I love tours of neighbourhoods that focus on the history and heritage of the area. I was browsing through What’s On Sydney when I came across heritage walking tours of Chippendale – a suburb very close to Sydney’s CBD. Whilst living in Newtown, I often walked through the suburb on my way to work. Seeing it through a heritage and history perspective, however, was refreshing and fascinating. I am going to share with you some of the stops on the tour and the accompanying information.
Stop 1: Kent Brewery
Back in the days, Chippendale was known as the location of the Kent Brewery. According to our guide, you could tell you were in Chippendale because of the smell. The area has undergone significant transformation since the closing of the brewery. If you are interested in the history of the brewery there is some great research going on here. In Kensington street, you can still see some of the original worker’s cottages from 1847 that were used to house brewery employees. Today, they are galleries and small restaurants.
Stop 2: Kent Brewery Boiler House
Whenever I catch the bus into the city I see this building. I’ve never actually bothered to learn what it was. It’s amazing how a heritage tour can open your eyes to what’s basically right in front of you. This was the original boiler house of the brewery that has been transformed into a tri-generation powerhouse. The aim is for this building to generate enough power for all of Chippendale. As the building is Heritage Listed, the original business sign over the doorway remains.
Stop 3: Strickland Park
Opposite Strickland park are some of Sydney’s oldest apartment buildings. At only three stories high it’s amazing to think that these were dubbed apartment buildings. Considering today Sydney has some pretty intense skyscraper apartment blocks! Anyway these were built in 1912 and were utilised as public housing. They still function as public housing today.
Stop 4: Peace Park
Around 1926, this park functioned as Darling Nursery, an important forerunner to the Botanic Gardens. Because of the natural water supply from Blackwattle Bay, ventures such as these could be naturally supported. It would have been wonderful to see different types of plants on display here in the early 20th century.
Stop 5: Blackfriars school
Opening in 1883, Blackfriars was the first school in Chippendale. It was also where the Montessori Method was championed first in Sydney. Basically this method acknowledges that children learn differently and you should allow each child to learn at their own pace. Considered absolutely revolutionary, children, for example, would not sit at desks but on the floor and on pillows.
Stop 6: Brisbane Distillery
Before beer there was gin. A true start to a modern romance novel. The gin distillery operated on the grounds of Blackfriars school before it was transformed into a school. It was founded by ex-convict Robert “the Large” Cooper.
Chippendale most certainly has an interesting past that really came to life on this tour. Our guide was clearly passionate which made an hour and a half fly by. It was a large group which did make it difficult to hear the guide at times. Just means you have to keep up if you want to hear all the information! If would you like to go on the tour you can find the link here. They don’t run that often so make sure you plan ahead!