Saturday, April 22, 2023






Darlington is a fly spot of an inner-city suburb of Sydney located about 3 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district. It is part of the local government area of the City of Sydney. At the time of its incorporation in 1864, it had the distinction of being the smallest municipality in the Sydney metropolitan area, at a mere 18 hectares (44 acres). Today it covers about 38 hectares (94 acres). Darlington is bordered by City Road, Cleveland Street, Golden Grove Street, Wilson Street and Abercrombie Street.


Name origin:

The earliest recorded British history of Darlington is linked to school purposes when in 1789, Governor Arthur Phillip received instructions from England to set aside land in the new penal colony for church and school use.

In 1819, fifty two acres of land was given to William Hutchinson by Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

In 1835, a 28 acres land grant was made to William Shepherd by Governor Richard Bourke. It had been promised earlier in 1827 by Governor Ralph Darling and, in his honour, Shepherd named the fruit and flower farm he established 'Shepherd's Darling Nursery'.

His nursery is still remembered today in many Darlington street names such as Ivy, Pine, Myrtle, Rose, Vine and Shepherd Streets.

By 1844, the Hutchinson estate, much of Shepherd's Nursery and a portion of the adjoining 96 acre land grant to William Chippendale comprised much of present-day Darlington.

The origin of the suburb's name is arguable, possibly being derived from Governor Ralph Darling and the Darling Nursery, or from William Vane, 3rd Earl of Darlington, a well known British politician during the early years of the New South Wales Colony.

Governor Ralph Darling

William Vane



Cleveland Street, which eventually became the formal dividing line between the older suburb of Chippendale and the newer one of Darlington, was not completely surveyed until the mid-nineteenth century, and in 1860 there were fewer than a dozen houses on this road. By 1880 terraces had begun to appear, and there were four pubs, though free-standing cottages and some vacant land still remained.

In 1842 this street had been gazetted as the boundary road for the City of Sydney. When residents south of this line petitioned in 1864 to become part of the City, their request was rejected, and so they formed their own separate, tiny municipality.

The last open land, Shepherd's nursery, was subdivided in 1883, and the area was rapidly built out with mean working-class terraces and narrow streets.

By 1885 the council had sewered the municipality, and by 1890 the roads had been sealed. The area was well served by trams, and work was provided by the Eveleigh railway workshops, opened in 1882, and factories, especially in Chippendale.

In 1948 Darlington was amalgamated with the City of Sydney, subsequently spending time in the South Sydney municipality from 1968 to 1982 and from 1988 to 1992.

The University of Sydney, which adjoined Darlington, viewed the area as essential to its expansion after World War II, resulting in obliteration of much of Darlington rather than gentrification as in other suburbs. It acquired 'special zoning rights' under the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme, adopted in 1951, and from 1958 it began acquiring Darlington properties. In 1960 the state formally permitted it to buy up all land in a specified area of 36 acres (14.5 hectares), without regard to the usual planning regulations. At the time, this area included 416 houses, 28 house/shops or shop-only buildings, 47 factories, five pubs, a dance hall, the Royal Institute for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind, the Darlington Town Hall, post office and public school. This decision blocked further development in the area, and generated widespread uncertainty for residents and local businesses.

By 1970 most of the 36 acres had been acquired with federal government funds made available through the Universities Commission, while beyond this zone the university used its own funds to buy additional residential land. The university's push into Darlington was destructive for the community, which witnessed a steady collapse in amenities. At first properties were left vacant, but vandalism and the bad image for the University that resulted from this practice led to a new policy of immediate demolition. This led to the equally unattractive proliferation of vacant weed-infested land where once people had lived.

As a result of widespread opposition from residents, at the end of 1975 the federal government instructed the university to halt its expansion. In 1976 a report to South Sydney Council recorded a landscape in disarray, and widespread resentment of the 'university takes all' attitude which rode roughshod over planning regulations, providing no transparency, no master plan and no consultation.

The university's expansion in the following decades was much slower.

After 2000 there was a resurgence of university activity in Darlington, including extensive new student services buildings on City Road, to be known as USYD Central and an IT Centre adjoining the Seymour Centre on Cleveland Street.

By the twenty-first century many of Darlington's long-term residents had moved on. The population remains small, and with the passage of time it has become more accepting of the presence of the university. According to the 2001 census, the 899 remaining houses in Darlington – all terraces or apartments – housed just over 2000 people. In stark contrast to the ones who were pushed out, these residents were twice as likely to have a tertiary degree as the average Sydneysider, and recorded high levels of internet and computer usage. Thirty nine per cent claimed to be 'professionals', compared with a Sydney average of 22 per cent.



Elvy's butchery and residence in Codrington Street Darlington, 1890s

View of corner butcher shop and the Elvy family. Mrs Elvy actively ran the store after she was widowed and the business survived for three generations. The two men standing are Mrs Elvys sons. The delivery boys are shown on horses. Hanging carcasses can be seen in the windows. This was to enable the passage of fresh air over the meat to retard deterioration before the introduction of refrigeration.

Elvy's butchery and residence in Codrington Street Darlington, 1971

Eveleigh Railway Workshops, 2003

Demolition site for The University of Sydney, Codrington Street Darlington, 1965

Darlington Post Office, 1904

Ivy Street, Darlington, around 1942.

Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institute,1880s

Golden Grove Hotel, 1930, swallowed up by the Universityof Sydney

Ama Street, Darlington, 1900

Old Darlington school survived the Sydney University expansion and is located in Maze Crescent, Sydney University

The Chief Mechanical Engineers Office built in 1887 for the Eveleigh Railway Workshops, still stands on Wilson St and is awaiting adaptive reuse.

Old Darlington school is now the centrepiece of Sydney University's Cadigal Green

The new Abercrombie precinct features bold modern design

Royal Hotel Darlington on Abercrombie Street was built in 1894

The former NSW Deaf Dumb and Blind Institute building now part of Sydney University


Carriageworks is a multi-arts urban cultural precinct located at the former Eveleigh Railway Workshops. It showcases contemporary art and performing arts, as well as being used for filming, festivals, fairs and commercial exhibitions, the largest such venue in Australia. It is a cultural facility of the NSW Government and a weekly farmers' market has operated there for many years.

On 4 May 2020 Carriageworks Ltd, the company that operates the venue, declared it would be entering voluntary administration and closing, citing an “irreparable loss of income” due to government bans on events during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the consequent negative impact on the arts sector. Carriageworks successfully emerged from voluntary administration and reopened its doors to the public in August 2020.

Sydney University Main Building and Great Hall, 1870

Darlington Public School, 1880

Darlington Public School, 1910

A crowd watching the fire brigade fight a fire at the Surreyville Dancing Academy, City Road, Darlington on Tuesday, 25th October 1910.

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