Street History: Euston Road Alexandria

May 21st, 2020 - by Brad Gillespie

Historic Euston Road is fast shedding its industrial past and becoming one of the most coveted residential areas in Alexandria – and for good reason.

It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from beautiful Sydney Park and walking distance to the shops and the eateries of Erskineville, Newtown and Alexandria.

While the southern end of Euston Road has retained its industrial feel with cement works and factories still in operation, the northern end has come of age. Sophisticated apartment blocks abound and the area that joins McEvoy Street is also a shoppers haven, with brand outlets everywhere and Victoria’s Basement and Bunnings both handily located along the strip.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into some of the history of this fascinating street.

What’s in a name?

Euston is a boy’s name of Irish origins, meaning “heart”, and there are towns, stately homes and a station in the UK that also hold the name. It’s unknown how Euston Road came to be named, but records show the suburb of Alexandria is named after Princess Alexandria, the wife of Edward, the Prince of Wales. By the 1940s, the suburb was the nation’s largest industrial district and was dubbed the ‘Birmingham of Australia’.

An up-and-coming place to live

Sitting on the urban fringes of the city, Alexandria has long been a fascinating mix: pockets of residential terraces and cottages nestled alongside industrial factories and warehouses. But in recent years, new apartments and gorgeous warehouse conversions have lured residents keen to take advantage of all the suburb has to offer while still being close to the city.
Some of the most coveted new apartment blocks include the fashionable Euston Road Apartments complex and the architect-designed Datum Apartments.

Sydney Park

Deep clay beds in the Sydney Park area meant it was originally used for brickmaking and pottery, later becoming a place for leisure and sport. The Alan Davidson Oval (named after the all-rounder who played 44 cricket tests for Australia) is at the corner of Sydney Park Road and Euston Road. It opened in 2003 with great facilities for cricket and Australian Rules football.

The greenery, playgrounds and waterways of the park are a lovely place to relax or enjoy a picnic.

The Alexandria Spinning Mills

Sawtooth-roof factories and warehouses dominated the former Alexandria Spinning Mills constructed in the 1920s – accessed via both Euston Road and Maddox Street. They’re distinct examples of inter-war and post-war industrial architecture, and back in the day, the Mills housed a brick factory, engine rooms, a dye room, boiler house, spinning and twisting rooms and a brick weaving mill.

The site was particularly important to Sydney’s wool and cotton industry, producing textiles at a time when Australia was starting to compete with foreign imports. The Mills were also renowned for their poor working conditions, especially for the women and girls who toiled there – so it’s not surprising they were the site of major strikes during the 1930s and 40s as the Australian labour movement took hold.

These days, the buildings are home to a photographic studio and opera warehousing and are part of a proposal to become heritage-listed.

The Alexandria Canal

The heritage-listed Alexandria Canal is a 4.5km artificial waterway and a rare 19th Century example of coastal engineering, channelling rainwater from Newtown, Redfern, Erskineville and Alexandria. These days, the entire length is flanked by factories and warehouses and while there have been numerous proposals to refurbish the canal and clean and restore the condition of the water, there’s probably little chance it will ever become the ‘Venice of Sydney’!

Though it’s now a bit of a local relic, the Alexandria Canal was once part of Sheas Creek – a narrow, winding waterway fed by streams further inland. If you can imagine standing on the rise where St Peter’s Station now is, it’s thought that looking over Sheas Creek and down to Botany Bay would have been quite the view.
In the early days of European settlement, the waterway was frequented by indigenous people – and early builders used the discarded oyster shells to form slaked lime, in order to make mortar.

Looking to make Euston Road your home?

We hope you’ve enjoyed this behind-the-scenes peek into Euston Road’s history – a truly fascinating street to explore and to live on. Let us know if we can help you find your next home here! Some of our past sales on Euston Road include:

2/125 Euston Road
26/93-103 Euston Road
43/95 Euston Road