Former Cleveland Shoe Company factory including interiors | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Former Cleveland Shoe Company factory including interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former Cleveland Shoe Company factory including interiors
Other name/s: Cleveland Shoe Co, Selby Shoe Manufacturing Company, Selby Shoes Aust Pty Ltd, J Robins (Chippendale) Pty Ltd, Di Veroli Shoes Pty Ltd, Corso De Fiori Pty Ltd
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Manufacturing and Processing
Category: Factory/ Plant
Primary address: 18-20 Victoria Street, Erskineville, NSW 2043
Local govt. area: Sydney


As described in Sydney Local Environmental Plan
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
18-20 Victoria StreetErskinevilleSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Built in approximately 1923 for major Australian shoe manufacturers, Cleveland Shoe Company, this former factory represents the industrial development of Erskineville during the inter-war period. The building is historically significant for its connection to the Australian manufacturing of shoes. The continuous use of the building for the manufacture of shoes until the late 1980s demonstrates the success of this shoe-making industry in Sydney during the twentieth century.

The former factory has significant associations with one of the largest wholesale shoe manufacturers within New South Wales, the Cleveland Shoe Company, from the 1920s to the 1940s, and the largest American manufacturers of fashion shoes, Selby Shoes, from the late-1940s to the mid-1960s.

Aesthetically, this building represents a good example of a multi-storey inter-war factory designed in the inter-war Chicagoesque style. The building demonstrates typical characteristics of this style including its grid-like facades divided vertically into bays by engaged brick piers, large window openings, limited ornamentation, and three-light timber-framed windows. With its multi-storey scale prominent corner site and inter-war industrial character, the building is a distinctive feature in the Erskineville neighbourhood, which makes an important contribution to the streetscapes of Prospect and Victoria Streets and Morrissey Road.

The multi-storey scale of the building demonstrates a different building typology for factory buildings in this part of the City of Sydney, compared to the predominant form for the large southern Sydney factories from the same period of single-storey, sawtooth-roofed factories.

The former factory is of local heritage significance in terms of its historical, aesthetic and representative value.
Date significance updated: 25 Jan 16
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: Unknown
Builder/Maker: Unknown
Construction years: 1922-1923
Physical description: The building was constructed as a factory in approximately 1923 for the Cleveland Shoe Company on the prominent corner site between Prospect and Victoria Streets and Morrissey Road. The building occupies the entire site with no setback from the streets. The factory comprises a three storey painted brick building contained under a gabled and skillion roof form.

The building is designed in the inter-war Chicagoesque architectural style. It exhibits typical features of this style including its grid-like facades divided vertically into bays by engaged brick piers, large window openings, limited ornamentation, and three-light timber-framed windows. The building also features a parapeted gable on the south and north elevations, bullnosed brickwork on the south-west corner of the building and original multi-paned timber-framed windows with rendered lintels and brick sills. The main entrance of the building is located on Prospect Street.

A large addition on the western side of the building was constructed between 1968 and 1975. The two storey addition is constructed of face brick walls under a skillion roof with vertically emphasised metal-framed windows and a loading dock at ground level. Except for the 1970s western addition, the factory appears substantially unaltered since its construction.

The roof, foundations and floor structures have not been inspected by the authors.

Category: Individual building. Style: Inter-war Chicagoesque. Storeys: Three. Façade: Painted brick. Side/Rear Walls: Painted brick.
Modifications and dates: In 1966 the factory was altered and new additions made to the rear.
Further information: The Former Cleveland Shoe Company factory was first listed as a heritage item by Council with the gazettal of Sydney Local Environmental Plan 2012 (Amendment No. 25) on 22/1/2016.

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: Commercial offices
Former use: Shoe factory


Historical notes: Early development of locality:

This site forms part of the land of the Gadigal people, the traditional custodians of land within the City of Sydney council boundaries. For information about the Aboriginal history of the local area see the City’s Barani website:

Land in the area to the south of Central Station was granted to Nicholas Devine, a superintendent of convicts, in 1794 and 1799. Devine built a house called Burren Farm near the corner of present George Street and Erskineville Road. After his death in 1830, the property was passed on to Bernard Rochford and his wife who had cared for Devine in his old age. Rochford subdivided and sold the estate. Some of the land was bought by Reverend George Erskine, a Wesleyan Minister who built Erskine Villa in 1830. He died there in 1834. The villa was subsequently owned by Mr Robert Henderson, a naturalist, followed by William Toogood, a Sydney inn-keeper. When Toogood died, he left the property to the Church of England and it became the rectory for the Holy Trinity Church in Macdonaldtown. (Pollon 1996)

By 1852, Erskineville had been developed with a mix of housing and industry. The discovery of rich clay deposits around the area now known as Sydney Park led to the development of a number of brickworks in the surrounding suburbs including Erskineville, Alexandria and St Peters. The area became one of the largest brick producing areas of the city. In the 1890s, it was said that “as many as 1,500,000 bricks were manufactured in Alexandria every day [and that] the greatest part of the city of Sydney has been built from the brickyards of Alexandria” (Alexandria – The Birmingham of Australia, p.78).

In 1893, part of what was formerly known as Macdonaldtown became a new suburb when parliament passed the Borough of Erskineville Naming Act. In 1911, electric trams began running to Erskineville. By 1920 the suburb had become the home of many workers, some employed in local brickmaking, bootmaking and hat manufacturing industries. (Pollon 1996)

Industrial history:

As one of only two major centres for historic Australian industry during the period when industry was centred in cities, Sydney’s industrial development is part of the national history of industrialisation. Australia’s industrialisation formed part of the ‘second industrial revolution’ which began during the mid-nineteenth century. This second revolution was driven by major technological innovations including the invention of the internal combustion engine and the assembly line, development of electricity, the construction of canals, railways and electric-power lines.

Sydney's twentieth century industrial development records when and how Sydney became one of the largest industrialised cities in the South Pacific and the diversification of Australia's economy beyond primary industry. Together with Melbourne, Sydney’s twentieth century industrial boom expanded Australia’s economy from the ‘sheep’s back’ to the ‘industry stack’ or from primary production to manufacturing. By 1947 more Australians were working in city industries than in farms or mines.

Sydney’s industrial development not only impacted on the national economy. Twentieth-century industry in Sydney also played a major role in developing Australia’s self-sufficiency, growth, urbanisation, society and its contribution to the war effort for World War II. Sydney’s industrial development has affected the lives of many Australians directly and indirectly, whether through the number of workers employed, goods and technology produced, the prosperity it engendered, or the social change and urban environments it generated.

Site history:

This former factory was constructed in approximately 1923 by the Cleveland Shoe Company for the manufacture of boots and shoes. By 1950, the site was occupied by Selby Shoes and continued to be used for the manufacture of shoes by various companies until the late 1980s.

The Cleveland Shoe Company Limited acquired the subject site in Erskineville in 1922. The company likely constructed the factory shortly thereafter.

The Sands directory first recorded the Cleveland Shoe Company on the site in 1924 (Sands, Directory, 1924, p 305). The factory continued to be listed in the Sands Directories between 1924 and 1929 on Victoria Street between Prospect and Pleasant Streets. After 1929, the factory was listed on Prospect Street.

In 1924 newspapers reported that a bootmaker employed at the site stole a number of wooden shoe lasts, leather sole stiffeners and shoe tacks from the factory in Erskineville (SMH, 30 Sept 1924 p 6). These thefts took place between January and September, thus demonstrating that the factory was in operation by January of 1924.

By August 1927, the Cleveland Shoe Company was identified as one of the major wholesale shoe manufacturers in New South Wales (World News, 27 Aug 1927, p 37).

It is likely that the company employed workers who had studied at the Erskineville Bootmaking School. The school operated in the former boot factory of Mr FJ Walters between 1906 and 1940 and played an important role in training apprentices for the local bootmaking industries (Dictionary of Sydney, 2010,

A newspaper article from 1935 indicates that the McMurtrie family, who had interests in a number of boot and shoe making enterprises, were involved with the Cleveland Shoe Company (SMH, 9 March 1935, p 16). This family was also associated with the McMurtrie Kellermann and Co boot manufacturing company in Lawson Street, Darlington in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

In 1949 the factory was still reported as the manufacturing premises of the Cleveland Shoe Company (SMH, 23 March 1949 p 19). However, the 1949 aerial photograph shows the factory on Victoria Street with lettering for ‘Selby Shoes Aust Ltd’ on the roof.

Selby Shoes began manufacturing shoes in Australia during the 1930s. The company originated from Portsmouth, Ohio and was recognised as one of the largest manufacturers of shoes in the America (The Brisbane Courier, 29 September 1931, p10). The company produced a wide range of styles of men’s and women’s shoes, many marketed as fashion items.

The 1951 Civic Survey and the 1956 City Building Surveyors Detail Sheet shows the factory was then operating as Selby Shoes, who were originally based in Renwick Street, Redfern.

A number of photographs taken in September 1954 show the building clearly with signage for Selby Shoes. The photographs also record the extent of development on the site at this time including the main multi-storey factory building constructed along the south, east and north site boundaries and a single-storey building to the west adjacent to a small undeveloped area (Jack Hickson, 1954, SLNSW). The configuration of the factory shown in the 1954 photographs appears to correspond with that shown in the earlier 1943 and 1949 aerial photographs of the site.

Whilst a number of photographs show that the site was already occupied by Selby Shoes, it was not recorded in the certificate of title until 18 March 1966 (CT 1328 f 10).

On 3 May 1966, J Robins (Chippendale) Pty Ltd applied to use the factory for shoe manufacturing (18-20 Victoria Street and Prospect Street, Street Cards, COS). On 15 July 1966, this company purchased the site (CT 1328 f 10). On 18 January 1968, the company proposed alterations and additions to the factory. The works were valued at $15,000 (18-20 Victoria Street and Prospect Street, Street Cards, COS). It is likely that this application resulted in the additions to the west.

The 1975 aerial photograph shows the original factory with a western addition, then occupying the full site.

On 17 March 1988, the site was purchased by Cesare Di Veroli, Lily Di Veroli, Alex Di Veroli and Esther Di Veroli (CT 1328 f 10). The site was leased to Di Veroli Shoes Pty Ltd on 25 May 1989.

On 17 November 1989, Cesare Di Veroli Pty Ltd applied to use the premises to store, display, repair and assemble antique furniture (18-20 Victoria Street, Street Cards, COS). The site was subsequently leased to Corso De Fiori Pty Ltd on 15 October 1990 (CT 1328 f 10).

Between 2004 and 2011, part of the building was used as a dance studio.

Timeline of known dates for changes to the site:
20 February 1922
Southern half of Lot 18 section B, Edward Devine’s subdivision sold to Cleveland Shoe Company Limited

January to September 1924
Report of theft at Cleveland Shoe Company Limited, Erskineville

Cleveland Shoe Company Limited, Victoria Street between Prospect and Pleasant Streets, listed in Sands directory and continues to be listed there until 1929, after which it was listed in Prospect Street

August 1927
Cleveland Shoe Company Limited of Prospect Street and Victoria Street Erskineville identified as one of the major wholesale shoe manufacturers

Civic survey sheet shows site occupied by Selby Shoes

15 September 1954
Photographs taken by Jack Hickson of Selby Shoes, Prospect Street Erskineville

Building surveyors’ sheet shows site occupied by Selby Shoe Manufacturing Company Pty Ltd

18 March 1966
Company now known as Selby Shoe Manufacturing Company Pty Ltd

3 May 1966
Application by J Robins (Chippendale) Pty Ltd to use building for shoe manufacture

15 July 1966
Site sold to J Robins (Chippendale) Pty Ltd

18 January 1968
Application by J Robins and Sons Pty Ltd for alterations and additions worth $15,000

Aerial photograph of the site showing an addition on the western side of the factory

17 March 1988
Site sold to Cesare Di Veroli, Lily Di Veroli, Alex Di Veroli and Esther Di Veroli

25 May 1989
Site leased to Di Veroli Shoes Pty Ltd

17 November 1989
Application by Cesare Di Veroli Pty Ltd to store, display, repair and assemble antique furniture

15 October 1990
Site leased to Corso De Fiori Pty Ltd

Part of building occupied by a dance studio

Recommended management:

Retain and conserve the building. All conservation, adaptive reuse and future development should be undertaken in accordance with the Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance (The Burra Charter). A Statement of Heritage Impact should accompany development applications for changes to the building. Archival photographic recording, in accordance with Heritage Council guidelines, should be undertaken before major changes. Façade detailing, including the timber framed double-hung windows in regular placement between the piers, as well as other original/significant building features should be retained and conserved. Do not render painted brick facades. Any repainting should utilise a colour scheme appropriate to the inter-war period of the building. The building’s three-storey bulk should be maintained with no additional storeys. . Adaptive reuse of the building is acceptable provided that minimal intervention to significant fabric and spaces. There may be an opportunity to redevelop the later infill face brick portion subject to a sympathetic design in accordance with the the relevant planning controls. Conservation and restoration works should be part of any major works carried out on the site..


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney Local Environmental Plan 2012I224822 Jan 16   
Heritage studyCity of Sydney Industrial and Warehouse Buildings 01 Oct 14   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Section 170 Register Update2009 ARTC / ORH (Australian Rail Track Corporation/Office of Rail Heritage)City Plan Heritage Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Photograph 19751975 aerial photograph of Sydney
WrittenAlexandria (NSW) Municipal Council1943Alexandria, "The Birmingham of Australia" 75 years of progress
PhotographCity of Sydney19491949 aerial survey of the city of Sydney, sheet 199
MapCity of Sydney/ City Building Surveyours1956City Building Surveyors Detail Sheets, sheet 19
WrittenDr Terry Kass2014Industrial and warehouse buildings research - site history
WrittenFrances Pollon1996The Book of the Sydney Suburbs
PhotographJack Hickson1954Selby Shoe factory, Prospect Street, Erskineville (three photographs)
WrittenJohn Sands1924Sands Directories
ElectronicMark Dunn2010Erskineville Bootmaking School View detail
PhotographRTA19431943 Aerial Photograph of Sydney
WrittenThe Brisbane Courier, 29 September 19311931Shoe Industry
WrittenThe Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 19241942Stolen boot lasts

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez rez rez rez rez
rez rez rez rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 5062461

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.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.