Are you a local, and can you keep a secret..?

Paddington history in brief

Some interesting historical tidbits
Community & Lifestyle  /   /  By Paddo Life

We thought the locals may like to know a little about the early days of Paddington. So if you have a spare 5 mins take a quick look at this Paddington history post.

Just last week when my partner and I visited my dad up north he told us a story about his time at Victoria Barracks, when he was in the Army. When guarding the gate on Oxford Street (at around 8:30 every night) across the road soldiers on duty would be treated to a show of a lady standing in front of an open window taking her clothes off – purposefully, he proclaimed. He later added, “Suffice to say guard duty was a chore the soldiers didn’t mind one bit!”

It was great to hear the yarn but it was then I realised I knew nothing of Paddington history other than that! So I decided do do some digging…

Some brief notes on Paddington history

When the first fleet arrived on Sydney Cove in 1788, the only attraction of Paddington was to collect rushes used for thatch.

Oxford Street as we know it today sits on a ridge used as a path by indigenous Australians as the most efficient route in Getting from A to B.

The village of Paddington began to emerge around 1841 during the construction of Victoria Barracks. Back then stonemasons, quarrymen, carpenters and labourers (along with their families) made up the population.

Soon after a clear class distinction began to emerge of the working class on and around what is now known as Old South Head Road, and the Gentry who lived in harbour facing villas along Rushcutter’s Bay.

Terrace housing took of in 1862 when there were 2,800 residents living in 535 houses. Within 21 years the number of houses increased to 2,347. By 1910 there were 26,000 people living in 4,800 houses (and you think Paddo is crowded today!).

The influenza epidemic of 1919 hit Paddington hard with death rates of 5 per 1000.
During the Depression there was 30% unemployment.

Post-war Paddington history

Around 1947 there was a serious proposal put forward to redevelop paddington by knocking down all of the existing houses and replacing them with blocks of flats.

Two tram lines ran through Paddington One along Oxford Street, and the other through Five Ways. But they lived a short life and closed down in 1960.

In the 1960s, a middle class ‘Bohemian’ invasion began – putting redevelopment to rest. Paddington became very ‘multi-cultural’.

In 1968 a complete reversal of town planning, largely driven by the Paddington Society, caused four hundred acres of terrace housing to be rezoned as the first conservation area in Australia.

Since then not much has changed to the facade we see today.

So there you have it – a quick look at Paddington history. Lot’s of great tidbits to bring up in your next dinner party conversation 😉



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