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Moore Park Toll House

Name:
Moore Park Toll House

Location:
Moore Park, grid ref: B4 on Centennial Parklands Map

Date built:
1860

About the Moore Park Toll House

Tucked away in the corner of Moore Park, beneath a large Port Jackson fig, sits an original 1860s sandstone toll house.

This humble building highlights a fascinating era in Sydney’s social heritage and reveals a significant snapshot into our city’s colonial past.

Its existence today is of exceptional significance - both as a structure and the time period it represents - and has been the focus of a draft conservation management plan.

The plan will provide the Trust with a breadth of history and opportunity from which future plans for the building can evolve.

A little bit of history...

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

Toll bars were usually installed at the junctions of key thoroughfares and typically, a toll house was built nearby to provide a home for the toll collector and his family. The toll houses were usually simple structures, often featuring bay windows to allow the collector a clear view of any approaching traffic. They were usually designed by the Government architect of the day.

The introduction of the rail system in the 1870s led to the decline of the toll house. Road use declined and traffic congestion made the collection of tolls inefficient and frustrating for road users.

Consequently, the toll system was abolished in 1877.

Moore Park Toll House...

The recent study commissioned by the Trust has revealed that there were two toll houses on the land now known as Centennial Parklands. The first was located in at the intersection of Anzac Pde (formerly Randwick Rd) and Alison Rd on a small triangular pocket of land now called Tay Reserve. The second was located in Moore Park at the intersection of Anzac Pde and Cleveland St, adjacent to the Moore Park Golf Club–where it still exists today.

Records relating to the toll house in Randwick are scant, however the history and use of the Moore Park building has been well documented.

The Moore Park toll house is the only surviving metropolitan toll house and the only two-storey toll house among at least five surviving examples in NSW. It is considered a rare example of the toll houses built in the 1800s and provides and insight into the early governments administration of the of the day.

In its original sandstone form, it 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.

Additions made to the building in 1920s were characteristic of Inter-War bungalow style of architecture. These included the installation of dressing rooms and toilet facilities. Further additions included a rectangular depot building and a fuel depot building in the mid 1900s.

This toll house collected tolls from travellers journeying between Sydney and La Perouse or Randwick Racecourse.

The Government Gazette dated 13 December 1861 published a statement from the then Governor John Young, declaring that ‘…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…’.

Legislation set the amount which could be charged for tolls. At this location, a toll of one farthing was charged for the transportation of sheep, lambs, pigs and goats, whilst cattle, horses, carts, drays, wagons and coaches attracted a fee of up to one shilling.

Of what little is known about the Randwick toll house, it appears in was built in 1849.

Tolls were charged until 1894–the location being a key source of revenue on race days at 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 ha’penny 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 the Parklands. Records show that the Randwick toll house was demolished in 1909.

Despite being in close proximity to each other, it seems that tolls were charged at both the Randwick and Moore Park sites for a period of 30 years, although there is no historic information to explain this practice.

Following the cessation of toll collections at Moore Park in 1890, the toll house was transformed into a club house for golfers at Moore Park Golf course, which opened in 1913. It is not known how the building was used in the interim. A new golf house was constructed in 1926, relegating the toll house as a depot.

Moore Park Toll House today, with Moore Park Golf House in the background

And the future?

The Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust is developing a management plan for the restoration and reuse of this historic building. If you would like to be kept aware of the latest news and developments on the restoration of the Toll House, and any other news from across the Parklands:

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