ANZAC Memorial, Hyde Park

hyde park 1 watermarked

This week, with ANZAC Day falling today, it is a time to reflect on the sacrifices of Australians who enlisted. It is also, as I am sure you are all aware, the Centenary of the start of the First World War. At such a time of reflection and remembrance it was only fitting that The Past Present focus on the ANZAC Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park.

The ANZAC Memorial is a memorial to all Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought in World War One but more specifically it commemorates the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp who landed at Gallipoli on April 25th, 1915. These brave soldiers were the ones who birthed the ANZAC Legend. A year after the landing, a service was held in Sydney in commemoration and this led to the establishment of a fund for a memorial to those who sacrificed all for the cause. By 1918 more than £60,000 had been raised.

At the conclusion of the war it was decided that the grand memorial should commemorate all ANZACs who served during the war. In 1923 the Institute of Architects suggested the memorial be erected in Hyde Park, but instead a Cenotaph was created at Martin Place. In 1929 though a competition to design the grand Hyde Park Memorial was held and 117 entries were received. The winning entry was that of Bruce Dellit, one of the leading Art Deco designers in Australia and included sculptures by George Rayner Hoff. Construction on the memorial began in 1932 and the building was officially opened by the Duke of Gloucester on November 24, 1934.

St Mary’s Cathedral

St Mary's Cathedral Front copy

This week, in honour of Easter, The Past Present is focusing on one of Sydney’s most famous and iconic religious buildings – St Mary’s Cathedral. The centre of the Catholic faith in Sydney, St Mary’s is a grand Gothic revival building, constructed out of the local Sydney sandstone.

St Mary’s has a fascinating history, dating back to the Colonial era in Australia. When the First Fleet arrived in Sydney there were many Catholics on board, but it was not until 1820 that official Catholic Chaplains, Fr John Therry and Fr Philip Conolly arrived to serve this community. The following year the foundation stone of St Mary’s Chapel was laid by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. When Bishop John Bede Polding arrived in Sydney in 1835 St Mary’s Chapel became his Cathedral. He became Archbishop Polding, the first Archbishop of Sydney, in 1842.

The grand Cathedral we see today is not the same Cathedral though. In 1865 the Cathedral was consumed by fire. Later that same year Archbishop Polding engaged William Wilkinson Wardell to design a new Cathedral. In 1868 the foundation stone, blessed by Archbishop Polding, for the replacement Cathedral was laid. The grand Cathedral that we see today was fully completed according to Wardell’s designs in 2000 when the spires which he had planned were finally built.

On Your Bike To BHP

BHP Steelworks Newcastle

BHP Steelworks Newcastle

This week, with many people gearing up for the Easter break and possibly finishing up work for a day or two, The Past Present is sharing the beautiful image above, from the collection of an unknown photographer and taken in 1936. The photo is a rarity in the collection, a work without a negative or description, but it is such an evocative glimpse into the past.

The photo is believed to show BHP Steelworks in Newcastle (a location which features heavily in the collection), but the aspect of the photo which I find most intriguing is the number of bicycles being ridden away from the factory. It appears to be the end of the day and the workers have mounted up and are heading home on their two wheeled transport. Several sources I have been able to find suggest that bicycles were a popular mode of transport for workers at the steelworks with hundreds of bicycles making the journey on a daily basis. There is a certain relaxed, country air to the scene for such a busy steelworks!

Moore Street


Moore Street Front copyThis week, The Past Present is focusing on the postcard image above. Moore Street may not be a street which many of our readers are aware of their familiarity with, as most people are much more familiar with its modern name, Martin Place.

Moore Street, which at the time ran between Pitt and Castlereagh Streets, was well in use in the 19th century. Yet it truly came to fame in 1863 when proposals began to suggest the building of Sydney’s General Post Office in the area. The northern exposure of the site was onto a small laneway which ran between Pitt Street and George Street, but during the construction of the General Post Office it was elected that the main facade would face North, onto this tiny lane. Soon enough the small lane was widened, creating a proper street which connected to Moore Street. In 1892 the new street was opened and named Martin Place in honour of the Premier of New South Wales, James Martin.

Both Moore Street and Martin Place were important centres of business and in 1913 the main office of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia was even constructed on the corner of Moore Street and Pitt Street. Other banks soon followed. In 1921, reflecting the increasing importance of the area to Sydney’s business, Moore Street was widened and renamed Martin Place. This extended the existing Martin Place, with the street now running between Castlereagh and George Streets. In the 1930s the street was further extended, until it ran all the way up to Macquarie Street.