• History and Heritage

    What could have been – a State House in Centennial Park!

State House 1887 design

History is full of “what ifs”, and Centennial Park’s history is littered with such “what ifs”. Indeed, what if Sir Henry Parkes got his way fully on his plans for Centennial Park?

Then today we would have an ornate and grand State House within the Park!

The background

It is a well known story that Sir Henry Parkes was instrumental in the creation of Centennial Park, but one key project he envisioned never came to fruition.

History records that in January 1887, when Sir Henry Parkes and his Government gained office, the passage of the Centenary Celebrations Act 1887 was passed smoothly into law.

Although it would probably have also been passed by the previous Government led by Sir Patrick Jennings, the Act contained a curious funding provision – £200,000 was specifically allocated for “…the creation of a State House and approaches thereto…”. The Act approporiated funds for the State House, but did not specifically provide for the park – that was to be funded through land sales along the border of the park.

The State House proposal

So, what exactly would a State House have looked like?

The Dictionary of Sydney refers to the plans as “…a Sydney version of Westminster Abbey”. Not only was it a concept, but a winning design was chosen – and here it is:

State House

State House winning design – John Kirkpatrick, architect

The chosen location of the State House was the northern hill of the Park near Paddington Gates.

While there was some community support for the proposed building, the proposal (according to the Sydney Morning Herald) “…met with a considerable amount of strenuous opposition in Parliament and was so unfavourably commented upon by the public” that it was shelved, to be eventually abandoned by Parkes.

What could have been!

 

Like these stories from history? Buy our book Centennial Park A History today. It contains over 125 years of great stories and anecdotes from the past. If you think you know Centennial Park, think again!

 

 

Similar Articles

  • Sydney history unearthed: five ‘must-see’ heritage landmarks in the Parklands

    Visitors to Centennial Parklands are easily impressed by its surface beauty, filled with green vistas and water features teeming with native and exotic wildlife. Scratch beneath the surface though, and you will find a whole new layer of historical significance to explore. You might be surprised to learn that Centennial Parklands is in fact, rich […]

  • Moore Park’s ANZAC Obelisk included in national Centenary Project

    In 2017, the 100 year old ANZAC Obelisk was refurbished and reinstated to its permanent home in Moore Park East. The Obelisk is an important reminder of the Great War and honours the departure of soldiers from the nearby barracks in Kensington. Now, the historic monument will be included in the national Centenary Projects.

  • A history of bicycle riding in Australia

    In celebration of the Share the Park campaign that launched last week, we decided to do some digging into our historical records and learn more about the history of cycling in Australia. As an efficient, healthy and environmentally-friendly alternative to travel, more and more people are turning to cycling as a primary method of transport.

  • Celebrating Charles Dickens at Centennial Park for his 206th Birthday

    Did you know that on 7 February every year a small celebration is held in Centennial Park to celebrate Charles Dickens? This year, there is more to celebrate with the announcement that Sydney will play host to over hundred Dickensians and bibliophiles. After winning the coveted bid to hold the International Dickens Fellowship Conference, now […]