History of 37 Darley Road

History supplied by MANLY LIBRARY 

Darley Road in circa 1910s
Darley Road in circa 1910s

Darley Road first appears in 1877 as the central road in the first East Brighton, Manly subdivision of the Basset-Darley Estate, auctioned on Saturday 28 April 1877.  

Captain Benjamin Darley was the first husband of the twice-widowed Katherine Basset-Darley, daughter and beneficiary of the substantial Manly estates of D’Arcy Wentworth.  Captain Darley married Katherine Wentworth in 1847 and died in 1864.  He donated the land and fifty pounds toward the erection of St Matthew’s Church in The Corso in 1864, only a week before his death.[1]

In the early 1880s, Darley Road appears to have been a made, unsurfaced road between The Corso and Addison Road, with perhaps a dusty track winding up to the Quarantine Station on North Head.  It took the construction of the “Archbishop’s Residence” [1886] and Saint Patrick’s College [1885-88] to consolidate the route of Darley Road, south of Addison Road.

Sands’ 1887 clearly indicated the “north” and “south” sides of Darley Road for the first time (street numbers did not arrive until 1910).  Side streets were also shown, helping to identify the location of particular families and house names.

Excluding the Public School (and St Matthew’s Rectory), Sands’ 1887 listed only three householders on the “north” side, with none shown living south of Cliff Street.  “Hawthorn”, the Littlejohns’ mansion, was listed in Addison Road, although its estate then ran along the Darley Road frontage from Addison Road to the Catholic lands.

 On the “south” side, Sands’ 1887 listed 12 households compared to only 5 in 1885.  Among the new residents were A Stephenson, “Darley Villa” (between The Corso and Wentworth Street); Roseberry College, a girls’ school run by Miss J McK Ponder, and John Hives’ cordial factory (both between Wentworth Street and Victoria Street[sic]); Mrs Moore in “Tremore” (later “Traymore” guesthouse), and John Stone in “Altiora”.  John Stone returned to England in 1888 and sold Altiora at auction.[2]  William Anslow, a Manly Alderman lived at Altiora in the 1890s.

[1] Champion, S & G, Manly, Warringah and Pittwater 1850-1880, p89.

[2] Sydney Morning Herald 17 October 1888.

Detail from 1890 Water Board plan (Manly sheet no 8), showing Darley Road between Ashburner Street and Addison Road. Bramleigh, Luther, Katrine, Burgoyne, Chatswood and Tramore are named.
Hawthorn Estate, corner Darley and Addison, 1918
Hawthorn Estate, corner Darley and Addison, 1918

A fascinating social diversity emerged in Darley Road during the 1890s, with residential, commercial and public (e.g. school; Rectory) uses mixed on the ‘flat’, while the more substantial homes of Manly’s ‘gentry’ spread up the Eastern Hill, especially in the vicinity of Addison Road and, later, the Cardinal’s Palace (or Archbishop’s Residence).


Around 1900, as the depression eased and the new confidence of Australia’s approaching Federation dawned, a further surge of housing development in Darley Road attracted the rising middle class to Manly’s Eastern Hill.


By 1905, Darley Road had become more congested as subdivision for Federation semis and villas continued and Manly enjoyed the pre-war prosperity.


Victoria Hall was subdivided, with a new School of Arts (F Trenchard Smith, the prominent Manly architect, was Secretary) and several shops along its Darley Road facade.  John Hughes, solicitor, occupied “Normanby” following F W Webb CMG, JP, Clerk of the NSW Legislative Assembly (1903).  Straffan, Normanby and Norfred (or “Norford”) stood between the Rectory and Wentworth Street until demolished for council’s open-air car park in the 1960s [?]

Victoria Hall, 1905
Victoria Hall, 1905
Federation semis at 83-97 Darley Road, c1915
Bottom right: Federation semis at 83-97 Darley Road, c1915
Darley Road, circa 1910
Darley Road, circa 1910
Darley Flats auction poster, 1924.
Darley Flats auction poster, 1924.

From around 1905, Toohey’s operated a large “cordial depot” on the south-west corner of Darley Road and Victoria Parade where the café/Laundromat and other shops now stand.  In 1915, Charles Skinner, boat proprietor, lived next door to the Toohey’s depot in Clifton (then no. 32).  He was the direct descendant (grandson?) of Benjamin.

By 1920 on the west side, the Toohey’s cordial depot had been redeveloped with four houses or shops with residences behind.  Mrs Nina Skinner, widow of Charles Skinner, remained at no 32.

Manly Cottage Hospital, funded by the local community, was established originally in Raglan Street on the south-west corner of Quinton Road.  In 1924, after a parliamentary inquiry, the decision was taken to build a new Manly Peace Memorial Hospital on a green field site at North Head, on land formerly part of the Quarantine Station.


By 1930, a small group of shops had opened near Cliff Street in Darley Road.  A greengrocer, grocer, and stationer were operating there in 1930, where the general store and branch post office still operates today [2004].


Additional Notes:


     No 37, containing the Manly East Post Office and newsagency and three two-bedroom apartments, was offered for sale in November 2000.[1]

[1] Manly Daily Real Estate 4 November 2000.

1943 aerial showing 37 Darley Road outlined (
1943 aerial showing 37 Darley Road outlined (Source: Department of Lands)


  • Manly is situated on the land of the Gayemagal people, the traditional owners of this land.
  • The Gayemagal lived in the Manly area and thrived due to the abundance of food resources like fish, shellfish and animals. Evidence of these can be found in the middens all over the coastal area.
  • Aboriginal people are part of the oldest surviving continuous culture in the world.
  • Early relations between the first colonists and the Gayemagal people quickly soured.
  • In 1789 a Smallpox epidemic spread through the local Aboriginal population.
  • By the 1830s, only a few Aboriginal people remained in the Manly area.
  • Recorded Aboriginal sites included shelter, midden sites, rock engravings, open midden sites, shelter cave art and open camp sites.