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    Restoring our heritage: Paddington Gates


We have just announced the start of a new major conservation project in Centennial Park – the restoration of the historic Paddington Gates. So, what’s so significant about the gates and this project?

The project will take around three months, and be undertaken in partnership with NSW Public Works – the 26th heritage stonework project we will complete together!


What’s the history behind the Paddington Gates?

The Gates were built for the dedication of Centennial Park in 1888, making them 124 years old. They were reputedly desigend by Louis Robertson, architect working in the Government Architect’s office under W.L Vernon, and constructed by Loveridge & Hudson, Stone masons.

They are located at the Oxford Street side (northern side) of Centennial Park.


Map 1892

The map of Centennial Park from 1892 indicates the location of the Gates


The Paddington Gates were first used as the ceremonial entrance for the opening of Centennial Park on Thursday 26 January 1888. Lady Carrington, the wife of the Governor of NSW, led the vice-regal party in the first of three processional carriages through the entrance.

On 1 January 1901, the Paddington Gates were again the focus of ceremonial use, but this time, they were a significant part of the street decoration for the vast procession from Sydney’s Domain to the area now referred to as Federation Valley where the inauguration of Federation of Australia took place (learn more about the Federation of Australia).


Paddington Gates on 1 January 1901

Paddington Gates on 1 January 1901


Sydney’s streets had been transformed for the celebrations with the erection of elaborate structures spanning major city streets. The vast official procession stretched an estimated five miles and included passing beneath stunning colourful arches of floral decorations – of which Paddington Gates was likewise decorated.

To describe how these arches, and the Gates, may have looked, here was one review:

“The arches rose over the great masses of the people in the gorgeousness of their colours like so many rainbows set against a cloudless sky. The senses were whirled away with the bewildering spectacle, and for moments together buildings, people and arches alike were blended in a dizzy hundred-tinted wave of colour.” (The Age, 7 May 1901)

The best we can achieve to understand what it may have looked like in 1901 was 100 years later, as part of the Commonwealth of Australia’s Centenary of Federation celebrations:


Installing the floral display on Paddington Gates - 31 December 2000

Installing the floral display on Paddington Gates – 31 December 2000


A few last minute touches

A few last minute touches


Paddington Gates 2001

The re-creation of the floral display as part of the Centenary of Federation celebrations


So, what is this restoration project going to involve?

The $218,000 restoration project will take approximately three months to complete, and will include:

  • Defective pointing between joints repaired, joints repointed to stop water penetrating into the structure
  • Partial replacement of some stonework, including carving of sandstone to match heritage style
  • Repairs to lead weatherings to stop rainwater running down the face of piers
  • Application of biocide to stop staining of stonework from mould
  • Sandblasting and repair to the metal gates
  • Gas lights cleaned, painted and made operable again
  • Replacement of bitumen and trachyte kerb stone


How is the project being funded?

NSW Public Works will be providing $91,000, while the Centennial Parklands Foundation will be raising funds to contribute the remaining $127,000.

To raise funds, the Foundation is holding a fundraising event: ‘Gala Garden Party in the Park presented by Tiffany & Co’ on Thursday 18 October 2012.

The community can still contribute to this project post- the event by donating to the Foundation.


Wentworth Courier photo shoot at the Gates

Wentworth Courier photo shoot at the Gates


Kim Ellis, Director and Chief Executive of the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, said: “We would like to thank NSW Public Works and the Centennial Parklands Foundation for their ongoing contribution and support for the conservation of Centennial Parklands and its heritage assets.”

“This project has been earmarked as a key legacy outcome of the upcoming ‘Centennial Park 125th Anniversary Program’ – a program which we will shortly be announcing for 2013.”


Were you in Centennial Park for the Centenary of Federation celebrations in 2001? Tell us about it here.


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