Thursday 21 January 2016

Darlinghurst Road to Rosebank Street - Number 223, 221, 219, 217 (Kirketon Rd to Rosebank St)

This late century, block of four was built in the first instance as shops and dwelings, unlike most in William Street which were converted to street-level shops as the century proceded. The building relies for its streetscapoe value upon its monumental pediment, a mixture of "Egyptian" masonry, and "Greek" anthemion detail.

By 1916, Isabella Ada O'Connor ownednumbers 223 and 221. Hr tenants included Lucy O'Rourke who ran a catering business behind the Cadbury's Chocolate sign. Next door the Parkers, Stanley and Josiah, ran a chemist shop.

Ethel Williams, the owner of the adjoining pair, lived nearby at 20 Roslyn Street, and was, thus, one of the few owners of William Street real-estate to live in the immediate neighbourhood. Mrs Jane Horner, her tenant at 219, ran the Hawkesbury Cafe. Her other tenant at 217, was John Hodgens, grocer. Above his Indian and Chinese teas, cocoa, mustard, and starch, lodged Herbert and Maurice Stanfield.

It may be remembered that it was to the Hawkesbury Cafe that Marjorie Archer, a recent arrival in Sydney from Temora, via Bombala and Walgett, came to have supper on 21 December 1915. There she was invited to go to the follies at Coogee. On the way home to her William SAtreet boarding-house, she had been battered and raped. The case against the three men was dismissed.

Kelly included both the above photograps along with his text, on adjoining pages.

I have not counted the buildings from Kirketon to Rosebank as a street block, it being so short. But the City of Sydney photographer (a Mr Briggs from the City Engineers, I think) sure did like this double set of terraces, if the number of shots he took is anything to go by. What follows are the photographs I could locate on the City of Sydney Archives for this row of premises.

Oops, slightly different angle. See the imposing pediment that brings the four together.

Two views along Rosebank Avenue.
Facades, even in those days, were faces for public consumption. The next double-set of photograps shows the stark reality behind the facade.

The sad reality, behind the facade. It can still be seen in lanes all across the inner-city. The LH image is looking west along Premier Lane. The RH inage is looking north along Kirketon Street.

But wait ... what did Max Kelly espy in this final shot? One of his treasured "Faces of the Street".

Let me scan it from his book, and include his text, which is on one of his introductory/analysis pages.

Here it is on p. 47. together with Kelly;'s text from p. 51-52
The underlife of William Street was a life dictated by the preoccupations of its poorest members, men and women seeking their own kind, people for whom a rootless and impoverished life had become a matter of faith.

For every respectable boarding-house in the principal streets of Woolloomooloo and Darlinghurst, there was the shabby doss-house where rooms, and lives, were shared, however fleetingly, and with whatever in mind. In William Street, the drifter and the loner found somewhere to go.

No-one has written of William Street as it was as well as did Kenneth Slessor ... his knowledge and empathy for those less privileged was nurtured as he wandered the streets and lanes of Woolloomooloo and Darlinghurst. His care and respect for ordinary Sydney and his sensual yet precise evocation of it, have rarely been equalled. Slessor loved William Street, and wrote of it thus:

Ghosts' trousers, like the dangle of hung men,
In pawnshop windows, bumping knee by knee,
But none inside to suffer or condemn;
You find this ugly, I find it lovely.

Smells rich and rasping, smoke and fat and fish
And puffs of parrafin that crimp the nose,
Or grease that blesses onions with a kiss;
You find it ugly, I find it lovely.

The dips and molls, with flip and shiny gaze,
(Death at their elbows, hunger at their heels)
Ranging the pavements of their pasturage;
You find it ugly, I find it lovely.