property. Single storey extensions will generally be preferred over two-storey forms unless there is a sound heritage reason to do otherwise. Attic rooms must be accommodated in the original roof form. Solid fences or high walls on street boundaries and structures - including car parking structures - forward of the front building line are strongly discouraged.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanRyde LEP 201082   
Local Environmental PlanDraft Ryde LEP 2011I82   
Local Environmental PlanRyde LEP 2014I8202 Sep 14   
Local Environmental Plan - LapsedLEP No. 10530017 Jan 03 14351
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Ryde Heritage Study1988300Jonathan Falk Planning Consutants P/L Assoc with Rodney Jensen and Assoc P/L  No
Ryde SHI Review Stage 12012 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAngela Phippen and Margaret Farlow2008Gladesville suburb history, Dictionary of Sydney online
WrittenAngela Phippen, Ryde Library Local Studies & Family History Librarian2012Research - Land Titles, Sands Directories - for Ryde SHI Review Stage 1, Paul Davies Pty Ltd
WrittenKathie Rieth, Ku-ring-gai Historical Society Nelson Street article, The Historian

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: 2340147

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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