House "Wyong House" Including Interiors and Front Fence | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


House "Wyong House" Including Interiors and Front Fence

Item details

Name of item: House "Wyong House" Including Interiors and Front Fence
Other name/s: Wyong House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Villa
Location: Lat: -33.8585025412435 Long: 151.205439778704
Primary address: 55 Lower Fort Street, Dawes Point, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
55 Lower Fort StreetDawes PointSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Wyong House is of state significance as a fine example of a well designed Victorian Regency style Villa which is substabtially intact and makes a significant contribution to the streetscape of Lower Fort Street. The site is of historical significance as physical evidence of the development of substantial villas and townhouses on the ridges over-looking the harbour. The house is part of a mercantile precinct, built high over the wharves with which the builders and owners of the houses were connected. The siting is symbolic of the influence of the merchants and captains of the mid-nineteenth century.
Date significance updated: 11 Dec 06
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: 1866-1866
Physical description: “Wyong” villa at 55 Lower Fort Street is an early cottage built in the Victorian Regency style. The building has two upper storeys from Lower Fort Street, with a basement that is cut into the steep slope down to Downshire Street. The upper floors are of rendered brickwork, whilst the basement has stone walls to the exterior and brick to the interior.
The facade is divided into four bays with the main entry offset to one side behind a painted timber Doric portico (reconstructed after termite damage) over stone steps, a common Regency feature. The front door is a wide four panelled door with raised panels and a vertical bead running down the centre to imply a double door. The door has a rectangular transom light sash. Both the ground and first floor have evenly spaced windows with rendered surrounds and sills with brackets. The windows themselves are not the twelve pane double hung windows that would have been original to the building, but the present two pane windows do not appear recent and would probably date from at latest the Federation period. The façade is very simple with only rendered quoins to the corners of the façade and a projecting rendered capping to the top of the parapet.
The building is set back from the street behind a low bull nose stone wall with an iron palisade fence, and the ground has been cut away to open up to a basement underneath. There are two higher terraces to either side of the building. The steep slope down to Downshire Street at the rear of the property allows the basement to be exposed. The rear elevation is dominated by a three level balcony, recently damaged by fire, and presently under reconstruction. The basement level is supported by rendered brick piers on a low face brick boundary wall. The ground floor has a timber framed verandah (the cast ironwork may be in storage after the fire), and the first floor has early flat cast iron columns and balustrade detailing. The external walls are well setback. The basement has a stone wall, and the upper floors have rendered brick walls with painted cedar French doors with shutters.
The roof is concealed behind the parapet but is traditionally framed in timber with some slate and some more recent fibre cement tiles. The floors are timber framed, and the basement has a more recent concrete slab. The internal walls are all brick, exposed in the basement where the timber lintels over doors are evident, but plastered on the two levels above with recent paint or wallpaper finishes. The rooms have early plastered ceilings, but many of these are concealed by later dropped ceilings. The CMP 2002 reports that most of the original cedar joinery to windows and doors are intact, and includes the original timber staircase. The marble fireplaces on the ground floor are also intact, but the timber fireplace surround has been damaged.
The offset door makes the planning difficult to deduce but early reports state that the house had 14 rooms over three levels, which means each level must be a derivative of the Georgian four room plan with an offset entrance hallway.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Largely intact and in good condition with modifications as noted. The recent fire damage has been repaired.
Date condition updated:12 Dec 06
Modifications and dates: c1918 - brick toilet to the northern end of Lower Ground Floor verandah.
c1950s - stud framed fibre cement lined toilet to north of ground floor verandah, alterations to rear verandah and roof.
Concrete floors to Lower Ground Floor except hallways, rebuilt timber floors to halls.
Damp proof course to Lower Ground Floor.
A timber panelled partition to Ground Floor front room.
Timber panelled veneer wall to Lower Ground Floor (southern wall)
False ceilings in all rooms excluding western rooms.
Male bathroom, female toilet and kitchen facilities on the Lower Ground Floor.
A kitchenette on the First Floor.
Timber shelving to First Floor.
Repairs to timber windows and doors.
Air conditioning units throughout building including plant in roof.
A downpipe on the east facade
Brick planter boxes to Downshire Street frontage at Lower Ground Floor.
Concrete slab and concrete pavers to Lower Ground Floor terrace to Downshire Street.

c 2005
Internal/external renovations including reconstruction of front portico and rear verandahs.
Further information: Was a heritage item in 1989, and remains so since that time.

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: Offices
Former use: Residential


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. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney.

(Information sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City )

Originally one of several tracks from Fort Phillip and adjacent buildings to Dawes Point, Lower Fort Street gained a separate existence as a regular road because of its strategic position.

With the completion of the Argyle Cut, Argyle Place (with Holy Trinity Church) developed, Lower Fort Street led directly from the Place to the Artillery Barracks and adjacent wharves. Windmill Street, the main west-east road, emptied into Lower Fort Street. From this intersection, in 1848 Ferry Lane was to be made, directly onto Wharf Road and the public Ferry.

With wharf construction and the erection of adjacent stores at water level, mercantile people came to regard Lower Fort Street as a desirable place of residence. They built fine houses there, with easy access to the waterfront. This movement peaked in the 1850s, coinciding with the upgrading of Lower Fort Street. Clydebank was the most impressive of these houses.

By the 1850s, with rapid and more diversified development in Sydney’s trade, Lower Fort Street (and similar streets on the Dawes Point ridge) saw its first developers. They built high-class terraces for local residents and merchants, along with foreign settlers.

From the 1860s, there was rapid infill (though open yards remained because of the dominance of horse transport) and a growing number of lower-class residents. The north end of Lower Fort Street remained of higher social status than the Windmill Street end. By the 1880s, there was a gradual moving away of wealthier residents. Boarding houses made their appearance.

John and James Flavelle were goldsmiths and jewellers. In the 1840s they purchased a part of William Davis’ land on Lower Fort Street which had been bequeathed to the Catholic Archbishop. It led to Downshire Street, the original entrance to the Clydebank garden. The land from Downshire Street sloped sharply to the shoreline.

In 1855, Waugh’s Directory of Sydney and its Suburbs, did not record any house between the Campbell’s ‘Clydebank’, with its large garden along the street front to the south and the stone public house, the ‘Whalers Arms’ (or the ‘Young Princess’), on the north corner of Windmill Street. The City Council’s Assessment Book of 1856 contains a list of buildings erected in Gipps Ward in the previous year. For Lower Fort Street there are five, all owned by John Flavelle, - of brick and stone construction and slate roofs, all of four storeys and nine rooms and rated at £150 each. The first three were occupied by Flavelle and the other two were tenanted. The list, hastily compiled, is defective in that it gives no street numbers. Had it done so it would have realised there were only three houses in the terrace and that Flavelle lived only in the first of them (No.53, now No.57) until 1871. The terrace had respectable tenants. The Rev. Edward Rogers, minister of Holy Trinity was a tenant of No.57 (now No.61) from 1860 to 1867, the Rev Thomas Unwin, minister of St Luke’s, Sussex Street, tenanted No.55 (now No.59) from 1875 to 1887. An inspector of police, Alexander Atwill, was at the present No.59 from 1889 to 1897. The first boarding house did not appear in the terrace until 1895.

Part of the Davis holdings, the present No.55 (originally No.51) was on the boundary of the Davis property and the Clydebank (Campbell) estate, separated from it by the stone wall that surrounded Clydebank. The circumstances of its purchase from the Davis estate are not yet known. It was never acquired by Flavelle.

It is known that by 1864 this land was owned by Andrew H.S. Baass, an accountant. In 1867 both the Council Assessment Book and Sands’ list Baass as the resident occupier. It is clear that, in the previous year, Baass had erected the present No.55, described in the Assessment Book as of stone, with a slate roof, of three floors and 14 rooms (the number of floors and rooms varies in later Books).

The Land Titles Office records that Baass transferred the property to John Mitchell, baker, in December 1876. Mitchell and his business partner John Hardie (both of whom lived and worked in George Street) were sometimes given as joint owners. The house was occupied by a succession of tenants until Mitchell’s death in 1878. The tenants, according to Sands’, were in 1869: J.B. Hoare; 1871: Mrs E. Myers; 1873: Dr Edward Myers; 1875: vacant; 1876 Arthur Cooper.

In the following year, Captain Angus Campbell began his 20 years of owner-occupancy.
The numbering of the house was changed from 51 to 55 in 1882. Sands’ in 1887 has occupants for the new numbers 51 and 53. This would signify that the building of the terrace to the north had begun. The 1889 Sands’ has two occupants for numbers 47-53, when the range was called Palermo Terrace.

The long-term lessee (under the Harbour Trust) of No.55 was the stevedore Michael Daley. He had taken up residence at No.53 (the southernmost of the terrace houses) according to Sands’ of 1893. He had probably moved there in 1892. Ten years later he went next door to No.55.

The Daley family occupied the house for most of the first half of the twentieth century, as lessees of the Sydney Harbour Trust. At a time when many of the houses on the west side of Lower Fort Street were given over to be residential and boarding houses, under the special conditions maintained by the Trust, No 55 remained as the place of business (as well as a residence) for one family.

As a long-term stevedore and small ship owner, Daley was identified with both the commercial class of Millers Point and also the Irish Catholic workers who were coming to dominate local community life.

Daley’s son, educated at a Catholic school and at the State-run Fort Street National School, became a solicitor and, in 1901, was elected to represent the Gipps division of Sydney in the NSW Parliament. He belonged to the rapidly expanding Labor Party. In 1902-5, the junior Daley lived at 55 Lower Fort Street and conducted his parliamentary business from that address.

The New South Wales government, in 1900, set up a statutory authority, the Sydney Harbour Trust, to control all aspects of Sydney Harbour. Since the immediate occasion for this long-contemplated reform was the onset of bubonic plague, extensive alterations were to be made to the sea wall and wharves, while substandard housing had to be destroyed.

The Harbour Trust, a professional body, proceeded steadily. It did not operate on a preconceived programme but added to its responsibilities as time went on and as political problems were overcome. Plague elimination, wharf construction, transport improvement and provision of new housing and utilities were a series of aims, each following on another.

In 1917 a new lane was proposed and later built at the rear of the houses in Lower Fort Street. Most of the properties, including No.55, had their basements and rear building wings (No.57) renovated and given brick boundary walls and new outhouses to accommodate the new lane, known as Downshire Street.

On the death of Michael Daley, his widow remained in occupation until 1947. After G Trotter resided there (having the property fair rented in 1952) for ten years, a series of commercial firms held the lease. York and Co (1957-61) was followed by Rankin Ltd (1961-6) and then by the major company, Condux Building Pty Ltd, as one of its offices.

In 1986, at a time of major change in the status of the Maritime Services Board, (which had replaced the Sydney Harbour Trust), Condux resigned the lease to Laycock Holdings P/L, wool merchant.

Lester Tropman and Associates (Aust) Pty Ltd purchased the property in 2000. Currently the building is occupied by Tropman & Tropman Architects and Laycock Holdings P/L.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services (none)-
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 house is part of a mercantile precinct, built high over the wharves with which the builders and owners of the houses were connected. The siting is symbolic of the influence of merchants and captains of the mid-nineteenth century. The precinct was later given over to residential use, where the local workers and contractors in the Harbour Trust reconstruction lived. ‘Wyong’ was owned by a sea captain for 20 years (1879-1899). It was then leased by a firm of stevedores. The community in this precinct changed with the development in the area, and is now changing with the re-development.

The precinct exhibits a remarkable survival capacity. Built by the owners of an important Sydney Harbour mercantile segment, it adapted (without frontage changing) to accord with the wholesale reconstruction of Walsh Bay by the Sydney Harbour Trust. Walsh Bay was Australia’s most advanced technological experiment of its time in maritime history. The precinct then survived the erection of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which destroyed much of the East Rocks residential area. It thus stood in stark contrast to Australia’s most celebrated piece of urban bridge construction.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Villa is associated with wealthy Sydney merchants including Andrew H.S. Baass, an accountant, whom built the house, and Captain Angus Campbell began his 20 years of owner-occupancy.

The Villa is also associated with the Sydney Harbour Trust and the Daley family, whom occupied the house for most of the first half of the twentieth century, as lessees of the Trust.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Villa is a fine example of an early Victorian Period Regency style townhouse that accords with the architectural character of the street. It represents a slightly later development to the four-storey terrace c.1855 to the south. The workmanship and design are of high quality.

The site is located in an elevated position overlooking the Harbour. Its position contributes to create significant vistas along Lower Fort Street & Downshire Street to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The site possesses 19th century streetscape features such as sandstone kerbing, bullnose plinth with cast iron palisade fence, and portico. These contribute to emphasise the historical streetscape and residential character of the area.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Villa is of social significance as a representative example of the development of Millers Point in the early 19th century. The site and construction is associated with early prominent merchants and is reflective of the changing social importance from a street frequented by wealthy merchants to one where the working class lived. The use of the Villa as predominently commercial as well as residential premise during the first half of the 20th century reflects the pattern of land occupation and use at Millers Point.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The building retains a sufficient amount of its original fabric to be a very good example of an early Victorian Period c.1865, Regency Style town house. It is an effective reminder of its original purpose and the architectural practice of the era. It retains good integrity and is reasonably intact representing construction techniques from the Victorian period.
SHR Criteria f)
Millers Point is very unusual in retaining three such Georgian and Regency collections, of which the Lower Fort Street group is larger and more impressive than either of those in Argyle Place or Merriman Streets.
SHR Criteria g)
The Villa is representative of 19th century land occupation patterns, leaseholds and grants from the late 1810's. The house is a good example of a Victorian period, Regency style townhouse.
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. Reconstruction or the removal of elements concealing original fabric is to be encouraged. Given the constraints of the site and significance there is no potential for additions to this building.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I55814 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Millers Point & Walsh Bay Heritage Review2006 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenTropman & Tropman Architects2002‘Wyong’ at 55 Lower Fort Street, Miller Point Conservation Management Plan

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: 2423630

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