Former Macdonaldtown Post Office Including Interior | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Former Macdonaldtown Post Office Including Interior

Item details

Name of item: Former Macdonaldtown Post Office Including Interior
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Postal and Telecommunications
Category: Post Office
Primary address: 193 Rochford Street, Erskineville, NSW 2043
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
193 Rochford StreetErskinevilleSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The building at 193 Rochford Street is a representative example of a Victorian corner shop and residence which makes a positive contribution to the streetscape and dates from the key period of subdivision and development for the area. It is associated with, Henry Knight a prominent builder, contractor, and former alderman and mayor of Macdonaldtown Council, who built the building on the subject site as a post office and residence for his son, Henry Knight Junior in c 1873 .
Date significance updated: 25 Feb 09
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: Attributed to Henry Knight
Physical description: Two storey Victorian corner building built for a post office with residence above. It has a rendered façade with a cantilevered balcony decorated by cast iron balustrading. At the splay corner there is pair of timber entry doors with fanlight, above which is an early painted wall sign advertising the former Post Office. Flanking the corner is an original shop window on the Rochford Street elevation, which has early timber roller blind, whilst on the Knight Street elevation the original window has been blocked up and replaced with two small windows. The original timber base framing and bulkhead at the top of this original shop window opening has survived.

There is a single storey kitchen lean - to on the southern side of the Post Office building.

Along the western boundary the site is a gabled two storey outbuilding, with a roller door at ground floor level fronting Knight Street. Connecting this outbuilding with the original two storey Post Office building is a single storey garage block which has three roller doors fronting the street. The garage block and gabled outbuilding are of later construction than the Post Office building, and date possibly from the inter-war period.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In good condition with a high degree of original fabric intact and high potential for restoration.
Date condition updated:29 Apr 05
Modifications and dates: BUILDING CERTIFICATE - BC/1996/86 - Approved 17-May-1996.
Further information: Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Residential
Former use: Resdiential and Post Office/Grocer


Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today.

The site is located within the southern part of Nicholas Devine’s Estate, a land grant of 210 acres which was given to Devine in two parcels, in 1792 and 1799. Devine in 1827 put his affairs in the hands of his assigned servant, Bernard Rochford who managed the estate and lived on it. Rochford initially disposed of some of the land and in 1830, after Devine had died, commenced subdividing the land and sold the land as smaller farm plots in the south and larger villa estates in the north.

The historical development of the area is quite complex, especially in view of the Newtown Ejectment Case. In 1852 Mr John Devine, a relative of Nicholas Devine claimed title to the whole of Devine's 210 acres. A protracted legal battle ensued, known as the Newtown Ejectment Case. A number of property owners, including Henry Knight, were defendants in this case. Devine was unsuccessful but the holders of the property established a fund and paid him compensation, thereby retaining title to the land. The effect of these proceedings was to mothball development in the area. As Cable (2001) states, "At a time when open land so close to Sydney was, in the 1840s and 1850s undergoing rapid development, there was some hesitation about using land and improving land which might belong to someone else."

Henry Knight leased the southern portion of Devine’s Estate ( 50 acres, 1 rood) in
1841 which he subsequently purchased in 1846. The 1843 Sydney District Council Rate Assessment books indicate numerous buildings including Henry Knights Brickworks and brickyard near the subject site. In 1866 he brought under Torrens Title the land bounded by Rochfort, Devine, Coulson and Flora streets , known as Lots 25, 26 and 31 of Thurlow’s subdivision of Macdonaldtown, and also on the western side of Rochford Street, Lots 50 and 51 ( which indlues the subject site). Knight then subdivided this land in c 1873 (DP 110) and presumably named the new streets in the subdivision, Amy Street and Knight Street. The lots in the subdivision were sold from 1873 onwards.

According to Godden Mackay (1996) the closure of the main colonial brick making area, Brickfield Hill in the city, in 1841 caused considerable dislocation in the brick making industry and many of the evicted brick makers moved into adjacent suburbs. Knights appearance in Macdonaldtown in 1843 suggests he may have been part of this movement.

The clay deposits in the district were eventually to grow into Sydney’s largest brickmaking area. Knight was no doubt aware of the potential and as Cable (2002) states, "in the process, he was to become Macdonaldtown’s principal builder and citizen."

The advertisement of the sale of allotments in Macdonaldtown in Sydney Morning Herald of 13 July 1846 were said to be of particular interest to industrious people due to the availability of bricks from Mr Knight’s brickyards. As a builder and contractor, Knight encouraged working class families to the area with one pound per foot deferred payments.

Knight was a well respected builder and is known, in particular, for building the John Verge designed Lyons Terrace, opposite Hyde Park, which was completed in 1841 but demolished in 1910, and St Peters Anglican Church , St Peters built in 1838-39, which is listed on the State Heritage Register. In Macdonaldtown, he built the store and post office for his son Henry at the corner of Rochford and Knight Streets (c 1874), and a flour mill.

Henry Knight was an alderman on Newtown Council from 1863 to 1866, a Trustee for the Cooks River Road Trust for a number of years and became the first Mayor of Macdonaldtown Council in 1872. He was also an alderman for the years 1875,1876, 1877 and 1880. A new street was made close to his house c 1873 and named after him. The entry in the Sands’ Directory of 1873 indicates "Knight, Henry, brickmaker" living at Knight Street Macdonaldtown. He is listed in Sands as living there until 1878 and from 1879 resided at Camberwell House, Rochford Street. He died in 1887 and was buried in the t St Peter's Church cemetrey .

His son, Henry Knight Junior, was a postmaster and lived in the residence above the Post Office in Rochford Street from 1874. According to Sands he was still living in Rochford Street in 1895. He was also an alderman on Macdonaldtown Council in 1882 and 1889.

Sands Listings from 1894 are as follows:
1894 to 1911 - Knight Street South, RJ Nichols, Postmaster and Grocer. ( No street nunber) ,
I912 - CH Somer as Postmaster and Grocer in Knight Street South
1913- 1916 - 193 Rochford Street is first listed with CH Somer as Postmaster and Grocer
1917- 193 Rochford St - Tom S, JP - Grocer, MacDonaldtown Post Office and Commonweath Savings Bank
1918-1924 - Hourn, Norman listed but no reference to Post Office
1925-27 - Cooper, David
1928-30 - McGirr, PA "Mixed Business"
1931-32 - Evans, AM "Mixed Business"

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Residential-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site and cottage have high local historical significance being associated with the c 1873 subdivision by Henry Knight of the southern part of Nicholas Devine’s 210 acre land grant and dating from the key period of development for Erskineville (Macdonaldtown).
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The site and building have high local historical associational significance being associated with Henry Knight and Knights Brickyard. Knight was the first Mayor of Macdonaldtown in 1872 and a prominent local figure who played a significant role in the development of the area. Henry Knight built the subject building as a post office and residence for his son, Henry Knight Jnr.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
A Victorian corner shop and residence that makes a good contribution to the streescape.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The building has research potential as it is likely that it was originally constructed from bricks made locally. It also has the potential to contribute to the understanding of the early period of Knight’s subdivision and development in the area.
SHR Criteria f)
The building is not rare within the local area.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a representative example of a Victorian corner shop and residence.
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:

The building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the façade of the building other than to reinstate original features. The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including ceilings, cornices, joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I62214 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
South Sydney Heritage Study1993 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Lands Title Office, Certificate of Title, Vol 35, Fol 201; Vol 475, Fol 158.
Written  Macdonaldtown Assessment Books, 1876-1893,
Written  Biographies of Newtown Municipal Council Aldermen
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenCable KJ 8 and 10 Devine Street Erskineville, A Historical Commentary
WrittenGodden Mackay Heritage Consultants1996No 20 Devine Street Erskineville, Heritage Assessment,

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: 2421248

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