Gates at Royal Botanic Gardens

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Royal Botanic Gardens - gates, Sydney
Dated:No date
Digital ID: 4481_a026_000581
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  1. pellethepoet 62 months ago | reply

    "Young men propping up walls" ... I'd like to think they are loitering and up to no good :), but more than likely they are providing perspective at the direction of the photographer.

  2. State Records NSW 62 months ago | reply

    Yes, you are probably right! Here is a link to the Woolloomooloo Gates into the Royal Botanic Gardens. Same ones, do you think?

  3. pellethepoet 62 months ago | reply

    Yes, that sure looks like the one! According to the State Library the gates were erected in 1873. Note the roadside guttering present in both photos, but not here - and now there's a fountain, a lawn, and no roadway. If we could date the erection of the fountain and the removal of the road it may give us a very narrow time period in which the photo could have been taken.

  4. pellethepoet 62 months ago | reply

    Or is it? Check out this [search: 37996]. Now were they really moved to the other side of the gardens to Macquarie Street? Doesn't make sense. Or were they merely shifted further up Mrs Macquarie Rd? Okay, I'm off right now to check it out!

  5. pellethepoet 62 months ago | reply

    Okay, the physical structure is the Woolloomooloo Gate, but the location itself is today in mid-air above the Cahill Expressway! There are some great photos of the construction here. And I don't know how I missed it, but the left and right pillars are emblazoned with '1873' (the year of construction), and the centre pillars with 'The Botanic Garden'.

  6. pellethepoet 62 months ago | reply

    Aha! I knew the design on those pillars rang a bell. There is a photo by Harold Cazneaux of Yehudi Menuhin and his sisters (1935) leaning against the pillars reproduced in 'Yehudi Menuhin' by Robert Magidoff (and Henry Raynor), facing p. 78. Menuhin is leaning against the far right pillar, with '1873' above his head.

  7. State Records NSW 62 months ago | reply

    Wow pelleethepoet, that's dedication to go and look at the gates! It paid off though..... you got some great information.

  8. pellethepoet 62 months ago | reply

    I came across that fountain again here (View album - image 17) - with the Garden Palace in the background, which led me to this (note part of the Woolloomooloo Gate is visible) and also this one by Charles Bayliss. The roadside guttering, the fountain, and the Garden Palace (1879-1882) are present in all of these photos at the same time - so it seems this photo pre-dates them (and ours), ie. the fountain was already erected when the guttered road was installed. Which doesn't help date our photo one jot ...

  9. pellethepoet 62 months ago | reply

    After visiting the Gallery, I walked through the gates today (it was nighttime when I first went there) and found a temporary notice stand by the other side which gives a neat summary of the history of the gate (which we'd already ascertained), but also names the ubiquitous James Barnet as the architect, and is illustrated with yet another early photo from their Library.

  10. pellethepoet 62 months ago | reply

    I've found some further information in the book The Wishing Tree by Edwin Wilson, Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst NSW, 1992, pp. 38-39 & 125.

    regarding the original location of the gate:

    'The position of this gate may be established by standing in Central Avenue in the Philip Precinct of the Domain, looking at the statue of Sir John Robertson and imagining the continuity of the avenue in a straight line.'

    regarding the gate itself:

    It was erected at a cost of £408. The wrought iron gates came from Robert Dunlop's workshop in Forbes Street, Woolloomooloo, (costing £145) and the carved sandstone piers came from Messrs Hanson and Sharp. It replaced the original made of wood, painted to look like granite.

    and regarding the fountain, p. 125:

    Built in 1866, it was a terracotta and stone drinking fountain and was the only drinking fountain in the Domain. It was 'improved' in 1897 so that stock would not drink from the same basin. It was destroyed during the construction of the Cahill Expressway.

  11. bloodj 62 months ago | reply

    These gates were the main entrance to the Gardens. They opened out on to the Domain and Fig Tree Avenue, a beautiful tree-lined carriageway that ran from the Mitchell Library and Macquarie Street to Mrs Macquaries Rd.
    The gates were moved around the corner to face Mrs Macquaries Rd when the Cahill Expressway was carved out and split the Gardens and Domain in two.
    There was a large drinking fountain in front of the gates. At one time the original art gallery was to the left of the gates just inside the Gardens. It was pulled down after it was found to be badly eaten by termites. The path beyond the original entrance, leading down to the Palm House, was lined with statues.
    Between the gates and Mrs Macquaries Rd there is now a large courtyard with lawns and ponds and trees, surrounded by low sandstone walls. In 2010 the courtyard is being refurbished with funds donated by the Friends of The Gardens.

  12. State Records NSW 62 months ago | reply

    Thank you pellethepoet and bloodj.....who knew that gates could have such an interesting and fascinating history/story.

  13. pellethepoet 62 months ago | reply

    Thanks bloodj - I'd been wondering what that small building visible in some of the photos to the left of the gates was.

  14. pellethepoet 51 months ago | reply

    Aha! I just stumbled upon this photo which shows the setting of the gates beautifully -

    In the Domain [SLNSW: a1939100] from Views of Sydney and its streets, 1868-1881 / compiled by John Lane Mullins

  15. beachcomberaustralia 37 months ago | reply

    Recent photo from dunedoo -

  16. beachcomberaustralia 37 months ago | reply

    By chance I was searching my contacts photos for "botanic gardens gate" and was struck by the similarities between this gate and one at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK. And the differences -

  17. whatsthatpicture 37 months ago | reply

    Have just been looking at Google Street View. Who planted those damn trees, right outside a botanic garden!

  18. pellethepoet 24 months ago | reply

    Another image of the fountain discussed above -


  19. pellethepoet 8 months ago | reply

    See also -

    And another by J. W. M. McCutcheon of the Amateur Photographic Society of N.S.W. (c.1886) -

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