Balmain, New South Wales
Sydney, New South Wales
|Population||10,453 (2016 census)|
|• Density||6,970/km2 (18,000/sq mi)|
|Area||1.5 km2 (0.6 sq mi)|
|Location||5 km (3 mi) west of Sydney CBD|
|LGA(s)||Inner West Council|
|Balmain within the Inner West Council area|
Balmain, New South Wales is a suburb in the Inner West of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Balmain is located 6 km west of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the Inner West Council. It sits on a small peninsula that juts out of Sydney Harbour, directly opposite Milson's Point.
It is located on the Balmain peninsula surrounded by Port Jackson, adjacent to the suburbs of Rozelle to the south-west, Birchgrove to the north-west, and Balmain East to the east. Iron Cove sits on the western side of the peninsula, with White Bay on the south-east side and Mort Bay on the north-east side.
Traditionally Blue Collar, Balmain was where the industrial roots of the Trade Unionist movement began. It has become established in Australian working-class culture and history, due to being the place where the Australian Labor Party formed in 1891 and its social history and status is of high cultural significance to both Sydney and New South Wales. Today, the ALP contends with the Australian Greens for political prominence in Balmain, and Jamie Parker of the Greens holds the State seat of Balmain.
Prior to European settlement, the area was inhabited by indigenous Aboriginal Australian, Gadigal and Wangal people. Stories from early settlers in the area tell of how the local indigenous people used to hunt kangaroo by driving them through the bushy peninsula, down the hill to Peacock Point at the East end, where they were killed.
The area now known as Balmain was part of a 550 acres (2.2 km2) grant to colonial surgeon Dr William Balmain (1762–1803) made in 1800 by Governor John Hunter. A year later, Balmain transferred his entire holding to settle a debt to John Borthwick Gilchrist before returning to Scotland. The legality of the land transfer from Balmain to Gilchrist for only 5 shillings was challenged by Balmain's descendents and further development of the area was blocked. The area subsequently became known as Gilchrist's place, though court documents refer to the area as the Balmain Estate.
During the many years of legal challenges, the land was leased for farming and cattle purposes. In 1814 the adjacent homestead of Birchgrove was sold to Roland Warpole Loane, a merchant and settler descended from a family of English landlords. One hundred acres on the adjoining Balmain estate were leased to Loane.
In 1833, Gilchrist transferred power of attorney to Frederick Parbury. When Loane's lease finally expired in 1836 and the land retrieved from his possession, Parbury commissioned surveyor John Armstrong to sub-divide the land into six parcels. Three parcels were sold to Thomas Hyndes in 1837. The area was rapidly sub-divided and developed during the 1840s and by 1861 had been divided into the well populated eastern suburb of Balmain and the sparsely populated western area, extending to the gates of Callan Park, known as Balmain West.
The peninsula changed rapidly during the 1800s and became one of the premier industrial centres of Sydney. Industries clustered around Mort Bay included shipbuilding, a metal foundry, engineering, boilermaking and the Mort's Dock and Engineering Company works which opened in 1855—in 1958 Mort's Dock closed and is the site of Mort Bay Park.
Increasing industrialisation at Balmain created a demand for cheap housing. This was satisfied by the dock owners selling small blocks of land to entrepreneurs who then built tiny cottages and rented them to the workers.
Lever Brothers Factory opened in 1895. A coal mine was opened in 1897 beside what is now Birchgrove Public School by English shareholders.. From the bottom of the shaft a decline led down to a block of coal situated under the harbour between Ballast Point and Goat Island. Balmain Power Station was erected in stages from 1909 and the Balmain Reservoir was built in 1915.
The opening of the railway in the 1920s further established and Balmain gained a reputation as a rough working-class area of Sydney.
The coal mine closed in 1931. A large influx of immigrants boosted Balmain's population in the 1950s.
Gentrification of Balmain began in the 1960s as industry waned. Balmain's desirability to the middle class was due in part to its waterfront location and proximity to Sydney's CBD. The Balmain Association was formed in 1965.
Increasing property values and waterfront development continued to push the suburb's remaining industry out. In 1996, the Lever Brothers site became a series of apartment complexes with a handful of original buildings preserved. The power station was demolished in 1998 to make way for apartments. However many aspects of Balmain's industrial past have been retained as heritage.
Balmain has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
- 1 Blake Street: Ewenton
- Booth Street: Balmain Hospital Main Building
- Glassop Street: Dawn Fraser Swimming Pool
- 12b Grafton Street: Hampton Villa
- 37 Nicholson Street: Waterview Wharf Workshops
- Thames, Mort, College, McKell, Cameron, Yeend Streets: Mort's Dock
- 2 Wells Street: Louisaville
According to the 2016 census of Population, there were 10,453 residents in Balmain. 61.9% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were England 9.1%, New Zealand 3.3%, Ireland 1.5% and United States of America 1.5%. 79.6% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Italian at 1.3%. The most common responses for religious affiliation were No Religion 41.2% and Catholic 22.3%.
Darling Street, Balmain's main thoroughfare, features boutique shops, quality restaurants and cafes alongside old drinking establishments. Landmarks on this street include the Post Office and Court House, alongside Balmain Town Hall, the historic Westpac Bank, Balmain Fire Station and Balmain Working Men's Institute. Other commercial developments are scattered throughout the suburb. The headquarters of the NSW Water Police moved to Cameron Cove in Balmain in late 2007.
Balmain has several ferry wharves that are serviced by the Inner Harbour ferry services. These wharves are located at Thames Street, Elliot Street and in Darling Street, Balmain East. Services run to Circular Quay. Harbour City Ferries' maintenance and repair base is at Balmain Shipyard.
Balmain's road network feeds into three main roads – Darling Street, Beattie Street, and Montague/Mullen Street. These streets have limited speeds, typically 40kph and are all single carriageway with parallel parking. Due to the geography of the peninsula, all of these roads feed into Victoria Road and the Western Distributor.
Trams once ran all the way down Darling Street to the Wharf at Balmain East. Due to the very steep incline at the bottom of the street, the trams used a complex 'dummy' counterweight system constructed under the road surface. The trams were pushed up the steep hill by the dummy, and rode the dummy on the way down to safely descend the hill. Transit Systems bus services that service Balmain are: 441 – Birchgrove to Art Gallery of New South Wales via Rozelle and QVB, 442 – Balmain to the Queen Victoria Building via Rozelle, 444/445 – Balmain to Campsie, 433 – Balmain to Martin Place.
Balmain is home to many historic hotels, including the Cat and Fiddle Hotel, Cricketer's Arms Hotel, Dick's Hotel, Dry Dock Hotel, Exchange Hotel, Forth & Clyde Hotel, Kent Hotel, Unity Hall Hotel, London Hotel, Mort Bay Hotel, Norfolk Pines Hotel, Pacific Hotel, Royal Oak Hotel, Shipwright's Arms Hotel, Star Hotel, Town Hall Hotel, Volunteer Hotel and the West End Hotel.
The Riverview Hotel is a heritage listed corner building built in 1880 in the Arts and Crafts style. Between 1888 and 1913 the pub was named Bergin's Hotel after the publican Joseph Bergin. Australian swimming champion Dawn Fraser was publican of the Riverview from 1978 to 1983.
Numerous phrases have been used to describe the suburb and its inhabitants, including "Balmain boys don't cry" (former NSW Premier Neville Wran at the Street Royal Commission); "You can take the boy out of Balmain, but you can't take Balmain out of the boy" (Unknown); "There are only two types of men in this world: those who were born in Balmain and those who wish they were" (a Police Commissioner of New South Wales). Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating commented on the suburb's gentrification by using the term "Basket weavers of Balmain". Until the 1970s, older Balmain people would refer to "going to Sydney". The Post Office/ Court/ Police building & vicinity was generally referred to as the "Town Hall", with the Post Office clock often called the Town Hall clock. This was probably due to the Post Office & Court Building being built in between the earlier Town Hall & Town Hall Hotel.
Parks and reserves
Balmain has a number of parks including Gladstone Park, Birrung Park and White Bay Park. The wider peninsula has many more parks in close proximity, particularly along the foreshores.
Sport and recreation
Balmain is home to the Balmain Tigers district rugby league football club that is now represented in the NRL by Wests Tigers rugby league club. The club was formed in mid-1999 by a joint venture between Balmain Tigers and Western Suburbs Magpies in preparation for the 2000 season. In 2005 the Tigers defeated the North Queensland Cowboys in the Grand Final to win the premiership.
The Balmain Rugby Football Club, founded in 1873, took part in the very first competition structure and in fact winning their first premiership in 1875. Players lost fighting in World War 1 forced the club to merge with the Glebe "Dirty Reds" RUFC in 1919, to form the Glebe-Balmain RFC. As a merged club they had enormous success during the Twenties, winning four premierships. In 1931, as a depression project, Drummoyne Oval as we now know it was constructed on the site of a small oval which Glebe and Balmain had used for junior matches since 1892. To ensure longevity of tenure, because there were just not enough sporting grounds in Sydney, but with some reluctance, the Glebe-Balmain Club decided to change its name to the Drummoyne District Rugby Football Club. It did so without giving up its long held traditions, the scarlet jumpers of Glebe and its world-famous tag, "The Dirty Reds" and the black and gold of Balmain, colours still worn proudly by today's players in their socks. Drummoyne Rugby Club is still in existence and still upholds it proud history and traditions.
Balmain is also home to Balmain FC, who are a semi-professional football club, playing in the National Premier Leagues NSW 3. In 2015 they qualified for the Australia-Wide FFA Cup Round of 32 and were drawn against A-League club Melbourne Victory FC in which they were defeated 6-0 in front of 5,000 fans at Leichhardt Oval.
Balmain Rowing Club was formed in July 1882, and still occupies its original White Street location. The club adopted black and yellow colours from its formation, which soon became the district colours. The great Illawarra sculling champion Bill Beach had a close association with the club and wore their black and gold colours in competition.
The post-industrial gentrification of Balmain has resulted in a suburb of considerable charm and interest where the modest, pretty houses command high prices. However, Balmain still retains a diverse mix of residents due to the Housing Commission unit blocks in the suburb. Much of the suburb is a heritage conservation area and creative design is required to modernise the Victorian and Edwardian housing stock. In 2013 a contemporary Balmain house designed by architect Harry Seidler sold for $6m. The Tom Uren House in Gilchrist Place was designed by Richard Leplastrier.
Notable past and present residents include:
- Peter Bonsall-Boone, LGBT rights activist
- Geraldine Brooks, author and journalist
- Rose Byrne, actress
- Clive Caldwell, RAAF's highest scoring fighter ace of WWII
- H. V. Evatt, jurist, judge, lawyer, politician, parliamentarian and writer.
- Carlotta, entertainer
- Dawn Fraser, former champion swimmer and politician
- Caroline Grills, serial killer
- Billy Hughes, former Prime Minister of Australia
- Sir John Kerr, former Governor-General of Australia
- Alex Lloyd, singer/songwriter
- Lottie Lyell, actress
- Padraic McGuinness, journalist
- Lenny McPherson, colourful Sydney identity
- Dally Messenger, rugby union & rugby league
- Matthew Mitcham, diver
- Frank Moorhouse, author and screenwriter
- George Negus, journalist and author
- Nick Origlass, former Trotskyite mayor of Leichhardt Municipal Council.
- Henry Parkes, former Premier of New South Wales
- Wayne Pearce, former rugby league player
- Josh Pyke, musician
- Norman Selfe, engineer.
- John Storey, former Premier of New South Wales
- Tom Uren, former Whitlam Government Minister
- Neville Wran, former Premier of New South Wales
- Malcolm Young, musician
- ^ Postcode 2041 covers the suburbs of Balmain, Balmain East and Birchgrove.
- ^ Combined population for all residents of postcode 2041.
- ^ Median house price for all properties of postcode 2041.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Balmain (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
- Australian Suburb Guide: Sydney Inner West Archived 26 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Compiled by Frances Pollon, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1990, ISBN 0-207-14495-8, p.14
- "Mort Bay Park". Inner West Council. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
- Lawrence, J; Warne, C; A Pictorial History of Balmain to Glebe, Kingsclear Books, 1995, ISBN 0-908272-40-5.
- "Ewenton". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00197. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- "Balmain Hospital - Main Building". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00814. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- "Dawn Fraser Swimming Pool". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01398. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- "Hampton Villa". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01725. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- "Waterview Wharf Workshops". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00687. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- "Mort's Dock". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01854. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- "Louisaville". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00189. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- NSW Heritage Office; Riverview Hotel, Inventory Item. Retrieved October 2006. 
- Davidson, B; Hamey, K; Nicholls, D; Called To The Bar – 150 Years of pubs in Balmain & Rozelle, The Balmain Association, 1991, ISBN 0-9599502-6-5.
- "McGooley". Classic Australia TV. 2005. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
- Matthew Potter. "Film Information: The Sum of Us".
- "Rugby League History: Wests Tigers". RL1908.com. Archived from the original on 31 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
- "Drummoyne District Rugby Football Club". Drummoynerugby.com.au. 2010-03-01. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
- "Balmain Dockers History". Balmain Dockers. Archived from the original on 25 April 2007. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
- Solling, M; Reynolds, P; Leichhardt: On the margins of the city, Allen & Unwin, 1997, ISBN 1-86448-408-X.
- $6m buys Harry Seidler-designed home in Balmain Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- Koziol, Michael (9 April 2017). "'We've been second-class citizens for 50 years': A dying man's wish to marry the man he loves". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
- "Geraldine Brooks: Australia's Pulitzer Prize Winner". ABC Local Radio. 2006-04-23. Retrieved 2007-05-21.
- "Rose Byrne, accidental star". The Age. 5 July 2003. Archived from the original on 7 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- "Obituary: Clive Caldwell". 1994-08-31. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
- ^Lawrence, J; Warne, C; A Pictorial History of Balmain to Glebe, p39, Kingsclear Books, 1995, ISBN 0-908272-40-5.
- "Carlotta – Australia's Most Famous Les Girl...... At the cafe!". Archived from the original on 7 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
- "Dawn Fraser – Troubled Champion". Wesley Mission. Archived from the original on 3 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
- Stephen Garton. "Grills, Caroline (1888–1960)". Australian Dictionary of Biography.
- Australian Dictionary of Biography http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hughes-william-morris-billy-6761
- John Kerr. Matters for Judgement: An Autobiography. ISBN 0-333-25212-8.
- "Interview with Alex Lloyd". Reach Out. Archived from the original on 3 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-21.
- "Lyell, Lottie Edith (1890–1925)". Australian Dictionary of Biography.
- Murphy, Damien (28 January 2008). "He argued his way into papers and mags". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
- Reeves, Tony; Mr Big: The True Story of Lenny McPherson and his life of crime (Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2005. ISBN 1-74114-516-3
- Fagan, Sean (2005 & 2007) The Rugby Rebellion: Pioneers of Rugby League, RL1908, Sydney
- "Matthew Mitcham Gets Popular Vote". Retrieved 2012-08-09.
- Frank Moorhouse. The Everlasting Secret Family. ISBN 0-207-15970-X.
- "Negus Media International – about us page". Negus International Media website. Archived from the original on 22 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
- "Hampdon Villa". NSW Heritage Office. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
- "Wayne Pearce biography". Wayne Pearce Advantage. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
- "Josh Pyke- Heading to the Top of the Hill". Ninemsn. Retrieved 2007-11-03.
- "BALMAIN". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954). NSW: National Library of Australia. 23 February 1924. p. 16. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
- Australian Dictionary of Biography http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/storey-john-8686
- "Tom Uren: Brief Biography". Australian Biography, National Library of Australia. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
- "Inaugural Dinner Wrap". Balmain Tigers. Archived from the original on 19 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
- "Person Detail – Neville Wran". State Records NSW.
- "He Gave Rock and Roll a Fist". Retrieved 2017-11-30.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Balmain, New South Wales.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Balmain.|
- Local History Collection, Leichhardt Council
- Balmain Association.
- Peter Reynolds (2008). "Mort Bay". Dictionary of Sydney. Retrieved 28 September 2015. [CC-By-SA]
- Veronica Kooyman (2008). "Balmain War Memorial". Dictionary of Sydney. Retrieved 7 October 2015.