Terrace Group "Cliff Terrace" Including Interiors,front Fencing and Retaining Wa | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Terrace Group "Cliff Terrace" Including Interiors,front Fencing and Retaining Wa

Item details

Name of item: Terrace Group "Cliff Terrace" Including Interiors,front Fencing and Retaining Wa
Other name/s: Cliff Terrace
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Terrace
Primary address: 2-8 Cliff Terrace, Forest Lodge, NSW 2037
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
2-8 Cliff TerraceForest LodgeSydney  Primary Address
2-8 Cliff TerraceGlebeSydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

Cliff Terrace, which is a row of 7 terrace houses, has local historic and aesthetic significance. It is an outstanding example of a Victorian Italianate terrace, with distinctive faceted bay windows that support balconies with ogee roofs, sited on top of a sandstone cliffline above the Lewis Hoad Reserve and Minogue Crescent.
Date significance updated: 28 Feb 08
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: Edward George Taylor and Frederick William Doust
Physical description: Cliff Terrace is a Victorian Italianate Style terrace located on an escarpment of sandstone above Minogue Cresence. The terrace features faceted bay windows supporting balconies with ogee roofs,cast iron columns with brackets and cast iron balustrading. The façade is of rendered brickwork which is embellished by mouldings above openings. There is a small front garden demarcated by a sandstone and iron palisade fence located on top of a cliff face.

In front of the row of terrace is a narrow right-of-way, with a fence of iron palisades with flat speared tips fixed into a low sandstone hobwall running along the outer edge of the clifftop. The cliff top, topographically uneven, required raising on its eastern end with sandstone blocks to provide a level platform for the row of terraces. The eastern end of the infilled clifftop, (in front of what could have been called no.1 Cliff Terrace, but is actually no. 88 Wigram Road), collapsed in 1962. The original dwelling on it was demolished not long after.

The cliff face and the Lewis Load Reserve below it acts as a forecourt to the terrace.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The terrace houses are in varying states of repair, some better than others. One is missing one of the columns that support the ogee roof of the balcony. The surface of the right of way needs to be re-laid, and the iron palisade fence repaired and elements of it restored or replaced. The sandstone hob wall supporting the palisade fence also needs repair, and its missing eastern section replaced.

As there was no structure on the site prior to subdivision, it is not anticipated that it has any archaeological potential.
Date condition updated:29 Jan 08
Modifications and dates: As far as is known, the terrace have not been modified externally.
The double-structure building at no. 88 Wigram Road was demolished in c.1963 and replaced by a new development in 2008.

The collapsed section of the right-of-way was partly restored in 1964-65 as part of works to construct the rest park to be known as the Lewis Hoad Reserve, at the base of the cliff. However, the missing section of the palisade boundary fence along the cliff edge was filled only by a ‘temporary’ post and rail fence, which lasted until 2008.
Further information: The long hiatus in rebuilding no. 88 Wigram Rd. was due mainly to the land being reserved in 1966 by the Department of Main Roads for the future construction of the Western Distributor. When this latter was eventually built further to the west, the lot (No. 15 DP 625046) again became available for residential redevelopment. A four unit apartment complex is being constructed on it.

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: 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. .

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.

The Sydney Glebe lands were granted to the Church of England in 1789, and in 1828 "to relieve the pressing needs of clergy", Glebe was subdivided into 28 allotments and all but three lots (numbers 7,8 and 27) were offered for sale. The Toxteth Estate comprises 4 lots from the 1828 subdivision of the Glebe. Lot 21 was acquired by AB Spark, and lots 22-24 were acquired by George Allen.

Alexander Brodie Spark, a leader in shipping and commerce, and a director of the Bank of Australia had purchased Lot 7 from the Trustees of Clergy and School Lands, giving him twenty acres in Glebe Point waterfront. He also obtained another twenty acres when he acquired the deeds of Lot 1, originally purchased by T.C. Harrington. The two altogether gave Spark the enormous advantage of ownership of the whole of the Glebe Point harbour frontage. Spark was also the owner of John Verge’s ‘Tusculum’ at Potts Point, and he lived at ‘Tempe’ on the then beautiful Cook’s River. His home was another example of John Verge’s tasteful and restrained architecture.

Spark fell victim to the economic downturn of the 1840’s, and the Eglinton Estate north of Victoria Road, was subdivided into 31 allotments. On June 16, 1841 an advertisement appeared in the Herald:
‘The Marine Village of Eglintoun; Subdivided by Mr. Surveyor Armstrong’.
“The road (Glebe Point Road) (opposite that leading to Cook’s River) which has just been completed affords one of the most delightful drives in the vicinity of Sydney, passing along the beautiful properties of Dr. Bowman, Capt. Dumaresq, Messrs. Allen, Betts, Miller, James, etc. The whole property has been divided into convenient allotments, as may have been seen by the surveyors chart on which the enchanting views of the distant “Capes and Bays and rising Villas” are tastefully delineated. Access to Eglintoun may be had either by water or land and there is excellent fishing in the adjacent Bays. A public wharf adjoins the village, thus affording the means of supplying the inhabitants of Glebe Island with building timber, lime, fuel, etc. at a cheap rate. Land is of rising value and that it bids fair to well the land at Darlinghurst in value and importance.

George Allen (1800-77) was brought to Australia by his widowed mother and became the first solicitor to train in Australia. He established a thriving legal firm, and by 1831 owned an estate of nearly thirty-one acres at Botany Bay and had acquired ninety-six acres of the Glebe lands. He became one of the most active and influential Wesleyans in the country. Allen led a particularly active public life which included terms as Mayor of Sydney (1844-45), President of the Bank of New South Wales (1860-73), and Fellow of the Senate of the University of Sydney (1859-77).

Toxteth Park was built for George Allen in 1831, to the design of John Verge. Toxteth Park house consisted of a rectangular two-storey block with single-storey wings and a stone-flagged verandah which was laid around two sides of the house. Set at right angles, behind the main building, and facing a large paved courtyard, were the kitchen and servants’ quarters. Shortly after the completion of the house the Sydney Gazette described its ‘spacious garden, containing some hundreds of the choicest trees- and a tract of forest land capable of being converted into the most romantic pleasure grounds’. The Allens were keen cricketers and constructed a private ground adjacent to their house in the area now bounded by Glebe Point Road, Mansfield Street, Toxteth Road and Boyce Street.

During George Allen’s lifetime a few cottages were built on the estate, including Emslee and Tranby, both now in Mansfield Street. Tranby was the home for several years of the Rev. William Binnington Boyce, a noted Wesleyan theologian and philologist, who was a close friend of George Allen. Allen also built a Methodist chapel in the grounds of his estate near the site in Toxteth Road of the present Methodist Church and Hutchinson Memorial Hall.

On George Allen’s death in 1877, George Wigram Allen, his son, moved into Toxteth House but not before making extensive alterations to the principal buildings of the estate under the superintendence of G.A. Mansfield somewhere between 1877 and 1881. This action must have had a large impact on the popular builders of the adjacent estates, for, the greater part of the Allen estate seems to have been sub-divided and built up from the early 1880s to the early 1900s employing the Italianate and elaborate variations of it during the 1880s and 1890s, while the late 1890s and 1900s came under the influence of a Federation style.

George Allen, in his will, decreed that only private dwelling houses be built on the future subdivision of the estate, and that they be constructed out of either brick or stone. Being a devout Wesleyan, Allen's covenant prevented alcohol being brought on to the estate in the form of Hotel or Inn development. As a consequence of the covenants, the Glebe Point end as it became known was a very desirable and fashionable part of Sydney to live in, with some large houses being built along the Glebe Point Road around the turn of the century. These mainly belonged to a higher socio-economic group than would be found in the Church lands or other speculative pockets of the Glebe.

George Wigram Allen died in 1885. Subdivision of Toxteth Park had commenced in earnest in 1884 with 88 building sites offered for sale. In 1886, Mills & Pile offered forty-five allotments for sale in Wigram Road, measuring for the most part, twenty-five feet to thirty feet. One hundred and thirty-four ‘choice villa sites’ were offered in Boyce Street, Ross Street and Toxteth Road.

The principal developers were speculators, individually or through one of the many Building Societies set up in the 1870s. The builders, who were more often than not the designers, were notably Joseph Walker along Glebe Point Road as well as Thomas Sinclair on the Toxteth allotments. Joseph Walker started off as a joiner in St. Phillips in Glebe Road in the 1850’s and was to work through to the 1890s seeing the main build-up of all areas in the Glebe. From building in St. Phillips he went on to Bishopthorpe (city view cottages plus many others) and then moving along Glebe Point Road in the late 1870’s to build the Children’s Hospital in 1879 in which he utilizes the use of the projecting bay to form an asymmetrical front and follows this through in the run of houses, known as the Doctors’ Houses in Glebe Point echoing some of his earlier asymmetrical fronted cottages of Bishopthorpe in the late 1860s. He eventually built on property at the Glebe Point and so completed a distinct social movement along Glebe Point Road, as well as contributing to the streetscape of that road. He was particularly active in the 1880s and 90s with the later subdivisions of the Allen estates including Toxteth Park, where along with another Scotsman, Thomas Collunder Sinclair, he proceeded to build a large number of residences fronting Boyce and Mansfield Streets, Ferry, Glebe and Toxteth Roads utilising similar design elements for either a two storey villa or terrace or single storey semi-detached. It is interesting to note that Walker transcends all of the major stylistic notes of the Italianate with the exception of the Federation along the major areas of the Glebe as a developing suburb and as a speculative builder he probably was reflecting the values of the real market and not just carrying out a particular style.

In 1901 Allen’s house was sold to the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, a Benedictine Order who established there a girls’ residential college, St. Scholastica’s on six acres; while his famous orchard (to which some reclaimed land was added) became, in 1902, the Forest Lodge Trotting Track (now the Harold Park Paceway).

From 1895-1905 the low-lying lands of Johnston’s Bay were reclaimed. Jubilee Park and Federal Park were created by further infilling around Johnston’s Creek in the early twentieth century.

The later subdivisions of the Toxteth Estate, towards Glebe Point, resulted largely in the construction of cottages. One of the last groups of terraced cottages to be built in Glebe came after the 1907 subdivision of the Allen Estate, at 12-24 Victoria Road, in 1913.

By 1915 the movement of goods trains via the suburban lines was interfering with the passenger timetables. Numerous freight-only lines around Sydney were constructed in 1919 (including a double track from Canterbury below Lewisham viaduct through Leichhardt, Rozelle, Glebe and Pyrmont to Darling Harbour). In 1919 the NSW Government Railway built the first reinforced concrete railway bridge on its system over the northern end of Bellevue Street, Glebe. The experimental single span was restricted to 21ft in length and supported the goods line which was being built at the time from Rozelle to Darling Harbour. The viaducts across Wentworth Park and Jubilee Park were also built in 1919. In its heyday this line had up to forty train movements a day. It closed in January 1996.The Glebe Point Tunnel is a double track tunnel 500m long and runs from Pyrmont Bridge Road to Jubilee Park, passing below Glebe Point Road. The western portal is adjacent to the former Rozelle Tram Depot. The railway line is now used for trams.

The land on which the Cliff Terrace was built was a small segment of the large Toxteth Park Estate, which George Allen, a successful young solicitor, created from 1830 onwards after he had purchased four Lots (Nos.22-24) of the Sydney Glebe Lands. (These had been donated by Governor Phillip to the Church of England in 1789 but most were put up for sale in 1828 when the Church needed funds to ‘relieve the pressing needs of the clergy’). Allen became a very prominent public figure in Sydney life, being an active and influential Wesleyan, Lord Mayor of Sydney (1844-45), President of the Bank of New South Wales (1860-73) and Fellow of the Senate of the University of Sydney (1859 until his death in 1877). The legal firm he established (known today as Allen, Allen and Hemsley) is the oldest legal firm in Australia. At its peak, the Toxteth Estate comprised approximately 97 acres. (McDonald, McPhee, 1990)

His son, George Wigram Allen, appears to have commenced the subdivision of Toxteth Estate shortly before he too died (in 1885). 88 buildings sites from the Toxteth Estate were offered for sale in 1884, these lying to the immediate south of the Toxteth House. The second subdivision of the Estate in May 1886 covered the same general area as the subdivision of 1884 and included, amongst others, those lots not sold in 1884.

The third subdivision of the Estate in October 1886 included 60 lots which were mostly contained within the boundaries of Crescent Lane and Wigram Road. This would appear to have been the first large subdivision in the western part of the Toxteth Estate. This subdivision shows that the Cliff Terraces were already present by 23rd October 1886 – see Figure 1.

Subsequent subdivisions of the Toxteth Estate occurred in 1889, 1904 and 1907. The 1907 sale by auction document shows that most of the lots defined by Crescent Lane did not sell in the 1886 subdivision. This included four lots to the immediate west of Cliff Terraces, which appear to have been un-built upon until after 1907.

City of Sydney archival records state that the right-of-way was created in a subdivision dated 22 December 1885. This is the same date as a land title transfer document for the land on which Cliff Terraces were constructed.

On the 22nd December 1885 Jane Allen, Reginald Charles Allen & James Sutherland Mitchell sold 2 parcels of land to Edward George Taylor and Frederick William Doust, both builders of Glebe. The sale price was listed as £1186 – see Figure 4. Taylor and Doust took out a Mortgage with the Allens the following day for $3,850.

The total area of these two lots comprised the land on which the 7 terrace houses were built – see Figure 4.

This transfer refers to both an existing ‘right of drainage’ through the two parcels and the ‘right of way’ along the north of the allotments. There is wording in this transfer that part of the western boundary of the western lot was defined by the wall of an existing house.

Old System Book 338 No. 687 at the Land Titles Office contains a transfer of the
above 2 parcels of land on the 29th April 1886. On that date Edward George Taylor
and Frederick William Doust sold all the land on which the 7 terraces houses presumably stood to William Edward Bones, a saddler from Rockhampton, for only £1000 – an apparent loss. Bones took on a mortgage of £3700 with the Trustees of the Allen estate at the same time, this seemingly being (virtually) the same mortgage Taylor and Doust had with the Trustees. Bones died in 1892.

The lot adjoining the eastern end of Cliff Terraces was sold to Patrick Forrest Sheehy
also on the 22nd December 1885. This is recorded in Land Titles Office Old System
Book 329 No. 467. This allotment (now 88 Wigram Road) was intended to also be sold from the trustees of the Allen estate to the builders Taylor and Doust. However, it would appear that Taylor and Doust on-sold their option to purchase the land to Patrick Forrest Sheehy, a teacher.

Both December 1885 indenture documents confirm that there were existing brick dividing walls between the two Taylor/Doust allotments and the Sheehy allotment. This begs the question as to whether, in fact, construction of the terraces may have already begun before December. No other evidence is available to support that, however.

The right-of-way along the cliff edge was ‘given’ by the Trustees of the Toxteth Park Estate to the builders, Taylor and Doust. Presumably this was to enable them to have access to land in front of the terraces during construction, and also to provide access for future owners to the front of each terrace. With the sale of the row of terraces to subsequent individuals, the collective right-of-way has not been given any land title number, and is thus considered by Council to be a small residual element of the original Toxteth Estate. It should be noted that the actual title plans do not include the right-of-way within the delineated lots.

2-8 Cliff Terrace are first listed in the 1888 Rates Books for Glebe and in the Sands Directory for 1889. However, references in the 1885 title deeds to existing brick walls suggest construction may have already begun late that year. Additionally, as the buildings are already indicated on the Dec. 1885 land title document and the Toxteth Estate subdivision plan of 1886, it is possible that the builders Taylor and Doust, with the approval of the Allen trustees, had commenced construction prior to the title for the land being issued in their name in late 1885.

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. Terrace-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site and terrace provides evidence of the early subdivision and development of the Toxteth Park Estate.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
An outstanding Victorian Italianate terrace, located on an escarpment of sandstone above Minogue Crescent.
SHR Criteria f)
An unusual Victorian Italianate terrace on top of an escarpment designed to take advantage of the view.
SHR Criteria g)
Representative of the high quality residential development of the early subdivisions of Toxteth Park Estate.
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 2012I63614 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Statement of Heritage Significance & Statement of Heritage Impact20190Nigel Parsons & Associates Architects  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenBernard and Kate Smith1973Architectural Character of Glebe

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: 2427712

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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