Avonmore Terrace | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Avonmore Terrace

Item details

Name of item: Avonmore Terrace
Other name/s: Randwick Mansions
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Terrace
Location: Lat: -33.9123934120 Long: 151.2412890110
Primary address: 26-42 The Avenue, Randwick, NSW 2031
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Randwick
Local Aboriginal Land Council: La Perouse
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP14466
LOT2 DP14466
LOT3 DP14466
LOT4 DP14466
LOT5 DP14466
LOTA DP950369
LOTB DP950369
LOTC DP950369
LOT1 DP966761
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
26-42 The AvenueRandwickRandwickAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
 Private17 Nov 05
 Private17 Nov 05
 Private17 Nov 05
 Private17 Nov 05
 Private17 Nov 05
 Private17 Nov 05
G N Pappas (Holdings) Pty LtdPrivate17 Nov 05

Statement of significance:

Avonmore is a group of nine Italianate terrace houses of imposing proportions. It was built by John Walsh who completed it in 1888. The row is significant for its Victorian Italianate style façade, its decorative detail and large rooms. Being located opposite Alison Park, it is important for the contribution it makes to the St. Judes Precinct. The elements of the row considered to be of high significance are the entire façade including the central tower and the verandahs with cast iron balustrades and corrugated iron roofs. The interiors (hallways, front rooms, stairs and fire places) of some of the houses are of high significance. The row of terraces demonstrates the process of subdivision and development in Randwick in the late 19th century and the wealth and expectations of the period. (Heritage Branch files)
Date significance updated: 22 Sep 11
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: John Walsh
Construction years: 1888-1891
Physical description: Avonmore is a group of nine 3 storey Victorian Italianate terrace houses of imposing proportions with number 34 being the central and grandest one. It is constructed of load-bearing rendered brick and a timber framer roof.

The central terrace (No.34) is divided into 5 bays with a window or door opening in each bay and at each storey. Large tower providing centrepiece for the whole row. The central bay projects in front of the bays on either side and is unique to the central terrace. All of the other terraces in the row have only two bays with bullnose verandahs.

The faade has a heavy balustraded parapet except at the central bay which has a broken pediment surmounted by an urn. The lettering 'AVONMORE" is set in the walling in the pediment. Interior contains carved staircase engraved with family initials, 'W' may also be seen in the cornices of various rooms. Stained glass adorns the large front door. Marble and tiled fireplaces. Ornamental ceilings.

Palisade fence. Magnificent cast iron lace work and elaborate mouldings. Some original tiled verandahs and pathways. (Heritage Branch files)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physcial condition is good.
Date condition updated:22 Sep 11
Current use: Hotel, private residences
Former use: Private residences


Historical notes: Randwick history:
pre-1780s - local Aboriginal people in the area used the site for fishing and cultural activities - rock engravings, grinding grooves and middens remain in evidence.
1789 - Governor Philip referred to 'a long bay', which became known as Long Bay.
Aboriginal people are believed to have inhabited the Sydney region for at least 20,000 years (Turbet, 2001). The population of Aboriginal people between Palm Beach and Botany Bay in 1788 has been estimated to have been 1500. Those living south of Port Jackson to Botany Bay were the Cadigal people who spoke Dharug (Randwick Library webpage, 2003), while the local clan name of Maroubra people was "Muru-ora-dial" (City of Sydney webpage, 2003). By the mid nineteenth century the traditional owners of this land had typically either moved inland in search of food and shelter, or had died as the result of European disease or confrontation with British colonisers (Randwick Library webpage, 2003).

Colonial History:
One of the earliest land grants in this area was made in 1824 to Captain Francis Marsh, who received 12 acres bounded by the present Botany & High Streets, Alison & Belmore Roads. In 1839 William Newcombe acquired the land north-west of the present town hall in Avoca Street.

Randwick takes its name from the town of Randwick, Gloucestershire, England. The name was suggested by Simeon Pearce (1821-86) and his brother James. Simeon was born in the English Randwick and the brothers were responsible for the early development of both Randwick and its neighbour, Coogee. Simeon had come to the colony in 1841as a 21 year old surveyor. He built his Blenheim House on the 4 acres he bought from Marsh, and called his property "Randwick". The brothers bought and sold land profitably in the area and elsewhere. Simeon campaigned for construction of a road from the city to Coogee (achieved in 1853) and promoted the incorporation of the suburb. Pearce sought construction of a church modelled on the church of St. John in his birthplace. In 1857 the first St Jude's stood on the site of the present post office, at the corner of the present Alison Road and Avoca Street (Pollen, 1988, 217-8).

Randwick was...slow to progress. The village was isolated from Sydney by swamps and sandhills, and although a horse-bus was operated by a man named Grice from the late 1850s, the journey was more a test of nerves than a pleasure jaunt. Wind blew sand over the track, and the bus sometimes became bogged, so that passengers had to get out and push it free. From its early days Randwick had a divided society. The wealthy lived elegantly in large houses built when Pearce promoted Randwick and Coogee as a fashionable area. But the market gardens, orchards and piggeries that continued alongside the large estates were the lot of the working class. Even on the later estates that became racing empires, many jockeys and stablehands lived in huts or even under canvas. An even poorer group were the immigrants who existed on the periphery of Randwick in a place called Irishtown, in the area now known as The Spot, around the junction of St.Paul's Street and Perouse Road. Here families lived in makeshift houses, taking on the most menial tasks in their struggle to survive.

In 1858 when the NSW Government passed the Municipalities Act, enabling formation of municipal districts empowered to collect rates and borrow money to improve their suburb, Randwick was the first suburb to apply for the status of a municipality. It was approved in Februrary 1859, and its first Council was elected in March 1859.

Randwick had been the venue for sporting events, as well as duels and illegal sports, from the early days in the colony's history. Its first racecourse, the Sandy Racecourse or Old Sand Track, had been a hazardous track over hills and gullies since 1860. When a move was made in 1863 by John Tait, to establish Randwick Racecourse, Simeon Pearce was furious, expecially when he heard that Tait also intended to move into Byron Lodge. Tait's venture prospered, however and he became the first person in Australia to organise racing as a commercial sport. The racecourse made a big difference to the progress of Randwick. The horse-bus gave way to trams that linked the suburb to Sydney and civilisation. Randwick soon became a prosperous and lively place, and it still retains a busy residential, professional and commercial life.

Today, some of the houses have been replaced by home units. Many European migrants have made their homes in the area, along with students and workers at the nearby University of NSW and the Prince of Wales Hospital. (ibid, 218-9).

Avonmore Terrace:
The site was originally part of an 1864 Land Grant to the Church of England, most of which was used for St.Judes Church Cemetery on the west side of the Church and Municipal Council Chambers on Frenchmans Road (now Avoca St.) and bordering Frances Street and Johns Lane (renamed The Avenue in 1895). The Land Grant comprised three acres, three roods, and thirty seven perches, which is approximately 1.6 hectares.

The 1864 Map shows the present attractive park opposite the terrace was offered to five other denominations to provide a Cemetery for - Wesleyans, Independants, Jews, other denominations, and the largest sections for Roman Catholicsand Presbyterians. The land was not taken up by those religious bodies within the required time and was consequently resumed by the Government to be used as a Cricket Ground.

In June 1886 a Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly of N.S. W. was set up to consider and report on the 'Randwick Cemetery Unused Lands Sale Bill' and determine if there were any bodies buried in the unused section of the land proposed for sale by the Trustees of St. Judes Church, and secondly to enquire as to what purposes the money from this sale would be put to. In 1868 an Act was passed prohibiting any more burials at Randwick except in the fenced Cemetery ground already taken up. Residents had expressed concern about pollution of the water supply from the Cemetery.

Witnesses called included Geo. Bishop, a Surveyor and the Rev. W. Hough incumbent of St. Judes, as well as one of the Cemetery Trustees and the Caretaker. They all agreed that that there were no bodies left in the proposed section; as the remains of two infants and one adult had been removed two years before. The witnesses also agreed that money realised from such a sale would be spent on enlarging the Church; providing suitable accommodation for the caretaker; plus funds to keep the Cemetery in better order, and to give a grant towards erecting a new Church in Coogee. It was expected that about $6,000 would be raised as local land values at that time were between $36 and $32 per foot (0.304 m.)

In May 1888 the Church sold off an area of one acre, one rood and one and a half perches - approximately .510 of a hectare to John Walsh.

The first of the terraces to be built was the middle terrace - the largest of the nine terraces. It was built by John Walsh, a building contractor, as his own family home. It was commenced after May 1888, he then continued building the adjoining terraces. Which were completed by February 1891 with tenants in all but No.8 according to the Randwick Rate books.

The 1889 Randwick Rate records as at February are marked no residents. However Rates were charged to J.Walsh on No.s. 1 to 9, marked 'Houses'. They were Valued at $280 each for the 8 smaller terraces and $320 for No.5 - 'Avonmore'. Rates paid were $12.20 each for the 8, and $14.40 for 'Avonmore'.

In 1890 Rate records show 3 residents - "John Walsh, Contractor, "Avonmore" - in No. 5 (now No.34), No. 1 - Mr. Thompson and in No.8 - James Angus - tenants

John Walsh was a successful Building and Railway Contractor who was born in County Galway, Ireland in 1843. He built railways in Queensland. In 1867 John married Margaret Jane Clohesy from Kilkenny, Ireland, at Brisbane. She was 22. Walsh built the Goulburn to Cooma Railway and apparently made enough money by 1888 to build the nine three storey terraces. John's wife Margaret produced 6 daughters in the twenty years up to 1888, consequently they needed a large residence with a bedroom for each girl, guests bedrooms, and servants quarters. It has been speculated that the large reception rooms on the ground floor were used for entertaining the local important families, and showing off the eligible daughters. 'Avonmore' has about 16 rooms.

In 1891 the Rate Books show some early citizens of note in Walsh's Terrace. From the south end:

No. 1 at the south end - Alfred Drake
No. 2 David Storey, merchant later Sir David, and first M.P. for Randwick
No. 3 James Angus
No. 4 M.A. Dalley
No. 5 John Walsh, Builder and Railway Contractor
No. 6 Rev. J. Campbell was an Anglican Church militant who published a book - 'Gold and how to get it or, One solution of the Unemployment Problem'. He was Curate at St. Nicolas Church, Coogee, and preached a series of sermons on the 'Difficulties of Belief'. He received a gold medal from the University of Sydney for Geology and Agricultural Chemistry.
No. 7 Robert Beeston
No. 8 Vacant
No. 9 A.T. Bolton. He built a large house 'Stratheden' on corner of Belmore Rd. and High Street Randwick and then moved into it on completion.

House names first appear in 1892 for Walshs Terrace in Johns Avenue, as listed in 'Sands Directory'. It is unknown whether JohnWalsh chose the names for his rented terraces.

"Etruria" - James Angus No.2
"Wattsbridge" - David Storey in No.3
"Eurotas" - F. Foy
"Avonmore" - J. Walsh No.5
"Laleham" - Rev. J.Campbell (C.ofE.)
"Kylemore" - No.9 (in '93/4) Lewis Moore, son-in-law, resided here with his bride.

John Walsh died on 13 February 1893 aged 50 years and was buried in Waverley Cemetery. His widow, Margaret then moved to No.2 and continued renting the eight terraces, via the Perpetual Trustees, until 1905 when they were all sold to the 'Estate of B.O. Holterman.'

Just prior to the First World War the terrace row was named 'Randwick Mansions.'

From 1903 until 1908 Lotaville Private School for young ladies was conducted at Avonmore by Professor Patrick Henry Hughes, who was born in 1839 in Corfu, and his wife Mary .Jane born in 1840. Boarders were also accommodated. High standards were apparently achieved as some pupils obtained University qualifications from Lotaville.

From 1909 to c.1916 Brighton College took over at Avonmore, under Miss Amos and Richard C.Amos. They probably took over the pupils from Lotaville School. (June Moore 1998)

No. 34 is currently run as a boutique hotel. Remaining terraces are all in private ownership.

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. (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
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 Subdivision of rural estates-
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 Developing suburbia-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act gen.maint.26-42 & alterations to 42

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
With respect to Nos 26-42, The Avenue, Randwick-
(1) The maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material; and
(2) Garden maintenance including cultivation, weed control, the repair and maintenance of existing fences, gates and garden walls and pruning and tree surgery but not including extensive lopping;

with respect to No. 42, The Avenue, Randwick-
to alter the building as set out in the drawings received on 18th December, 1985, and submitted by Richard Rowe, architect, of 4A Kulgoa Road, Bellevue Hill.
Feb 21 1986
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act Building & Garden Maintenance

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) The maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material; and
(2) Garden maintenance including cultivation, pruning, weed control, the repair and maintenance of existing fences, gates, garden walls and tree surgery but not extensive lopping;
Sep 23 1988
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act See File For Schedule: For No:40.

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
Alterations to the interior of the building.
Dec 9 1988
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0056502 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0056523 Sep 88 1475051
Local Environmental PlanRandwick Local Environmental Plan 1998 - Sch3 30 Apr 99   
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Avonmore on the Park Boutique Hotel View detail
WrittenJune Moore (Randwick and District Historical Society)1998Avonmore No. 34 The Avenue Randwick - History
WrittenPollen, F. & Healy, G.1988'Randwick' entry in "The Book of Sydney Suburbs"

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045656
File number: S90/05102 & HC 32934

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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