Mann Street South Heritage Walk
Notes compiled by the Local Studies Librarian July 2004
While every care is taken in the preparation of this self-guided Heritage Walk, Gosford City Council or its servants will not accept responsibility for any injury or loss incurred by persons undertaking the walk. Please exercise caution when crossing roads, or walking over uneven ground. Wear sensible walking attire, hat and sunscreen as required.
Mann Street South Gosford has a surprising number of historical sites and buildings. This 2-hour easy walk will look at some little known sites and stories about Gosford's beginnings.
Assembly point: Outside No. 1 Mann Street, Greenoaks apartment block (opposite War Memorial Park).
1. Brisbane Water (looking south towards Woy Woy)
Brisbane Water was named after Sir Thomas MakDougall Brisbane, Governor of N.S.W. between 1821 and 1825. The naming of Brisbane Water was contemporary with, but not necessarily connected to, the arrival of James Webb, the district's first white settler at The Rip in 1823.
Gosford is believed to have been named after Archibald Acheson. He was the 2nd Earl of Gosford (1776-1849), and N.S.W. Governor Gipps served with him in Canada. Archibald Acheson was appointed Governor of British North America in 1835, and conducted a royal commission into the state of affairs in Lower Canada.
When the original 1839 survey map of the area was sent to Governor Gipps in Sydney, the map called the proposed township Point Frederick (after Frederick Augustus Hely, local landowner & Superintendent of Convicts who had died in 1836) The map was returned with the annotation "to be called Gosford".
2. No.1 Mann Street, Gosford. Greenoaks rectory (The Parsonage) and Dr. James Hogg Paul.
This site has a very interesting history. With its commanding view of Brisbane Water, this location was the site of the original Church of England rectory, believed to have been named Greenoaks. The first rectory was built in 1843 of local sandstone and cedar. It had ornate iron lace on the verandas, and weatherboard extensions. Various ministers and their families found the rectory cold, damp and uncomfortable. White-ants loved it. When the new (1913) Rectory was built on land behind Christ Church, the old rectory became obsolete. In March-April 1913, R.H. Creighton demolished the old rectory. Creighton's were paid 6 pound 13 shillings by the Parochial Council to undertake the work.
Doctor James Paul came to Gosford around 1908. He was a graduate of Glasgow University, and became a partner of another well-known Gosford doctor, Sidney Fielder. James Paul built his home and surgery on the site of the old rectory. Many older residents remember that the waiting room for the surgery was on the front veranda. The home as built was a lovely, elegant "arts and crafts" style building, quite unlike any previously built in Gosford. It was named "Greenoaks" presumably after the original rectory.
James was a Councillor of the Erina Shire Council, and agitated for improved water supply for the town. He was a president of Gosford Rotary, donated land for the Brisbane Water District Club in Broadview Avenue, and was deeply involved in the local scouts movement. He was known as a very caring practitioner, and stories abound of him helping local residents in many crises. James Paul died in September 1963 aged 83. His funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Gosford. The sandstone wall still standing outside No. 1 Mann Street is the original front fence of the Paul home. The tower you see today was built in 1970, and carries on the name "Greenoaks".
Please walk 20 metres north along the eastern side of Mann Street, to the driveway of Christ Church.
3. Christ Church and the 1913 rectory.
In September 1858, a small sandstone church was consecrated at East Gosford. This church, designed by noted colonial architect Edmund Blacket, was originally located on the southwest corner of a block bounded by Webb Street and George Street. East Gosford was an early private township on Brisbane Water, established in a period when the Government of the time were very slow to develop services in the district. Samuel Peek was the original promoter of the East Gosford township. Very slowly land sold to many absentee landowners, and a few hotels, a wharf and a store were established. Meanwhile, Gosford became better established with major services. Samuel Peek experienced numerous financial problems in the 1840s Depression, as did many locally. By the early 1840s he had lost control and ownership of his East Gosford interests.
When Samuel Peek returned from a voyage to England in 1857, he did so on the sailing ship Dunbar. History tells us that the Dunbar was wrecked near The Gap, with only one survivor. Samuel Peek and his wife were lost in the disaster.
Christ Church was originally located fairly centrally for parishioners from Terrigal, Erina and Gosford. In the 1880s, the coming of the railway led to a shift in the balance of settlers in the district, with more people living along the railway corridor. East Gosford became increasingly isolated, and the church was seldom used. Christ Church at East Gosford closed in the late 1880s. Discussion began in the late 1890s over what to do with the Church. It was very dilapidated by the early 1900s. It was decided that the East Gosford Church be moved stone-by-stone to Gosford, and re-erected. Tenders were finally let in September 1905 to P.H. Streit, a Newcastle builder. Once work commenced, progress was rapid.
Today, if you look closely on the outside of the church, and on internal walls, you can see remnants of the original numbering system used on the sandstone blocks. The rebuilt Christ Church was first used in December 1905. The last service was held in old Christ Church on November 20th, 1960. Following the opening of the new Christ Church a week later, the old Christ Church was used for Sunday School services, and more recently has come to be referred to as "the Blacket", after its original architect.
Many original features of the building, such as the original font and stained glass windows, will be returned to the building. A weatherboard church, St. Mary the Virgin, predated the Christ Church on this site, being built in 1885. When Christ Church was moved from East Gosford, the old weatherboard Church became the Parish Hall. It stood where the 'new' Christ Church stands.
In 1913, a new rectory was built to the rear of old Christ Church. This brick structure replaced the early sandstone Greenoaks (the site of which was No. 1 Mann Street). This structure featured Wunderlich art-metal ceilings, and was much more comfortable than earlier accommodation. A new rectory is being built at Springfield (2004). The 1913 rectory will house administrative services for the Church.
Both the old Christ Church and the 1913 rectory are heritage listed. The small War Memorial on the lawn outside Christ Church was dedicated in August 1920. It was originally located in front of the 1913 Rectory, where the Columbarium wall is now, and commemorates Gosford Church of England parishioners who fought and died in WWI.
Please proceed directly across the road from Christ Church to the War Memorial Park.
4. War Memorial Park (Gosford Park)
Gosford Park was dedicated on 15th January 1886. At that time the Park was a bare paddock. A rotunda for band recitals was added much later. This Park sat directly above Brisbane Water in the early days. The land immediately below the Park is all reclaimed from Brisbane Water. The practice ovals at the rear of the 1954 Gosford Public School were once all part of Brisbane Water. Georgiana Terrace marks the northernmost place Brisbane Water once reached. Around 1911, spoil from dredges was piled up on the water's edge, to create "Waterside Park". Later projects led to further reclamation and the building of Dane Drive. Vaughan Avenue was once named Wharf Street. The Karrabee Ferry, looking very forlorn at present, was built in 1913 at Balmain. Recent surveys by shipwrights suggest that the vessel will almost certainly never float again, and tenders have closed for its removal.
The Cenotaph memorial commemorating the fallen of both World Wars and subsequent engagements was first unveiled on Anzac Day 1924. The cenotaph stands 17 feet high, and has a face aligned with each compass point. It is built of Gosford freestone, and the cenotaph's edges, if continued into the air, will meet at a point. Here it is believed the souls of the fallen dwell.
The South African War memorial was unveiled on November 2, 1902. The urn at the top symbolises a life cut prematurely short. The flower garland symbolises that those deceased led "pure lives".
Corporal Franklyn Harcourt Legge, is recorded on the stone as having died on 20th May 1901. There is a discrepancy between the date carved on the memorial, and the official record of death. Official records show that he died exactly a year earlier, at Bloemfontein, South Africa, as a member of the 1st NSW Mounted Rifles. The official record is correct, as the unit to which Franklyn was attached had left South Africa at the end of March 1901, and probate records show his death in 1900. The Legge family owned "Woodport", a property on which the Erina West School was built in 1893. Franklyn was one of five family members who joined the military. The Legge family name became very well known in Australian military circles in both World Wars.
Sidney Selwyn Mayo, a trooper of the 2nd NSW Mounted Rifles, died on 11th March 1902. In the newspapers of the time both Mayo and Legge were listed as "killed in action". Michael Rooksberry, who researched "Every Mothers' Son", established that both probably died of enteric fever. This condition killed three times as many men as combat deaths during the Boer War. Private John Rowan Murray of Wamberal was a member of the NSW Imperial Bushmen, A. Company. He was killed in action at Kaffirs Kraal on 1st November 1900.
Please proceed to the northern end of the park
Not all the heroes commemorated in this park were male. Mary Katherine (Kit) Curtain was born in Elderslie, Tasmania. She enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service in 1915. Sister Curtain was posted to the 1st Australian General Hospital at Heliopolis in Egypt. Later she moved to the British Base hospital at Rouen, France. In 1917 Kit Curtain was returned to Australia, and discharged medically unfit. After a short stint as Matron of the TB Soldier's Sanatorium in Launceston, she was appointed to the nursing staff at a hospital in Rabaul. Her health faltered, and in 1926 she moved to Gosford and married Ronald Sumner.
Kit was an active and respected member of the C.W.A. In 1932 she died, and in March 1933 the small memorial stone was unveiled by the C.W.A. The original location of the stone, and the Grevillea under which it was planted, is not recorded. The stone now resides at the northernmost tip of War Memorial Park.
Please return to the footpath on western side of Mann Street. Proceed north across Vaughan Avenue, and cross the road carefully to the Telstra Telephone Exchange on the eastern side.
5. Pier hotel site (vacant block, formerly Presbyterian church) and George Watt's store site (Telstra telephone exchange)
To the right of the current Telstra telephone exchange is a vacant block. This block was once the site of a hotel with a long history. From 1841 it was called the Mason's Arms. Later the pub was called the Cricketer's Arms. Finally, John Daunt ran it as the Pier Hotel. This was de-licensed in the 1890s, and used as a private residence. It was later demolished to make way for a Presbyterian Church moved from another site and re-erected in 1926. St. Andrew's Presbyterian church replaced the 1926 building in 1960. This in turn was demolished in 2002.
This part of Mann Street was once comparatively busy, with a conveniently located pub and General Store waiting for travellers to and from Sydney, and a Post and Telegraph Office. Steamship travel was the fastest and most comfortable means of getting to Gosford prior to the coming of the railway in 1887. George Watt sold tickets for the Parramatta River Steam Company from his two-storey weatherboard building. Watt's Gosford Emporium sold boots and shoes, ironmongery and crockery, groceries, drapery, meat safes and scrubbing boards amongst other things. With the railway station being built further north along Mann Street, during the 1880s, the businesses began to gravitate towards it.
In May 1912 the Erina Shire Council opened its' new Council Chambers on the site of Watt's store. With this Council (formed in 1907, and operating until 1946) it was seemingly a case of "flash but no cash". Prior to the building of the new Chambers, the Erina Shire Council held its meetings in rented rooms. The Chambers, when erected, was quite imposing (from the front!) It had a long veranda, tiled roof, and neat brick front. Photographs show that the back and sides of the building were made of the cheapest common bricks, with very rough mortar work, and no decoration whatsoever.
One well-loved character of the town, still remembered by older residents, is George Fletcher. George was the Council Health and Building Inspector, and wrote sketches satirizing local life in the Gosford Times. He used the pen name Perong, and in his stories he called himself the Smell Chaser. George's family were pioneers of the district. He was a "jack-of-all-trades", and served as a Trooper in the 3rd NSW Imperial Bushmen during the Boer War. After a stint in Western Australia, Fletcher returned to Gosford around 1910. At Erina Shire Council George acted in various positions, he said himself "all but shire clerk and electrical engineer". Like Indiana Jones, Fletcher was seldom seen without his hat. He died tragically on Xmas morning 1936, at his breakfast table.
Please continue north for a short distance to the front of the former Gosford South Post Office
6. 1882 Post office site.
Occasionally people complain that little of Gosford's early heritage is left standing in Mann Street. In some areas this is true, but in other parts it is simply a matter of knowing where to look.
A casual look at the front of this building (which a late friend described as " late 20th century brutalist!) would lead you might think that there was nothing historic about it at all. Walk to the northern end, and look east. You will see that the awful red brick front of the building hides a largely intact Victorian building. Along Mann Street there are some lovely old buildings hidden behind very unflattering 1950s & 60s facades.
The Post and Telegraph Office, and adjacent residence, were originally long and low single storey structures designed by James Barnet. In 1891 a second storey was added to the main Post Office. The building has had further alterations from 1908 to 1953, culminating in the building you see before you.
Please walk north to the front of the Creighton's Funeral Parlour building, on the corner of Mann Street & Georgiana Terrace.
7. Creighton's Funeral Parlour & School of Arts
The Creighton family has associations with the Gosford district going back as far as 1844. Originally primarily employed as carpenters, the Creighton clan apparently moved into the undertaking business in the 1880s. R.H. Creighton had undertakers' premises in several locations around Gosford before building on this site.
This Art-Deco style building was constructed for R. H. Creighton Funeral Directors in 1938. The existing building is mainly of cement-rendered brick, with foundations of local sandstone. A record of immense value to the town's history is still held by Creighton's. The funeral records are kept from 1909 onwards in hundreds of small registers. Gosford City Library microfilmed the records several years ago. They are available for family history research at Gosford Branch.
Looking west directly across the street is the site of the Old Gosford School of Arts. Built in 1888, the Gosford community was very proud of this building. It featured a library, reading room, large meeting room, Municipal Chambers and a hall capable of seating 250 people. Travelling theatrical companies, magicians, illusionists and a blind concert group gave concerts in the hall. Travelling picture showmen would bring their wares to the people before the establishment of permanent cinemas in town. In 1927 the School of Arts burnt down. The hall was rebuilt on the old foundations. On the northern side facing Georgiana Terrace can be seen remnants of the old painted signage for Council offices. It is now used as a teachers' resource centre.
Please proceed north across Georgiana Terrace to the front of the Conservatorium of Music on the corner
8. Old Police Station & Courthouse (Conservatorium of Music)
The original Gosford watch-house was built in Donnison Street in 1827, near today's Workcover building site. It was a three-roomed shingle-roofed slab timber structure that quickly became inadequate for its purpose. Around 1833 the first Gosford courthouse was added.
In 1849 the "new' Gosford Court and Police Station was built in Mann Street. It cost 345 pounds, and consisted of a courthouse, clerk's room, magistrate's room, two cells, a constable's room, and a yard. By the mid 1860s the building was in need of major repair. The northern end of the complex was extended in 1892. A brick charge room and offices were added in 1928 to the southern end. If you look closely you can see evidence of the various additions. From Georgiana Terrace you can see the original gaol cells. Over the front entrance you can still see the wrought-iron gas lamp holder. In the 1970s, police working in the old station were fed up with outdated facilities. Plans for the demolition of the building were halted, and a variety of historical and arts groups put their hands up to occupy the site. The new Gosford Police Centre was opened in June 1983. The new courthouse in Donnison Street opened in August 1987.
On the front wall of the old courthouse is a plaque commemorating Gother Kerr Mann. Mann Street is of course, named after him. Gother came to New South Wales in the early 1830s. He married Mary Hely, eldest daughter of Frederick Augustus Hely of Wyoming. He served as local magistrate from 1839 onwards. In 1849 he was elected a district councillor. He later moved to Sydney where he was in charge of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard project. In 1855 he became chief commissioner for the infant Railway System. Gother died on 1st January 1899 at his home at Greenwich. The original plaque erected in 1958 to Mann's memory was stolen several years ago. The plaque seen today is a replacement.
Please walk a few steps north to the front of the Gosford City Council Chambers. Note: Public toilets are available on the ground floor
9. Old Commercial Bank/Stoneleigh site (Current Gosford City Council Chambers)
The Commercial Bank stood on part of this site from the 1880s to around 1915. The building was then occupied for four years by various solicitors, and was then sold to Mrs Florence George who ran it as Stoneleigh guesthouse. The guesthouse was an attractive weatherboard structure, which unfortunately burned to the ground on April 4th 1930.
In 1939 Gosford Shire Council opened its new Council chambers to the left of this site. The building (referred to by some locals as "the Elephant House"), was a late art-deco style design with a distinctive central turret. Loyal C. Figgis and Virgil D Cizzio architects designed the building. Over the years, as council staff numbers grew, the building didn't. When the 120-strong staff moved out and into temporary office space to permit demolition in the early 1970s, they held a party. One staff member said it was "like being released from gaol".
The Malachi Gilmore Memorial Hall in Oberon, a design credited to Cizzio has recently been added to the NSW Heritage register as an "outstanding example of inter-war art-deco design". The new Gosford Shire Council Chambers were opened on September 20th, 1976.
Please look directly opposite at the former Brisbane Water County Council building (there is no need to cross the road)
10. Burn's Markets/Cox's Markets (Lots 3 & 4) /Chapman's Store/Brisbane Water County Council
The Brisbane Water County Council site has a very interesting history. In 1897 William Burns opened a "Produce & General Market" there. In 1909 this was sold to Frederick Cox. On the southern end of the site stood a corrugated iron hall with a distinctive curved roof. On the northern end stood a weatherboard shop. Photographs show the shop in William Burns' time as being a fairly conservative affair, with a simple hoarding. Fred Cox was obviously much more flamboyant as a salesman, and a huge hoarding with letters several feet high was erected. Cox sold produce, timber, drapery, and general goods. Suits were made to measure, auctions were held and the bakery kept patrons well fed. The auction side of business developed into one of Gosford's prominent Real Estate concerns, Ash & Cox.
For many years every Thursday was "Market day" at Gosford. A feature of this was the many small ferries that would bring goods and customers from around Brisbane Water to Gosford Wharf for the day. Fred Cox died in 1916. Cox's former home Cora Lynn, still stands behind flats in Lynn Avenue, Point Frederick.
The Chapman family (primarily A. I. Chapman) purchased interests in the old markets around 1913 (as Cox & Chapman), and operated them after Fred Cox's death until 1927 (as Chapman & Sons), when they burnt down. A panoramic photograph from the early 1930s shows the Chapman site after fire, and directly across the road the chimneys of Stoneleigh after its destruction.
Henry Helman designed the Brisbane Water County Council building that was completed in 1957. The town was very proud of the project, and it featured local sandstone fascia provided by Gosford Quarries, and many fittings and furnishings from local companies. The meeting rooms were wood panelled, and the mechanism for operating the clock tower was controlled from a bookcase shaped to reflect the design of the outer building and clock tower. The old County Council building was briefly the home of the Northern Eagles football team in the late 1990s. The Spurbest proposal for the site includes the retention of the County Council facade.
Please walk a few paces north, to the front of the old Broadwater Hotel (Salvation Army Offices)
11. Royal Hotel/Broadwater Hotel site (Salvation army offices)
Hugh Campbell built the Royal Hotel in 1876. The old pub was a fairly large and prominent building on Mann Street. It was two storeys, and built of sandstone blocks reputedly taken from demolished buildings on Hely's Wyoming Estate.
In 1959 the Royal Hotel underwent major remodelling and extension works. The Broadwater Hotel was the result. Parts of the old Royal Hotel survive at the rear of the building.
Scurrilous gossip in the Gosford community has it that there was no coincidence that the Council Chambers was built beside the pub, and that much Council business was transacted at the bars of the Royal and Broadwater Hotels. Many white-collar workers did not get off work until 5.30pm. They would pile onto the sideboards of their cars and race to the pub before closing. When 6 o'clock closing was in force, the publican would serve workers from a window facing a narrow alleyway on the southern end of the building out the back, to allow them to relax after a hard day at the office.
Please walk north to the front of Jim Lloyd, MP's office at 91-93 Mann Street. Look west across Mann Street to the old shops. There is no need to cross Mann Street.
12. Older shops & Jephson's Corner
Frazer's butchery occupied what is currently the Boomerang Thai Restaurant at 92 Mann Street.
The Diacopoulous name was synonymous with eating out in Gosford for many years. Nick Diacopolous came to Gosford around 1917. With his uncle Jim Souris they ran an oyster saloon and cafe in White's original 1911 building further south in Mann Street opposite the old Courthouse. In 1926 the Orion Cafe was built on the current site. "Gosford's leading sundae shop and refreshment rooms" was open longer hours than other local businesses, and was the first to install refrigerated containers for drinks and ice cream. Before electricity Gloria kerosene lights were used at night. In the late 1930s the Diacopolous brothers Peter, Nick and Angelo established the Tourist Cafe further north on Mann Street. In 1950 the brothers altered, extended and refurbished the old Jephson buildings, and built the Annousa building in Donnison Street. The resulting complex was called PNA House, on the corner of Mann & Donnison Street. The Indian Curry restaurant occupies the former Tourist Milk Bar they operated. PNA of course stands for Peter, Nick and Angelo. Angelo, the last of the brothers, died in Sydney, aged 94 years in 1995.
The number and longevity of cafe's in town reflect the passing trade in tourists and travellers who used to be directed through Gosford along the old Pacific Highway. PNA House stands on Jephson's Corner. Horace Jephson was a tobacconist and hairdresser who built his store on the site in 1907. A later extension was added in 1913. Walter Buscombe was an early occupant of the site before Jephson. Fred Cohen had a drapery and grocery store next door in the early 1910s. Old photos show that these two buildings were rather lovely in their time.
Please walk to the corner of Mann & Donnison Streets (Commonwealth Bank)
13. Hill's Corner
All the locals know where to meet in Mann Street by corner names. Jephson's Corner has already been mentioned, the Imperial Centre now stands on Sterland's Corner. Shepherd's Corner was where William Street meets Mann Street.
Where the Commonwealth Bank stands today was known as Hill's Corner. The corner was previously known as Campbell's Corner, after the owner of shops in the 1910s. Campbell's shops were destroyed by fire in November 1914. Campbell rebuilt on the site, and soon after sold to Hill. Hill's Corner Chambers were notable as the first "modern" mix of shops, businesses and professional rooms, with three-way garage. Fire destroyed the building in November 1933.
In 1937 a new and luxurious theatre, the Regal, was opened. It was designed in the Art Deco/Moderne style, and was as good as any city cinema of the period. The opening programme was the Janet Gaynor and Frederic March movie A Star is Born. Local workmen were used on the theatre that featured "plate glass and polished maple doors", "a foyer of terrazzo", 20,000 pounds worth of RCA sound equipment, and a "crying room" where mothers and infants could enjoy films without disturbing other patrons. Unfortunately, the Regal Theatre closed in 1975. The Wizard of Oz was the final feature. Demolished in 1978, the remains of the cinema are now land fill for the ovals of St. Edward's College, East Gosford.
This marks the end of our tour for today. Gosford City Council thanks you for your interest. If anyone would like further information relating to the heritage of Mann Street, please visit the Local Studies Collection of Gosford City Library.