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$2.2M to bring Sydney’s last remaining Toll House back to life

Posted: 28 March 2018

Announced today, Centennial Parklands will invest $2.2 million dollars to restore and revitalise NSW’s only surviving metropolitan two-storey toll house located in Sydney’s Moore Park – one of five remaining in the state.

Located at the Anzac Parade and Cleveland Street intersection, the toll house is a rare and representative example of the toll houses built in the 1800s to find the construction and maintenance of roads in NSW.

Now derelict and unused for many years, the building was earmarked for conservation works in the Moore Park Master Plan 2040, which was consulted and approved on in 2017. The heritage building will now undergo major conservation works to stabilise, refurbish and restore the building’s integrity, bringing new life back to this wonderful part of Sydney’s history.

“There are many beautiful buildings and landmarks within Centennial Parklands that need to be looked after for future generations,” Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage Gabrielle Upton said.

“The investment and conservation effort means this rare example of a toll house will be protected.”

The toll house has a fascinating history. Centennial Parklands - before it was the Parklands we know today - featured two toll houses, the other one was located at the intersection of Anzac Parade (formerly Randwick Road) and Alison Road, on a small triangular pocket of land now called Tay Reserve.

The collection of tolls on Sydney’s early roads was a British concept adopted by the Colony. As is still the case today, the system required road users to pay a fee to be then used for road maintenance – a critical revenue making enterprise as the settlement expanded its population and infrastructure.

In its original sandstone form, the building is representative of Victorian, gothic-style architecture, featuring a T-shaped configuration with a central bay to allow a line of sight for the oncoming traffic.

Tolls were charged until 1894 – the location being a key source of revenue for the Randwick Racecourse. There was a charge of tuppence per horse, sixpence for a horse and cart, one farthing for rural traffic including lambs, pigs and goats, and a halfpenny for oxen.

The Randwick Toll House was staffed by Aboriginal gatekeeper King Billy Timbery. He is believed to be the first Indigenous person officially employed on land now part of Centennial Parklands. Records show the Randwick Toll House was demolished in 1909.

The introduction of the rail system in the 1870s led to the decline of relevance of the toll house. Road use declined and traffic congestion made the collection of tolls inefficient and frustrating for road users. Following the cessation of toll collections, the toll house was transformed into a club house for golfers at Moore Park Golf course, which opened in 1913.

While it has had a number of periodic uses, the building has been modified and added to over the years, and most recently used as a support depot for staff from NSW Public Works until 1999, then a maintenance depot for Moore Park Golf. In 2000 the building was listed on the State Heritage Register.

Artists impression of refurbished toll house

Toll House Timeline

  • 1860: The original two-storey T-shape sandstone building was constructed.
  • 1861: The New South Wales Governor John Young officially declared: ‘…I appoint and direct that the Randwick Road, at the intersection of the old Botany Road, and the continuation of Cleveland Street be a place at which Toll shall be demanded, levied and taken…
  • 1870s: The introduction of the rail system in the 1870s led to the decline of relevance of the toll house. Road use declined and traffic congestion made the collection of tolls inefficient and frustrating for road users.
  • 1894: Toll collections ceased.
  • 1909: Randwick Toll House was demolished.
  • 1913-1926: The toll house was transformed into a clubhouse for golfers at Moore Park Golf.
  • Unknown-1999: The building was utilised as a support depot for staff from NSW Public Works and a maintenance depot for Moore Park Golf.
  • 2000: the building was listed on the State Heritage Register.
  • 2014: A faux sandstone frontage was temporarily placed around the building to protect the exterior from further exposure to the elements until restoration works were approved.

Further information

Read more about the history of the toll houses on the Centennial Parklands blog here. Information about the Conservation Project will be announced via the Parklands website in the coming weeks.

Media: (02) 9231 8222  /  media@bgcp.nsw.gov.au