Sunday, 26 April 2015

Death in Frying Pan Alley

Coffee shop in Sussex Lane, backing onto Erskine St, running between Kent and Sussex Streets

Sydney City and Suburban Sewage and Health Board : Eleventh progress report

... visit Frying-pan Flat, Sussex-street. Here there is a large piece of open ground, one part of which extends to the foreshore of Darling Harbour ... Turning down Erskine-street we inspected four wooden houses at the bottom of the place ... badly ventilated and very close ... Adjoining this was another wooden shanty, 9 x 10 feet and 6 feet high, offering accommodation of an inferior character, inasmuch as the room contained no ceiling, and rented at the reduced price of 3s. 6d. ...

The same description will apply to all the miserable hovels which we have noticed in this locality ; they are in a tumble-down dilapidated state ; the walls are crumbling to pieces and the roofs patched up with pieces of tin, iron, old bags, and any other materials at hand, which have the effect of keeping out the rain and confining the foul air ...

To appreciate the wretched state of ruin and discomfort which these buildings present, it is necessary to visit the place ; no description can convey a true impression of their utter unfitness for human habitation.

Frying Pan Flat and Alley, between Erskine Street and Margaret Place, December 1875.
Halliday Engineering was at 30 Erskine Street

Ellen Barry, aged 9 months, died at 12 Sussex Street on 9th August, 1875, having suffered from congestion of the lungs for over 36 hours. Her mother was 21 year old Louisa, the daughter of William and Charlotte, both emanciapted convicts. Louisa is my paternal great-grandmother. She died in 1919, in Gosford at the home of her next born child, Will, my grandfather.

Sussex Lane was built c. 1916, after all the demolitions as a result of the bubonic plague.


Susan Bauer said...

With the title and tagline that I read on the FB post, I was intrigued to find out more. What an interesting story and photos--before and after. The derelict living conditions remind me of last Sunday's episode of BBC's "Call the Midwife." Do you watch that?

William Kendall said...

What a stark contrast between then and now.

Joe said...

How difficult and tenuous life was in the 1800's Julie.