Thursday, 4 December 2014

Clifton Gardens - The Pleasure Seeker Years

The entertainment at Clifton Gardens nowadays is innocently, self-generated: swimming, bombing, fishing. The surrounding suburban area is well-heeled, and conservative. But it was not always thus.
In 1871, the Clifton Hotel was built, multiplying the effects of the adjacent pleasure gardens and dance halls, one of a series established alonf the northern shores of the harbour, in Cremorne, in Mosman, and in Manly, all serviced by ferries, one such being the "Nautilus". Pleasure gardens attracted Sydney-siders willing to enjoy the walking paths, food, music, dancing, and regular "masked balls" on offer. The Clifton Gardens took off with the granting of the liquor licence, and the relaxation of the swimming dress code in the early years of the 20th century. In 1906, he hotel and pleasure gardens were purchased by Sydney Harbour Ferries Ltd, and the hotel renamed the Clifton Gardens Hotel.
The beginning of the end for this sort of entertainment came with the construction of the harbour bridge in 1932, and the consolidation of this area for the doctors, and lawyers, and company directors of our city. Hand in hand with the popularity of the pleasure gardens, parcels of the original Cliffe Estate were sold off for sububan developments. The suburb of Clifton Gardens flourished, but its inhabitants had a jauniced eye towards those who enjoyed this sort of entertainment. Then came World War II.
Clifton Gardens Reserve is all that is left of the pleasure grounds. The circular swimming enclosure is gone. The wharf is gone. The rail-siding that linked the wharf with the hotel is gone. The hotel closed in 1965, and was demolished the following year. The local council refused development consent, and purchased all the land from the developer. The suburb is Clifton Gardens. The reserve is Clifton Gardens. But, the bay (the landform) is Chowder Bay. More about Chowder Bay and WWII tomorrow.
I acknowledge that the information above was sourced from "Clifton Gardens: Interpretation Plan, and Design Study (2005)".

3 comments:

William Kendall said...

That old swimming enclosure is something I've never seen before! Thanks for the history of the place.

Joe said...

Such a fascinating history Julie. The name "Pleasure Gardens" is definitely from a time gone by.

Tahiti Daily Photo said...

Very interesting Julie