I have a question for someone who knows the Redfern area of Sydney. My grandmother was born at 4 Baptist Street in Redfern in 1896. Looking here, I’m pretty much convinced that this address would have been obliterated by the Surry Hills Shopping Village.
Can any of you confirm this? I see that the Ailo Restaurant is at 5 Baptist Street, but I’m assuming that’s across the street.
FWIW, her mother was born in Benalla VIC, and her mother was born somewhere in Tasmania, so I feel a natural connection to the area even though I’ve only made it down there once.
A lot of the old houses are still standing in Surry Hills and Redfern, so it’s possible that the building at 4 Baptist Street is still there. I’ve been through that intersection plenty of times, but I just can’t recall at the moment whether it’s all shops or not. One of the other Sydney Dopers may know. If not, I’ll have a look next time I go past.
The restaurant at 5 Baptist Street would certainly be across the road, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate that the old buildings have been demolished. Many of the restaurants in the inner city suburbs are in old terrace houses that have been converted to commercial premises.
Rows of terrace houses were often given a name. So yes, it’s possible that the address means the fourth house in the row of terraces known as Stevens Terrace. These need not necessarily have been at No 4 Baptist Street. Just *somewhere * on Baptist Street.
I’ll be out that way over the weekend. If I get a chance I’ll have a look and see what’s there.
And indeed, here he is to report in with his findings.
I was at the UNSW this afternoon, so I hopped off the bus at Cleveland Street and walked back through Redfern / Surry Hills so that I could have a look at Baptist Street.
If there was a house at No 4 Baptist Street then it has long since been demolished. As you surmised, the Surry Hills Shopping Village now occupies pretty much the whole block on that side of the road. However, the old terrace houses in the rest of Baptist Street are generally all still there, on both sides of the road, greatly gentrified. I walked the full length of Baptist Street, doing both sides, looking for any houses with the name Stevens Terrace. I couldn’t find any, although there were several groups of terrace houses which had what looked like name plates that had been painted over. So it’s just possible that Stevens Terrace still exists there somewhere, although I don’t know how one could find out for sure. Search the local council’s records perhaps?
While I was walking I actually ran into someone I knew who lives in that area. I told her what I was doing. She said that she’d be happy to scout around some of the other streets in the neighbourhood, ask a few of the old-timers etc and see if she could find anything.
Indeed. And a pricey neck of the woods it is. I assume most of downtown Sydney is similarly inflated?
One of my greatest disappointments was finding out, at age 45, that I can’t immigrate to Oz if I’m older than 45. I guess I’l just have to visit more frequently… I’ve discovered some third cousins down there I’ve never met, including the editor-in-chief of the Canberra Times.
Yes, all of the inner-city suburbs of Sydney have experienced incredible price inflation over recent years. Young professionals have discovered and renovated / gentrified / yuppified old terraces, semis and houses in areas that were considered “slums” as recently as the 1970s. The suburbs have become popular for all the usual reasons: close to the workplace, good public transport, the “buzz” of the inner-city bars / cafés etc. The same trend has occurred, to a slightly lesser extent, in all of the other major Australian cities too.
Is that still Jack Waterford? I met him once when I lived in Canberra. Nice bloke, although perhaps the type that “doesn’t suffer fools gladly”.
Yup. We’ve had an email correspondence for several years now, but I’ve never met him in person. Until I started getting heavily into family history, I didn’t know that branch of the family was down there. I’ve found a lot of his writings on the web and admire them greatly. He has done a lot of good work on Aboriginal affairs.
Just a follow-up to your query **KP ** (formerly tpayne). Hester, the friend whom I met while I was wandering along Baptist Street, has got back to me. She’s looked around the suburb a bit more and had a word with a few of her older neighbours, but she hasn’t been able to turn up any references to Stevens Terrace.