Sydney Architecture Images- Gone but not forgotten

Devonshire Street Cemetery The Sandhills Cemetery- Plaque 56 of the Green Plaques

architect

n/a

location

Elizabeth St.

date

Built- 1819  Demolished- 1901

style

n/a

construction

Rendered brick Stone

type

Church cemetary
Summary Bounded by the Devonshire Street Subway, Barlow (then called Gibbs), Elizabeth and Pitt Streets on the site now occupied by Central Railway Station, the Sandhills Cemetery or Old Devonshire Street Burial Ground was used from 1819 to bury Sydney’s dead. This Cemetery served for nearly fifty years between 1819 and 1868. In 1901 to facilitate the building of Sydney’s Central Railway Station, the whole of the Sandhills Cemetery was resumed by the State Government.
The cemetery and streets
 
Above- Saint Scholastica's College and the Convent of the Good Samaritans (at eastern end of Devonshire Street next to the tram depot) relocated to the old Allen estate in Glebe (reused the gates).
Above left- Prince Alfred Park’s Exhibition Building looms large. Devonshire Street Cemetery, 1901. Image courtesy Royal Australian Historical Society.
 
 
 
 
The old Central Station (further towards Redfern)
Above left- Central Station, 1906. Image courtesy State Records NSW.
Above right- Sydney Station, the forerunner of Central Station, 1874. Image courtesy ARHS Rail Resource Centre.
Above left- Always on time: Central Station’s clock tower completed, 1924. Image courtesy State Records NSW.
Above right- Anthony Hordern awaits new business during Central’s construction, April 1903. Image courtesy ARHS Rail Resource Centre.
Above- The planned terminus for Hyde Park. Image courtesy RailCorp.
An 1897 royal commission proposed the resumption of Hyde Park for use as the central terminal and, to counter the public outrage over the loss of parkland, the Devonshire Street Cemetery would be converted into a park. For a time this plan seemed to be a go until the unexpected death of Railway Commissioner E M G Eddy (of Eddy Avenue fame) that same year. This forced a literal return to the drawing board, where it was decided that it was probably easier to resume just one giant park instead of two. Nice thinking, guys.
Above- map showing resumption of Cemetery area
 
The site today- Devonshire Street is now a pedestrian tunnel going under the train lines and platforms.
The old entry gates were relocated to - Cemetary.

Site of The Sandhills Cemetery




Bounded by the Devonshire Street Subway, Barlow (then called Gibbs), Elizabeth and Pitt Streets on the site now occupied by Central Railway Station, the Sandhills Cemetery or Old Devonshire Street Burial Ground was used from 1819 to bury Sydney’s dead. This Cemetery served for nearly fifty years between 1819 and 1868. In 1901 to facilitate the building of Sydney’s Central Railway Station, the whole of the Sandhills Cemetery was resumed by the State Government. Relatives of those buried in there were invited to apply for their exhumation and relocation at Government expense. Some were moved to cemeteries at Rookwood, Camperdown, South Head, Waverley and Gore Hill. The rest were transferred to Bunnerong Cemetery near Botany. A spur line was built to Botany for the sole purpose of transporting exhumed coffins to the Botany cemetery. In 1906, the Sydney railway terminal was moved from Redfern to an imposing new building constructed on the site of the Sandhills Cemetery, known today as Central Railway Station.

The Reverend Samuel Marsden remarked that 'At the first establishment of the colony for a long time no piece of ground was set apart for a Burial place.



The Old Burial Ground (now occupied by the Sydney Town Hall) was used between September 1792 and 1820, when it officially closed. Its replacement was the Sandhills Cemetery (Devonshire Street Cemetery), which later became the site of Central Railway Station. By the 1840s there were concerns about overcrowding and over the next twenty years a number of alternative locations were considered. In 1862 the government purchased 200 acres of land 'near Homebush on the Railway Line…' — what was to become the Rookwood Necropolis — for use as a general cemetery. The first registered burial took place at the Rookwood Necropolis in 1867.



[1] Keith A Johnson and Malcolm R Sainty, Sydney Burial Ground 1819-1901 (Elizabeth and Devonshire Streets) and History of Sydney's Early Cemeteries from 1788, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 2001, p. 11.

[2] David A. Weston, ed., The Sleeping City: The Story of Rookwood Necropolis, Society of Australian Genealogists in conjunction with Hale and Ironmonger, Sydney, 1989, pp. 13-14.

 

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links

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